Jennifer Lopez’s Best and Most Outrageous Red Carpet Looks

Jennifer Lopez‘s career in entertainment spans over three decades, during which she’s left her mark as a formidable triple threat.

From dancing as a Fly Girl on In Living Color to her breakthrough role in Selena to her most recent turn now as the fierce veteran dancer Ramona in Hustlers, Lopez had a wide range of roles over the years. During this time, she’s also sported a variety of memorable and at times, iconic, red carpet looks that have become cultural touchstones in their own right. Consider the dramatic green Versace dress with a plunging neckline that Lopez wore to the 2000 Grammys, a look so show-stopping and furiously searched for online, that it inspired the creation of Google images. Or look at the draped gold gown that she wore to the 1998 Golden Globes that rivaled the hue of the night’s coveted trophies.

All eyes are on Lopez this awards season and the 77th annual Golden Globes is no exception, here’s a look back at her best and most outrageous red carpet looks, from the Grammys to the Met Gala.

2000 Grammys: Green Versace dress

Call it the dress that broke the Internet — when Lopez appeared at the Grammys in this stunning green Versace dress, searches for her look were so high that it inspired the creation of Google Images.

2006 MTV Video Music Awards: Biba mini dress and headscarf

Lopez channeled sultry retro vibes with her sparkly Biba mini dress and matching headscarf, which she paired with thigh high nude patent leather boots for the 2006 MTV VMAs.

1998 Golden Globes

Lopez showed off her trademark physique with a dress with a strategic cut-out at her first Golden Globes in 1998. She received her first Golden Globe nomination for her work in Selena; 20 years later, she’s now received her second nomination for Hustlers.

1998 MTV Video Music Awards

A leather maxi skirt paired with a metallic mesh backless halter was one of Lopez’s most playful looks.

1997 Oscars: Badgley Mischka gown

Lopez channeled Old Hollywood at her first Oscars in 1997 with a delicate beaded lace dress from Badgley Mischka.

2000 MTV VMAs: Sean John crop top and jeans

Lopez debuted one of her most memorable outfits, a crop top from her then-boyfriend Diddy’s fashion line, Sean John and a pair of matching hip hugger jeans. Accessorizing with a bejeweled belt, body jewelry, big hoops and a bandana completed the now-iconic outfit.

2003 Oscars: Valentino gown

Lopez matched her eyeshadow shade to her demure pistachio-colored, one-shouldered Valentino gown at the 2007 Academy Awards.

2009 Golden Globes: Marchesa gown

Lopez’s glow rivaled that of the coveted statuettes at the 2009 Golden Globes when she showed up in a dramatically draped gold Marchesa gown.

2010 Oscars: Armani Privé gown

Lopez stole the show at the 2010 Oscars with her impeccably tailored and very structural light pink Armani Privé gown.

2001 Oscars: Chanel gown

Lopez turned heads on the red carpet with her elegant yet daring Chanel gown, which featured a sheer bodice and full ballgown skirt.

2015 Met Gala: Versace Gown

Lopez teamed up with longtime favorite designer Donatella Versace for this sheer, body-hugging gown for the annual Met Gala.

2016 Golden Globes: Giambattista Valli Haute Couture dress

Lopez went for a retro look in a dramatic Giambattista Valli gown and matching capelet the color of sunshine.

2017 Grammys: Ralph & Russo

Lopez made a case for oversized bows with her pretty lilac gown; the plunging neckline and high-cut leg slit helped keep the dress from veering into saccharine territory.

2018 Second Act premiere: Giambattista Valli gown

It was impossible to look away from Lopez when she showed up to the world premiere of her film, Second Act, in a voluminous hot pink Giambattista Valli gown with a train that took up most of the press line.

2019 Met Gala: Versace dress

Lopez paid homage to the ’20s at the 2019 Met Gala with a shimmering embellished Versace gown and matching headdress.

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Trump Portrays Himself as Defender of Faith for Evangelical Supporters at Miami Rally

(MIAMI) — Highlighting his record on religious liberty, President Donald Trump on Friday worked to energize a group of evangelical supporters who make up an influential piece of his political base that could prove vital in battleground states.

Trump spoke to more than 5,000 Christians, including a large group of Latinos, at a Miami megachurch, just days after he was the subject of a scathing editorial in Christianity Today magazine that called for his removal from office. Thousands of the faithful lifted their hands and prayed over Trump as he began speaking and portrayed himself as a defender of faith.

