Welcome to my very first Friday Five!
Every Friday, I’ll be posting on a specific topic that were/are my top five [insert category here] – this’ll cover anything and everything from fandom to travel to restaurants!
First up, I wanted to look back at 2017 and five fandoms that made a lasting impact on me. Whether my brain broke because of excellent storytelling, I obsessed over certain characters, or the film or show ended up bringing me closer to fellow fans and friends, each of these five made an impact on me in 2017. Now take note, choosing these five doesn’t mean I think they’re perfect or infallible (and, in fact, as you’ll see in my discussion below, I’ll mention quite the opposite) but they have, nonetheless, left an impression.
Be warned, there will be spoilers below for the latest seasons of these shows/the plot points of these films!
I wanted to give a little shout out to some Honourable Mentions that were edged out by the five:
- Fear The Walking Dead really upped its game this year (Daniel Sharman, holy crap, you’re nuts) and the way they ended it leaves it so open ended, not to mention the fact that we now know a character from the original series is crossing over into Fear… though the timeline is out of sync (Fear is at least 2 years behind TWD)… so I’m keen to see what they do next with the show.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars was an animated series that I’d been meaning to watch for ages. This Christmas break gave me the perfect chance to inhale five seasons and be incredibly AFJLDSKGDLSJF that we don’t have more. I literally watched it in the last days and hours of 2017 so it wouldn’t have been fair to put it in the top five, but I wanted to mention it anyway. Where can I watch Star Wars: Rebels?
- Funhaus / Jacksepticeye / LetsPlay – these three channels have millions of followers who literally just watch them play various video games. Hours and hours and hours of them just playing everything from Grand Theft Auto to Uncharted to the sheer ridiculousness of Happy Wheels. And you know what? I loved watching it. I loved having it playing in the background while I do chores, or sometimes just to have a laugh, Chynna and I will put on a couple and take in the sheer ridiculousness. I’ve always loved watching other people play video games, especially ones with stories (I’ve memories of sitting up til 3am watching my brother play through Assassin’s Creed – and just last night, I literally did the same watching Chynna play the new AC game on her PS4) so watching a bunch of goofballs do the same is no different.
- Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 was a damn fun film and one of my favourites in the entire MCU, but it was most certainly bested by the other Marvel film that came out later in 2017, which I’ll discuss below.
All right, all right, without further ado, the top five (in alphabetical order):.
Art is love made public.
Where do I even begin with this show? This beautiful, mental, impactful show has been absolutely life changing. Aside from the fact that it covers every genre from action to sci-fi to romance and drama to comedy, the sheer amount of diversity in this show is staggering (and lovely). Though the plot and all its intricacies may be complicated to some, I loved seeing how eight individual lives with their own side stories end up tangling together. It broke my heart when Netflix decided not to renew the show but I was blown away by how the fans came together and actually got us a forthcoming resolution. I was also extremely lucky that Lana Wachowski, Brian Jacob Smith, Max Riemelt as well as Toby Onwumere and Alfonso Herrera all came to Vancouver to celebrate with us in our annual Pride festivities, and I got to meet Lana, Brian and Max (who are all incredible and lovely human beings).
Sure there are things we can’t all relate to, like being imprisoned by your brother after getting framed, or some crazy big company trying to hunt you down and lobotomize you, but there are situations and encounters we can all place ourselves in: seeking acceptance and equality, fighting against prejudices and stereotypes, giving and receiving unconditional love (romantic, platonic, familial)… and that is how a show so out there can feel so personal and relatable and hit me so very hard. Pretty much everyone else in the Sense8 fandom that I’ve chatted with about it relate deeply with some or all of the above. I both look forward to (and dread) the finale when it comes, but I know we’re lucky to have it at all.
Both seasons are available on Netflix, with a 2-hour film finale coming in 2018.
2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
We are the spark that will light the fire that will burn the First Order down.
The film just came out a few weeks ago, but the hype – much like the force – was strong with this one. Though public response has been somewhat divided, I absolutely loved the film. I absolutely loved it and I loved watching it at the end of what was a personally and politically/socially a tumultuous year. So many of the issues addressed in the film are fittingly a reflection of what’s going on in the world right now and I feel like we as a society needed to see it spelled out for us. History does repeat itself (no, it’s not lazy storytelling) and someone now can take something from the past, idolize it, obsess over it, and decide not only to repeat the past but make it ten times worse.
