Great news, friends! 2014 is ALMOST OVER!
Just five more days-- bottoms up and we can bear it!
This year has been frequently grim and we won't be sad to see it go, but--before we put it out of its misery-- we wanted to celebrate a few of the things that made us smile.
A Bossy Year In Review
In our December 5th issue, we shared some of our favorite best-of lists from 2014. We'll share a few more here, but since we're not professional cultural critics bound to restrict ourselves to things that were produced or released in 2014, we feel free (so free!) to share some great stuff that we first enjoyed in 2014, regardless of when it first came on the scene. To make this list more manageable (because we are dames that love a LOT of things), we're organizing them into whimsical categories for you to peruse. Things We Meant To Consume & Failed To Utterly (aka 2015 is Another Year!)Sophie: The entire contents of my To Read shelf on GoodReads, plus: Adventure Time, Bob’s Burgers (watched and guffawed over: 3 episodes), Call the Midwife, The Fosters, an untold quantity of movies, and most of the artists on my husband’s 2014 in Review Mix (Volume 1 and Volume 2).Margaret: The FX miniseries, Fargo because: MARTIN FREEMAN! Everyone's new favorite-because-of-this-show, Allison Tolman! WHAT EVEN am I waiting for?? Obvious Child and Short Term 12, and SOON, or else my best friend who adored both madly might actually die of frustration waiting to talk about them with me. The Lego Movie and Big Hero 6, because I feel like the only person in American who hasn't already seen and loved both. Both Sophie and Margaret: Every single period drama lovingly cataloged by our Dear Friend Lisa on Put a Cravat On It, her EPIC master list of period dramas and where to stream them. Podcast Episodes That Made Us Put Our Fists In The Air The Broad Experience: The Curse of ComparisonCall Your Girlfriend: Body TalkSlate’s Live at Politics & Prose: a toss-up between Katha Pollitt on the social value of abortion and Jesmyn Ward on her memoir, The Men We Reaped - both on my to-read list for 2015.Longform: Ta-Nehisi CoatesThe Read: Beyonce Spectacular (because Sophie listened to this at least 5 times this year - it remains the best appreciation and review of BEYONCE I’ve heard.)Tiny Desk Concert: T-PainNYT Music Popcast: Review of Taylor Swift’s 1989Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: RuPaul and Terry Crews (because Terry Crews might actually be the single greatest human of all-time.)Judge John Hodgman: Amicus Grief (For Judge Hodgman's truly perfect Principles of Friendship, delivered in his final ruling) and Vehicular Hound Inside (To get a glimpse of what Margaret will be like when she's a dog-owning empty-nester/spinster).The Thrilling Adventure Hour: A Beyond Belief Valentine's Day (A FULL HOUR of Frank and Sady Doyle thwarting supernatural foes with love and liquor! What could be better!) Books I WILL DEFINITELY Read in 2015: No Backsies This Time
Each of us is going to read a book dearly beloved by the other. If we are SUPER-organized, Sophie will re-read Margaret’s title while Margaret re-reads Sophie’s. We’d love it if you joined us, too, for either or both of these books. We’ll keep you posted about our plans. Roll on, 2015!Margaret: Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages, by Phyllis Rose. (1) I love Victorians, especially Victorian intellectuals. (2) I love reading about atypical romantic arrangements and closely observed social interactions and gossip and THIS BOOK IS BASICALLY ALL THREE. (3) Sophie loves it! I should have read this book yesterday. But I'm going to settle for reading it tomorrow (and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, etc.) Sophie: Middlemarch, by George Eliot. I love meandering narratives, and my favorite chapter in Parallel Lives is the one about George Eliot and her decades-long relationship with George Henry Lewes. So I was really sad when I couldn’t get past chapter 3 of Middlemarch, which I have been meaning to read for years. So I’m watching the BBC adaptation starring the magnificently toothsome Rufus Sewell to get a better handle on the story and plan to read the book once I’m done.The Audiobooks That Ended UsTiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed: