My favorite media of 2022
The 13 chunks of Content that yassified my year
I love media. You probably know this. Here are my favorite things I consumed this year, excluding food, skincare, and fanfiction.
The Loneliest Time by Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen, poet-scientist, underrespected queen of contemporary pop, has done it again. As one of my favorite album reviews aptly noted years ago, nobody wants like Carly Rae wants. But in The Loneliest Time, she’s like… actually doing something about it?
The daydreaminess and whimsicality are still there, but these songs seem more rooted in the real world and tangible actions than her previous work. Lyrically, there’s a lot less yearning and a lot more declarations and imperative statements. She knows what she wants, and she’s down to witness her own potential heartbreak with both optimism and crushing clarity! Yes!
This approach leads to a delicious, both-sides-nowish ambivalence on most of the tracks. “Sideways” is one of the most self-loathing love songs I’ve ever heard, and “Talking to Yourself” is casually taunting a dude as an antidote to past suffering. “Far Away” has Jepsen celebrating a relationship while putting words in her lover’s mouth. Then in “So Nice,” the joke’s on you for waiting on the other shoe to drop in what seems like a too-sweet setup.
The result feels contemplative and full of chiaroscuro and still utterly danceable. This album is 100% bops and bangers, and I would expect nothing less from CRJ.
The Bald and the Beautiful with Trixie Mattel and Katya
I always tell people I’m not a podcast person, and I stand by that still. See, I do not consume this podcast as a podcast, but (in true serial killer fashion) as video content.
That’s right, I sit and watch these fuckers talk about movies and relationships and cultural bits ‘n’ bobs for over an hour on a regular basis. And it’s fantastic.
In a year that has in many ways been dreadful for anyone whose relationship to gender is more complex than a Box Top for Education, there’s something cathartic about watching two hairless cross-dressers gabbin’ at ease. The infamous cockroach ep is a good place to start.
Night on the Town by Justin Yoon
I didn’t see this Miami art exhibit in person, but I wish I had. I settled for staring at the photos for an embarrassing amount of time. These paintings have it all: Repetition of characters and form. Feverish colors. Reimaginings of midcentury visual tropes. Escapism mixed with queer ennui. Poses! Friendship!!
There’s an uncanny stillness in these, but it feels archetypal rather than sterile. They’re kind of daring you to invoke a narrative. The characters stare back at you like What do you think you’re looking at? And it’s not rhetorical!
Already Knew You Were Coming by Sarah Nnenna Loveth Nwafor
I read this poetry chapbook pretty early in the year, and I keep coming back to it. These poems are about challenging your own narratives, embracing multiplicity, and becoming your own queer elder. Some of them are very funny, too, and we always need more funny poetry.
Also, the cover looks like one of those vaguely witchy middle-grade fantasy novels I would have been scared to be caught looking at in the bookstore.
Dirt King by Travis M. Riddle
Putting my boyfriend’s book on my year-end list… humiliating for me.
Whatever. Dirt King was a flawless conclusion to the Houndstooth series. The series as a whole explores concepts of tradition and expectations and grief, and this last book really brings it all home.
It’s clear in its vision but never didactic, and I rarely see books balance a cozy slice-of-life approach with large-scale worldbuilding like this. Like all my favorite fantasy novels, Dirt King and the whole Houndstooth series expanded my conception of what the genre can do. love u babe
“Kalahari Down” by Orville Peck
I almost put the entire Bronco album in this list but wanted to mix it up—and “Kalahari Down” is my favorite track on the album by far.
I’m a slut for a second-chance romance, or even the imagined potential for it, and that’s what we get with “Kalahari Down.” I fear Carly Rae Jepsen has outsourced all her yearning to Orville. The boy is WISTFUL here, and you had better GET ON HIS LEVEL or be left in the desert dust.
Bronco as a whole is more autobiographical than Pony and Show Pony, relies less on persona. So we end up with this expansive, narrative number that applies Western tropes to South Africa, where Peck grew up. This song is sweeping yet specific in its imagery, with a pensive drum beat and those! damn! strings!