“We’re defending religion itself. A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith can not endure,” said Trump, who also tried to paint his Democratic rivals for the 2020 election as threats to religious liberty. “We can’t let one of our radical left friends come in here because everything we’ve done will be gone in short order.”

“The day I was sworn in, the federal government war’s on religion came to an abrupt end,” Trump declared. He later added: “We can smile because we’re winning by so much.”

Although some of his address resembled his standard campaign speech, Trump cited his support for Israel, installation of federal judges, prison reform and a push to put prayer in public school. Those are issues his Republican reelection campaign believes could further jolt evangelical turnout that could help them secure wins in states like Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia.

The El Rey Jesús church kickoff of “Evangelicals for Trump” will be followed in the weeks ahead by the launches of “Catholics for Trump” and “Jewish Voices for Trump.” It also comes days after Trump and his wife went to an evangelical Christmas Eve service in West Palm Beach rather than the liberal Episcopalian church in which they were married and often attend holiday services.

Advisers believe that emphasizing religious issues may also provide inroads with Latino voters, who have largely steered clear of supporting the president over issues like immigration. Deep into his speech, Trump touched on the issue by praising his border wall. His aides believe even a slight uptick with faith-focused Latinos could help Trump carry Florida again and provide some needed breathing room in states like Texas.

The president made no mention of the editorial, which ran in a magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham.

“Remember who you are and whom you serve,” the editorial states. “Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency.”

Campaign officials said the Miami event was in the works well before the op-ed, and they trotted out a number of high-profile evangelical pastors to defend the president.

“I think his record in the past three years is rock-solid in things that the faith community cares about him,” said Jentezen Franklin, a pastor to a megachurch in Georgia. “We used to see politicians once every four years, but this one is totally different in constantly reaching out to the faith community, and we even get a chance to tell him when we disagree.”

The event comes just day after a new poll revealed that white evangelical Protestants stand noticeably apart from other religious people on how the government should act on two of the most politically divisive issues at play in the 2020 presidential election.

Asked about significant restrictions on abortion — making it illegal except in cases of rape, incest or to threats to a mother’s life — 37% of all Americans responded in support, according to the poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Those abortion limits drew 39% support from white mainline Protestants, 33% support from nonwhite Protestants and 45% support from Catholics, but 67% support from white evangelical Protestants.

A similar divide emerged over whether the government should bar discrimination against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in workplaces, housing or schools. About 6 in 10 Catholics, white mainline Protestants and nonwhite Protestants supported those protections, compared with about a third of white evangelical Protestants.

White evangelicals were also more likely than members of other faiths to say religion should have at least some influence on policy-making.

But Democrats have shown strong interest in connecting with voters of faith, even evangelicals whom Trump is often assumed to have locked down. And some religious leaders believe people of faith may be turned off by Trump’s personal conduct or record.

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“Friday’s rally is Trump’s desperate response to the realization that he is losing his primary voting bloc — faith voters. He knows he needs every last vote if he wants a shot at reelection, as losing just 5% of the faith voters ends his chances,” said the Rev. Doug Pagitt, the executive director of Vote Common Good. “In addition, he is trying to use this part of his base to give cover for his broken promises and immoral policies.”


Schor reported from New York. AP Polling director Emily Swanson and Associated Press writers Kevin Freking and Aamer Madhani contributed from Washington.

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Over 200 Members of Congress Urge Supreme Court to ‘Reconsider’ Abortion Rights Under Roe v. Wade. Pro-Choice Advocates Say They’re Ignoring Public Opinion

More than 200 members of Congress told the Supreme Court that its landmark decisions on abortion, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, should be “reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled” in a brief they submitted to the court on Thursday.

Anti-abortion group Americans United for Life organized the amicus curiae brief (translated from latin to mean “friend of the court”) in support of a restrictive Louisiana abortion law that is currently under a temporary stay and slated to be considered by the Supreme Court this Spring: June Medical Services LLC v. Gee.

The 2014 Louisiana law in question would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of where they perform the procedure. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a structurally similar Texas law in 2016. Before the court blocked it, the Texas law also required physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 mile radiuses.

In evaluating the Texas law, the Supreme Court determined the barrier it created was an “undue burden” on the right to abortions secured by the 1973 and 1992 cases; a significant number of abortion providers were not within a 30-mile radius of hospitals they had admitting privileges to — potentially increasing workloads for doctors and wait times for women.

