Media that sparked joy in 2020

I think we can all agree that 2020 has basically been a garbage fire from start to finish, right? At this point, though, I don’t want to talk about all that. Instead, I want to talk about all the (non-bookish) media that sparked joy for me!

It feels like this year everyone has been talking about how much more time they’ve had and how much media they’ve been consuming to fill it, but for me, it feels like I watched and listened to even less than usual. Not sure how that happened. Still, though I have less to choose from this year than most other years, that doesn’t mean the things I watched and listened to were less amazing. I found a lot of media this year that sparked joy—in fact, sometimes they were the only things that could bring me any positive emotions at all. (That’s probably bad.) But everything in this post is the sparkiest of joys (totally a phrase) from all of 2020.

So without further ado, I’m just going to ramble on about all the things that have made me happy this year, and no one can stop me.

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I didn’t watch a ton of TV this year, but several of my favorite shows got some truly beautiful endings.

The Good Place has, since day one, basically been a treatise on how goodness exists simply in the act of trying to be better today than you were yesterday, and the ending brought it home perfectly. Everything it had to say about fate, choice, community, love, and so much more is genuinely going to stick with me for the rest of my life. I’ve watched the final episode three times by now and it’s brought me to tears each time. Plus, it’s a really funny show! If you haven’t watched it yet, what are you doing?

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Schitt’s Creek also ended this year! I’m so proud of how far those characters came over the course of six seasons—character arcs this good in any show, let alone sitcoms, are hard to find. David and Patrick’s wedding was so beautiful that I definitely got misty eyed, and the ending was just *clutches heart*. Forever a favorite, and already one that I’ve gone back to rewatch when I need cheering up.

The "Schitt's Creek" Series Finale Almost Looked Very Different | NewNowNext

I watched the last season of  Anne with an E at the beginning of the year and, oh boy, did it do things to my heart. As much as I wish this show would go on for seasons and seasons so we could watch the characters continue to grow up, the ending was incredibly satisfying as is. It’s the perfect show to watch whenever you just need a reminder that not everything is horrible, and honestly I think I’ll probably rewatch it soon.

Ship Spotlight: Celebrating 'Anne with an E's' Shirbert | capeandcastle.com

In the spring, I binge watched all five seasons of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power in a matter of a few weeks, and I regretted absolutely nothing. This show impressed me more and more with each passing season—what appears to be a bright, goofy kids show becomes so much more complex and tells an emotionally satisfying story about imperialism, the hero’s journey, redemption, and much more. I could literally devote entire paragraphs just to talking about how brilliantly written Catra’s character is. She’s right up there with Zuko in the “all time favorite TV characters” pedestal. (What can I say? I have a type.)

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Unfortunately, all of these shows are now over, and I’m not really watching anything now since I’ve been betrayed too many times and have trust issues with TV shows. Do you have any recommendations of shows I should try out? 

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The 2020 adaptation of Emma was unbelievably aesthetically gorgeous and fully captured the comedy of Austen’s book. The costumes alone would have been enough to make me love it, but that on top of that the script was hilarious and the acting created so many subtly comedic moments that had me actually screaming. Not to mention that every time Emma and Mr. Knightley so much as looked at each other, I felt like I was both dying and being brought back to life. (I think that’s actually a requirement for Jane Austen adaptations.)

lies.com » henrycevill:Anya Taylor-Joy in Emma (2020), Dir. Autumn de…

Portrait of a Lady on Fire was the last movie I saw in a movie theatre, and what a last movie to see. I haven’t stopped thinking about this movie all year—every single shot is a work of art and the story manages to be both heartbreaking and beautiful. I almost want to take a film class just so I can more fully understand the brilliance of this film.

Portrait of a Daydreamer - Tumblr Blog Gallery

Before this year, I’d never read or watched anything having to do with Little Women, but I decided to see the 2019 adaptation back in January and then read the book a few months later…and the rest is history. I don’t have the same nostalgia around this story that many people do, but I still have so many feelings and opinions about it! This movie was brilliantly made and I could talk for hours about sisterhood and Jo March and gender and meta-narratives and…okay I’ll stop now.

