What We're Loving Year-End Spectacular (Part One)

We've loved many things this year - books, movies, tv shows, websites, people - but these things we loved  the A-Number One Best.   

fe66b2db92fc4b458530464df6bbf9fbWomen on TV fall mostly into three categories:

- terrible stereotypes of dumb girls and bad jokes (every show on CBS) - super-hot girls getting murdered (every show on the CW or ABC Family) - better-but-still-somehow-a-stereotype smart women doing intense things who have no time for love (every show on NBC).

This is a huge bummer for the majority of women who are sometimes cool, sometimes self-conscious, sometimes funny, sometimes angry, sometimes hot, sometimes gross, but always women.

Thank you, Broad City.

Ilana Glazer and Abby Jacobsen have nailed stories about being a woman, and more specifically, being a millennial woman. They’re just trying to get their lives together—bad jobs, weird love, gate-crashed parties, god-awful roommates, and sweet sweet Bed Bath & Beyond discounts.

It’s so refreshing to see a true-to-life friendship on TV where two women go through some serious weirdness together, but always have each other’s backs. They’re gonna get into the weeds with buying drugs for the first time, ending up with two guys who desperately want a four-way, or getting way too drunk at your birthday dinner. They’re gonna be ugly sometimes, be mean, and do gross things to and for one another. They’re gonna fight. They’re gonna yell. It’s not always pretty, it is always funny.

Even as ugly as it can get sometimes (because that’s real life), for the love of Carol Burnett, they’re real women telling real stories. We need that. - Noa Gavin

8 Out Of 10 Cats Does CountdownI love word games. I love game shows. Wheel of Fortune is one of my favorite shows of all time. If there's game in the title, I probably like it. I like trivia. I also like comedy. Along this theme, what I loved in 2014 is 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. It's a mash-up of two things I love: word games, and British accents.

Let me explain. Countdown is a British game show that is a combination of word games, and math games.  It's a panel show where comedians make jokes about current events. kind of like Best Week Ever, but it also shows these same comedians doing poorly at math! What more could you ask for? Plus, tt's been around since 1982! That's a long time!

8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown is hosted by comedian Jimmy Carr, with a rotating cast of comedians including Jon Richardson, Sean Lock, Joe Wilkinson, Rhod Gilbert, and David O'Doherty, all vying for the prize of a countdown teapot.

If you're like me and like to jumble letters in your head to think of other words, and also like to laugh, then give 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown a try, and tell 'em Jua sent ya. – Jua Holt

Interstellar1-210x300Sometimes when you admit to something you love, you have to be willing to look stupid. I feel foolish admitting this, but my favorite thing from 2014 is one line out of a movie, Interstellar. You know, the one where it’s the future, Earth is dying, and Matthew McConaghey has to find humanity a new home.

John Lithgow is his father in law. He remembers life before Earth was a dried up dust bowl, and in one moment he pretty much blew my mind. He is talking about the way things use to be: how there was a new invention just about every day, how every day was like Christmas, and how there were 7 billion people on the planet, every one of them trying to have it all.

His wistful look at the past (our present) made me think. Why are we all trying to have it all? We can’t possibly, but at least in our minds (or maybe just my mind) we want to. We think we can. And we get upset when we can’t. And we (I) throw fits when things do not go our way. But hey, there are 7 BILLION OTHER PEOPLE also trying to get their own way, and we just aren’t all gonna get it. And in the movie, there is a stark contrast- humans go from trying to have it all to struggling to survive.

I have thought about this a lot. More than the black holes, relativity, or other sciencey stuff. Don’t get me wrong, the special effects in Interstellar were cool, but Mr. Lithgow’s delivery in this scene made an impact on me. It sure beats hearing Michael Caine recite "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" ONE MORE TIME. - Molly Jakkamsetti

Jack-Links-Sriracha-Beef-JerkyWell, they did it. Show’s over, go home. Competition quelled. In 2014, Jack Links, purveyor of fine, dried beef snacks, offering classic variations of their “jerky” such as: cracked black pepper flavor and (my old favorite) carne asada with real jalapeno, ventured out onto the proverbial limb and landed on what will be remembered as their ultimate jerky incarnation: Sriracha Beef Jerky. Let’s get one thing straight - I’m not one of those jerk-off, try-hards that loves to tout their love of Sriracha sauce as some kind of hipster/foodie virtue. I just have an unnatural affinity for beef jerky, and I love spicy stuff.

This is the best gas station snack available. It’s spicy without being too spicy. It’s chewy and beefy. It’s a primal, visceral, delicious experience. You finish a bag knowing you’d give your next breath for there to be another spicy, meaty shard lingering at the bottom of the pouch. You think about your life. You think about the news. You realize you forgot about the crushing weight of existence for a few minutes as you inhaled this fantastic foodstuff.