If the Supreme Court allows the Louisiana law to take effect, all but one abortion clinic in the state would close, CBS previously reported. Pro-choice advocates thus argue the Louisiana law is in blatant disregard of the “undue burden” test established by the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, which says a “substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability” is unconstitutional.

Pro-choice advocates further argue that these legislators are ignoring public opinion. Fully 61% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in most circumstances: the highest support has been in two decades, according to Pew Research Center. Notably, eight of the 13 GOP Senators who did not sign the brief are up for re-election in 2020.

“These anti-abortion politicians are making it very clear — they want the Supreme Court to effectively ban abortion, precedent be damned,” Samuel Lau, Planned Parenthood Votes’ Director of Federal Advocacy Media said in a statement. “To the members of Congress who signed on to this amicus brief: Brace yourselves for the consequences you will face at the ballot box in November.” Meanwhile, the National Abortion Rights Action League took time to call out Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski for being one of only two Democrats to sign the brief, calling him a “‘Democrat’ in name only” in a statement.

In contrast, the 39 senators and 168 House members who signed the brief — 97% of which are men — are arguing the undue burden test is a “vague and unworkable” standard, which “illustrates the unworkability of the ‘right to abortion’ found in Roe.”

In response to a question from TIME, Americans United for Life Government Affairs Counsel Katie Glenn said the 30-mile rule is meant to protect women in case they experience a medical crisis during an abortion. “Roe and the interests of abortion businesses are callously being used by opponents of health and safety laws to threaten a woman’s right to emergency transfer in the event of life-threatening medical complications,” Glenn said. “We believe every woman deserves the basic continuity of care that Louisiana-style laws provide,” she continued.

To be sure, pro-choice advocates argue women would also be at medical risk if they didn’t have access to legal abortions. In December, 197 mostly Democratic Members of Congress submitted a separate amicus brief arguing the Supreme Court should permanently block the Louisiana law. The act would “force patients to travel greater distances, wait longer to be treated, and potentially resort to unsafe abortion procedures,” they wrote.

TIME reached out to several GOP lawmakers about this potential safety outcome, but none responded to requests for comment.

The case will be the first major one on abortion the Supreme Court will hear since President Donald Trump’s nominated Justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were confirmed. Thursday’s amicus brief was just the latest juncture in what has been a contentious period for abortion politics. In 2019 alone, six states passed laws to ban abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Though most of those laws have been challenged, the recent efforts to restrict abortion in the U.S. have advocates worried.

“This case could open the floodgates for other states to pass similarly harmful restrictions with one goal in mind: to make abortion completely inaccessible for millions of Americans,” Rachel Sussman, National Director of State Policy and Advocacy, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, tells TIME in a statement.

Planned Parenthood says its advocacy and political organizations plan to invest at least $45 million in key battleground states ahead of 2020.

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Iranian Cyberattacks Feared After Killing of General Qasem Soleimani

(BOSTON) — Iran’s retaliation for the United States’ targeted killing of its top general is likely to include cyberattacks, security experts warned Friday. Iran’s state-backed hackers are already among the world’s most aggressive and could inject malware that triggers major disruptions to the U.S. public and private sector.

Potential targets include manufacturing facilities, oil and gas plants and transit systems. A top U.S. cybersecurity official is warning businesses and government agencies to be extra vigilant.

Iranian state-backed hackers carried out a series of disruptive denial-of-service attacks that knocked the websites of major U.S. banks and the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ offline in 2012-13, a response to U.S. sanctions. Two years later, they wiped servers at the Sands Casino in Las Vegas, crippling hotel and gambling operations.

The destructive attacks on U.S. targets ebbed when Tehran reached a nuclear deal with the Obama administration in 2015. The killing early Friday in Iraq of Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani — long after Trump scrapped the nuclear deal — completely alters the equation.

“Our concern is essentially that things are going to go back to the way they were before the agreement,” said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm FireEye. “There are opportunities for them to cause real disruption and destruction.”

Iran has been doing a lot of probing of critical U.S. industrial systems in recent years — trying to gain access — but has limited its destructive attacks to targets in the Middle East such as the Saudi oil company, experts say.

It’s not known whether Iranian cyber-agents have planted destructive payloads in U.S. infrastructure that could now be triggered.

“It’s certainly possible,” said Hultquist. “But we haven’t actually seen it.”

