Top TV Shows of 2017 (runner-ups)

Television is always tricky to rank and quantify in a list like this, anytime you start a show you’re potentially jumping on board for 5 years of ups and downs. If you continue watching a show, it’s likely because your invested in the character’s story and want to find out what happens to them. There are also new shows added every year that compete with ones you’ve watched for years; the sixth season of a show may be comforting, but is not as exciting as the newest and hottest show out there. How do you compare the two? It’s difficult, but that’s what we do here, so let’s do it. First, a few runner ups that I enjoyed.

A technicality, I’m only picking complete seasons, because I don’t think it’s fair to judge something when it’s whole story has not been told, so The Good Place season 2 and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 3 are not included, though they are amongst my two favorite pieces of TV released this year.

Veep (season 6)

veep

Fresh off the Boat (season 3)

HUDSON YANG, IAN CHEN, CONSTANCE WU, FORREST WHEELER

Review (season 3)

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Review’s 3rd and final season might have cracked the top 10 if it hadn’t been only three episodes. Nevertheless, Review ended the only way it could have, brilliantly pushing Forrest’s neurosis to the most extreme–an endless place of self-sabotage.

Catastrophe (season 3)

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Dear White People (season 1)

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The Handmaid’s Tale (season 1)

Faithful

Trial and Error (season 1)

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Making History (season 1)

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Making History (and Powerless below it) were both network shows cut off in the middle of their seasons due to a lack of interest by their network’s audiences. This was a huge bummer because both were charming little shows, neither had the extreme ambitions of your HBO miniseries’, but would have been fun to continue watching. Making History had all sorts of alt-comedy folks and played with American history in ways that were interesting, while Powerless was the only piece of comic book fanfare in the last 10 years to just straight up fail (it makes sense then that it would be the only one I really paid attention to).

Powerless (season 1)

Powerless - Season 1

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Best Songs of 2017 pt. III (50-26)

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The list continues, read the pre-cursor, part I, and part II.

Listen on Apple Music

Listen on Spotify 

50. Big Boi “Kill Jill (feat. Killer Mike & Jeezy)”

Big Boi’s album was all over the place, “Kill Jill” serves as an example of that, backed by a Japanese voice sampler, that turns epic rather than cheesy thanks to an impressive guest verse by Killer Mike and chorus by Jeezy.

49. From Planetarium “Mercury”

48. Nana Grizol “Bright Cloud”

47. Grace VanderWaal “I Don’t Know My Name”

I discovered this twee acoustic track thanks to Apple Music’s curated “New Music” playlist. I enjoyed it and kept listening to it over a couple of months. One day I decided to look up Grace VanderWaal and discovered that not only did she rise to fame thanks to America’s Got Talent, but that she is only 13 years old. There’s a surprising gravitas here, along with its catchy melody.

46. Calvin Harris “Feels (feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Big Sean)”

Katy Perry’s chorus is the highlight of Harris’ album which brought a lot of summer fun this year.

45. Gordi “All the Light We Cannot See”

Gordi makes some really catchy indie pop, “All the Light We Cannot See” was a standout, offering an epic chorus akin to the very best work of Florence + the Machine (whom I love).

44. 21 Savage, Offset, Metro Boomin’ “Ghostface Killers (feat. Travis Scott)”

Savage, Offset, and Metro Boomin’ surprise released Without Warning the day after Halloween, it was great, but also a missed opportunity considering it’s a perfect album for the holiday. The album’s opener, “Ghostface Killers”, sets the tone brilliantly, with the second best gong usage in a song produced by Metro Boomin’ and featuring Offest of the year (the best is coming later). Boomin’s producer tag is slowed down, leading into Offset’s verses which are then brilliantly complemented by 21 Savage’s lethargic meter (I don’t think there’s another person this side of Kendrick Lamar that I enjoy guesting on songs). It’s an epic and haunting track.

43. Sorority Noise “No Halo”

42. Diet Cig “Maid of the Mist”

Diet Cig is both colorful and raw, you’ll find yourself smiling and chanting along with adrenaline to Alex Luciano’s witty and aggressive lyrics.

41. The Shins “Name For You”

The Shins can still craft quite the indie rock gem, “Name For You” is a delightful transportation back to when we all thought Zach Braff could change our lives.

