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What Pop Culture Stuff Are You Thankful For This Year?
Praise for a year that was stuffed.
This year, as with every year, I wanted to reflect a little bit about what I’m thankful for. In particular, I thought it might be worthwhile to think about what we are grateful for in pop culture. I have to head off to set the table shortly but here are a few things off the top of my head.
Star Wars Is Good Again - After years of disillusionment with what Star Wars has become, it took the guy who made Michael Clayton to come in and save it for me. Andor is the best show on TV. It’s an anti-establishment, anti-prison-industrial-complex, anti-cop manifesto that still manages to be a character-driven thrill ride. It’s a miracle that it exists and was released by Disney. I haven’t felt this way about anything Star Wars-related in years and I’m grateful to have it in my life.
Dragons Are Back, Baby - Game of Thrones ended in such a divisive and polarizing way. As someone who had a long-running podcast about it, it was difficult to unpack how I felt about it, and it certainly didn’t make me look forward to a prequel show. House of the Dragon could have gone wrong in a lot of ways but somehow showrunners Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal threaded the needle, reigniting interest in the world of Westeros and delivering a lot of the same shocking moments that we’ve come to expect from this franchise. This was must-watch viewing every Sunday and probably the only show this year that generated “water cooler moments.” A true achievement.
Better Call Saul Ended Well (no spoilers here) - There was no show whose final season I was looking forward to more than Better Call Saul. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould already created Breaking Bad, one of the best TV shows of all time (with a great series finale to boot). With Better Call Saul, they had a tall order: Satisfyingly tie up loose ends for a guy who had previously been known as a comic relief side character. Somehow, Better Call Saul also stuck the landing with a series finale that honored the show’s main throughline about a decent guy who kept trying (and mostly failing) to do the right thing.
This Year In Horror - This really feels like the year where horror films not only kicked ass at the box office but showed they could continue to innovate and terrify in equal measure. Smile, Barbarian, The Black Phone (and Halloween Ends, if you’re into that sort of thing) all dominated and reminded us that movie theaters are great places to get (safely) frightened with a bunch of strangers.
A Bunch of Movies NOT Made By Major Hollywood Studios - RRR is one of the greatest action films of all time but the online community that’s sprung up around it has been equally fun and delightful. And it’s cliche to say but Everything Everywhere All At Once made me feel seen.
Severance Season 1 - As someone who’s spent years working in the corporate world, I found that Severance perfectly captured the bizarre contradictions and indignities that come with modern working life. Talk about a show that came out of nowhere, Severance was Apple TV+’s first show that I binged in two days. Ben Stiller (who directed many of the episodes) has been quietly doing excellent TV work for years but the way he and showrunner Dan Erickson built the world of Lumon was visually arresting. And the season 1 finale was an all-timer.
Kind Folks On The Internet Letting Me Do What I Do - Finally, I want to conclude by saying: I’m lucky. I’m lucky I get to make a living doing what I do, talking about fun and interesting stuff that happens in our culture with amazing co-hosts. If you’ve enjoyed what I do, there are three ways to support my work: Through my personal Patreon, through The Filmcast Patreon, or through a paid membership at. I literally wouldn’t be able to continue my work without the support of folks on those pages. If you’re one of them, thank you very much. And if you’re not, and if it’s within your budget, please consider supporting me. Thanks all!
Feel free to share what you’re thankful for with everyone in the comments. Hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!
Stuff I’ve Made
Over on Decoding TV, Siddhant Adlakha and I discussed the first couple episodes of Welcome to Chippendales on Hulu. Listen/subscribe here.
Also on Decoding TV, Andor concluded its first season this week and Patrick Willems and I have thoughts about it.