I’m also convinced “Kalahari Down” is a deliberate companion to my all-time favorite Orvy song, “Hope to Die.” They’re both about lost love and extremely dramatic. But “Kalahari Down” is more cinematic where “Hope to Die” is theatrical—this is an Oscar-bait movie with drone shots, you know?
“All the King’s Men” by travis tate
I think about this short story by my friend travis all the time. It’s beautiful and sweet and devastating. “Cry over speculative historical fiction about Bavarian aristocracy” was not on my 2022 bingo card, but I’m not mad about it.
I remember visiting Ludwig’s castle as a teen and being like, seems gay. This story really runs with that.
He tells Ludwig of his plan: float across the rivers that separate him and Wagner with little notes, new music, tokens of his appreciation. Ludwig looks at Paul with wide eyes. Then he laughs. He pulls himself close to Paul from across the bench of the new castle he constructed. Ludwig says my swan, what an inventive thought.
It’ll destroy you! Read it!
Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin
Other people have talked more intelligently about this dystopian thriller than I can in a little blurb. It’s one of those books I want everyone I know to read—both for their own enjoyment and because I need to know if they don’t like it so that I can stop being friends with them.
Kidding! Kind of. But a person’s reaction to Manhunt does seem like a great test of whether you can have a productive conversation with them about anything from class to disability to gender to late-stage capitalism.
The book is violent and gross, yes, but also funny and nuanced and surprisingly hopeful in its oddball (heh) way. I’m so pumped this book is getting the attention it deserves. I can’t wait to reread it.
Finally, a movie about a female predator in the arts! Representation win, ladies 💃
I am a Tár apologist. I love the scope of its tragedy, its preoccupation with timing and relevancy, its borderline disdain for the titular Tár, and the relationships to both King Lear and Proust. Idk, I feel like a lot of people watched a different movie than I did. It’s not anti-cancel culture or anti-woke or pro-Lydia Tár or whatever else I keep seeing hot takes about.
I could go on way too long and sound way too pretentious re: this movie. Please DM me for extended Tár thoughts.
Please Baby Please
Please Baby Please is a lot. It’s heavy with its themes, super glossy and OTT, but the unapologetic stylization makes it all work. Everything’s incredibly heightened—the language, the colors, the facial expressions, the stakes.
This movie truly could not give less of a fuck about your ability to suspend your disbelief, and I love that for her. It says Get in, loser. We’re talking VIOLENCE and SENSUALITY and THE MASCULINITY OF HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES.
Aesthetically, the best way I can describe this film is…intentional middle-school-theatrecore? Lots of facades, lots of capital-p Props. Spray-painted weapons. Garbage bags are stiff and pristine. At one point, a character goes to the movies with a giant, cartoonishly handpainted “ADMIT ONE” ticket. Exquisite.
I’m also a huge sucker for the Prolonged Meaningful Gaze, and this movie has some of the best PMGs I’ve seen in years.
January Jones’s 9/11 Instagram post
Los Espookys season 2
Los Espookys is one of the best TV shows of the past decade, and it is my mission to make everyone watch it. Season 2 is tragically the last season, and as God is my witness, I will be as annoying about this show as people were about Firefly in the 2010s.
Los Espookys follows a group of friends performing services as a “horror group,” which is a pretty normal and accepted thing in the Los Espookys universe. Also normal and accepted: Andrés’s acquaintanceship with various celestial bodies, a sea monster working at a U.S. embassy, and Tati’s entire vibe.
I don’t know what else to say other than I love it so much it hurts!!!
That interview clip with Aubrey Plaza and Drew Barrymore
Look. I am a grizzled old lovechild of Omegle and early Tumblr. Sometimes I think I’ve seen it all, that nothing on the internet can surprise me anymore. Then something like this comes along and leaves me ABSOLUTELY SCANDALIZED.
What a turn. The sheer number of people who sent me this clip within the first 24 hours has made me reevaluate my lifestyle choices.
Happy new year 👼