Real Talk: Sophie hasn’t finished this book, because it made her breath catch in her throat one too many times back in February (aka the WORST MONTH). Strayed’s narration of her incredibly personal and moving advice column, Dear Sugar, This is a to-finish for 2015.Farthing, by Jo Walton: A drawing-room murder mystery that turns into something more significant and chilling: a meditation on what could have been the outcome & consequences of World War II, had the British not been so very stalwart and determined not to let the Nazis get past them. This book is perfect to read/listen to in counterpoint with Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein & Ptolemy’s Gate, by Jonathan Stroud, too. Sophie’s listening to the second in the series now (which is Margaret's very favorite), and we’ll have a Bossy Take on the series as a whole when she’s done with Book 3!Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey: The golden-age mystery whose unintentionally strange timeline inspired Jo Walton to write Farthing and its sequels. A beautifully narrated Hitchcockian story of doubles, long cons, and sociopaths, all set in the most decent and upstanding British village of all possible British villages. Margaret's listened to this one three times now and lost none of her relish for it. Most Beloved Character on a Trash-Heap TV Show Juliette Barnes: Plum out of Fucks for You.Margaret: This category is near and dear to my heart because-- let's face it-- I always have at least one show that I (1) know is utter garbage but (2) want to talk about constantly. Right now, that show is Nashville. It should be great because: Connie Britton! But is it is, in fact, terrible because they still think "Perfect Blonde Pixie Country Songstress befriends Soulful Black Homeless Man With Heart and Voice of Gold and saves him from his life on the streets" is an a-okay plot. I keep watching it because I love so many of the actors it employs but that's a bit like watching videos of terrible racing accidents because you love the cars. The only part of it that I love unreservedly is Hayden Panitierre's country pop starlet, Juliette Barnes. Even when attempting to stalk her babydaddy with a bandit kerchief to hide her face and a Rascal scooter to conceal her pregnancy, she makes the character seem real, grounded, and sympathetic.
Yes. That really did happen.Favorite New TV Show of 2014
Speaking of things that manage to be both absurdly soap-operatic and emotionally grounded, meet Margaret's new favorite show of 2014, Jane the Virgin! Based on a Venezulean telenovella, this show manages to take ridiculous conceits (a 23-year-old virgin is accidentally inseminated and ends up pregnant!) and make them feel genuine with a great combination of hilarious voice-over narration, terrific writing, and incredible performances-- especially by Gina Rodriguez, as the titular Jane. The plot has the same absurd twists as something like Scandal, but the show's tone gives you permission to laugh at them and while the earnest performances and careful writing also make the absurd plot matter to you. It's a tricky balancing act and the show achieves it beautifully. It's on the CW! Watch it! The Women (Real & Fictional) Who Gave Us Life in 2014Phryne Fisher, Queen Of All Lady DetectivesBeyonce, Queen of Well, EverythingRoxane Gay, Queen of Twitter, Essays & NovelsAnn Friedman & Aminatou Sow, Podcast QueensMallory Ortberg & Nicole Cliffe, Queens of Our Misandrist HeartsKamala Khan, Teen Superhero Queen of NJPeggy Carter, Queen of Historical Spy BadasseryShonda Rhimes, Queen of TVJia Tolentino, Queen of Music & Culture CriticismLisa Schmeiser, Queen of the Weekday NewsletterSome Favorite Songza PlaylistsThe following is but a sample of the 1 bazillion (# approx) Songza playlists in Sophie’s favorites. Would you like occasional recommendations in future newsletters? Because we can totally do that. Please tweet us your requests!TV-themed Favorites: House Tyrell: Glitter & Thorns, Girls: Marnie, and Mad Men: Joan's Feminine MystiqueTo Get You To The Snooze Lagoon: Shhh, Don't Wake the Baby (actual baby not required), Drifting Too Far: Classic Country Lullabies, Dream Pop Deep SleepInternational Listening: Indie en Espanol, 60s French Pop, and Everybody Samba!