year in review

The Cut’s 20 Most-Read Stories in 2021

Photo: New York Magazine

Technically, 2020 may be known as “the Pandemic Year,” but you might (vaguely) recall that the first couple months were blessedly COVID-free. Not so for this year. By the time January 2021 came around, we were all old pros at social distancing, working from home, and remote schooling. Nearly 12 months later, it’s hard to remember life before the plague. Our 20 most-read articles of the year reflect that existence, from covering the “Great Resignation” and how our spending habits have changed to the boom in animal adoptions and therapy apps. Plus: Tavi Gevinson on #FreeBritney, testimonies from Marilyn Manson and R. Kelly accusers, the harrowing tale of the world’s worst roommate, and more.

This list is measured by total collective minutes of audience engagement. It’s just a small sample of the work the Cut puts out, alongside New York’s print edition and its other five digital sites — Intelligencer, Vulture, Grub Street, Curbed, and the Strategist — and a growing portfolio of newsletters. For more of all of it, be sure to sign up for the Cut’s daily newsletter, and to subscribe.

Photo: Courtesy of Danielle Henderson

This generation will never know the true freedom — and neglect — of being an ’80s kid. Read the story ➼

Photo-Illustration: by the Cut; Photos: Buzzfoto/FilmMagic; Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage; WENN Rights Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo; Zuma Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The boutique that defined early-aughts L.A. style has taken an … unexpected turn. Read the story ➼

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

Many of us experienced a major shift in how we shop during the pandemic. As fun as it is to talk about what we’re buying, we’re also curious what people have decided to cut out. Read the story ➼

Photo: Courtesy of AMC

For those who can afford it, quitting has become the ultimate form of self-care since the pandemic started. Read the story ➼

Photo: Gioncarlo Valentine

Hostin on Meghan McCain, her puppies, and The View’s COVID scare. Read the story ➼

Photo-Illustration: by the Cut; Photo Getty Images

A holding company bought out a controlling stake in the Wing, closing a chapter in the annals of girlboss capitalism. To the extent that it is remembered, it will be as an artifact of the Trump era. Read the story ➼

Photo: Whitten Sabbatini/The New York Times/Redux

Sparkle tried to convince the world that R. Kelly sexually abused her teenage niece. The decades-long crusade cost the 46-year-old her closest relationships and stifled her own music career. Read the story ➼

Photo-Illustration: Pablo Rochat

An overwhelming demand for counseling has spawned slickly marketed companies promising a service they cannot possibly provide. Read the story ➼

Photo: G. Ronald Lopez/Zuma Press Wire

A confrontation between a host and dining patrons slid neatly into every outrage narrative of 2021. Maybe a bit too neatly. Read the story ➼

Photo: Photograph by Andreas Laszlo Konrath for New York Magazine

Jennifer Freyd accused her father of sexual abuse. Her parents’ attempt to discredit her created a defense for countless sex offenders. Read the story ➼

Photo: Ashley Peña

Simone Biles decides what comes next. If anything. “I should have quit way before Tokyo.” Read the story ➼

Photo: Bobby Doherty for New York Magazine

Adopting used to be a good thing that good people could do. These days, you’re probably not good enough. Read the story ➼

Art: Katelyn Kopenhaver; Source Image: NINA WESTERVELT/The New York Times/Redux

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen grew up to make New York’s most desirable clothes. But can even perfection survive the pandemic? Read the story ➼

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

When journalist Laura Bassett discovered that someone had been uploading photos of her feet to, she decided to track him down and ask him why. Read the story ➼

Photo: Courtesy of the subject

Sarah Green escaped her mother’s cult 22 years ago. She still thinks about those she left behind. Read the story ➼

Photo: Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal on the particular vulnerability of being a woman of color during a violent incursion like the one on January 6. Read the story ➼

Photo: L. Busacca/WireImage

Gevinson reflects on her experiences of sexual predation, and how “weaponized sex positivity” obscures what is in fact exploitation and abuse. Read the story ➼

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

The legendary anchor has written a wild, unflinching memoir. Does that make her a bad person? Read the story ➼

Photo: Ashley Walters

Game of Thrones actress Esmé Bianco says her relationship with the singer left her with physical scars and PTSD. Read the story ➼

Photo: Gillian Laub

She posted an ad for a roommate. What’s the worst that could happen? Here, the story of an epic roommate drama on Barrow Street. Read the story ➼

The Cut’s 20 Most-Read Stories in 2021