They say that what you do at the start of a new year is what you’ll be doing at the end of that year. So, you know – if you’re with your boyfriend, you’ll still be with him at the end of the year. If you’re, I don’t know, traveling through space and time with your blonde companion, then you’ll ring in the next new year doing the same thing.
I began 2012 on a train from New York City back to my town, surrounded by my three best friends, two acquaintances, and a train full of strangers. We had gone into the city that day to celebrate the new year – my friend Taryn had two friends visiting from college, and they wanted to watch the ball drop in Times Square, while the remainder of our group (myself and my friends Amanda and Billy) decided to just walk around, instead of braving the chaos of Times Square.
The whole day was filled with a bunch of little circumstances, things that would be impossible to recreate. So, basically, there was no possible way that I could 2012 the way I began it. In fact, my plans consisted of going to see a movie with Billy, and then going back to his house to watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians. That’s a bit more my speed than, you know, spending a lot of time with cheerful and celebratory strangers.
2012 was a big year for me, though I don’t think I always realized it. I ended and began my first two years at college, I had my first real jobs, and I learned just how pretty Joel McHale is in person.
But most importantly, I grew into myself. I’ve always been introverted, and greatly enjoyed devoting hours and hours of my days to watching movies and new TV shows. But that was always something I’d sort of hide – instead of telling people that all I did the previous day was sit on the computer, I’d say that I went for a walk with my niece, and then went on the computer for a little bit. That sort of thing. My internet and pop culture addiction would be mentioned, but only a few like-minded people knew how much of my life it consumed.
But that changed this past year. Maybe it’s just because with the growth of Twitter and Tumblr, it’s become more acceptable to spend large chunks of time online. Or maybe it was because I finally realized that watching and thinking about other people’s creations can be a legitimate way to spend my time.
I think a few things led me to that conclusion. Like I said, Twitter and Tumblr have become more popular, which made it feel less and less like my time wasn’t being used for something – well – productive. And then, early this year, I decided to minor in film studies, so a few months later, when I first started thinking about a blog, watching movies and writing about them started seeming less like a lonely hobby and more like practice. Watching TV became something that I could potentially make a career out of, even in some indirect way.
But really, I think what sold it for me was seeing how powerful online communities can be. Community fans proved over and over again how effective it can be to band together and have your voice heard. Nerdfighteria, John and Hank Green’s fanbase, raised over $300,000 for a variety of charities, and all of those beneficiaries were suggested by nerdfighters.
Though, okay, my personal bubble in the fandom world is a bit less charitable than that. Mostly we just sit on Twitter and live tweet how much we hate Smash and stuff. And though we first met because of a shared love of Community, our Twitter study group has evolved beyond that. Everyone has a life of their own that they share with the dozens of us that populate the study group. So I’m not just tweeting someone who wrote a fanfiction that I loved, or someone who made a fan video that made me cry. I’m talking to someone’s mother, someone’s sister, whatever.
At the risk of this whole thing turning into a love letter to my study group, I’m going to get to the point in just a moment. But first, I want to say how much I love you all. Whether we’re talking about the new Doctor Who companion, or our favorite Avenger, or how our days were, I know that, no matter what, there’s going to be an interest in me and my life and what I’m up to. Our study group is undoubtedly the cool study group, to paraphrase Community (as I often do), because I know that, while I haven’t met 97% of you guys, no matter what, you’re all only a few clicks away. And because of that, you guys have made my year amazing, and as much as I hate to say it, I’m kind of glad that Community was put on hiatus last year. If that hadn’t happened, we might not have all met, and that, my friends, is a fate worse than having your soulmate get stuck in a parallel dimension.
Now, I was going to steal Jenn’s idea and make a list of 2012’s best moments, but the thing is, I haven’t gotten my Twitter archive yet, so, um, I don’t know what I’ve done this year. But I do know what takes the number one spot: getting to meet Joel McHale and seeing Jon Hamm at a pub in the city. And, coincidentally, both of these events occurred while I was hanging out with people from my Twitter study group, which is just further proof that my friends are better than your friends (unless you happen to be a member of my Twitter study group. In that case, then your friends are equally as awesome as my friends). I’ve gotten to spend time with Kim on three separate occasions (and the third ended with us in bed together, so. Clearly we get along pretty well. Wanky wanky), and one of those days overlapped with my three day sleepover with Kate and Phoebe (we ended up in the same bed on the second night. Clearly, the Brits work faster). Basically, my summer was better than yours.
