While I might be British, I still love Thanksgiving for the whole notion of taking time out to think of what we’re truly thankful for. Family, friends, gin… they’re all obvious things that I am thankful for, but pop culture wise? It’s a much more eclectic list. So here are the things that this year, I want to raise a glass to. In no particular order, though I did save the best until last…
Always a joy! 2015 has not only been a year in which I’ve seen more musicals than ever, but also when some truly great new shows have hit the theatres, and it’s about time too. Into the Heights, Finding Neverland and Hamilton have all brought a new lease of life to Broadway and the West End. Not only that, but we’ve had Imelda Staunton wowing us in Gypsy and Sheridan Smith is now lighting up the Chocolate Factory in Funny Girl. If you haven’t listened to the Hamilton soundtrack yet, do so. It is absolutely fantastic! Call me biased, because that is absolutely the case, but the best show I have seen this year has to be Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
I could write a thousand lists of things I am thankful for and Disney would always feature. It’s been another exceptional year for the House of Mouse; from the amazing Inside Out to the brand new Good Dinosaur, Disney is continuing to turn up gold again and again. How this new slew of reworkings, reimaginings and retellings will go, remains to be seen, but for now, Disney is still top dog.
Not only are their latest offerings a total joy, but their classics remain my go to movie choices for a rainy afternoon, or when I’m feeling happy, sad… anything, really. Any time is the perfect occasion to kick back with Aladdin, or Beauty and the Beast, Up, Toy Story…
2015 was the year that I caught up to the rest of the viewing nation, and got Netflix. Wow. Goodbye social life (not that I really had one to begin with), farewell productivity. We started with Orange is the New Black. Binge-watched all three seasons in a little over a week. From there we moved onto Sense8, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and many, many more. Too many to even think of. My kids, too, have worked their way through several seasons of several shows; we don’t even know what real time programming is anymore. We’re currently on Care Bear Cousins (kids) and Jessica Jones (adults). What even was life before Netflix came along?
Post Glee (sob), I was very vocal in my declaration that I would never get involved in another fandom. Then Sense8 happened. Dear readers, I lied. I cannot stay away from anything and everything to do with this show. Sense8 focuses on a ‘cluster’ of 8 individuals from across the world, who can read each other’s thoughts and be present in their lives without ever leaving their own. While the first episode takes a bit of effort to understand, once you’ve got your head around the premise, you will fall in love with this show. It really is incredible storytelling and acting. The cast are amazing, not just the main 8 but the supporting characters as well, and it encourages us all to look at our surroundings, the world at large and the people in our lives, in an entirely different way. Here is my favourite scene:
The lady who gifted the world with Harry Potter! I am thankful for her talents for so many reasons. Firstly, seeing my daughter, age 10, falling in love with her stories and the wizarding world has been a total joy. We’ve read the books, watched the movies, bought the costume and poured over every bit of behind the scenes information we can lay our hands on.
But one of the greatest gifts Rowling has given us is her refusal to say goodbye to Harry Potter and his magical world. It’s true that a fandom will never let a show or film die, but Rowling hasn’t ever walked away. Instead, she’s tuned into fans, worked out what we wanted, and given it to us. Deleted scenes, back stories, spin-off movies… even two full-length West End plays! Rowling really is the gift that keeps on giving.
Back in the day, when David Tennant was Ten, and Billie Piper was Rose, and I shipped them with the strength of a thousand suns, I was heavily invested in Doctor Who and couldn’t bear to miss an episode. Then Matt Smith came along and I couldn’t stand to watch a single scene. Following on from that, though I was fairly pleased with the choice of Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor (mainly because it got Smith off my screen), I still never picked up with the show in quite the same way.
Then I got a new job, which required me to watch Doctor Who, and who knew that work could be such fun?! I am seriously impressed with Doctor Who this season, and especially with Capaldi’s performance. He brings a unique quirky, alien quality to the Doctor which we haven’t seen in this ‘modern’ incarnation; in fact, Christopher Eccleston, Tennant and Smith all strived to make him as human as possible. Capaldi doesn’t, and it’s great to be reminded that this Time Lord is not human. While I am more than a little heartbroken at Clara’s death, I am loving every second of this show.
Those who know me will know that I do not like Marvel. It’s too farfetched and too childlike for my tastes and I really struggle to get my head around people’s fascination with the entire MCU. Then Jessica Jones happened. Jessica Jones takes the superhero genre and turns it on its head. Jessica is a badass, hard-hitting, heavy-drinking, bitch of a woman who is feisty as hell yet not afraid to show her vulnerabilities. Yes, she has superpowers, but she’s bitter about them (for reasons that I won’t spoil) and she’s done with the whole superhero game. That is, until her nemesis, Kilgrave, played by David Tennant, comes back on the scene.
The fact that Jessica has these powers is almost superfluous to the story. You don’t think ‘oh wow, she’s exhibiting her super-strength here’, you just think ‘oh wow, this woman can kick some serious ass.’ The whole show is excellently written, directed and acted and Krysten Ritter (Jessica) and David Tennant (Kilgrave) deserve all the accolades and more.
Some of you will recognise Noah as Roderick from Glee, but Noah is also a musician in his own right, and a damn fine one at that. I am thankful for Noah because he granted me my first ever interview, and was very patient and sweet. I adore his voice. I could listen to this man sing the phone book and I know it would still be sensational. This year, Noah’s music has helped me through a lot and I am more thankful for that than anything. I can put on my playlist, sit back, get lost in his beautiful voice and forget about everything for a while.
I have a lot of exciting things lined up for 2016 but the thing I am excited for most of all? Flying to Germany in February to finally watch Noah sing live. This man has too many amazing songs, both covers and originals, to mention, but this one will always be my favourite:
Okay, so Glee is over, but that doesn’t stop me being eternally thankful for the couple that gave me so much. Hours of enjoyable TV watching for sure and a better awareness and understanding of LGBTQ issues but also, so much more. Because of Kurt Hummel and Blaine Anderson and of course, Darren Criss, I have made beautiful and life-long friends. I have travelled the world, I have become an entertainment journalist and I have found where I belong. There will never be a moment in my life that I am not thankful for all that Glee and in particular, Klaine, has given to me. Here’s a little video to get us in the Christmas spirit…
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