I scoff at doofuses who walk right by this ridiculously delicious snack option in favor of literally anything else. Just last summer, I witnessed a young man pilfer a pack of Cigarillos with Jack Link’s Sriracha Beef Jerky plainly in sight, risking incarceration for a cheap, Georgia O'Keefe vagina desert flower reprint when an original Frida Kahlo is within view. Who can say what became of that young man? Hopefully he went on to make better choices. I guess I just don’t get it. I don’t get why other people don’t eat this at every chance possible, because I do. I love it. The end. Of this article. – Tim Brewer

811This year, I loved something that you can’t really measure in critical acclaim. I guess if there was something for it, “feels” would be a just description. 2014 was 12 months of real relationships with real people: new and old friends, a continued spark of love for my wife and learning to take more time for myself and the things that interest me. So as I look back at the things I loved the most, each is surrounded by these little pockets of happiness that involved the people in my life. Inside jokes, learning people’s pasts, their futures, and ultimately giving up a piece of myself in return along the way.

What I’m trying to get at is this: among the quiet hum of the things we ingest on a daily, yearly, life-long basis, take a second to push aside the veil of pride that accompanies your likes and dislikes, and think about the people who shaped, affected or made your 2014 an all around better experience. I know I will.

Oh, and Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was probably the greatest cinematic experience of the past decade from writing, acting, directing, score, execution -- everything. Man, those drums accompanying the movement of that film just had this kinetic burst, didn't it? High praise for that film.

But also, people. People are what matter. – Andrew Plock

anna-kendrick-pitch-perfect-650-430I’m crazy. I don’t just love things. I obsessively love things. And the person I love the most that isn’t a family member or friend is Anna Kendrick. If you’ve had a conversation with me, seen my iPhone case, or follow me on Instagram, more than likely you picked up on my love. Why do I love her so much? She’s funny, beautiful, intelligent, talented, driven, humble - I could go on. She’s basically everything I want to be. And I truly feel that if we were ever to meet, we would become best friends. Her tweets make me laugh. Her face makes me smile. Hearing her talk brings pure joy to my heart.

Anna’s birthday is August 9th. My birthday is July 9th. I KNOW. Our birthdays are a month apart. How destined to be best friends are we?! My birthday this year was very special. I had a show a few days after my birthday. After the show, I was talking to Sean, my best friend. Sean steered me towards the lobby of DCH and waiting for me was a cardboard cutout of Anna Kendrick. I was surprised, happy, and touched. I couldn’t believe that Anna (I know it’s not the real Anna) was in front of me. She was all mine. Sean orchestrated the surprise with our friends. So thanks Sean, Amanda, Ashley, Britney, Carolyn, Clarence, Clifton, Dana, Jonda, Jua, Mike, Milo, Nick, Rob, Sarah, and Weikei for giving me the thing I love most this year – Anna. I don’t deserve to have such sweet, caring, understanding, wonderful friends.

Are you interested in joining the Anna Kendrick fan club? I suggest you watch Pitch Perfect, 50/50, and Up in the Air. After you watch those, you can join me in watching her upcoming films, Pitch Perfect 2, The Last Five Years, Cake, and Into the Woods (out December 25th)! – Monica Pantharath

ArianaGrandeLast week I cried to Ariana Grande. It was very unexpected and a little scary because it was such a visceral reaction that I wasn’t ready for. See, I spend most of my time thinking about pop music and recently I’ve been wondering about the difference between a pop song and a POP SONG. A pop song is usually boring and released in May, just in time to capitalize on the breezy summer months. Its cultural importance is fleeting and the song is uncomplicated. There are many of these. A POP SONG changes lives. A POP SONG is important. This song serves all of your feelings on a neatly decorated dessert platter and leaves you to clean up the mess. It’s the difference between Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” and Britney’s “Toxic.” There are always tears during this song.

This year all of my emotions were served to me by Ariana Grande. Before I heard “Love Me Harder,” I had no real opinion on her. She was a singer who existed; a ponytail with vocals. Ariana caught me off guard. I was sitting in my car eating when Ariana’s now trademark vocals flowed through my speakers over a synth pop beat. She was pleading for the love of her life to “love her harder” if he wanted to keep her. Listening to that, coupled with the fact that I was eating an ugly sandwich alone, had me tearing up by the 45 second mark. By the end of the song, I bought her album. What surprised me was how much of a personal connection I made with the song. She, like all of us, deserve the best kind of love. With “Love Me Harder,” Ariana put me completely into my feelings and solidified herself as a pop star. I just hope the next time she does this to me I’m more prepared. – Jerrell Curry