Thanksgiving is here, and we at 4YE thought it was time that we included pop culture in our “thankful for” lists. After all, it’s such a huge part of our lives, and can be just as important as any other. It’s called “popular” for a reason, after all.
So, dear friends, these are the popular things that I’m most grateful for, as well as our wonderful readers of course. Where would we be without you?
1. Glee Glee is the show that started it all for me, my first real fandom show; the show that I got so immersed in that it’s taken up a huge part of my life since 2009. I fell for all the “underdogs” of the first few seasons; the impromptu (and often awkward) song performances; the kids fighting they system; the way that somehow things always worked out for the characters I loved. Glee is so much more than a television show for me. Through the fandom I’ve met several friends whom I will probably know for the rest of my life, including two who are now amongst my closest “real-life” friends. We’ve travelled to three European cities for Glee-related events, and have spent hundreds, maybe thousands of hours over the years talking about our show.Yes, I’m going to watch the final 13 episodes. I love the show and, although it’s not shaping up to be the final season I would wish for (to say the least) I have to stick with it. Glee has meant so much to me that I have to see it through to the end, outlandish plot devices or not.
Glee has made me laugh and cry, and has basically been an emotional rollercoaster for the last five years. I have been elated and frustrated with the show, but it always draws me back, but I have to know what’s happening to the characters that I love…but it’s Glee.
2. Chris Colfer I found Chris on Glee, obviously, where his character Kurt Hummel will always be my favourite. Chris is so much more than a world-class actor, of course. He is a wonderful writer with a laconic wit and an amazing singer. My friends and I have followed Chris’ career (literally); we travelled to Paris for a The Land Of Stories book signing and to Edinburgh for the movie that he wrote and starred in, Struck By Lightning.Watching Chris onscreen can often be a master class in acting; he can portray so much emotion just from expressions, that words often just get in the way. Just watch the infamous Battery Park scene from The Break Up to see what I mean.Glee is almost over, but we’ll see Chris in Noel and a few other projects that he has up his sleeve. Chris doesn’t court publicity the way a lot of Young Hollywood does, and isn’t often seen outside of awards shows and Fox publicity events. He has said that he’s happiest at home with his dog and cat, just writing. Perhaps that why I have a soft spot for Chris, he has the same idea of contentment as I do.
3. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Glee may have been my first fandom show but Buffy was the first “must see” show for me. Buffy was the perfect representation of a strong woman; she could take down the villains with ease but still liked to dress up in heels and lipstick.Buffy’s adventures with her ragtag bunch of friends kept me enthralled for years (and it’s still my go-to show when I need cheering up). We watched our heroine grow from an awkward 16 year old to a confident 20-something woman; a little beaten by heartbreak and responsibilities but still ever-optimistic. Buffy’s romance with Angel is still my first and favourite “OTP” (Klaine notwithstanding) and I’m sure that a few years after season seven ended they wound up together. They just had to, it was meant to be. Joss Whedon’s writing was full of wit and poignancy, and although good always defeated evil that didn’t always mean that the heroes went unscathed. Through it all, Buffy hung in there as best she could, and we loved her (and Sarah Michelle Gellar) for it.
4. Tumblr I didn’t know of Tumblr before I joined the Glee fandom, and now I have five (yes, five) blogs of wildly different subjects. Nothing is more relaxing for me than scrolling through that blue website, seeing everything from gifs of sneezing pandas to Klaine duets. That’s what is great about Tumblr, you follow people for one programme or actor and suddenly there are “social justice warriors” posts on your dash; it’s wonderful.
5. Lord Of The RingsI’ve loved JRR Tolkien since I was a child, and was quite apprehensive when Peter Jackson first announced he was making the trilogy. However, like most of the world, I ended up loving Jackson’s version of Middle Earth, and wouldn’t have wanted any other film maker to bring my beloved characters to life. I cannot pick out which character I love the most, or which setting or scene was more thrilling or emotional. I adore every part of the movies, and I don’t think any others will have that effect on me, nor would I want them to.
6. Aaron Sorkin Sorkin is my favourite screenwriter, and one of my favourites overall, classic novelists included. I love political dramas with a dash of humour, especially when intertwined with the media, and he’s brought us the best. The West Wing, The Newsroom, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip; as well as A Few Good Men and Sports Night – Sorkin wrote them all.Sorkin mixes political satire, wit, humour, heartbreak and tragedy in all his shows, and somehow they blend seamlessly together. No show of his could ever be described as “light viewing” because every character, like them or loathe them, grabs your emotions and just won’t let go.
7. Late Night Comedy Shows John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon are four of the funniest guys around and have me laughing until I cry just about every day of the week. My first stop every day is YouTube for their latest videos and I’m never disappointed.These guys and their shows are so much more than just intelligent, thoughtful and biting satire lampooning politicians and celebrities alike, they’ve helped bring politics and world affairs to the attention of the masses again. Using humour to show people what’s wrong (and right) with the world isn’t a new idea, but it’s certainly never been used to such effect. Also, John Oliver’s Salmon Cannon – it deserves its own show, book and film franchise. Now.
8. Twitter Twitter was made for nosy people like me. I can see what my favourite celebrities are doing; what the entire world is talking about, or just hover around friends’ conversations. It’s wonderful.Twitter is like being at a huge, never-ending party. Friends pop in for a while then leave, and sometimes bring along new people for you to meet. If you feel like it you can talk to everyone at once, or just go and sit by the drinks table and “people watch” for a while.I’ve met some very dear friends through Twitter and Tumblr (see Glee above) and although it can be bit intense, being on Twitter when something fantastic has happened in the fandom is the best thing. Also, you’d be surprised just how much you can squeeze into 140 characters.
9. Fanfiction We have all known the frustration and annoyance when the writers of a show don’t treat our characters the way we would like. Yes, they’re “our” characters because we’ve invested time, and often money, into the show and we’ve love these make-believe people. This is where fanfiction comes in; in the hands of a good fic writer we can have the storylines we’ve always wanted.There is a fashion lately to have fanfiction published (sadly, the most famous examples are very badly written) but I’m not sure I approve; fanfiction is made for Tumblr, AO3 and Wattpad; it’s made to be read and then sent to your friends or reblogged for weeks.When a show is in the doldrums, it’s fanfiction that holds the fandom together, and keeps the characters going long after cancellation. It’s one of the best things to come out of fandom life, and it’s wonderful.
10. Sherlock I have always been a fan of the Sherlock Holmes books, and most of the television and film adaptations, but there’s something about BBC’s Sherlock that’s different to the rest. I like Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch as actors, and would see them in their own shows (Freeman especially) but there’s a magic that happens when they’re onscreen together that I can’t quite put my finger on.
Maybe it’s the great timing they have, the way that they chew up the script and let the words hang in the air like smoke. Or is it the fast tempo of the programme that keeps us on the edge of our seats?
I’m really not sure, but I do know that I love the series, and I am always happy to watch any of the episodes at any time, even though I know them all by heart. It’s like comfort food for the eyes.