A Decade in Review, Popgirl Style
Well, here we are! The end of an era. I love how fresh a new year feels even if it’s all in my head, and closing out a decade feels even more significant. That said, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to share some of the most flavorful, buttery pop goodness I enjoyed over these past 10 years.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world.
5. Nostalgia trip: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (2017-)
In this decade, Amy Sherman-Palladino returned with A Year in the Life of the Gilmore girls, but also: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, featuring the ASP signatures I’ve come to know and love set against the sights and sounds of the late 50s/early 60s. For more tv that kicks nostalgia into high gear, watch Stranger Things.
4. Under the wire: Succession (2018-)
In 2019, I found a new drama fix with Succession, a delightfully messy family dramedy. The writing on this show is so superb that pretty much every episode is better than the last. It’s a disaster and I love it! A less dramedy featuring a not-quite-as-horrible-yet-still-wealthy(ish) white family that I loved this decade is Schitt’s Creek. Watch them back to back for a truly fun time.
3. Purely addictive: RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-)
I discovered RPDR well after it began airing and it was a definite entertainment highlight for me this decade. It’s camp, high-stakes reality TV where talented, beautiful and hilarious queens battle for a chance at $100,000. Honorable mention goes to Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City, a Japanese reality show with all the charm and drama you can ask for.
2. Try not to laugh challenge: New Girl (2011-2018)
Who’s that girl? It’s just a great sitcom. For a long time, I felt like New Girl was this generation’s Friends until I realized that Friends still holds that title for many people. Still, even with ups and downs in the writer’s room, this show was always warm and happy, like a comfort food I kept returning to. I quote the cookie scene and many of Max Greenfield’s one-liners to this day. Note: If you’re looking for more lighthearted viewing, I also found a happy haven in the likes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bob’s Burgers, Speechless, and The Good Place.
1. Best of the best: The West Wing (1999-2006)
In my final years of college, I invested almost as much time studying the plots of The West Wing as I did for my degree. Though the political drama ended well before the 2010s began, it has drive and heart that spans decades.
Note: My top title that aired this decade is Gravity Falls. It’s a wonderfully weird animated series.
5. In the nick of time: Knives Out (2019)
Gosh, I loved this movie. We all need a little more whodunit in our lives. Especially with Rian Johnson at the helm. The dialogue, twisty plot, and star-studded cast crackle on screen. It’s a must-watch! PS: Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart earns a very close second in this category.
4. Simply magical. Tangled (2010)
It’s hard to believe that Tangled is only ten years old. The re-imagining of the classic tale of Rapunzel is littered with delightful characters and musical numbers. Plus, it has the most romantic scene in any movie ever (secret cupcakes!) and the damsel gets to be the hero in this one. For more magic, watch About Time, Cinderella (2015), and in my personal opinion, Star Wars: The Last Jedi – a very magical movie indeed.
3. A Good™ time: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
There is so much to love about this Edgar Wright film. It pays beautiful homage to the comic of the same name and has dozens of quotable moments that stick with me even today. Plus, Anna Kendrick. Honorable mentions in this category include Thor: Ragnarok, Pacific Rim, Solo: A Star Wars Story and Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse.
2. So powerful you could kill a man: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
I will never forget how I felt when I watched Mad Max: Fury Road for the first time. The cinematography and soundtrack alone were enough for me to ascend, and the cast brought everything to an entirely different level. For other films that entertain in this very specific way, see also: Gone Girl and A Simple Favor.
1. Cream of the crop: Pitch Perfect (2012)
Did Kay Cannon bring modern movie musicals back to the silver screen? Maybe not, but this Anna Kendrick stan sure did love the effort. While the other PP movies released in this decade aren’t worth discussing, I feel like all the joy, music, and rom-com goodness of Pitch Perfect blend together to create my very top movie of the 2010s. Another musical masterpiece from this decade is, of course, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
Don’t you want to be alive before you die?