But New Year’s Day is as good a time as any to start a countdown. And so, without further adieu, I present my favorite things of 2012. I’m like Oprah, only way more awesome. My top 10 TV shows will be up tomorrow, and then movies will be the following day. Then I’ll post my top 5 guilty pleasures of the year, and on Friday, I’ll wrap up the countdown with my ten most anticipated movies and TV shows of the year. So let’s kick things off with my top ten characters of 2012.
10. Chloe (Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23)
“If anyone says anything else about Margerie, Brenda’s getting a smackwich. Brenda’s head is the lunchmeat and my hands are the bread.”
Chloe is a terrible person. I mean, she’s truly awful. She toys with people for fun. She ruins lives just to make herself smile. But oh my God, it is the greatest thing ever. She’s best friends with James van der Beek, for one thing. She cons her way into an editorial position at People Magazine, which she does just to crown him Sexiest Man Alive. But her friendship with June has humanized her, as much as Chloe would hate to admit, though that cartoonish quality is still there. But she’s always entertaining to watch, and is probably the most consistently hilarious character on television.
9. Penny Hartz (Happy Endings)
“We were still reeling from the events surrounding the film Vanilla Sky.”
My love for Penny stems from a simple place: we are the same person.
I long suspected this to be true, but didn’t have proof until the season three premiere. After falling down a flight of stairs and being put in a full body cast, she begins physical therapy, with her best friend Max watching over her. But Max has a crush on her therapist, and he finds a way to keep her in her cast for an extra week, just so the two can get to know each other. The reveal at the end of the episode, when Penny, hurt by Max’s actions, says she would never do something like that to him, is then reminded that she did, in fact, do the exact same thing to him, made me realize: my best friend and I are Max and Penny (I mean, he’s gay, so, you know, he and Max are, like, the same person).
This show doesn’t hide the fact that its characters are terrible people. They make fun of each other, they insult each other…but at the end of the day, they love each other. It’s probably the closest representation of friendship I’ve ever seen on TV (or, at least, my friendships). They’re not afraid to laugh at each other, and even if they’re ragging on one particular person, they do it with the knowledge that, afterwards, they’ll all laugh and forget about it. Because they know each other well enough to know what is and isn’t okay, and so they can skirt the line without ever actually being cruel.
8. Joan Harris (Mad Men)
“You are not a good man. You never were. Even before we were married, and you know what I’m talking about.”
JOANIE. Oh, my precious Joanie. She’s long been one of the most interesting and complex characters on Mad Men (which is saying a lot about a show known for its interesting and complex characters), because while Christina Hendricks is gorgeous and has an INSANE body, the show doesn’t hide away from that. Joan knows her effect on men, and isn’t afraid to use that to gain power and influence in the office, while still serving as a role model for the women in the office, who hope to be half as awesome and classy as her (okay, maybe I’m projecting a bit here). So when her then-fiance forced her to have sex with him in her office way back in season two, it was tragic. She wasn’t just violated; she was violated in the place where she had worked so hard to make herself important and powerful.
But in season five, she finally let her husband see who the strong one was in their marriage. After he announced he was staying in the army, instead of coming home after one tour like he had promised, Joan kicked him out. With no emotion, she reminds him that they both know he’s not a good man because of what he did to her, and then that’s it. He leaves. I marathoned Mad Men a year or two ago on Netflix, and I’ve spent the whole time since catching up waiting for Joan to take back the power Greg stole from her. She finally did it, and it. was. awesome.
7. Jesse Pinkman (Breaking Bad)
“Yeah, bitch! Magnets!”
I watched all of Breaking Bad in 2012 (well, technically. I’ve only seen the first episode of season five. But my point still stands), so this is kind of cheating a little bit. I got through most of seasons three and four pretty much back-to-back. So my love for Jesse has grown pretty fast, and if you follow me on Twitter, then you’ve seen my tweets about him. They mostly consist of, “OH MY SWEET PRINCE WHY IS WALT MAKING YOU DO THIS,” and, “DAMMIT WALT CAN’T YOU SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO MY BABY?!”.
The thing is, we shouldn’t love Jesse. He’s a drug addict, which means nothing is more important than his drugs. He doesn’t think before he acts. And, you know, he cooks meth and sells it and stuff. But everything about him is so tragic. He doesn’t want to be like this. He wants to fall in love and have kids and have a normal life, but he can’t get away from this business. And he admires Walt so much, even though they don’t always get along. Jesse’s well aware that he’s the sidekick, and for a long time, is willing to do whatever Walt says. But he changes after Walt makes him commit murder, becoming more wary of his mentor. I still have to finish season five, so I’m sure my love for him will just continue to grow, but for now, let me just say: uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh.
6. Castiel (Supernatural)
“I’m the one who gripped you tight and pulled you from perdition.”