40. Lil Uzi Vert “XO TOUR Llif3”

The story of this song, which says that Uzi Vert haphazardly released it on Soundcloud so that he could beat whomever had found his phone that he lost while stage diving, is brilliant enough to get it into the top 50 alone–I mean it’s got typos in it and became a legit radio hit this year. Uzi Vert was the most prominent example of the emo/goth/hiphop movement, which was surprising considering he started the year as the guy with the verse nobody liked on “Bad and Boujee” (let the record state that I like that verse). “XO TOUR Llif3” is great.

39. Miya Folick “Give it to Me”

This song escalates further and further beyond anywhere than you would ever expect it to, Folick is a powerhouse.

38. Nana Grizol “Nightlights II”

90s indie rock is still relevant (more on this in the best albums list).

37. No Thank You “Teeter”

36. Big Thief “Mythological Beauty”

35. Algiers “The Underside of Power”

34. Manchester Orchestra “The Gold”

One of my favorite high school bands released another solid record into their discography, “The Gold” features the perfect melodies of singer Andy Hull, rising and falling to a more tempered musical backing than the band’s last couple of albums.

33. Rapsody “Power (feat. Kendrick Lamar & Lance Skiiwalker)

32. DJ Khaled “I’m the One (feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne)”

This was the year of the collaboration, with albums released by multiple artists, and pop artists featuring slews of artists in the zeitgeist. Khaled nailed this combo here, a Bieber melody with a guest spot from the year’s hottest rap group (Migos’ Quavo), and an ever-sincere and perfect Chance the Rapper (oh and also Lil Wayne).

31. A$AP Ferg “Trap and a Dream (feat. Meek Mill)”

Just listen to how hard A$AP Ferg goes in that first verse.

30. Drake “Passionfruit”

Drake sure can craft a pop rap song.

29. Lomelda “Nervous Driver”

Such a subtly beautiful lo-fi track.

28. Cloud Nothings “Internal World”

27. Marika Hackman “My Lover Cindy”

26. Lil Uzi Vert “The Way Life Goes (feat. Oh Wonder)”

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Best Songs of the Year pt. II (75-51)

BROCKHAMPTON1

The list continues, read the pre-cursor and part I.

Listen on Apple Music

Listen on Spotify 

75. Joe Goddard “Lose Your Love (Radio Edit)”

74. Jesca Hoop “Songs of Old”

73. Big Thief “Capacity”

72. Paramore “Idle Worship”

71. Grizzly Bear “Mourning Sound”

This song (and “Neighbors” below) deserve good headphones to catch the intricate beauty of what Grizzly Bear does sonically in their songs. There are intricate layers compiled together in what on its face seems to be a pretty straightforward indie rock song, but is devastating when paid close attention to.

70. Alvvays “Your Type”

Alvvays are one of a number of bands reviving the raw bubblegum rock of the Ramones, doing so with more delicate melodies than the brashness of that band, while still maintaining all the energy that makes their songs so fun.

69. Mozzy & Gunplay “They Know”

68. Half Waif “Night Heat”

67. Drake “Gyalchester”

66. The War on Drugs “Holding On”

Adam Granduciel has created another beautifully airy folk record with A Deeper Understanding. “Holding On” is a soothing and soaring song that seemingly rises throughout its runtime. I’ve always maintained The War on Drugs is the best summer come-down band out there, their music is relaxing and breezy, just what you need after a long summer’s day.

65. Agent blå “Faust”

64. MIKE “VICTORY LAB (feat. Mal Devisa & King Carter)”

MIKE’s avant-garde hiphop is not the most accessible, but “VICTORY LAB” features great backing horns and a soul filled chorus from Mal Devisa that are a great accompaniment to MIKE’s laid back delivery.

63. Jay-Z “Family Feud (feat. Beyoncè)”

Jay-Z’s response to Beyoncè’s throw everything on the table in groundbreaking fashion Lemonade is surprisingly forthright about his infidelity and his mistakes, he also continues his rags to 1%-er braggadocio tale, even going as far as  laying out his financial planning strategy in some lyrics. Here he combines both, offering up my favorite lyric from the album, appropriately backed by a Beyoncè vocal: “what’s better than one billionaire? Two.”