Robert M. Lee, chief executive of Dragos Inc., which specializes in industrial control system security, said Iranian hackers have been very aggressive in trying to gain access to utilities, factories and oil and gas facilities. That doesn’t mean they’ve succeeded, however. In one case in 2013 where they did break into the control system of a U.S. dam — garnering significant media attention — Lee said they probably didn’t know the compromised target was a small flood control structure 20 miles north of New York City.

Iran has been increasing its cyber capabilities but is not in the same league as China or Russia — which has proven most adept at sabotaging critical infrastructure, witnessed in attacks on Ukraine’s power grid and elections, experts agree.

And while the U.S. power grid is among the most secure and resilient in the world, plenty of private companies and local governments haven’t made adequate investments in cybersecurity and are highly vulnerable, experts say.

“My worst-case scenario is a municipality or a cooperative-type attack where power is lost to a city or a couple of neighborhoods,” Lee said.

Consider the havoc an epidemic of ransomware attacks has caused U.S. local governments, crippling services as vital as tax collection. While there’s no evidence of coordinated Iranian involvement, imagine if the aggressor — instead of scrambling data and demanding ransoms — simply wiped hard drives clean, said Hultquist.

The only known cybersecurity survey of U.S. local governments, county and municipal, found that the networks of 28 percent were being attacked at least hourly — and that nearly the same percentage said they didn’t even know how frequently they were being attacked. Although the study was done in 2016, the authors at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County don’t believe the situation has improved since.

The top cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security, Christopher Krebs, urged companies and government agencies to refresh their knowledge of Iranian state-backed hackers’ past exploits and methods after Soleimani’s death was announced. “Pay close attention to your critical systems,” he tweeted.

In June, Krebs warned of a rise in malicious Iranian cyberactivity, particularly attacks using common methods like spearphishing that could erase entire networks: “What might start as an account compromise, where you think you might just lose data, can quickly become a situation where you’ve lost your whole network.”

When then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper blamed Iran for the Sands Casino attack, it was one of the first cases of American intelligence agencies identifying a specific country as hacking for political reasons: The casino’s owner, Sheldon Adelson, is a big Israel backer. Clapper also noted the value of hacking for collecting intelligence. North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures in retaliation for a movie that mocked its leader followed.

The vast majority of the nearly 100 Iranian targets leaked online last year by a person or group known as Lab Dookhtegan — a defector, perhaps — were in the Middle East, said Charity Wright, a former National Security Agency analyst at the threat intelligence firm InSights. She said it’s highly likely Iran will focus its retaliation on U.S. targets in the region as well as in Israel and the U.S.

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Associated Press writer Christina Cassidy contributed from Atlanta

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Former Mexico Security Chief Pleads Not Guilty on Charges of Accepting Bribes From El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel

(NEW YORK) — Mexico’s former top security official pleaded not guilty on Friday on charges he accepted a fortune in drug-money bribes from kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s notorious Sinaloa cartel to let it operate with impunity.

Genaro Garcia Luna, 51, was indicted in New York on three counts of cocaine trafficking conspiracy and a false statements charge.

During his brief appearance in a Brooklyn courtroom, Garcia Luna shook his head “no” as prosecutors outlined the charges against him.

A judge ordered him detained after Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Reid argued that he would pose an “unacceptable risk of flight” if released. Garcia Luna’s lawyer, Cesar de Castro, said he would ask the court at a later date for his client to be granted bail.

Garcia Luna was viewed as the point man in then-President Felipe Calderon’s 2006-2012 war on drugs. As public safety secretary, he was one of the most feared members of Calderon’s government, but for years was dogged by allegations about his ties to drug traffickers.

Calderon’s government was criticized for not going after the Sinaloa cartel with the same energy as the cartel’s rivals. Calderon always rebuffed that criticism.

U.S. prosecutors said in a court filing this month that Garcia Luna had accepted “tens of millions of dollars” in bribes — often briefcases full of cash — to protect the cartel.

“Because of the defendant’s corrupt assistance, the Sinaloa Cartel conducted its criminal activity in Mexico without significant interference from Mexican law enforcement and imported multi-ton quantities of cocaine and other drugs into the United States,” prosecutors wrote.

They added that Garcia Luna “prioritized his personal greed over his sworn duties as a public servant and assured the continued success and safety of one of the world’s most notorious trafficking organizations.”

