The holidays are upon us, and the world is generally cold and dark—in our neck of the woods, at least. (Stubby prefers to park in chillier climes.) Every year brings its own unique challenges, but part of the fun of nearing its end is the chance to reflect on what we’ve enjoyed. So pull up a chair, grab some mulled wine or hot cider, and take a peek backward in time with us.
Over the past eleven-ish months, that is.
ONE MORE TIME FOR THE FOLKS IN THE BACK:
Now on with the list!
Good Omens Took the Fandom World by Storm
Old school fans of Good Omens have waited on this one for… well, decades, in point of fact. There was a lot of fear that when it finally came to screen, it would go all wrong. The tone wouldn’t work, or it would end up a two hour film that couldn’t possibly pack in all the fun. But it came to television. And it was gorgeous. (Look, my partner and I were Crowley and Aziraphale for Halloween last year, and seeing the cosplay circuit invigorated with countless demons and their angels has warmed my desperate heart.) The outpouring of love following the release of this show has truly been something to behold, and I keep coming back to see what brilliant art has sprung up in its wake. It has kept me warm all year, a much needed shot of hope and candor when things seemed immeasurably tough. —Em
Becoming an Honest-to-Goodness MCU Stan
Early in the year, before Avengers: Endgame had even come out, Emily made some joke in the office about the cocktail scene between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanov in Age of Ultron. I laughed, rewatched that scene—and it was… endearing? And they had great chemistry?? And then suddenly I opened up AO3 and inhaled half a dozen Bruce/Nat fanfics before realizing that I had become a ‘shipper?!
Anyone who has taken on a new OTP in a heartbeat knows how my next few weeks went: trolling the ship tag on AO3, sifting through lots of fanfics I did not like until finding a handful of authors who wrote this couple as if pulling from my mind. But along the way, I also discovered the side tag of “post-Avengers bonding” (no, not that kind of bonding), all of the fanfics written in 2012 before we knew what was next for the Avengers. All of these stories involve Cap, Tony, Nat, Bruce, Thor, and Clint figuring out how to live with one another in Avengers Tower; Cap saving New Yorkers affected by Hurricane Sandy (my heart); and, yes, some fix-it fic for Hulkwidow. They became a family in these stories, and as a result I retroactively became even more emotionally invested in the MCU. —Natalie
Ben Barnes Is Cast as the Darkling in the Netflix Adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow & Bone
This is a thirst post. It wasn’t a very well kept secret, honestly—when they released the cast photo with Mr. Barnes listed as “General Kirigan”, we knew what was up. Bardugo’s tweet about The Darkling having many names was not subtle AT. ALL. A million fancasts came true that day, and it was a beautiful thing. And like, okay. Is The Darkling a manipulative, abusive, evil bastard? Yes. But is Ben Barnes stupid hot? Also yes. Collar me, Daddy. —CO
The Tick Season 2
Look, I have screamed myself hoarse about this show. As far as I’m concerned, Ben Edlund’s latest take on The Tick was the best superhero story of the year, better than anything with an Avenger or a Watchman or a Dark Phoenix or a malcontent clown. It had real consequences and an evolving point of view that allowed its characters to grow and change, and I think it could have easily justified five seasons of adventures. It also took great care with issues of mental health and neuroatypicality, it was queer-friendly, it dealt with PTSD—but it did all of that in a way that just grew organically from the characters and plots. It was never preachy or maudlin, but it made it clear that choosing love in a world defined by fear is the bravest thing a person can do.—Leah
Everything about Nadia in Russian Doll
Her hair, her clothes, her attitude, her transformation, there is nothing about watching Russian Doll that doesn’t end up deeply cathartic. Natasha Lyonne gave us all a gift. Did you watch it? Go watch it. —Em
Spider-man Is Back in the MCU
Of course, we all knew Sony and Disney would kiss and make up eventually, but we were all waiting on the edge of our seats as the will-they-won’t-they media circus over Spider-man’s place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe played out. It was a huge relief when it was announced that Disney and Sony had reached a deal that allowed Tom Holland’s Spider-man to continue being included in Marvel films, because we love our little Spider baby. The cherry on top was Tom Holland’s not-subtle-at-all instagram post about it. Never change, baby boy. Never change. —C
