Let’s be real for a second, 2020 has been a piss fire of a year. Whether it’s the bushfires at the beginning of the year, the global pandemic, images of police brutality or America’s soon-to-be former tyrant, President Donald Trump, we’ve all been through it. In fact, personally, it’s left me feeling beyond “head empty, no thoughts,” I’m merely a puddle of my old existence. As one friend said about my YouTube habits, “lo-fi beats and rain sounds? Girl, you sound stressed.”
But, if there’s one thing that’s been my saving grace during all this it’s YouTube. Sitting back after a long day staring at a screen to… stare at it some more, in 2020, YouTube has been a home for entertainment, representation, longform stories about the weird parts of the internet and beauty and fashion inspo.
From a channel dedicated to the experience of backseat gaming to video essays about politics, climate denial and anime, these are the YouTube channels that have kept me entertained and partly less insane in 2020.
Michael Messineo—also known as Mikes.Mic—is a beloved Aussie icon, making videos about reality TV, Ratatouille, and the problems he faces being extremely online—p.s. it involves being targeted ads about flour and horse-riding. While he has a Twitch and TikTok account, his best content comes from his YouTube channel as seen below.
Joseph Shepherd is an LA-based YouTuber known for his Exposed series, hour-long interviews with RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni. From spilling the tea on Laganja’s split from the Haus of Edwards to whether Brooke Lynn Hytes would ever do All Stars, if you’re a RuPaul’s Drag Race superfan, Shepherd’s videos are It.
Jarvis Johnson is a YouTube commentator making videos about the dumbest and most absurd things on the internet. From a couple on TikTok who joke they’re siblings to the biggest Pokémon card deal that turned out to be a big ol scam, Johnson’s videos are entertaining, well-researched and eye opening that really, anyone can just use the internet, huh?
Danny Gonzalez is another internet commentator, making parody music and videos about the dumbest things online. From failed Instagram accounts about spooky stories, to the time he tried to make a viral song on TikTok.
Over on Trixie Mattel’s YouTube channel, the country-singing Barbie doll shares getting ready videos and reveals of upcoming Trixie Cosmetics products with special guests from Katya and Willam to Brittany Broski and Nicole Byer. You can also find her and Katya’s podcast, The Bald and the Beautiful, over on her channel.
Bob The Drag Queen
If you can’t get enough of Bob The Drag Queen, I recommend checking out their “Anti-Beauty, Beauty Guru” YouTube channel, where they collaborate with Drag Race alumni, recreate iconic looks and do Drag Race queens’ makeup tutorials.
Fact: Brittany Broski is the most chaotic person on the internet. Over on YouTube, the TikTok famous star shares goofy attempts at beauty tutorials and art, as well as whatever category a video called “What Crime Did This Animated Character Commit?”
If you’ve ever wanted to know more about anime beyond Studio Ghibli’s gorgeous catalogue of films or even wanted to know how films like Princess Mononoke inspired The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then I recommend checking out Beyond Ghibli’s videos. Beyond Ghibli is a YouTuber making video essays about anime, its culture and filmmakers, the meaning behind them and why their stories are still relevant today.
Game Score Fanfare
Game Score Fanfare makes YouTube videos about the history and culture of video game soundtracks, from Sayonara Wild Hearts, a game that turned pop music into a playable experience, to how developer Matt Thorson uses music to explore anxiety in Celeste.
Game Maker’s Toolkit
Game Maker’s Toolkit is a YouTube channel dedicated to explaining how individual game mechanics work. If you’ve ever wanted to know how puzzles in The Legend of Zelda dungeons work or what a good combat system, Game Maker’s Toolkit is for you.
Lindsay Ellis is a leftist video essayist making videos about pop culture and politics on YouTube. Watching her videos will make your brain feel full and with many thoughts.
Much in the same coin, hbomberguy is a British video essayist and Twitch streamer making longform videos about pop culture, politics and flawed understandings of our world—from climate denialists to flat earthers.
If you want to feel cocky and smart, I also recommend watching Philosophy Tube, a YouTube philosopher who breaks down topics from Amy Coney Barrett to climate grief and the philosophy behind them with highly produced, theatrical performances.
Anthpo is a YouTuber who makes cracked supercuts of your favourite TV shows as a kid, from iCarly to The Office.
Best known for his punchy Instagram posts calling out outdated understandings of gender and sexuality, if you need someone to help calm your mind at all the wild transphobia and homophobia in the world right now—from J.K. Rowling to Candace Owens—then let Matt Bernstein’s reactions and breakdown videos on YouTube do it for you.
Girlfriend Reviews is a YouTube channel that reviews the experience of watching someone else play a game, instead of reviewing the experience of playing it yourself. Specifically, Shelby, a non-hardcore gamer, reviews the experience of living with her boyfriend Matt while playing a game. Their videos are wildly entertaining, punchily edited and genuinely insightful.
Steal The Spotlight
Katie Orlowski is the Brisbane-based 19-year-old fashion vlogger and stylist behind Steal The Spotlight, a YouTube channel dedicated to Y2K meets anime and K-Pop styles. Over on her channel, Orlowski gives a rundown on her pop culture inspired look-books, from the PowerPuff Girls to Sailor Moon and Avatar: The Last Airbender. She also just has a super cute and fun aesthetic.
Okay, yes, Natalie Tran hasn’t released a new video in *checks notes* three years, but that hasn’t stopped me going back and watching some of her best clips. If you aren’t aware, Community Channel is a fun comedy skit YouTube channel by Tran about the everyday awkward parts of life and questions about why things are the way they are. Case in point: Tell Them I Said Hi or the Yep system.