Giddy Up America’s Favorite Things of 2015

header 2015I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or what, but man is it hard to remember what the beginning of a year was like when late December rolls around. Maybe it was just the dismal shroud of Deflategate hanging over everything, but for the most part, January and February are useless blobs of blur to me. And the rest of the year? Well, I’m pretty sure it happened.

That’s the best I can do.

Whether or not 2015 was a good year or a bad year can’t really be nailed down for a couple years, once we can get some perspective and context. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that for the most part, thanks to things like racism, discrimination and Trump, 2015 wasn’t exactly awesome. But I don’t think it was terrible either. 2015 had some redeemable qualities. It wasn’t all complete and utter shit.

So here, my ten favorite things that happened this year. We will run through my not-so favorite things on Wednesday.

10. There Was Some Really, Really Good Television

It says a lot about how television has eclipsed movies as the go to form of entertainment that not one movie made my top 10, although Mad Max: Fury Road was sniffing around. That would have been charity, though. Yet with TV, there is obviously the top shelf shows, but the shows on the next shelf are nothing to laugh at- well, actually they are because for the most part they’re comedies- good ones at that. There’s Fresh Off the Boat, which is the first sitcom I’ve gotten into semi-religiously since Parks and Recreation, Modern Family is still funny at times, even though Luke and Manny’s acting has definitely not aged as well as Sarah Hyland’s looks have, and Documentary Now, from Bill Hader, Seth Meyers and Fred Armisen, was easily the weirdest way to spend thirty minutes for a few weeks this fall.

9. The Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage

On the one hand, it sucks when common sense winning out is a victory. On the other hand, hey, whatever it takes, right?

8. Netflix Goes HAM With It’s Original Programming

Netflix upped their game this year, surrounding House of Cards with a crew that would rival Wu Tang in talent. Daredevil went from entertaining to holy shit, this is good when this happened:

The show’s entire first season was really good and refreshing, given how dark and twisted and violent it was. Narcos might be the smartest TV show out there- not because of complicated plot developments and exceptionally written characters, but because they wisely employ a narrator, which helps make the show infinitely more enjoyable. Hey, sometimes thinking can be annoying. And then Master of None both solidified my appreciation of Aziz Ansari, as well as finally provided a worthy successor to the norm-core comedy throne previously occupied by Seinfeld. I haven’t seen Jessica Jones yet, but have yet to hear anything bad about it. So good work Netflix. Way to make up for A) having a shitty selection of movies and B) an incredibly non-user friendly interface.

7. Bill Simmons Mounts His Comeback

My man Simmons was finally kicked out of ESPN’s house in May- something that had been building for a while. The bummer of this story is that it led to a summer without his columns or his podcasts and then the eventual fall of Grantland. But he returned at the end of the summer with a new deal with HBO and the return of his podcast, along with the Channel 33 podcast feed which is comprised of Grantland survivors- The Watch, a reincarnation of the Hollywood Prospectus podcast from the Grantland days. Simmons is one of those people that when he’s around, things are better.

6. Saturday Night Live celebrates 40 years

The show itself was great, but all of the retrospectives it inspired were almost better. As for the show, with the exception being “the Californians,” I loved how they reprised so many of the great sketches from the past, “Celebrity Jeopardy” being a highlight.

5. Bachelor in Paradise Once Again Makes Summer Even Better

No, really. It might be the best show on television.

4. Diplo Jams Are the Best Jams

I’m not sure this is even debatable any more.

Example A:

Example B:

Case seems kind of closed.

3. Yeah, There Was Some Really Effin’ Great Television

Man oh man there was. There was such a bevy of delicious greatness that if I was making a top 5, Mad Men might not have made the list. Actually, let’s see…

  1. Mr. Robot
  2. Fargo
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. The Americans
  5. (tie) Mad Men, Show Me a Hero

Okay, so Mad Men just gets in. But only by an inch because of the competition it’s up against, even with Veep on the outside, looking in. Oh and we already established that Bachelor in Paradise is the best show on television, so I guess this list starts at two. I’m actually not sure which show is really better, or more specifically, which one I liked better. So let me think…actually probably FargoFargo didn’t have any throw away characters or throw away plots. Not that Mr. Robot did, but there were a few parts of that show I wasn’t all in on, whereas with Fargo I was committed from start to finish. There was never even a minute in one of the ten episodes that I wasn’t excited to watch. Mr. Robot was the fun rookie you were enamored with, Fargo was the grizzled veteran you know and trust. Ultimately you’re behind both of them. And super ultimately and on the real, TV rocks.

2. The USWNT, Not Trump, Makes America Great Again

For the second year in the row, American soccer is one of my favorite things. Yet whereas last year, the men’s team was fun and all, this year, the ladies flat out rocked it and man was it fun to watch. With all the shitty things kicking around this summer, we needed something like the U.S. Women’s National Team to make a run like they did. It brought people together, made everyone happy and proud to be American…the same country debating the merits of the Confederate flag and whether or not a cop killing an unarmed black teenager is worth getting upset about. The final game ended up being somewhat anti-climactic because Carli Lloyd came to play, but it was still super exciting. Added bonus was the emergence of a new generation of female athletes that my daughter can someday look up to.

1. Patriots Win the Super Bowl

They did.

And it was awesome, mainly for something that finds itself on the list of my not-so favorite things.

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