2017, much like 2016, was not a great year. From natural disasters to political disasters to feeling a near constant panic of existential dread, it hasn’t been great. And that’s as far as I’m going to get into it with everyone.
Part of it is we can’t control when things go horribly. So we need to focus on the things that we can control, self-care for instance.
For most of us, this self-care includes taking time and indulging in different types of media. I am definitely included in this number: music, television, film, books, and web content. I’ve consumed it all in between bouts of news anxiety, activism, and trying to live my own life in this crazy world.
So here’s what got me through 2017: some new, some old, but always comforting.
Because sometimes, we just need to shut the world away for awhile and recharge.
This film will be talked about in detail in our Patty Jenkins retrospective, but it still deserves to be mentioned. From the myriad of different women, the diversity of the cast, and the lesson that Diana learns about humanity, it’s just a movie that was sorely needed at this time in the world. Diana is someone who sees all this horror going on, but still makes a choice to believe in the good that the world can provide. Rather than just stop, Diana chooses to fight and to keep on fighting even when the world beats her down. At times this year, it’s a message that we sorely needed.
Okay. Not every one in this list will be a superhero property. I really had to pick just one Marvel movie from this year (otherwise they all would have been on here). Thor: Ragnarok was a brightly colorful breath of fresh air. From the psychedelic imagery to the heaps of dark comedy to Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum in space, the film is a masterpiece in how to a) fix a character that people don’t really know how to handle and b) sneaking in critiques about the world (colonialism, refusal to acknowledge the past, etc). Taika Waititi expertly crafted this movie and I applaud him.
The Road to El Dorado (Or any nostalgic property)
I was obsessed with this movie when I was a kid. Like no joke, I listened to the soundtrack so often that I practically wore a hole in the CD. But, as things are, I drifted away from it and returned to it as an adult. It was just such a nostalgic feeling in my heart that it made me smile and laugh throughout the viewing. Miguel and Tulio are just such good memories of my childhood from their friendship to the crazy colors. Sometimes, nostalgia can be an excuse to ignore what’s going on in the present. If you overly idealize the past, then you can’t learn the mistakes that were made in it. Still, it’s good to revisit from time to time. Especially since we need to at least remember being young and full of wonder at the world.
“Duet” – Supergirl and The Flash
“Duet” is probably my favorite episode of the 2016-2017 television season. What can I say? I love musicals. I love superheroes. It’s relevant to all my interests. I will always be a fan of the easy, friendly chemistry of Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin. The hour was completely charming from its song selections to the meta banter to the re-proposal of Barry and Iris (Candice Patton). It’s an episode that I have revisited many times since the season dropped on Netflix. Sometimes you just need to see people tap dance their problems away. Mainly because you wish you can to.
Ghost Shows (A Haunting, Terror in the Woods, Ghost Adventures, etc)
I have said many, many times in various articles that I am the biggest wimp when it comes to horror movies. The same, however, cannot be said for the ghost shows: whether it be ghost hunting or testimonial driven. While sometimes they can be creepy, you can still get a laugh from some pretty wooden acting and, at times, hokey special effects. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, they’re clearly popular shows for a reason. Let’s be real though. Nothing is funnier than watching Zak Bagans yell and (unconsciously) flex at spirits as a mean of intimidation/provocation.
Vintage Detective Series (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Murdoch Mysteries, Father Brown, etc)
There’s something just really good about a detective show. After all, it’s one of the most popular genres for a reason. This past year, I fell hard into what I call “vintage” detective shows, meaning that they don’t take place in the present day. I don’t exactly know why I started watching these things so often this year. Perhaps, it’s because some attitudes in them are thoroughly modern. Mainly, however, it gives you a warm and cozy feeling… even when the bodies hit the floor.
Rainbow – Kesha
Easily one of the best albums in 2017, Kesha’s Rainbow is an album of triumph. The solo artist reclaims her identity and her power in an album that is equal parts personally raw and irreverently triumphant. After so many setbacks, it’s amazing to see her take centerstage again. Besides, that note in “Praying”? KILLER.
The Greatest Showman soundtrack
The soundtrack for The Greatest Showman is as dizzying as a circus performance itself. From the beats of “The Other Side” to the killer opening “The Greatest Show”, the whole soundtrack is a gorgeous vocal powerhouse. “This Is Me”, naturally, is the capper for the soundtrack. It’s a call to arms for those who feel like this year has left them down and out. It definitely seems like that, but the song is a reminder that we still need to build ourselves up just as much as others try to break us down.
2017, for me, was a year of rediscovering old favorites. SiriusXM debuted its Beatles Channel back in May. It’s safe to say that it reminded me of a childhood love. Re-listening to all the songs again just nails home how influential the band still is. It also nails how comforting a return to childhood can be during dark times as well.
Superman: American Alien by Max Landis
Still one of the best solo series that has come out of this decade. Max Landis’ American Alien is a wonderful look at the story of Clark Kent and his journey to becoming a great hero. At times, the book is amazingly human from how the Kent’s try to deal with their superpowered son as Clark takes those tentative steps to adulthood. It’s a human story about finding your place in the world. At times through 2017 (and 2016), I kept re-reading the book. As someone trying to find their place in the world, it’s comforting to know that even Superman has his missteps.
Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan
In a year where women took center stage in their stories, Tangleweed and Brine provides fairytales that also do the same. Deirdre Sullivan weaves gorgeous tales of women making their own endings, whether they are “happy” ones are up to the reader. I don’t want to spoil a single story that lies within the book because they should all be read. If you want to see the women from your favorite fairytales take control of their narratives, then this is a book for you.
Safiya Nygaard made her debut to YouTube in 2017. She is definitely a fashion/beauty/women blogger to watch. Part dark queen and part quirky geek, Nygaard’s videos cover a myriad of fun topics: trying to walk her cat, dressing according to her Zodiac sign, testing period products, and making “fraken-make-up”. She makes for an engaging and friendly presence that feels like talking to that one friend who is always a little bit cooler than you. Plus her and her BF Tyler are total relationship goals. When the world got me down in 2017, I was more than happy to bring up one of Saf’s videos and forget about my troubles for 20 minutes.
In my opinion, this show is one of the best things that Buzzfeed has ever brought forth. Hosted by believer Ryan Bergara and skeptic Shane Madej, the show switches back and forth between stories of true crime and the paranormal. What really sells the show, however, is the banter between the cohosts. Equal parts trolling and friendly, the dark humor of Ryan and Shane really makes the show work. I hope to watch more of it in 2018 because it definitely made my 2017 a lot better.