During Guzman’s 2018 New York trial, jurors heard former cartel member Jesus Zambada testify that he personally made at least $6 million in hidden payments to Garcia Luna, on behalf of his older brother, cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

It’s alleged that during the time Garcia Luna protected the Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for bribes, the cartel, at the direction of Chapo Guzman, Mayo Zambada and other leaders, sent multi-ton drug loads to New York and other American cities, including the federal district covering Brooklyn and Queens, according to court documents.

Garcia Luna lived in Miami, Florida, before his arrest last month in Texas. From 2001 to 2005, he led Mexico’s Federal Investigation Agency and from 2006 to 2012 served as Mexico’s secretary of public security before relocating to the U.S., authorities said.

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How Qasem Soleimani’s Assassination in Iraq Comes at a Fraught Moment for Trump

Donald J. Trump’s decision to escalate the U.S. confrontation with Iran by authorizing an airstrike that killed two of its top military leaders comes as he finds himself in a precarious, unprecedented position: facing a trial in the Senate and entering the 2020 campaign as the first President in history to run for re-election after being impeached.

Trump’s decision to launch a drone strike in Baghdad that killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Iran’s main liaison to proxy militias in Iraq, is destined to ignite the polarized politics at home, raising questions over the timing of the attack as a likely impeachment trial nears and the presidential race heats up.

The public “is always going to be wondering how much of this was a policy decision versus a political decision,” says Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.

In his first public comments about the strike on Friday, Trump said the move was intended to stave off future attacks against U.S. personnel. “We took action last night to stop a war,” he said, speaking at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. “We did not take action to start a war.” Soleimani was planning “imminent and sinister attacks,” Trump said, without providing specifics.

Trump isn’t the first President to take military action during a high-stakes domestic political situation. President Bill Clinton ordered airstrikes on Iraq in 1998, in the midst of his own impeachment. The notion that Trump ordered the strike for political gain is “utterly ridiculous,” Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for Trump’s re-election campaign, tells TIME. Trump acted in light of “recent attacks and ongoing planning for future attacks,” Murtaugh says. “How much is the United States expected to take before it fights back?”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter that Trump ordered the attack to defend against “imminent threats to American lives.” Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, told TIME the move showcased Trump’s willingness to act. “It just shows the difference in a President who will make a decision and follow through on what he says he is going to do,” says Collins, a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve who is close to the White House. “I think it’s very real with this President that if you attack. It goes back to a personal philosophy. He doesn’t let things go unanswered.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina and close ally of the president, told Fox News on Friday that he was briefed about a potential operation during his recent trip to see Trump in Florida; Graham was with the President at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach on Dec. 30, days before the strike. “The intelligence was very strong that Soleimani was orchestrating chaos in Iraq at our expense and throughout the region, the President was informed of these potential attacks, and he acted,” Graham said.

Yet the fact that Trump notified senior Republican lawmakers about the operation but left Democrats in the dark was a breach of protocol that heightened the political backlash. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner were not informed in advance of the strike against Soleimani, according to congressional aides. There are ongoing discussions between the Administration and Congress about briefings with the House Armed Services Committee “early” next week, an aide said. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday that he’s working to arrange a classified briefing for senators next week.

Democrats say they now worry that the situation will spiral out of Trump’s control. Past Presidents didn’t make the same call when considering how to respond to Soleimani’s military sponsorship that has killed hundreds of American troops. “We didn’t lack for opportunities to go after [Soleimani] or other Iranian leaders, but we also understood the consequences of taking that action,” says Brett Bruen, a former NSC official under President Barack Obama. “And you only do so if you put in place a really sound, smart strategy.”

White House and Pentagon officials remained tight-lipped about the details of the decision and the military operation on Friday. After his five-minute televised address, Trump left the podium without taking any questions or providing details about what Soleimani was plotting or how the operation occurred. He did issue a warning to Iran. “If Americans anywhere are threatened we have all of those targets already fully identified and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary — and that in particular refers to Iran,” Trump said.

The Trump campaign, meanwhile, praised the President’s decision and touted the news on social media Friday. “This was a display of American strength,” campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox. “He was resolute.” A Twitter account run by the Trump campaign tweeted a series of happy tears emojis above a video of an Iranian Revolutionary Guards spokesman crying on television over the news of Soleimani’s death.

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Whatever Trump’s motivations for killing Soleimani at this particular moment, it is hard to predict how the move will impact the President’s re-election bid, says Zelizer of Princeton.