The Watchmaker’s Son
I don’t want to spoil anything about Watchmen, but there is a performance of a play about the “birth” of Doctor Manhattan that is one of best moments of TV I’ve seen all year. I did not realize how much I missed Tom Mison (RIP, Sleepy Hollow! Abbie Mills Deserved Better.) but he’s quirky and beautiful and, dare I say, Brent Spiner-esque, and I want him in every episode. —Leah
Being Excited about Star Wars All Year
The lead-up to things can often be just as much fun (or more) than the result. Will all the Star Wars content this year thrill us? Who knows! But getting revved up for the approach of The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian? That was priceless. Every little reveal, every trailer, every hint of what’s to come is half of what being a Star Wars fan is about. (We used to have to wait three years between films, so this is definitely an embarrassment of riches.) No matter how well the end of the Skywalker Saga is received, getting the chance to geek out about Star Wars around the clock is always a welcome way to pass time. —Em
Carol Danvers’s Gay Haircut in Avengers: Endgame
Look, Endgame had its issues, as it was bound to, being a a film that Marvel Studios spent eleven years building toward. But there were still things we were looking forward to in that film, and at least some of them happened. (Pepper Potts was Rescue, Peter got his hug, Thanos bit the dust, Hulk wore flannel, a wayward rat saved the universe… ) One of those moments has been teased to us for ages, since the very first Avengers escapade. The catchphrase! We needed to hear it from the mouth of Steve Rogers. And regardless of the confusion caused by how his story ended with Peggy Carter—alternate timeline? not? there twice at Peggy’s funeral somehow?—this moment was the true end to Captain America’s arc. Not lost somewhere in time, but getting back to his feet without a hope of defeating Thanos and his army, only to find himself surrounded by friends and comrades from all over the world, and finally saying those two little words: “Avengers! Assemble.” —Em
Discovering New Feel-Good TV
Bob’s Burgers has always been my go-to palate cleanser to break up binges of darker/heavier stuff, or just a nice cozy show to curl up with on a quiet night. But having seen most of the Belchers’ adventures, I was in need of some similarly wholesome backups to fill the proverbial well. That was the impetus for finally watching Parks and Recreation, after being the only person in the office who hadn’t—and wow, how did it take me this long! I reliably tear up at the end of every episode, because these people just care so much about helping each other, dammit. My other favorite finally-watched-it series has been Schitt’s Creek, which is the irreverent, instantly-quotable Arrested Development successor I’ve long wanted—while also being so enlightened and welcoming of all identities. —Natalie
A Perfectly Normal Interview with Carmen Maria Machado Where Everything Is Fine
My gay tía Carmen is truly a blessing unto us. The author of the widely celebrated Her Body and Other Parties and this year’s stunning memoir In The Dream House, Carmen Maria Machado has quickly staked her claim as a queen of weird and wonderful prose. And when it was announced that she’d be doing a new edit of the lesbian vampire classic Carmilla, I could think of no better person to reclaim that narrative for the queer community. But the true blessing was this bizzare and beautiful interview from Electric Literature. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that Machado’s eloquence and skill is a gift for which I am eternally grateful. Everything is Fine. —CO
The Rise of the Night Monkey
I’ll be real: I loved EVERYTHING in Spiderman: Far From Home. (Christina can attest to the whimpering sound I made when I saw Gyllenhaal in the EDITH glasses.) But the escapades of Night Monkey, the shaky phone camera news reports, the awkward German—it was just so charming and weird. —Leah
Klaus Hargreeves and Double Trouble