62. Rapsody “Laila’s Wisdom”

61. Manchester Orchestra “The Alien”

60. Playboi Carti “Magnolia”

59. Smino “Netflix & Dusse”

Smino was a great discovery of the year, blkswn was one of the more underrated hiphop albums of the year. He’s got a unique flow, switching back and forth between R&B melodies and a rap delivery. “Netflix & Dusse” is the catchiest song on the album and features some of the best wordplay of the year:

“I got a pizza on the way, bae, bae
I’m tryna lay, lay
Lil’ lady, ayy, I brought a bouquet
Of the treefer
And I’m feelin’ like we should d-d-duck away
Netflix and Dusse And if I do say so myself
That ass a creature”

58. The New Pornographers “Play Money”

The New Pornographters’ new album has melodies so catchy you feel as if you need to eat veggies to make up for their sugary pop-ness. Both this and “Whiteout Conditions” (below), are filled with easy drums and synths that’ll force you to smile.

57. Kamasi Washington “Knowledge”

Kamasi Washington has transcended jazz, breaking his way into indie music blogs thanks to his 2015 magnum opus The Epic and his participation in Kendrick’s To Pimp a ButterflyHarmony of Difference didn’t quite get the same buzz, but was nonetheless an excellent record, featuring one motif across six tracks, my favorite being “Knowledge”.

56. BROCKHAMPTON “JUNKY”

A fun hiphop “boy band” featuring 16+ members who met on an internet forum, Saturation II is filled to the brim with promise, not everything hits, some lines are quite clunky, but there’s perhaps no other hiphop album as refreshing and progressive as this one. Saturation III was released this week and on a first listen feels just as promising.

55. Grizzly Bear “Neighbors”

54. The New Pornographers “Whiteout Conditions”

53. Feist “Century”

Feist’s new album completely avoids the cute Apple commercial indie rock that made up so much of the mid-00s. Instead its a sprawling and often surprising album. “Century” is raw, lead by its bass line and drums, into an epic and nearly shouted chorus.

52. Phoebe Bridgers “Smoke Signals”

51. From Planetarium “Neptune”

Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, et al’s music project based around the solar system truly does feature some of each member’s best work. “Neptune” is as beautiful as any song Sufjan has ever made. Sufjan may have never completed his 50 states project, but he has now made a song about every planet, so there’s that.

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Best Songs of 2017 pt. I (100-76)

The best of the year coverage continues. See 150-101 here.

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Listen to it on Apple Music. 

Listen to it on Spotify.

100. Mount Eerie “Ravens”

Mount Eerie’s latest album is all about the death of his wife, an absolutely devastating reflection on grief, moving on, and raising his daughter alone. Here he nakedly details his life, poetically baring his life and the melancholy that accompanies loss.

99. SZA “Prom”

98. Gang of Youths “Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane”

This is the greatest The National song not written by The National, a 7 minute anthem that acts like a warm cup of tea, the lyrics wrapping you up like an affectionate embrace. “Do not let this thing you got go to waste / Do not let your heart be dismayed / It’s here by some random disclosure of grace / From some vascular, great thing / Let your life grow strong and sweet to the taste / ‘Cause the odds are completely insane / Do not let your spirit wane.”

97. The War on Drugs “Clean Living”

96. Chastity Belt “Caught in a Lie”

95. No Thank You “Juicy J”

94. Camp Cope “Keep Growing”

A break up leads to a self-confident declaration of independence in this guitar driven jam. Singer Georgia Maq takes ownership of herself against the patriarchy, singing “I’ll keep growing my hair out / Even when you’re not around / No it’s not for you”.

93. Feist “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You”

92. The Weather Station “Complicit”

91. Big Thief “Objects”

Big Thief’s “Objects” is an intricate rock song, guided by Adrianne Lenker’s airy vocals, and a heavy bass line that is almost funky in the way it moves the song forward.

90. Aminè “Heebiejeebies (feat. Kehlani)”

Technically a bonus track from Aminè’s debut album Good For You, “Heebiejeebies” captures the positive good-hearted vibes that Aminè brings (also see “Slide” below). Here he and Kehlani offer up a delightful ballad that is reminiscent of all those first love feelings.

89. Blue Hawaii “Belong to Myself”

Blue Hawaii make dreamy indie pop that actually feels quite radio ready, it’s as catchy as any Top 40 radio hit out there, while also offering interesting instrumentation.

88. Gucci Mane “I Get the Bag (feat. Migos)” (and also “Slippery” by Migos).

Gucci Mane based this track on a song from Migos Culture (“Slippery”), invited Migos in to rap new verses on it, and elevated an already good song to a better one.