Okay. So this is another one where I get to cheat a little with this one, because I marathoned all of Supernatural in 2012, so my favorite quote and aspects of the character are really from the entirety of the show, not just the seasons that aired this year. But Castiel. Where do I even begin. Since season four, he’s grown from a cold, emotionless soldier to a loyal, occasionally compassionate fallen angel. He’s willing to do anything it takes to help the Winchesters, but what’s so wonderful about him is that he isn’t a puppet. His role on the show isn’t to go along with whatever they say. He’s not afraid to challenge them, and has at times refused to help them because his own personal agenda was more important. He’s like a lost puppy dog sometimes, who doesn’t understand Dean’s pop culture references or sarcasm, but in the blink of an eye, can turn into this detached warrior. Ugh, guys, it’s just so good, please just watch Supernatural so we can talk about it all the time.
5. Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock)
“I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them.”
My feelings on Sherlock could go on and on, but I’ll try to keep this brief. The first series started with Sherlock, a self-identified sociopath, who didn’t have any friends save an elderly landlady and a volatile relationship with his older brother. But by series two, his friendship with John has become comfortable and reliable, and he’s become more human. The series explored his reactions to love, sex, fear, and then, how much he’s willing to do to protect the people he loves. The man whose pride is stemmed in his intellect, who uses his brain as a weapon and a shield because he thinks he’s nothing without it, is willing to pretend that it was all a lie, and that he faked his powers of deduction, in order to save his friends. If you didn’t cry during that rooftop scene in The Reichenbach Fall, you don’t have a soul. And if you didn’t feel your heart ripping out of your chest when Sherlock looks his best friend dead in the eye and says “I’m a fake” while clearly choking back tears, then you, sir, are a monster, and we must discontinue our friendship immediately. Good day. I said good day!
4. The Doctor (Doctor Who)
“I always rip out the last page of a book. Then it doesn’t have to end. I hate endings.”
Guys, I have so many feels about the Doctor. I can’t even start trying to sum up his character and why I love him, because we will honestly be here for days. If you watch Doctor Who, you know. If you don’t, you need to.
3. Nick Miller (New Girl)
“You gave me cookie, I got you cookie, man! Gave you cookie got you cookie! We’re even!”
(For any interested parties, that also happens to be my favorite line from the 2011-12 television season.)
Where do I begin with Nick Miller? He’s a thirty-year-old bartender who has absolutely no money, a serious anger problem, and a zombie novel in the works. In other words, he is my soulmate. Nick Miller is constantly challenged and frustrated by the mere existence of life, and it’s so beautiful to watch.
2. Britta Perry (Community)
“Do you even know what an analogy is?” “It’s a thought with another thought’s hat on.”
Britta Perry, as often noted by her friends, is the worst. She constantly misuses words, she thinks declaring a major is the same thing as earning her degree, she steals her friends’ lip balm without warning…Basically, she’s the worst. But that’s exactly what makes her the best. She’s the heart of the study group, and even though her friends tease her, they only do so because they’ve earned that right. I mean, this is the girl who had a complete mental breakdown because, despite her hatred of weddings and the entire idea of marriage, she realized she had a natural gift for wedding planning. She refused to write letters to Santa because she didn’t want to depend on a man. Britta’s like the personification of those crazy feminist blogs on Tumblr. She’s that friend everyone has – she can be kind of annoying, and if you weren’t constantly around them, you would hate them. But being forced together makes you learn what makes her tick, and you can appreciate her for who she is. Sure, she’s pretentious and gets upset about weird things, but she also gave us explainabrags and complisults, and for that, she will always be remembered.
1. Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)
“If I seem too passionate, it’s because I care. If I come on strong, it’s because I feel strongly. And if I push too hard, it’s because things aren’t moving fast enough.”
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Leslie Knope is the greatest, and if you dislike her, you are severely lacking character and I will want to punch you in the face.
Leslie is the woman we should all aspire to be. She’s strong, passionate, and loving. Her friends (or possibly waffles) are the most important things to her. And that’s what makes this character, and the show itself, so unique. Most shows don’t reward their enthusiastic, ambitious characters. The overachiever is usually the butt of the jokes, and their hard work is always unnoticed to everyone but the audience. But on Parks, the other characters are well aware of Leslie’s awesomeness. They all know how much she’s willing to do for them, and in return, they’re willing to grant her favors or go along with her schemes. She exudes happiness and positivity, and seriously, if you don’t like her, you don’t have a soul.
Honorable Mentino: Jean-Ralphio Saperstein, Parks and Recreation. I don’t care what he’s doing. I just love everything about him.
So there you go! Who were your favorite characters in 2012? But again, if you don’t include Leslie Knope on your list, I will have to punch you, so please keep that in mind.