“Nothing moves public opinion at this point,” he says, “and certainly it’s not as if people who don’t like Trump are suddenly going to love him because of a successful military operation.”

—With additional reporting by Alana Abramson/Washington

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What Netflix’s Most-Watched Shows of Last Year Tell Us About TV in the 2020s

Another year in the streaming trenches is in the books, and Netflix is eager to start 2020 by declaring itself a winner. At the end of December, the industry leader—which weathered the launches of Disney+ and Apple TV+ in 2019 and will soon face additional competition from HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock—released a handful of top 10 lists enumerating its most popular new programming of the year. These rankings are as fascinating as they are limited by Netflix’s perennially confusing metrics and highly selective approach to sharing audience data. As we head into yet another year of Peak TV, it’s worth taking stock of what the report does and doesn’t tell us about the coming decade for Netflix in particular—and television in general.

Before we get started, I feel compelled to issue the standard disclaimer about statistics that come straight from Netflix: They’re not verified by a third party, and even if they are all technically accurate, these numbers can be misleading. Why, for example, are Friends and The Office—two of the platform’s most consistent top performers, both of which are departing for other services—absent from these lists? Not because their popularity dipped in 2019, but because they weren’t new releases last year. Top 10 lists that included viewership of older movies and TV shows would, presumably, look pretty different. Also keep in mind that for the purposes of this report, Netflix defined a household as having “watched” a title if it’s seen as little as two minutes of it. Finally, rankings are not the same thing as hard viewership numbers—and rankings for shows that have been on the service for less than 28 days (in this case, You season 2, The Witcher and the Michael Bay movie 6 Underground, among other top performers) are based on projections.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into it.

Just because no one’s talking about a Netflix original, doesn’t mean it isn’t popular

I’ll admit it: When I saw that Netflix’s most-watched new release of 2019 was Murder Mystery, it took me a minute to recall that the generically titled movie was in fact a comedy flick starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. While critics almost unanimously dismissed it as more bland Sandler-factory fare and it’s more likely to take home a Golden Raspberry than an Oscar this awards season, the film also failed to generate the kind of controversy that kept, say, Joker in the headlines for months. Yet according to Netflix, 73 million households had viewed it by the end of September. Among the service’s top TV releases of the year were The Umbrella Academy and Raising Dion, both comic-book adaptations that failed to capture the attention of the chattering classes. And who would have predicted that Jailbirds, a sort of reality-TV Orange Is the New Black filmed at Sacramento County Jail, would be second only to Tidying Up With Marie Kondo as the year’s most-watched reality show? It isn’t news that cultural products can thrive without critics’ endorsements—or even, in the case of broadcast-TV juggernauts like The Big Bang Theory and Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise, much pop-culture visibility. But streaming services have always seemed more reliant than traditional TV on word of mouth, on social media in particular, to help viewers cut through their glut of originals. This year’s Netflix top 10 lists suggest that we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the algorithm.

Expensive sci-fi and fantasy spectacles are paying off

Netflix’s three most-watched new TV seasons of 2019—Stranger Things 3 and the debuts of The Witcher and The Umbrella Academy—have two things in common: they’re genre shows and they cost a ton of money to make. It probably doesn’t hurt, either, that the latter two were adapted from franchises that were already popular in other media. While they range in quality from decent to terrible, the voracity of fan culture renders all of these series effectively critic-proof—which is good news for Netflix, if not for those of us who think shows without supernatural creatures deserve nice production values too.

Yes, lots of subscribers are watching trash. But ambitious programming is flourishing, too

Still, viewers who come to Netflix for the kind of movies and shows that win awards and top critics’ best-of lists shouldn’t despair yet. When They See Us and Unbelievable—two thoughtful, serious and beautifully made miniseries that dramatized real-life failures of the criminal justice system—were among the service’s most-watched series of 2019. Macho entertainments of the type that dominate the box office are sharing space on these lists with other smart, often diverse, female-driven dramas (You), comedies (Dead to Me), documentaries (Beyoncé’s HOMECOMING) and reality hits (Marie Kondo, Jailbirds). And Netflix claims that Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece The Irishman was its fifth-most-popular new release of the year across mediums. That’s heartening for those of us who fear that competition will force the service to become a franchise factory like Disney, even if I still wish Netflix’s best new show of 2019, Russian Doll, had cracked the top 10.