I won’t just focus on the dark side, though, not at all. The expressions of hope, of determination and perseverance in the face of adversity, and BB-8 being a general badass are something to look up to, without a doubt. I’m so glad I along with future generations (and heck, people of all ages) can also look to Poe, Finn, Rey and Rose the way that my brother looked to Han, Luke, & Leia when the original films came out. I need to see it at least once more in the theatre to redigest it all one more time… but my overall thoughts won’t change. You can take this film (and the series) as entertainment alone, or you can also see through to messages that parallel us here and now (and hopefully motivate us as viewers to make choices to ensure we don’t end up with our own First Order).
I love that this franchise – which has been running for over 40 years – is one of those (much like Star Trek or Tolkien) that bridges generations together with a shared common interest. And now that Disney’s acquired it? Well. There’s no kriffing way it’s going anywhere.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is currently (as of this posting) still in theatres and will likely stay there for several more weeks to come.
3. Stranger Things
A party member requires assistance and it is our duty to provide that assistance.
In early March, I got to meet Millie Bobby Brown at ECCC, and while I had missed the chance to meet Finn, Gaten and Caleb at Fanexpo Canada (BIGGEST REGRET!!!) I hope to meet them in the near future. Here is yet another Netflix original that completely stole my heart. I was enamoured with it during the first season, to be sure, appreciating the pop culture references and most especially the acting chops of the young leads along with David Harbour as Chief Jim Hopper. Season two blew one out of the water completely! SO much, in fact, that I’ve seen the entire season thrice now since it premiered at the end of October.
Yes, we have the outstanding acting chops of the kids: Noah Schnapp’s portrayal was unreal and Will Byers needs a BREAK for season three. Finn Wolfhard’s angsty Mike broke my heart — and all the scenes he (finally!) shared with Millie Bobby Brown’s El had me yelling “PURE!!!” at my television. Daddest bod Chief Jim Hopper (totally in love with Joyce) was precious, and SUPERHERO BOB NEWBY was the noblest of them all. But man oh man oh man oh man, I absolutely cannot forget Mom of the Year, Steve Harrington, who protected his little duckling children from demo dogs, jerk face Billy, and became a nurturing mother hen to Dustin. I’d watch an entire spinoff of Steve and Dustin. Changing Steve’s character back in S1 from a one-note douche to the-guy-that-stayed was the best decision they made and that is clearly thanks to Joe Keery’s casting and the energy he brings to Steve.
This tale of selflessness, friendship and bravery in the purest of youngsters in the face of certain death and destruction soften even the most jaded hearts (I’m looking at you, Jim) and it’s the ultimate TAKE THAT! at those who would laugh at these precious nerds. They use their geektastic knowledge and wits to save the world and live to tell about it (relatively unscathed). I can’t wait to see what S3 brings… Will we get more mother duck Steve??? I sure hope so. Will we see more of the other lab experiments (where’s the rest of 001 – 010, and are there others after 011)? If we do see Kali return and see others too, I hope that they tie it in better with the rest of the group. While the bottle episode in season two seemed to be necessary, it did suffer from feeling disjointed from the rest of the story. In the meantime, I just might have to rewatch it (again).
Both seasons are available on Netflix and the show has been renewed for S3.
4. Thor: Ragnarok
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Korg. I’m kind of like the leader in here. I’m made of rocks, as you can see, but don’t let that intimidate you. You don’t need to be afraid, unless you’re made of scissors!
Taika Waititi’s addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is tied with Captain America and Captain America: Winter Soldier as my favourite MCU films. I’ve never cared for Iron Man and his obnoxious presence in the other films in the franchise (so for example, I did not like Civil War, and I disliked it about Spider-Man) so having films without him that allow fantastic actors and characters (Hemsworth! I adore you!) to shine rather than be overrun is so, so nice.
