2016 was a rough year, for like, Earth. We lost some of our brightest lights, politics took a terrifying turn towards the horrific, and all kinds of other small defeats.
But, as I said back in November, the thing we do here is point to the light, so I’m going to list out the pop culture stuff I was really grateful for this year:
- The Women of The DCEU: Neither Batman V Superman nor Suicide Squad were particularly great, but they gave us Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. And for this we should be grateful, because all three of these women seem like, uber psyched about these characters and are approaching them with integrity and joy. Next stop Gotham Sirens. (Please cast Christina Hendricks as Ivy.) Well, Wonder Woman first, but also Gotham Sirens.
- The Hamilton Mixtape: Should speak for itself, but it’s unrelentingly good. Reuniting Ashanti and Ja-Rule ALONE makes it noteworthy, but each version of each song, plus the new songs are all perfect. “Wrote My Way Out,” has probably my favorite verse that Lin-Manuel has ever written. (Though Sonny’s solo in “96,000” is up there too.)
- Kate McKinnon: Between her Emmy win, Ghostbusters and all of the really stellar work she did as Hilary Clinton and well, everything else on SNL (and possibly Office Christmas Party, I haven’t yet seen it.) I think this is going to be the year that comedy nerds look back on as her real rise. And she deserves it, because she’s incredible.
- This Is Us: The most emotionally manipulative show ever made and I don’t care. It’s wonderful. Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia make me cry every week. The Pearsons are stepping up to the plate to replace the Walkers and the Bravermans and they are doing an incredible job.
- R+L=J is canon.
- Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life: Was it everything we’d all always wanted? Nope. Did it bring Lorelai and Luke to a satisfying conclusions? Yes. Was Team Logan decimated? Uh huh. Should we check in again in a few years? If it is Amy Sherman-Palladino’s will. Should Rory’s baby be a boy? You bet! Should she name him Richard? Duh! Will she and Jess end up together raising said baby? Sure hope so. Will Jess occasionally take a worried Richard’s face in his hands and say, “You are my son, and I love you,” making everyone cry? Everybody watch This Is Us.
- Tom Holland as Spider-Man
- Westworld and Westworld theorizing. The character of Maeve on Westworld, the refusal to backtrack on brilliant storytelling in Westworld, the character of Teddy on Westworld, Ed Harris’s performance on Westworld, Anthony Hopkins’s performance on Westworld.
- Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, specifically the joke about Seal’s vague history with wolves. I want to know more about this Lonely Island.
- Legends Of Tomorrow: The show’s slow start and the fact that they managed to make Vandal Savage (one of my favorite DC Baddies) boring caused me to hit pause on it. But when I decided to commit it was so very worth it, and Season 2 is such a complete delight. (Though lack of Leonard Snart is *inahles dramatically* let’s say, mmm, disappointing.) It’s hard to lose me on a show who’s premise is, “Pretty people on a time machine chase bad guys, wear period outfits and kick ass.” It’s brought some of the best parts of Arrow over with it, in Sara and Ray and now Malcolm Merlyn. (Put Thea and Dig on Waverider, and I’d say Arrow ceases having a need to exist. Felicity can go to The Flash.) (I’m kidding, Diggle would never time travel.)
- The West Wing Weekly, which gave me a framework to revisit one of my favorite shows without rushing through it. That The West Wing holds up so well is also nice to see.
- Zootopia and Moana are both. Thanks Disney, for bringing so much back. You know, animals that make you cry and spunky teen heroines
- Deadpool. Deadpool’s marketing campaign. Deadpool’s R rating. Deadpool’s GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS. ‘Tis a good time to be a nerd friends.
- Donald Glover is going to be Lando Calrissian. While this isn’t going to happen for two more years, I feel this is an important victory for me personally, as I talked about it to an obnoxious degree.
- A return to form from Once Upon A Time. It’s not as good as season 1, but it’s at least very good. The new characters are engaging, the story feels low it has stakes. I’m thrilled about it.
There’s more stuff but that’s what’s jumping out at me
Next week I’ll write up movie season, and look at 2017. I think we’ve got some fun ahead of us.