87. Makthaverskan “Leda”

86. Downtown Boys “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas)”

85. The National “Carin at the Liquor Store”

84. Phoenix “Goodbye Soleil”

83. The Shins “Half a Million”

82. BROCKHAMPTON “CHICK”

81. Aminè “Slide”

80. Cardi B “Bodak Yellow”

YOUR GIRL CARDI B SURPASSED A MEDIOCRE T-SWIFT HIT TO HAVE THE #1 TRACK IN THE COUNTRY. Straight fire.

79. Perfume Genius “Valley”

78. Sampha “Kora Sings”

77. Chastity Belt “Different Now”

76. Mozzy & Gunplay “Gangland (feat. E Mozzy)”

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Top Songs of the Year (150-101)

Soccer Mommy

The year in music was for me one of breadth rather than depth. This is likely due to the sheer availability of music, with streaming services enabling access to essentially every song in existence. This makes it harder to dive deeper, whereas previously you would invest $15 on one album and leave it in your cd player for the next 6 months, now there’s always something new at your fingertips. That being said, I was able to listen to more bands, more genres, and a more diverse selection of music than I ever have in my entire life. Each Friday I added every new record of interest onto my phone, ready to see what new discoveries there were to be made. As I discovered songs I liked, I threw them into a playlist, “Best Songs of 2017”, and kept them there until a few weeks ago when I began to sort through it. The result was 167 songs, many more than my typical 100 song ranking, so, I decided to release my favorite 150, beginning with 150-101 in alphabetical order. This range of artists and songs are just the beginning of the things that accompanied me throughout the year and I’ve decide that as I go along, the day before I release my best of, I’ll do a list of runner ups that I also enjoyed. There’s a lot of good stuff out there and I just want to share all of it with you. Here’s my tentative schedule:

Dec 10- Best songs pt. I (100-76)

Dec 15 – Best songs pt. II (75-51)

Dec 20 – Best songs pt. III (50-26)

Dec 22 – TV Show runner ups

Dec 23 – Top 10 TV Shows

Dec 24 – Best songs pt. IV (25-1)

Dec 26 – Podcast runner ups

Dec 27 – Top 10 podcasts

Dec 28- Top Beers

Dec 29 – Best Album runner ups

Dec 30 – Top 10 Albums

Dec 31- Review of 2017 Pop Culture Goals

Jan 1 – 2018 Pop Culture Goals

Jan 2 – Best Movies of 2017

Best songs of the year: 150-101

Listen on Spotify

Or Apple Music

Agent blå “Rote Learning”


Alex Lahey “Backpack”
Allison Crutchfield “Dean’s Room”
Alvvays “Plimsoll Punks”
Amy O “Soft Skin”
Arcade Fire “Good God Damn”
Blue Hawaii “No One Like You”


Calvin Harris “Heatstroke (feat. Young Thug, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande)”
Charly Bliss “Black Hole”
Charly Bliss “Ruby”


Cloud Nothings “Enter Entirely”
Cloud Nothings “Things Are Right with You”
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile “Continental Breakfast”
Drake “Ice Melts (feat. Young Thug)”
G-Eazy “No Limit (feat. A$AP Rocky & Cardi B)”


Gang of Youths “Keep Me in the Open”
Half Waif “Frost Burn”
Ibeyi “Away Away”


Japanese Breakfast “Soft Sounds from Another Planet”
Jay Som “Baybee”


LCD Soundsystem “other voices”
Lil Yachty “All Around Me (feat. YG & Kamaiyah)
Lil Yachty “Better (feat. Stefflon Don)”
Migos “Call Casting”
N.E.R.D. & Rihanna “Lemon”
Nana Grizol “Mississippi Swells”
Nana Grizol “Nightlights I”
No Thank You “The Unbearable Purposelessness of Being”


Noga Erez “Dance While You Shoot”
Offset & Metro Boomin “Nightmare”
Paramore “Forgiveness”
Phoenix “J-Boy”


Planetarium “Saturn”
Priests “Pink White House”
Rostam “Gwan”


Rostam “Never Going to Catch Me”
Smino “blkswn”
Soccer Mommy “Death by Chocolate”
Soccer Mommy “Waiting For Cars”


Tall Friend “Small Space”
The National “Walk it Back”
The New Pornographers “High Ticket Attractions”


The Weather Station “Thirty”
Thundercat “Walk on By (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”
Torres “Skim”
Vince Staples “Yeah Right (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”
Wolf Alice “Beautifully Unconventional”


