The world didn’t end. The lights stayed on, airplanes remained in the sky, and when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000, the world’s computerized systems were properly primed to handle the roll over from years that started with “19” and years that started with “2.” Not that the 365 days that followed needed any help with being eventful: The Y2K bug was a bust, but computers still managed to wreak havoc, as their increasingly connected users rode increasing broadband speeds into one another’s music libraries, accessed through a piece of software that would become the recording industry’s public enemy No. 1 by midyear. You could argue until you’re blue in the face about when a new decade, century, or millennium actually begins, but with Peanuts set to end in February of 2000, the old standbys and security blankets of the 20th century were already starting to fade away. Meanwhile, the United States was on the precipice of picking a new president—though nobody could’ve suspected that Decision 2000 ultimately rested with the U.S. Supreme Court.
But lists of incorrectly labeled MP3s, comic strip panels, and the holes of oddly punctured ballots are just three portals to see 2000 through. As is tradition for The A.V. Club’s annual summertime throwbacks, we begin Y2K Week by reconstructing the year that was 20 years ago through the pop culture works, figures, and events that defined it. It’s not a comprehensive timeline, but a mosaic of the art and media that still scream “Y2K!” today. To paraphrase an old Late Night With Conan O’Brien bit that carried on during (and even after) the year in its title: It’s time, once again, to look into the past.
That’s right—let’s look into past. All the way to the year 2000.