Unlike the first two Thor films (especially Thor 2), Ragnarok is not remotely serious and it’s well aware of that. It’s enjoyable, and hopeful, and incredibly funny, and it’s got Jeff Goldblum in it. What’s not to love? Best of all, Taika’s character Korg is quite possibly the most precious bro in the MCU, so I’m 100% down for more of him! Taika’s vision for the entire film was so refreshing and I think we need more of that.
If there’s anything that I enjoyed more than the film itself, it would most certainly have to be the press tour that came along with it. Every interview Taika gave with Chris, the press Jeff and Tom Hiddleston did… solid gold.
Thor: Ragnarok will be out on DVD, Blu-Ray and iTunes in February 2018.
5. Last But Not Least… The Walking Dead
We have to end this. And Negan.
We will. But when we do, we have to make sure what’s left is worth what we lost.
Unless you live under a rock, then you’ll have figured out quite clearly that The Walking Dead is the fifth and final entry in this post. Thanks to Chynna (who, also, unless you live under a rock, then you’ll know is my best friend) who introduced me to the show in winter 2015, I inhaled 5 and a half seasons on Netflix then began the show live when 6B started up in early 2016, and I’ve been hooked ever since. The show isn’t about zombies. It is – much like the other four listings in this post – about a group of people being dealt a stack of cards in ridiculous fictional situations, and it’s about their interpersonal relationships, about how they fight for what’s right, for what they believe in, for who they love. The character dynamics are fascinating.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot of issues with the show (especially seasons 7 and 8) and its particular way of glorifying current big bad Negan (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and trying to make him likeable. I find JDM plenty likeable as a person, sure, but pandering to those who still obsess over John Winchester and Denny Duquette has driven me mental… especially now that it’s at the SPOILER ALERT FOR THE MIDSEASON FINALE cost of Carl’s life. There’s clearly been some BTS drama regarding Chandler Riggs turning 18, contracts being renegotiated, et cetera, but losing the hope of the show – the young one who’s meant to take up his father’s mantle and live and survive in the new world – seems ridiculous. Negan’s outlived and outstayed his welcome. His monologues are tiresome. He’s irredeemable (and yet the show will probably keep him around anyway).
The main problem I find TWD has right now is that they’ve always enjoyed the “shock value” kills, often of characters that are truly good, gentle, and/or kind (Hershel, Beth, Tyreese, Denise, Glenn, Carl). While it may have worked to break our hearts once, maybe twice, having it happen over and over and over and over just makes it, well, miserable. Not only is it highly unoriginal, it also makes us, as viewers, question why we’re even bothering to watch. In a show about zombies and death, I’m sure as heck not expecting everyone to get out of it unscathed, but if the continuous losses are the moral compasses, the kindhearted, the ones who deserve to see tomorrow, then it’s just sad. Truly sad.
We’ll see what’s in store for the back half of season eight when it returns. With characters like Paul Rovia (BEST!!!), Jerry and Ezekiel, and with Maggie stepping up at the Hilltop, I’m still (very cautiously) looking forward to what’s in store for our characters. Regardless of where the show is headed, this show absolutely changed my life in both 2016 and 2017. Not only did I get to meet Norman (again) as well as Sonequa Martin-Green and Khary Payton, I’ve also met some incredible, wonderful friends through this fandom and that to me is a billion times even more amazing than the show itself.
Seven seasons of The Walking Dead are on Netflix. The second half of season eight will return to AMC on Sunday, February 25, 2018.
So there you have it, folks. My top five fandoms of 2017 which I’ve carried into the new year with me. Stories about hope, about not giving up, about bravery in all shapes and sizes, about finding acceptance and love with the families you choose. Wolfgang Bogdanow has a line in season one of Sense8 where he speaks fondly of his best friend Felix: “He’s my brother. And not by something as accidental as blood… by something much stronger. By choice.” Whether it’s Team Family in TWD or the kids plus their parents Hopper, Joyce and Steve in Stranger Things, each of the above shows or films has people coming together and consciously choosing each other as a family to protect one another, and to be better.
Upon reflection (and clearly by my tastes), that’s a concept I take to heart.
What were your favourite tv shows/films/fandoms last year? Comment below and tell me about them so I can check them out (if I haven’t already).
’til next time, folks. 🙂