Young Thug “Me or Us”
Young Thug “You Said (feat. Quavo)

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A Nontraditional Christmas Pop Culture Calendar to Break Your Christmas Culture Rut

It’s become a trope at this point that Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year, but it is truly astonishing that it’s only December 1st and it already feels like we’ve been celebrating it for a month — which I suppose some of you have. For some of us, two months of sappiness disguised under the moniker of “Christmas spirit”, can become quite unbearable, especially when the movies and songs that are sung are the exact same ones that came the year before and the year before that, etc… It’s not all bad, I mean I think A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life are objectively good movies, but to watch them with that much repetition is a bit of a stretch. I don’t even watch Ocean’s Eleven every year and I think its the most re-watchable movie of all time. These movies and songs just don’t hold up after that many listens.

So what I’m doing is giving you an out. I’m giving you a way to celebrate this holiday season with nontraditional pieces of Christmas adjacent culture. You can participate and not be bored! Every day of the month I have something “Christmasy” for you.

Some of these will actually fit the mold of that holly and jolly feeling people look for, others will actually be quite the opposite of that, feeding into an counter cultural Christmas that will allow you to say humbug with the utmost satisfaction.

Dec. 1 – Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas Silver & Gold 

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Obviously for many people this is already a staple, but one could spend an entire day diving into Stevens’ Christmas opus. Stevens has an aversion/obsession with the holiday and its all encompassing … over our culture. This may be the truest representation of Christmas — a beautifully cheesy and difficult time that emphasizes giving while simultaneously teaching our children to be greedy while manipulating them into good behavior. Santa Claus and Jesus share equal time as we give more than ever while buying more than we ever needed. The box set features comic strips, short stories, and fun drawings and is worth purchasing for the full experience. Listen to “The Christmas Unicorn”, a new Christmas character that Sufjan created that represents all the tension Christmas has wrapped up in itself, it’s a 12-minute grandiose track that ends with a shout out to Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, because why not?

Dec. 2 – Children of Men

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A shocking pregnancy turns the world upside down, birthing a savior into a world that was desperate for one. This is the Christmas story and also a pretty accurate descriptor of Alfonso Cuaron’s take on PD James’ novel. It’s a dystopian thriller starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine, known for its stunning tracking shots that have steadily grown it into the discussion of modern masterpieces. Children hammers home the themes of Christmas in a way that most explicit pieces of Christmas culture never could.

Dec. 3 – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

a christmas carol

Another classic in the Christmas canon, but one that 97% of you reading this right now likely haven’t read. The source material for countless movies and TV specials is actually worth checking out. It’s not too difficult a read and Dickens is a really clever writer. Pick it up at your local library and read it throughout the month.

Dec. 4 – Chance the Rapper + Jeremih Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama 

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Chance and Jeremih released this mixtape late last year and while it does feel a little thrown together, it’s a fun breath of fresh air when it comes to Christmas music. It’s all original music with fun takes on holiday themes. Apparently it’s going to be released as a full album later, but for now enjoy the mixtape. Listen to it here.

Dec. 5 – Happy Christmas

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This movie was so anti-traditional Christmas that despite its title, it was released mid-July   in 2014. It stars Anna Kendrick, Lena Dunham, Melanie Lynskey, Joe Swanberg, and Joe’s son Jude, who gives what might be the best performance by a baby of all time. It’s a good low-key slice of life film that has Christmas themes without bashing you over the head.

Dec. 6 – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend “California Christmas Time” from “My Mom, Greg’s Mom, and Josh’s Sweet Dance Moves!”

The whole episode is great, but just watching the video will give you a taste of Rachel Bloom’s musical comedy series about a boy obsessed “crazy” woman who moves to West Covina after running into a high school crush. “California Christmastime” nails the sentiment of living in Southern California a place where winter does not exist.

Dec. 7 – In Bruges

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Martin McDonagh’s directorial debut is a very dark and violent comedy about two hitmen spending time in Bruges after a failed assassination attempt. It’s Christmas there and they grapple with their lives while stuck in a place they don’t want to be. McDonagh’s latest feature, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is getting Oscar buzz, so watching his debut will give you the opportunity to tell your friends and family, “yes, but have you seen his old stuff?”