Books Everyone Should Read
10. Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley
For a Good™ time… call the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series. Scott is a complete mess that you learn to love over the six volumes in his story. And even if you don’t love Scott, I guarantee you’ll enjoy the journey he takes and characters he encounters along the way.
9. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
A book for those who revel in the essential mess that is life. Nelson’s I’ll Give You The Sun is another affecting page-turner, too!
8. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Sometimes you just gotta read purple prose about magical realism! You can clutch Blue Sargent and her raven boys from my cold, dead hands.
7. The Hawkeye comics by Matt Fraction and David Aja
Okay, this looks… GOOD. If you’re wanting an entry-point to get into comics, I can’t recommend Fraction and Aja’s Hawkeye enough. Let’s all rejoice for idiot superhero, Clint Barton!
6. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
For a novel, this book sure does read like poetry. Benjamin Alire Sáenz is the undisputed king of coming-of-age stories.
5. The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan
This is a very quick yet energizing read. Laugh and cry at the beautiful words written by the late Marina Keegan. Another posthumous read of a different sort: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara.
4. The Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan
Each book in this series is more over-the-top than the last and full of outrageous drama that you’ll have to read to believe. I adore China Rich Girlfriend (book two) the best of all, but found each one engaging in its own way. Kwan describes food so well in these pages that I often wished I could be in Singapore to have a taste-test while I was reading.
3. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
With lines like “there was never an apple, in Adam’s opinion, that wasn’t worth the trouble you got into for eating it,” this book is an instant classic. Plus, now you can follow up your reading by enjoying the Amazon series of the same title. A win-win.
2. The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, PhD
If you’re in your twenties or at a crossroads in your life, you should read this book. I read it not long after finishing college and found it insightful and empowering in a time where I was very much not sure what was coming next. Check out You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb for more thoughtful reading.
1. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
A World War II novel that draws you in and captivates you until the very last page. I cannot recommend it enough. I used to describe it as The Book Thief for adults, even though I think adults can (and should) read TBT too. All The Light We Cannot See is the most beautiful, stirring book I read in this decade.
Remember that life is not meant to be wasted, we can always be chasing the sun.
10. Bad Blood by Bastille
9. Some Feelings by Julia Nunes
8. Native by OneRepublic
7. Golden Hour by Kavey Musgraves
6. Emotion by Carly Rae Jepsen
5. Some Nights by Fun.
4. 1989 by Taylor Swift
3. Midnight Memories by One Direction
2. Dangerous Woman by Ariana Grande
1. The Blessed Unrest by Sara Bareilles (or, this playlist)
And there you have it. My decade in entertainment all wrapped up. A few other odds and ends worth mentioning are as follows:
Austin Rogers’ 12-day run on Jeopardy! in 2017. You guys can keep Jeopardy James, in this house we only recognize King Austin. Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, a musical tour de force that I was lucky enough to witness with my own eyeballs at the FOX. The Enneagram, a personality typing system that grows your awareness of how others operate and not just your own. I always tell people to take the longer test. FWIW, I’m a type six. Kelly Mindell of StudioDIY (+ Jeff and Arlo, too!) The Mindells really do make life a party, and I love following along. The ever-nerdy yet incredibly fun New York Times Crossword App that lets you play a mini-crossword for free every day. The UNHhhh webseries because Trixie and Katya are some of my favorite queens around. Dragon*Con, Georgia’s answer to Comic-Con and a genuinely fun experience. I only attended a handful of times, but I always loved the gathering of fellow weirdos to confuse other ATLiens. The Daily Skimm, a useful newsletter from TheSkimm that shares info-bites on what’s happening in the world every weekday. My Favorite Murder, the true crime podcast that we deserve. And the only good thing about Apple products: kids using Animojis.
If brevity is the soul of wit, writing a lengthy pop culture decade recap is the soul of egoism. Thanks for reading, and see you next year! 🙂