In my constant search for characters who don’t go for gender binaries, I felt particularly blessed this year by The Umbrella Academy‘s Klaus Hargreeves and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power‘s Double Trouble. Klaus never talks about this outright within the show, but actor Robert Sheehan said in an interview that he didn’t really think Klaus adhered to any particular binary (or a rigid sexuality, for that matter), and his portrayal of the character definitely indicates as much. Then She-Ra introduced a non-binary character in the form of Double Trouble, voiced by non-binary actor/writer/activist Jacob Tobia. Double Trouble is a shapeshifter, and deeply invested in the act of embodying other people as characters for the sake of espionage. They make a stir instantly on their arrival in the Fright Zone, and then later when they’re discovered by the Princess Alliance. The point is, chaos enbies are a thing (*waves*), and seeing more of them in fiction makes my world brighter. —Em
Watching Independent Audio Drama Folks Go Mainstream
This time last year, I was still riding the high of Austin Film Festival and meeting a bevy of warm, welcoming indie audio drama/fiction podcast creators. Imagine my delight, then, to learn about Marvel and Stitcher’s Marvels audio drama, written by The Bright Sessions and The AM Archives creator (and The Infinite Noise author!) Lauren Shippen, directed by The Black Tapes co-creator and The Big Loop creator Paul Bae, and with sound direction by Mischa Stanton (The Bright Sessions, The AM Archives, and so many other scripted podcasts). While my heart is still with self-produced fiction podcasts, it’s so exciting to see the bigwigs take note of talented indie creators and give them the resources to stretch their narrative wings and experiment in ways they might not otherwise be able to. —Natalie
Thor: Love & Thunder at SDCC
I cannot thank the universe enough for the chaotic immortal being that is Taika Waititi. I could, and will, write odes to the joy that he sparks just by walking this earth. And we know he loves us, because not only will he be directing another Thor movie and bringing back the glorious Natalie Portman for it, but the announcement at their SDCC 2019 panel included the revelation that Jane Foster would be picking up Mjölnir this time around. So let’s think about this for a minute: We’re getting funny, playful Thor, PLUS Jane Foster becoming The Mighty Thor, PLUS King Valkyrie in search of a queen to rule with? YA BOI IS READY. —CO
R + E
(Spoilers for IT: Chapter 2)
So, Richie Tozier’s totally queer now? I mean, some of us already suspected that, but Andy Muschietti’s movie takes subtext and makes it text. Like all the Losers Club, Richie forgot his childhood because of the Curse of Pennywise, so when he comes back to Derry and sees Eddie Kaspbrack again as an adult, he gets hit with the Multiple Whammy of remembering his entire childhood, remembering fighting IT, and remembering that he was in love with Eddie as a kid. He very obviously still feels that love—and Eddie might even reciprocate? This shouldn’t work? But thanks to the Genius of Bill Hader, with a generous assist from the Genius of James Ransone, the arc rises above a Doomed Queer Love Story and gives a real sense of emotional depth to the film. It also balances out the horrific gay-bashing that opens the film, taking King’s classic story and turning it into a tale of evil forces fighting queer love, and, eventually, losing. —Leah
G&T in a can.
Send tweet. —Leah
All the Gideon/Harrow Cosplay and Fanart
“One flesh, one end, bitch. Say it, loser.”
GIDEON THE NINTH: Lesbian necromancers in space, that inspires costumes like THIS. You want it, I promise. https://t.co/1RKFY2rxUy…
— Alyshondra Meacham (@AlyshondraM) September 21, 2019
Obviously I know that other people loved this book, but seeing them out in the wild, painting skulls on their faces like fervent Ninth House shadow cultists, or turning book descriptions into spot-on fanart… It’s so beautiful. —Natalie
I haven’t played games much in a while, but the moment I saw The Goose it was like, time stopped? And a celestial spotlight shone down upon their beautiful white feathers? And their HONK was the most joyful song I’d ever heard?
I wrote a poem about them.
And beyond The Goose themselves, this is a game that doesn’t even have a name (Untitled Goose Game is not the title, just what the developers, House House, called it while they tried to think of a title), The Goose’s official pronouns are they/them, the developers didn’t even celebrate their own release day because they were at the Climate Strike, and the game’s credits end with a very pointed note: “This game was made on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders, past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.”
What I’m saying is if House House ever goes to war, I am a soldier in their army. —Leah
As we prepare to cross the threshold into 2020, pause and tell us: what brought you joy in 2019?