There’s been nothing expected, predictable, or usual about the year that ends at the end of this week. Little comforting, either. In the final days of 2020, the reasons remain so apparent and prevalent that to mention them here borders on the redundant—suffice it to say, it’s been exactly the type of year that would kill the guy who sang “I Can See Clearly Now.”
And so it’s from the bottoms of our hearts that we say thank you for visiting The A.V. Club when so many larger, pressing matters of public health, racial injustice, and fragile democracy demand your attention. Amid 2020’s prevailing chaos and uncertainty, we’ve had to grapple with the contradictory notions that art and entertainment have never felt less important in the grand scheme of things—and yet proven so vital to getting by on a day-to-day basis. You’ve continued to consume and engage with our work, which is something we don’t take for granted. On the flip side, we hope we’ve been able to provide some semblance of the stability and consistency that’s been so hard to find the last 365 days.
While the staff looked back at the very best that TV, music, books, film, games, podcasts, and the internet had to offer in 2020, we also reflected on how we covered it. Asked to identify the work they were proudest to have their byline on as well as a favorite piece by someone else, the A.V. Club singled out written odes to towering pop-culture figures who fart, slice, and explore, as well as a stinging critique of a loathsome reality show and a video series that allowed the artists who inspire us to speak candidly about their own inspirations. Which is not to say that these selections shy away from the topical: Read on for a roundtable discussion of the benefits of a lockdown livestream, a requiem for public spaces catering to niche interests, and a critical reassessment of one writer’s love for 311 that happened to crash headlong into the early days of the United States’ COVID-19 crisis.
What follows is but a small sample of how The A.V. Club spent its 2020. It hardly scratches the surface of the new additions we made to the archives of Random Roles and TV Club 10, or the miniseries ranks we added to with The Pixar Moment and 2020 Visions. Since you’re in a retrospective mood, why not reconsider a landmark Prince album, the lasting impact of Sailor Moon, or Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s prescient taste for soft clothes? We delved deeper than ever before into the run-ups to the Oscars and the Emmys—complete with a brand new podcast. (Film Club ventured into the audio realm, too!) With new releases skipping movie theaters (a decision the experts suggest following), Watch This returned to help enliven any home-viewing experiences that weren’t already improved by the recommendations of Carrie Coon and Tracy Letts. Click here to get acquainted with All Gas No Brakes’ Andrew Callaghan before he becomes the next Tim Heidecker/Nathan Fielder/John Wilson; click here to learn all about Paul Thomas Anderson’s side gig as HAIM’s in-house videographer. And while you’re at it, take a moment to appreciate the work of our world-class art team—who, when they’re not Photoshopping Melania Trump into a natural expression of her maternal instincts, are bringing to life The A.V. Club’s most depraved and decadent visual fantasies—like “What if a circa 2003 computer desktop, but it belongs to acclaimed playwright Erica Barry, as played by Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give?”
Thank you again for your support. Here’s to 2021.