Please note I use the term pop culture very loosely in this post. As I note below, I’m a pop culture newbie (as you’ll probably be able to figure out from reading this post, and even from how I talk about pop culture, ha!).
I’ve never been known for my knowledge of pop culture. In high school, I could have told you my state and federal legislators and which districts I lived in along with giving you a five minute extemporaneous speech on why Jane Austen’s novels ARE NOT primarily romances. Had you asked me what music I listened to in the car or what my favorite TV shows were, I would have replied Mary Poppins: The Musical (by the London Cast, of course!) and Foyle’s War and M*A*S*H.
As you can imagine, when pop culture topics came up in conversation, this is what usually happened.
And really, I usually felt fine about not knowing much about pop culture. As a rebel, I liked not following the cultural rules of what I should be into. I wasn’t against pop culture; I simply knew what I liked, and I liked what knew. (And folks, I should add, however, that I was pretty dang proud that I was WAY into Downton Abbey before anyone was really talking about it.)
But, at the beginning of my senior year of college, I started watching Parks and Recreation with my husband-to-be and I slowly started wondering what other magical and interesting things I was missing out on because I didn’t veer far away from the genre of the British miniseries. Thus, I began slowly diversifying my music listening, book reading, TV viewing, etc. And the results have been oh-so-fun and enriching! So, without further ado, here are some TV shows, movies and music that I’ve enjoyed in 2016.
Hamilton: Yes, yes, yes. I know I’m a bit behind the times on this one, but I started listening to Hamilton this fall, and almost instantly became this person. Fortunately, I also converted Mike to Hamilton fandom, so I have someone to sing with in our home, in the car and even on walks (we’re pretty quiet when singing on the street). Our favorite song?
The West Wing: This obviously isn’t a new thing, but Mike and I started watching TWW as a reprieve from this year’s political craziness. Not only does it make us laugh (an essential trait for TV shows that Mike and I watch together), but the show provoked a lot of constructive conversation between Mike and I about federal government, political parties, religious liberty, etc. Here’s one of my favorite issues discussed:
Black Jeopardy with Tom Hanks: I don’t have much to say about this except that if you haven’t watched it, watch it.
Jolene: Definitely not a new song, but this version with Dolly Parton and Pentonix is near perfection.
Stranger Things: This show was to my TV viewing what The Lunar Chronicles were to my book reading. When I initially saw it pop up on Netflix, I quickly scrolled past it because of the eerie images. Yet, when it got some buzz on the Sorta Awesome podcast and when some friends started how addictive it was, I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. And my Little Women-loving-self adored seeing Winona Ryder shine.
Parks and Recreation: Like I mentioned above, Mike and I bonded over P&R in the early days of our dating. And, in our first few months of marriage before the final season aired, we re-watched seasons one through six so we’d be ready to give it a proper goodbye. This year, we re-watched the entire shebang in order from S1E1 to S7E13. Jerry remained one of my favorite characters, my love for Indiana only deepened and I cried (again) during Leslie’s final monologue. And this remains one of my favorite lines from the show.
Two honorable mentions go to The Crown and The Great British Bake Off, which I didn’t include above because they are shows that high-school Abby would have LOVED too, and I feel an odd compulsion to prove that my tastes and interests have expanded with adulthood. All I’ll say is that both of these shows are on Netflix (and you can find other season of GBBO on YouTube) and if you haven’t watched them already, you’re missing out. Kendra of The Lazy Genius Collective outlines the fabulousness of GBBO, and let’s just say The Crown boasts Claire Foy, Eileen Atkins, Jeremy Northam, Harriet Walker and Alex Jennings as cast members. So turn on your TV and pull up Netflix!
Head over to my Facebook page or Instagram post to tell me your favorite movies, TV shows and music from 2016!