Dec. 8 – David Bazan Dark Sacred Night / Christmas Bonus Ep

david bazan

Bazan has been releasing Christmas songs ever since he was under his moniker Pedro the Lion, Dark Sacred Night is his collection of those recordings, some covers and some originals. Bazan’s tumultuous relationship with faith and, well, happiness in general adds a world weariness to the holiday, which, like the album title states, can be both dark and sacred.

Dec. 9 – Community Christmas episodes: “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” / “Regional Holiday Music”

Community

“Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” might be the best Christmas TV episode of all time. Released at the height of Dan Harmon’s brilliant show and focusing on its best character, its clever, heartfelt, and gives all the Christmas vibes with its take on a claymation special. Community was doing truly innovative commentary on pop culture during its second and third seasons. “Regional Holiday Music” is their take on musicals and is worth a watch too.

Dec. 10 – Carol

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Carol takes place during Christmas time, displaying a snowy Manhattan, with circling toy train sets beautifully shot and capturing the essence of the season. The rest of the film is an emotional telling of an affair between the young and lost Therese and the woman who awakens her to the world, the titular Carol. There’s probably no better film out there that captures the beauty of New York at Christmastime, thus its place here.

Dec. 11 – Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

poirot

You should be done reading A Christmas Carol by now, right? Let’s add a murder mystery to the mix, using a festive take on Agatha Christie’s famous Mr. Poirot. Dark winter nights are all about wrapping oneself up in a blanket and diving into a heart racing thriller, hopefully this Christmas murder mystery will do just the trick.

Dec. 12 – Thrilling Adventure Hour “Christmas on Mars”

thrilling adventure hour

Old time radio already has that kind of classic Christmas feel we like to have, so comedians Ben Blacker and Ben Acker loving tribute to old radio storytelling is another unique way to get into the spirit. Here is a Christmas special they did in 2011, starring a whole bunch of famous people, including Colin Hanks, Marc Evan Jackson, Chris Hardwick, and many more.

Dec. 13 – Fresh Off the Boat Christmas episodes

fresh off the boat

Fresh Off the Boat‘s holiday episodes are particularly great because they are told through the lens of Chinese immigrants, often offering unique perspectives on things that have become normalized in American culture. They bring about both critique and a new appreciation of traditions. “The Real Santa” has Jessica wanting to infuse Chinese culture into her son’s Christmas experience, dressing up as a Santa-like figure named Lao Ban Santa who is the one actually in charge of Christmas who does all the work on the 23rd for the other mythologized Santa. It beautifully portrays an immigrant sentiment and captures the love of a mother for her children.

Dec. 14 – Black Mirror Christmas special

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The technology cautionary tale series released a Christmas special starring Jon Hamm a couple years back. What better way to spend the holiday season with your loved ones than to envision the horrors we are headed toward?

Dec. 15 – Stuff You Should Know “2015 Jolly Christmas Extravaganza”, “2016 Christmas Extravaganza in 3D”/ The Allusionist “Xmas Man”

xmas man

Everyone hates that know-it-all person at the holiday party, but everyone wants to be that person, yeah? Listen to these podcast eps to give you a background on the origins of several Christmas things; be sure to tell everyone you see all the fun facts you heard.

Dec. 16 – The Apartment

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Bill Wilder’s existential holiday comedy won best picture in 1960, it’s a funny and twisted film about two coworkers and cheating couples, it’s equally sad and touching with great performances by Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.

Dec. 17 – A Christmas Story: The Musical Live TV Special

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There have been plenty of live musicals at this point, they’ve been hit or miss so far, but I’m excited for this adaptation of the classic holiday film. Fox is interestingly keeping the fact that it’s a musical under wraps and I wouldn’t be surprised if quite a few folks are surprised when they turn it on. The broadway version wasn’t a big hit, but Pasek and Paul, who wrote the music and lyrics, have seen recent success in their involvement in La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen so it should add some new spark to the original.

Dec. 18 – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang / The Long Kiss Goodnight

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Writer/director Shane Black has a strange fascination with Christmas. In nearly every film he’s written Christmas serves as a background, a contrast to the action oriented films he typically creates (most prominently Lethal Weapon). Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Long Kiss Goodnight both fall into this category.

Dec. 19 – “Home For the Holidays” by Vicki Glembocki

Why do I stuff my family into a minivan and schlep across Pennsylvania every Christmas Eve? I’d rather not dwell on the answer.

Written for Philadelphia Magazine, Glembocki writes about holiday travel and home with humor and wit. Read it here.