Losing Disney movies is still going to hurt

Speaking of Disney, a handful of the mega-brand’s blockbusters remained on Netflix throughout 2019 thanks to old licensing agreements. That explains the presence of two new Disney films, The Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, as well as Sony Pictures’ Marvel collaboration Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, among the service’s 10 most-watched new movie releases of 2019. And remember: the list doesn’t even account for the relative popularity of any Disney titles on Netflix that made their streaming debuts before last January.

The children are Netflix’s future—and the company knows it

Since it can’t count on licensed Disney titles to hold kids’ attention in the long run, the race is on for Netflix to develop its own essential children’s, teen and family programming. Those efforts are already paying off. If you don’t have young children, you might not have heard of Mighty Little Bheem; it’s a cute, silly, computer-animated kiddie confection from Netflix India that was this year’s most-streamed new international release among subscribers in the U.S. Shows such as Stranger Things, The Dark Crystal, Nailed It! and Raising Dion have become cross-generational hits. And the service has continued to cement its hold on teens and young adults, with youth-focused offerings like You, The Umbrella Academy, Sex Education and the controversial 13 Reasons Why, as well as Stranger Things, all ranking in the top 10 new series of 2019. Meanwhile, the success of HOMECOMING, the festival-scam doc FYRE and Rhythm + Flow—the hip-hop reality competition starring Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and T.I.—suggest that Netflix is making inroads into music programming aimed at the post-MTV generation.

True crime wasn’t just a trend

Half a decade ago, when Serial, The Jinx and Making a Murderer hijacked the cultural conversation, the mainstreaming of true-crime narratives seemed like a fad. But the hunger for these stories has shown no signs of ebbing, even if they’ve proliferated to the extent that no single show or podcast can dominate our attention for long. True crime and its lightly fictionalized cousins—like Bonnie-and-Clyde riff The Highwaymen and Ted Bundy biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, two Netflix movies that were among the site’s 10 most-watched new releases—proved massively popular in 2019. It was the service’s top documentary program of the year, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, that kicked off the recent Bundy-mania (which will continue this month with the Amazon original docuseries Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer). Bracingly bizarre docs, from Abducted in Plain Sight (a rare non-Netflix Original to appear on these lists) to Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer, have not only sucked in heaps of viewers, but also brought them to social media to share their “ugh,” “omg” and “wtf” reactions. Even The Irishman is based on a nonfiction book. Especially considering that this is one arena in which the family-focused Disney+ can’t compete, Netflix is sure to keep the true-crime tap flowing.

Women and people of color are the future—but also the present—of stand-up comedy

It is a fact universally acknowledged that Netflix has changed the comedy game over the past few years, launching a new golden age of stand-up and playing host to some of the form’s most talked-about personalities, from Dave Chappelle (whose controversial special Sticks & Stones was its most-watched new comedy special of 2019) to Hannah Gadsby. And while it’s been apparent for a while that the service is paying particular attention to rising stars who happen to be women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community, we haven’t necessarily known how successful that strategy has been with viewers until now. Of the top 10 new Netflix comedy specials of last year, only two (Jeff Dunham’s Beside Himself and Bill Burr’s Paper Tiger) featured white men. The remainder of the list—which includes Chappelle, Ken Jeong, Wanda Sykes, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari, Mike Epps and Kevin Hart—represents the cornucopia of identities and styles that have become the new normal in stand-up comedy.

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Iran Tensions Turn Focus of Democratic Primary to Foreign Policy

With just weeks before voting begins in Iowa, the killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump has posed a new challenge to his Democratic opponents: how should the Democratic candidates react to the assassination of a terrorist whose death could draw the U.S. into another costly confrontation in the Middle East? In a race that has rarely zeroed in on foreign policy, the question has the potential to reveal fissures between Democratic rivals and possibly upend the wide-open 2020 nominating contest.

On the campaign trail, the Democratic candidates acknowledged Soleimani was responsible for bloodshed across the Middle East, including the deaths of Americans, while highlighting the potential consequences of Iranian retaliation and giving the contenders an opportunity to highlight what several said was a rushed move on the President’s part.

“[Soleimani] supported terror and sowed chaos. None of that negates the fact that this is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region,” former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement after the strike. “The Administration’s statement says that its goal is to deter future attacks by Iran, but this action almost certainly will have the opposite effect.”

Trump, Biden continued, “just tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox.”

