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What Were the Early 2000s Like?

August 21, 2022

The early 2000s were fun. It was the Millennium! The future! And once we got over the terrible fear that the Millennium Bug would destroy life as we know it, we began to enjoy it. Having said that, if we thought our over-reliance on technology would be our downfall, it was nothing like what it is today. The internet as we know it was still less than a decade old and online shopping, social media, and chatbots were a distant dream.

Pop stars to fall in love in were Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. They set fashions in their low rise jeans in the United States going into the 21st century, along with Kanye West, Julia Roberts, the cast of reality TV show Big Brother, and the Rolling Stones. Hip hop, pop punk, and video games entertained us all.

What was on Telly?

The phenomena known as Reality TV was in full flow in the early 2000s. Big Brother was first broadcast in the UK in the year 2000. It wasn’t the first reality TV show ever, but people were riveted to the set as the housemates competed to stay in the Big Brother House and schemed to get each other thrown out. There was a 24 hour live feed for people to follow what went on inside the house, and previously unknown contestants emerged as major stars. Around water coolers everywhere it was hotly debated who should stay, and who should go, and why.


The sitcom The Royle Family, which ran from 1998-2000 (and came back later for some Specials) won a slew of awards in the early 2000s. These included BAFTAs, TV Quick Awards, and National Television Awards. Audiences were captivated by the terrible Northern working class family and their mild adventures. Greasy haired dad Jim was forever watching tv and farting, finding it hilarious, and mum Barbara was always in the kitchen making sandwiches and tutting at Jim.


Another Northern working class family who were a hit on British TV in the early 2000s were the Shameless clan. Shameless ran from 2004-2013, and later inspired an American version. The Gallaghers were more than terrible, although the Dad character was equally greasy haired. Storylines revolved around benefit fraud, drugs, burglary and prostitution. However, the characters were loveable and the series ran for an incredible 11 seasons.

Fashion in the Early 2000s

On the catwalk, fashion was quite cerebral. The top colours were bone, biscuit, black and white and contrasting scarlet. A.F. Vandervorst did lots of layering of fine fabrics in neutral colours, and included slip dresses, a staple of the era. Loewe did quiet, understated luxury with clean lines. The designer used fabrics like suede, linen, jersey and leather, using luxury fabrics in simple shaped t-shirts and camisoles.


On the streets, layering was in, too. If you liked the look of a slip dress, but were nervous of the way it seemed like you were walking around in your granny’s underwear, layering was the way to go. You could layer a slip dress over jeans, or any other dress or skirt, in fact. A sleeker way to get the slip dress look was with a strappy camisole.


The fashion for vintage clothes remained. Old band t-shirts, long knitted cardigans, and baggy t-shirts and jeans, all in black if you wanted, all looked cool.

What Pop Songs Were Hits?

Justin Timberlake in the early 2000s

Justin Timberlake in the early 2000s

Britney Spears was top of the pops. Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera joined her. Spears’ first album, …Baby One More Time was released in 1999 it went to number 1 in the charts. Her next album, Oops I did it again… was released in 2000 and did just as well. Her songs and imagery were controversial, as she dressed as a schoolgirl and apparently begged for a bit of domestic violence, but it didn’t do her career any harm.


Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera had been fellow performers with Spears on Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club program as children. They all became famous pop stars, and helped to launch the teen pop phenomenon. Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears were in a relationship for a while. With the females at least there seemed to be a fascination with watching the kids grow up to become sex symbols. Christina Aguilera’s first self-titled album was in 1998, when she was 18. Others soon followed. However in 2002 she released her fourth Stripped with its single Dirrty, in the video for which she wore bumless motorbike leather chaps while being proclaimed “Dirty… Filthy… Nasty.”

Controversy All Round

Justin Timberlake, meanwhile, had been in the massively successful boyband ’N Sync from 1995-2002, when he released his first solo album, Justified, and single, Like I Love You. They were big hits, and he had more hit singles form the album. He toured with Christina Aguilera in 2003. However, he too had some controversy when he accidentally revealed Janet Jackson’s breast during what he called a “wardrobe malfunction” when they performed at the half time show at the Super Bowl in 2004. He was so embarrassed he quit singing altogether for three years, and acted instead. Obviously he eventually came back from that, and is still adored today.

What Films did we Watch in the Early 2000s?

Tom Cruise. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Tom Cruise. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise were the film stars of the moment. After becoming famous in the 90s, Roberts headed up three films in the early 2000s, which were America’s Sweethearts, The MexicanErin Brockovich, Mona Lisa Smile, Closer, Ocean’s Eleven and Ocean’s Twelve. She was one of the highest paid actresses in the world and in huge demand on talk shows.


Tom Cruise could be seen in a film every year, with Mission Impossible 2 in 2000, Vanilla Sky in 2001, Minority Report in 2002, The Last Samurai in 2003, Collateral in 2004, and War of the Worlds in 2005.

In British Politics in the Early 2000s

Tony Blair in the early 2000s. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Tony Blair in the early 2000s. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Tony Blair was the Prime Minister. As leader of the Labour Party he had been elected in 1997 in a landslide victory, and held the post until 2007. He was the youngest person to hold the post since 1812 and held it for the longest time in history. Initially, he was a really popular choice, and championed multi-culturalism, and encouraged immigration. He also allowed gay couples to have civil partnerships.


But he also gave the orders for Britain to take part in many wars, with increasing opposition. In 1999 Britain intervened in Kosovo, in 2000 in Sierra Leone. And in 2001 in the war in Afghanistan, and in 2003, Britain supported America in its “War on Terror”, invading Iraq. He stated that the government had evidence that Saddam Hussain had weapons of mass destruction. Most people did not believe this. It was never proved to be true and a large portion of the British public criticised his actions and statements.

And in Sport?


Tiger Woods was a top American golf player who became an international heart-throb. Nobody expected the game of golf to become so popular, but a combination of Tiger’s good looks, youth, amazing talent and maybe the memorable name really captured interest. By 2010 he had won 13 of the world’s major championships and held many world records.


Gazza was his English football equivalent who played for England as well as being transferred around various teams for record-breaking prices. Paul Gascoigne was a household name in the 90s and into the 2000s. But you wouldn’t describe him as a heart-throb. Instead he was an incredibly talented player, but also a huge entertainer. He had a distinctive Newcastle accent and bleached his hair blond. Gazza was a big personality on the field, celebrating goals in a unique way and also crying when he got a yellow card as a telling off from the umpire. Unfortunately Gascoigne was and is an alcoholic, and struggled with his mental health.


David Beckham was still a national obsession in the early 2000s. He had started his professional career in football at the age of 17 in 1992, and by the early 2000s was still an England Captain and at the top of his game. He was talented and very handsome, and the press couldn’t get enough of his relationship with his wife, Victoria Beckham, a music celebrity in her own right.