Dec. 20 – Arthur Christmas

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Another one that fits the traditional holiday mold, but hasn’t quite reached the level of a yearly holiday tradition, Arthur Christmas is a charming British animated film about the son of Santa, Arthur, a bumbling but genuine member of the Claus family. His brother Steve has taken over the logistics of Christmas, but a missed present delivery causes tension to rise between Steve, Santa, and Grandsanta, capturing a surprisingly realistic look at being a family and the difficulties of changing roles in one’s life. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth a watch.

Dec. 21 – Fanny and Alexander “The Ekdahl Family Celebrates Christmas”

fannny

Ingmar Bergman’s family drama was originally conceived as a four part television movie and has since been released in a wide range of versions, anywhere from a 188 minute cut, to the 312 minute opus. All we’re asking is for you to watch part one, which covers Fanny and Alexander as kids at Christmas. It’s a Bergman film, so things are not bound to end up happy–just a warning.

Dec. 22 – “Why I Hate Christmas” by James Henry

But I am now willing to say out loud what I suspect many Americans are muttering all across the country at this time of year: Christmas has become a net loss as a socioeconomic institution.

After watching Bergman, you’re going to need something to lift you up, unfortunately, this is not the sort of Christmas schedule to provide that. Instead we have a realistic look at the holiday and the sort of problems our private celebrations can have on a global scale, especially when a capitalistic market gets ahold of them. Let out a quick humbug and dive in.

Dec. 23 – Mad Men “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”

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Mad Men is one of the best shows of all time, its depiction of life in the 1960s calls out the deeply entrenched sexism of the era, while simultaneously designing the most gorgeous production design on television. A dose of realism in the midst of beautiful nostalgia is exactly what you need just days before Christmas.

Dec. 24 – A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All

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Colbert has always been great at melding the line between satire and absurdity and sweet sincerity, the perfect tone for your Christmas eve. It’s an hour long mockery of traditional Christmas specials while also being a traditional Christmas special.

Dec. 25 – 30 Rock “Ludachristmas”

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30 Rock is also a quick-witted absurd and zany show, the perfect balance to a morning of joy and lots and lots of interaction with other people. It’s the perfect recharge to build that wit back up and impress all your family members!

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Fight the Power with Spanish Punk

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A wall is just a wall

A wall is a wall

And nothing more at all

This is the chorus to the opening track off of the Downtown Boys’ third LP, Cost of Living. The guitars rage behind lead singer Victoria Ruiz’s bellicose presence. The fury in Ruiz’s voice is matched only by the political aggressiveness of the lyrics. Released only weeks ahead of what are, perhaps Trump’s most controversial (READ: awful), moments yet Cost of Living offers the release of tension we all deserve.

Punk started as a voice for the disgruntled, the discord of youth who rebelled against culture, raising questions about what it meant to exist in the world. They used simple chords, coupled by a furious fashion meant to stave off and offend all figures of authority. But punk’s rebellion was never all that inclusive, the bands that rose to fame and the voices most widely expressed were almost unilaterally white and male. So much so that Nazi punks became commonplace within the scene, invading shows and the so-called counter-culture at-large (speaking of which, who would have thought that Green Room would become the most relevant movie of this year? Watch here as the band in the film plays “Nazi Punks F*ck Off” to a bunch of Nazi punks. This all before the film turns into a tense and violent battle between the two, calling to mind current events.) This is why diversity is necessary in all areas, it will hold us to a true accountability.

Downtown Boys offer a antidote to the almost inherent awfulness that can arise when privileged white men gather together, offering a different perspective, one that truly undermines current American systems of power. The band’s bio says they’re “here to topple the white-cis-het hegemony and draft a new history” and they do so from a staunchly feminist and Hispanic voice. Ruiz, a tough and talented Latina woman, represents the Trump administration and alt-right’s nightmare, she screams truth to power in a euphoric listening experience. The album offers several songs purely in Spanish, showcasing an unapologetic vision of a bilingual America; if the systems don’t included you, sometimes you must speak loud enough to be heard. When your President has just pardoned someone that amounts to a convicted racist, you need an album you can blare in the faces of racists everywhere, Cost of Living is exactly that.

Also check out Rata Negra, another female fronted Spanish-language punk group and Priests, a female fronted post-punk group, both of which offer the diverse anti- sounds you need to fuel your fire as white supremacist groups try to gain ground in this country.

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