For better or for worse, TikTok and its weird cousin, Reels, are here to stay. In the early stages of this wonderful pandemic, TikTok went from an app for Gen Z to the site of intergenerational turf wars about skinny jeans, influencers attempting to hire unpaid interns, straight couples engaging in pranks for clout, low-stakes niche drama, and a veritable career-maker for two brunette teens from Connecticut. By now, it is part of a well-balanced media diet—the Cheeto aperitif that accompanies a sensible and virtuous kale salad. And even though too much TikTok might make you feel sick after a while, the journey is pleasant enough.
At Jezebel, whether we like it or not, we collectively spent time on this app and its aforementioned pal, Reels, gazing into the abyss and emerging with some gems in our grubby paws. Here are the TikToks that made us laugh, cry (?), and feel even just a shred of emotion during this very trying year.
The internet has arguably long outlived its utility, but it does continue to serve one delightful purpose as a platform to piss off men. One TikToker, @kyleprue, has this down to a science with his popular series “How to Piss Off Men.” His suggestions include responding “so it’s like Kohl’s cash?” to men who bring up bitcoin, or finding opportunities to just ask why the government doesn’t simply print more money — all delivered in a deadpan voice over a Notes app green screen. — Kylie Cheung
Every video set to DJ Earworm’s Decade of Pop song
There is nothing quite like the feminine urge to watch every single second of every video that chronicles someone’s rhinoplasty, breast reduction, veneer application, jaw reconstruction, and beyond. My FYP has been serving me these videos for the better part of the last year and, while this isn’t just one best TikTok, all of these videos — aptly set to DJ Earworm’s Decade of Pop — have acted as a bright spot in my year. “Normalize plastic surgery! Normalize doing something that makes you feel better about yourself!” I say out loud as I watch a young woman get her jaw reset while singing “It goes on and on and on / Tik Tok on the clock / Don’t stop remind me of everything tonight.” It’s all such beautiful chaos. —Jenna Amatulli
I was a late adapter to TikTok, one of those people who waited for them to make it Instagram. But then the Texas freeze happened in February and I had to contact people who were TikTok-ing? videoing? posting? through their power outages just like I was. Eventually I found lesbian/gay/wlw tiktok and love it. My favorite couple is Col & Ari, a nonbinary lesbian couple who are so funny and loving. My favorite series they do is Pen And Cup Challenge where the stakes are high (getting Ari’s name tattooed on Col’s ass) or silly (playing “Two Doors Down” by Dolly Parton all day long) if you can get the pen into the cup. They’re slowly remodeling a house and being goofballs together and I hope they have a long and happy life. — Caitlin Cruz
I don’t understand makeup very well, which only makes it more intimidating. I’m haunted by memories of the cosmetics I’ve destroyed over the years—caps opened for the first time in months to release that straight-in-the-trash-with-you smell, compacts crashing to the floor, leaving their powdery contents in shambles. So when TikTok started serving me videos from a mysterious account that exclusively features a nameless, faceless person meticulously repairing damaged makeup, I was fascinated. Enjoy the soothing sounds of the mystery restorer scraping out the old powders and waxes, melting them down, cleaning the casings until they shine, and making the brand-name cosmetics look entirely new. Is there a chance that there might be something a little shady afoot with all these used and crusty luxury beauty supplies, now refreshed and looking ready to hit the shelves at Sephora? There certainly is. But until confronted with unignorable evidence of malfeasance, I’ve chosen to delight in seeing items that once seemed irredeemably damaged instead become perfectly renewed. —Gabrielle Bruney
I’m tickled whenever I see a screenshot of my 2019 post, “Paula Abdul Keeps Talking About Surviving a Plane Crash for Which No Record Exists,” going around Twitter or wherever. If helping poke holes in Abdul’s highly dubious story is my legacy, you know what? I’ll take it. But this response from TikTok’s @ichris.tine takes the cake. “How ‘bout you try believing in women, huh?” she asks. “As a news source you’re gonna not believe women? Interesting. I just think that’s a brave choice.” Christine also says this makes her respect Paula more, which: same. Oh also, the headline lives in her head, rent free. It’s a pleasure squatting with you. —Rich Juzwiak
An accurate way of taking my own mental temperature is to plumb the depths of the various TikToks I’ve saved for no real reason other than they made me laugh or, more likely, that I fell asleep while staring at my phone and my thumb pressed the screen for far too long. Now that that embarrassing tidbit is out of the way, I’d like to present this video of a person in a Bigfoot costume, which always makes me laugh, and is somehow more edifying to me than this video of a man dressed in a Grinch costume or this one, of a girl who appears to be in some sort of distress, but is still cognizant enough to refer to her sister as “little bitch.” —Megan Reynolds
This woman on TikTok dresses up as iconic television or film characters (many of which are cartoons, including Sexy King Julien from Madagascar, Sexy Squidward with bulging tits, and Sexy Bee from Bee Movie), then hops on a stripper pole she has in the middle of the living room and gives a little performance. But of all the characters she portrays, Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow is far superior. She’s got perfect beard braids, thick eyeliner complete with in-character eye squinting, ass grabs, chest fondling, and the perfect twerk. Even better? The whole thing takes you an emotional journey — it begins slow and ominous and then, BANG — a Disney pirate doing the splits on a pole. More satisfying than Dr. Pimple Popper, I’m telling you. —Emily Leibert
This TikTok in which a Scottish man very confidently calls a beet “lettuce” during an accent challenge
I’ve seen too many beautifully deranged TikToks this year to just narrow down my favorite to one single solitary video. How can I possibly choose between “Millennials pretending to be a damaged side character from the TV show Skins while Listening to Crystal Castles in 2008,” the Bushwick Cool Girl video, the woes of being an elder Olivia Rodrigo fan, “okay, should I give up?”, the thotty version of That Mysterious Ticking Noise, this very specific fanfiction TikTok, “I HATE HIM! I HATE HIM!!!”, the old lady farting for her followers, “when he bends over to pick something up,” that dude who accidentally got a silk press, this incredible collab?
But if I have to pick just one, it’s the TikTok of a Scottish man doing an accent challenge against an Appalachian woman. It doesn’t take much to be charmed by a Scottish accent, and he already sold me by the time he pronounced “chips” as “chaps.” But I absolutely lost my shit when a photo of a beet came up, and this man, with the utmost confidence, said that the beet was a “lettuce.” Granted, there were some leaves sprouting from the beet, but it was a fucking beet! They ate him the fuck up in the comments, but he was a good sport about it. —Ashley Reese