This is going to be hasty — I have an utterly broken memory of what actually existed in 2021. It’s curiously difficult to pinpoint this year as a year, to find its walls, to see its ceiling and its floor, to know what exists in this temporal room, this time-based structure. Because I barely acknowledge it as a structure at all. It is, in fact, more like a free-floating miasma.
Still, something happened in this sinister vapor. Let me try to suss out the stuff I liked this year.
Pop culture stuff, I mean. Media. CONTENT. Mmm. Chewy, granular content.
Again, this is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive. It’s just some stuff I really liked this year. If it’s not on this list, I may still have liked it — even loved it! — and forgot it existed in 2021, or forgot it existed at all, because that’s just how my brain is faring these days.
Indigo de Souza, Any Shape You Take
illuminati hotties, Let Me Do One More
Hus KingPin, Portishus
Halsey, If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power
CHVRCHES, Screen Violence
Deap Vally, Marriage
Bo Burnham, Inside
Olivia Rodrigo, Sour
Or, for some good songs: Jenny Lewis, “Puppy and a Truck;” Margo Price, “Red Temple Prayer;” Japanese Breakfast, “Be Sweet;” Jack White, “Taking Me Back;” Moon Taxi, “The Beginning;” K. Flay, “Four Letter Words”
Only Murders In The Building, Ted Lasso, Hacks, Sex Lives of College Girls, CentaurWorld, White Lotus, did I mention Only Murders In The Building??, I Think You Should Leave, What We Do In The Shadows, Mare of Easttown, Midnight Mass, Reservation Dogs, Arcane, Owl House, Kid Cosmic, Maya and the Three
Watched… surprisingly few actual movies this year, so let’s see how this goes?
Matrix: Resurrections (my initial review was me scratching my head, but I’ve revisited it and it has stuck with me more than I expected), The Mitchells Vs The Machines, Dune, Lost Daughter, The Green Knight, The Night House, Summer of Soul, Suicide Squad, is Bo Burnham’s Inside a movie or a show or what I dunno whatever just put it on all the lists, The Harder They Fall
It’s basic, but Halo: Infinite is deeply satisfying; Deathloop; Psychonauts 2; the new Outer Wilds expansion; Townscaper; Mass Effect: Legendary Edition which I know isn’t really a 2021 game but shut up; I really want to play Inscryption and Wildermyth but I don’t have a PC
Special shout-out to Root, by Leder Games, which is a truly delightful boardgame
God, this one is really hard, because a lot of stuff I read is from years outside 2021 — including coming out in 2022?
Catriona Ward’s Last House on Needless Street; Sarah Gailey’s The Echo Wife; Razorblade Tears, SA Cosby; Cassandra Khaw’s The All-Consuming World and Nothing but Blackened Teeth; Premee Mohamed’s Annual Migration of Clouds; Hummingbird Salamander, Jeff VanderMeer; Apples of North America, Tom Burford; Annalee Newitz’s Four Lost Cities; Amanda Montell’s Cultish; Samira Ahmed’s Amira & Hamza; Cina Pelayo’s Children of Chicago; Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca, Chistopher Mims’ Arriving Today
Right now I’m reading and loving David Perry and Matthew Gabriele’s The Bright Ages.
Plus I’ve read some really great stuff coming out in 2022: Alex Segura’s Secret Identity; Delilah S. Dawson’s The Violence; Kiersten White’s Hide; Alma Katsu’s The Fervor; Rob Hart’s Paradox Hotel
I know I’m missing things! I’m sure of it. Brain like a sieve in a year of fog.
BUT, hey, this gives you some stuff.
Also I wrote books this year, which may or may not have been any good at all:
You Can Do Anything, Magic Skeleton (with Natalie Metzger!)
If you liked any of those, a review somewhere would be gosh darn delightful.
(You should of course feel free to share your own Favorite Things in the comments.)