Things That Made 2017 Worth Living Through

As bad as 2016 was (and, fuck, do you remember how bad that was?), 2017 made 2016 look like a goddamn orgy on a fluffy cloud. From Trump's terrible inauguration to our fucked climate to the tax bill that will rape our children's future, it was one shit thing after another. The only hope going into 2018 is that the bastards might finally pay, someone has to, whether that's the pricks who assaulted and harassed women or the prick-in-chief and all his lackeys. We're wide awake in America, and too many are looking around as if they are seeing the country as it is for the first time in their closed-blinder lives. Welcome to the party, motherfuckers. Grab a hammer or a shovel. We've got shit to do.

This year, the comfort of distraction simply felt more necessary. And, fortunately, there were some quality distractions out there:

1. One of the most cathartic moments in a movie this year was in Wonder Woman, when the title character was told she couldn't cross the aptly-named No Man's Land, the space between warring armies (of, yes, men). Diana defies the men accompanying her because a village needs saving, and, in a stirring action sequence, she charges into the fray to save it. That was the straight-up superhero shit right there, pure and uncut. And Thor: Ragnarok was a genuinely funny action-comedy, finally taking the Marvel characters and showing us how absurd the whole thing is. It was subversive and intentionally silly, which strangely gave all of the deities and the Hulk greater humanity than they had ever had.

It was a great year for father-teenage daughter relationships in great films. In Lady Bird, the daughter got her father to agree to be a co-conspirator in her striving to get into college far away from home. In The Meyerowitz Stories, the father supported his daughter's cutting edge (and nearly pornographic) video art. And in The Devil's Candy, the father and daughter shared a love of heavy metal music that bonded them even as Satan crept into their home.

Other blasts: The climax of Get Out, when Chris takes his revenge against the white liberals who sought to steal his body and enslave his soul; every moment in a car in Baby Driver; every moment with a gun in John Wick 2.

2. It was a pretty damn good year of peak TV. The Good Place not only had the mind-blowing, completely show-altering twist at the end of its first season; its second season had one of the funniest episodes of any TV program I've ever seen. It was written by Megan Amram, it was titled "Dance Dance Resolution," and it had so many hilarious puns in the background that you could pause scenes just to try to find them all.

The most entertaining shows shared that sense of anarchy. In a batshit world, why not just go batshit? Rick and Morty continued to rampage through every line of good taste while still being, within its crazed, dimension-leaping logic, one of the most incisive shows about family dynamics. Legion blew the doors off the comic book show with Aubrey Plaza's demon literally dancing through the psychic scars of the mutant hero. American Vandal pulled the greatest trick on its viewers: making us give a shit about the characters in a fake documentary filled with dick jokes. Glow took its cheesy premise about the exploited women in wrestling in the 1980s and created one of the few shows about people living on the financial and social margins and what they do to survive.

3. Music that got me through the year: Broken Social Scene's Hug of Thunder album, Everybody Work by Jay Som, Colors by Beck, and Soft Sounds from Another Planet by Japanese Breakfast were on constant play. And Kendrick Lamar's Damn is as great and powerful and adventurous as you've heard. For my political soul, Algiers' The Underside of Power paints a world that's spun off its axis, infusing it with howling soul and raging rock. Midnight Oil's return to the United States in a concert at the smallish Webster Hall was pure adrenaline, the Aussie rock band not missing a chance to spit in the face of a collapsing American empire. God, how we leaped and danced, hurting ourselves from expressing our anger at a nation that had betrayed itself.

4. What else here...at the theatre, two one-person shows, In and Of Itself and The Object Lesson, were about the magic in the everyday. Enda Walsh's Arlington at St. Ann's Warehouse was a moving dance and monologue piece about trying to connect one's past with one's present. The podcast S-Town offered one of the most honest portrayals of the small town South I've ever heard/read/seen, in all its weirdness and community and poverty.

I'm sure I'm forgetting lots of stuff here. U2 put on a great, huge show at MetLife Stadium, with insanely gorgeous visuals. Clive Owen was intensely good on Broadway in M. Butterfly. Aziz Ansari's Master of None couldn't have been more beautiful, funny, and life-affirming. I thought the Whitney Biennial was challenging and disruptive and, occasionally, lovely. Better Call Saul...you get the idea.

And I'm sure we're all going to need many, many more things to give our bedraggled brains and souls a break in 2018.

(I've left out some incredibly serious and disturbing stuff, like the bruising film mother! or the Belarus Free Theatre's despairing Burning Doors or Lynn Nottage's take on the destruction wrought by late capitalism in Sweat or this stressful season of Mr. Robot.)