To me, Elon Musk in a cloud of weed pretty much sums up the last decade. In lieu of promised breakthroughs, he was removed as chairman, canceled by Twitter and released a dystopian truck that surprisingly may have driven Tesla’s stock price back up. In short, we had high expectations, saw them dashed and then resorted to pure escapism. Maybe we’ll all go to the moon or something in 2030? Work on it, Elon. Anyway, to commemorate the decade, I kept track of my favorite media. Putting these lists together was a fun visit back to my entertainment editor days, when I got to share my opinion and people got angry.
A couple caveats: 1) I haven’t consumed all media, so I’m sure some deserving candidates were left off my lists. 2) There is probably some recency bias going on here, although I tried to offset it. 3) These are things I liked, not necessarily what I’m saying everyone should like. 4) In some instances, I favored media that has had a lasting effect on pop culture over more niche choices.
The Wolf of Wall Street
The Force Awakens
Honorable mentions: Inside Out, The Big Sick, Blade Runner 2049, Moonlight, Arrival, Ladybird, Birdman, The Florida Project, Black Panther, The One I Love, Frances Ha, Into the Spider-Verse, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Coco
8th Grade felt especially unique in how it cast and collaborated with real 8th graders. I thought about it for weeks, and was fascinated with the media cycle around it, including Bo Burnham reflecting on his own mistakes.
I know LEGO Movie and Spring Breakers are weird choices, but I found them very surprising and different and watched them many times.
Das Racist, Relax
Grimes, Art Angels
Mitski, Puberty 2
Kanye West, Life of Pablo
Kendrick Lamar, good kid, M.A.A.D city
Brockhampton, Saturation III
Lana Del Rey, Born to Die
Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
Honorable mentions: Solange, True, Lykke Li, So Sad, So Sexy, Sleigh Bells, Treats, Sky Ferreira, Night Time, My Time, Joey Purp, Quarterthing, Japandroids, Celebration Rock, Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City, Frank Ocean, Blonde, Yuck, Yuck, Taylor Swift, 1989, Charli XCX, Sucker, Deerhunter, Monomania, Das Racist, Sit Down Man, Lana Del Rey, Norman Fucking Rockwell, Mitski, Bury Me at Makeout Creek
Beyoncé’s video album came out while I was sick with food poisoning on the other side of the world, and I spent a day watching it in bed. Seeing a powerhouse celebrity couple duke out their marital battles through art, poetry and light property destruction was the experience we all hadn’t realized we wanted.
I still remain sad that Das Racist broke up and took their albums off of Spotify. Almost every single one of their songs is lyrically insane, funny and a time capsule of its era.
Kanye West, “Ghost Town”
Lana Del Rey, “Video Games”
Yuck, “The Wall”
Solange, “Losing You”
Drake, “Nice for What”
Robyn, “Dancing on My Own”
Rihanna, “We Found Love”
Chance the Rapper, “No Problem”
Honorable mentions: Das Racist, “Girl,” Best Coast, “When I’m With You,” Shamir, “On the Regular,” Deerhunter, “Pensacola,” Sleigh Bells, “Crown on the Ground,” Brockhampton, “Hottie,” Joey Purp, “Elastic,” Beyoncé, “Love on Top,” Justin Bieber, “Sorry,” Khalid, “Young, Dumb & Broke,” Ke$ha, “Praying,” Ariana Grande, “NASA,” Tirzah, “Holding On,” Mitski, “Your Best American Girl”
Being a Kanye fan has been a wild ride lately, but this track was vulnerable and nostalgic and little bit magical. “The Wall” remains a top track on my running playlist, even after all these years.
Big Little Lies
Honorable mentions: The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, Breaking Bad, Orphan Black, Killing Eve, Pretty Little Liars, The Good Wife, Barry
I hated Mad Men at first, and then I loved it, because like any good narrative, it sets things up one way and then dismantles them slowly. Succession, like Parasite, was a contender for the top spot but I held back on both since they were so recent.
Nathan for You
Parks and Recreation
Master of None
Key & Peele
Honorable Mentions: Los Espookys, Righteous Gemstones, Insecure, What We Do in the Shadows, The Good Place, Silicon Valley, It’s Always Sunny, Portlandia, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23, 30 Rock (would be top ten if it wasn’t more a last-decade show)
Nathan Fielder Houdini-ing himself out of the “Claw of Shame” to avoid exposing himself to children was the funniest thing that happened on TV in the last ten years. Pen15 was inventive and lude and perfect. And BoJack was loony and depressing, and sometimes that’s what you need in a cartoon.
1Q84, Haruki Murakami
Priestdaddy, Patricia Lockwood
The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
The Girls, Emma Cline
Born a Crime, Trevor Noah
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, Alexandra Kleeman
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong
The Pisces, Melissa Broder
Tenth of December, George Saunders
Honorable mentions: Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Bad Blood, John Carreyrou, Goodbye Vitamin, Rachel Khong, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh, Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney, Heavy, Kiese Laymon, My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante, The Topeka School, Ben Lerner
A Murakami book that takes a month to read and is impossible to explain to your spouse (impregnating someone through a mystical tornado??) is hard to beat. A sleeper hit that I loved was You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, which was a bizarre, funny, sad take on eating disorders that reads like a Michel Gondry film.
So there you have it! That’s what I liked. What will happen in the next decade?
Will Mary-Kate and Ashley make a comeback?
Will Donald Glover write a cookbook?
Will the Internet get taken over by AI personalities that tell US to set timers for THEM?