Biden’s statement was similar to those of some top Democratic rivals. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar warned that the attack raised “serious questions and concerns about escalating conflicts,” while former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg said it raised questions about whether the country is “prepared for the consequences.” Klobuchar and Buttigieg also condemned the Trump Administration’s failure to consult leading lawmakers in Congress prior to the airstrike. (Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the group of lawmakers typically briefed on intelligence matters by the White House, known as the Gang of Eight, had not been consulted beforehand.)

The top two progressive candidates in the race raised similar alarm bells about the prospect of war with Iran, but couched their criticism in stronger language. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren initially tweeted a statement calling the move “reckless,” but referring to Soleimani as a “murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands.”

“Our priority must be to avoid another costly war with Iran,” she wrote.

On Friday, Warren sharpened her language. “Donald Trump ripped up an Iran nuclear deal that was working. He’s repeatedly escalated tensions,” she wrote on Twitter. “Now he’s assassinated a senior foreign military official. He’s been marching toward war with Iran since his first days in office—but the American people won’t stand for it.”

Warren’s rhetoric matched that of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who argued that the strike against Soleimani is analogous to the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2002. “We face a similar crossroads fraught with danger,” he said at a town hall in Anamosa, Iowa on Friday. “Once again, we must worry about unintended consequences and the impact of unilateral decision making.” The populist Senator also noted that, should the U.S. officially enter into a war with Iran, it would be the working class who would face the most severe repercussions.

“It is rarely the children of the billionaire class who face the agony of reckless foreign policy,” he said. “It is the children of working families.”

Sanders never mentioned Biden by name when discussing the strike on Soleimani at his town hall Friday. But his invocation of the Iraq War was telling. He and Biden are the only two presidential candidates who were in the Senate to vote on the Iraq war in 2002. By highlighting his own opposition to the war, he was subtly invoking Biden’s support for it at the time.

It’s a contrast that could prove pivotal as America’s confrontation with Iran unfolds.

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1 Person Fatally Stabbed, at Least 2 Injured in Austin Attack

(jAUSTIN, Texas) — A man stabbed two people, one fatally, inside a restaurant during a violent string of attacks Friday at a shopping plaza in Texas’ capital city that began with an assault at a coffee shop and ended with the suspect leaping off a roof, police said.

The attacks on a busy downtown avenue of restaurants and apartments just south of the Texas Capitol terrified customers stopping for their morning coffee on the way to work. It was the city of Austin’s first homicide of 2020.

Austin police Sgt. David Daniels said investigators don’t know what provoked the suspect from striking a person inside a coffee shop before fleeing and stabbing two people inside Freebirds World Burrito a few doors down. The man, who was not identified, jumped off the roof of the restaurant but survived.

Stacy Romine, 33, said she was getting her drink at Bennu Coffee when she saw the suspect suddenly attack a man who was sitting with a table full of regulars.

“This guy out of nowhere just hit him in the back of the head with something,” Romine said. “People tried to restrain him and stop him from leaving the store after it happened. But he could not be apprehended by three men, including a police officer.”

Daniels said he did not know whether the stabbing victims at Freebirds were employees. None of the victims were identified, but Austin-Travis County EMS said one man in his 20s was pronounced dead at the scene. Daniels said a knife was involved in the attack but did not say whether it came from the restaurant.

After he ran out of the coffee shop, Romine said she saw the attacker jump from the roof of Freebirds and did not move after hitting the ground. Daniels said the suspect was transported to a hospital but did not know his condition.

Daniels praised customers who tried to stop the man at the coffee shop before he fled to Freebirds.

“We don’t recommend individuals getting involved in a situation, but they chose to do that, and it was helpful,” Daniels said.

In 2017, one student was killed and three others wounded in a random stabbing attack at the University of Texas campus in Austin. In that case, the assailant was later found not guilty by reason of insanity.


Associated Press writer Jake Bleiberg in Dallas contributed to this report.

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United Methodist Church Leaders Plan to Formally Split From the Church

(NASHVILLE, Tenn. ) — United Methodist Church leaders from around the world are proposing a new conservative denomination that would split from the rest of the church in an attempt to resolve a yearslong dispute over gay marriage and gay clergy.

Members of the 13-million-person denomination have been at odds for years over the issue. Some members, especially in the United States, have been demanding full inclusion for LGBTQ people.

A specially called meeting last year failed to resolve the differences. The new proposal envisions an amicable separation in which conservative churches forming a new denomination would retain their assets. The new denomination also would receive $25 million.

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