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(In case it isn’t already obvious, I very much enjoy period films.)

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The Half of It was a movie that came out on Netflix this year which I loved so, so much! This is another that I could probably rewatch and analyze over and over because there’s so much going on, such artistry and thought put into every detail. The ultimate small town coming-of-age movie, tbh.

Movie Review: The Half Of It | The Nerd Daily

I’m not usually an action movie person, but I watched The Old Guard and adored it. The pacing, the fight scene choreography, the characters, the found family—all absolute perfection. Also, Charlize Theron could simply look at me with her sad, tortured immortal eyes and I would do anything for her.

Go Big Charlize Theron GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

I don’t know exactly how it happened, but 2020 was the year of getting back into The Lord of the Rings. Now, let’s be real: LOTR has been a huge part of my life for a long time, and I usually rewatch the movies every year anyway, but this year it really became my comfort media more than anything else. (Probably has something to do with JKR being terrible and Harry Potter not feeling like a safe comfort media at the moment 😬) I rewatched the extended editions not once but twice this year, watched them all again with the cast commentary, found several LOTR podcasts (my favorites are That’s What I’m Tolkien About and Shadowfacts), and now I’ve finally caved and am listening to the audiobook of Fellowship. Returning to Middle-Earth has made this year at least somewhat bearable.

:'(
*cries because 2020*

Hamilton was something that happened this year! I literally wrote an entire post about it because it made me so emo! Even now, Hamilton remains one of my favorite pieces of media of all time. I think I managed to watch it four times over the summer before we cancelled our Disney+ account. Seriously, I know I’m like the 50 millionth person to say this, but this show is truly a masterpiece.

Lin Manuel Miranda Broadway GIF by Hamilton: An American Musical - Find &  Share on GIPHY

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In terms of music, I’d like to thank Miss Taylor Swift for singlehandedly getting me through the back half of the year. folklore and evermore were both the most welcome surprises which I’ve had on repeat since their releases (even though evermore only came out a week ago). It’s hard to pick favorites, but some of the songs I’ve listened to the most are “seven” (my top song on Spotify for the year!), “cardigan,” “dorothea,” and “ivy.”

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I discovered some new (to me) artists this year, including: Cavetown (favorites: “Hug All Ur Friends” and “Pyjama Pants“), Maggie Rogers (“Light On” and “Back In My Body“), Sammy Rae (“Denim Jacket” and “Kick It to Me“), and dodie (“Would You Be So Kind” and “Cool Girl“).

According to my Spotify Wrapped, my top artists of the year were Taylor Swift, Lorde, Bastille, and Hadestown Original Broadway Company. Not surprising in the least!

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What media sparked joy for you in 2020? Did you watch/listen to any of the same things as me? 

x Margaret

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32 thoughts on “Media that sparked joy in 2020

  1. First of all agreed with 95% of this list and the other 5% is now on my to watch / listen list. (The Old Guard might be my favorite movie?? Or is it Portrait of a Lady on Fire? And the gender discussion in Little Woman omg!)

    My tv rec would be Wynonna Earp if you haven’t seen it. It’s on Netflix. A little supernaturally intense at times but it’s about family and so many people are queer in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clearly you have great taste! 😄 Omg the gender discussion in Little Women is something I could go on and on about…

      Ooh thanks for the recommendation! I think I started Wynonna Earp a long time ago but never continued—maybe I’ll give it another shot! 😊

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  2. I’ve got to season three of the good place but the TV channel I was watching it on stopped playing it but it might come back again, hopefully!! But I was really enjoying it, I loved the ‘I am legit snack’ moment 😂😂 I just watched the first season of Schitt’s Creek and I really enjoyed it so I can’t wait to watch more when it comes on!! 🥰
    I rewatched the Lord of the rings this year for the first time in a while (I rewatched a lot this year 😂) and I enjoyed it so much, I was surprised as I didn’t love love it the first time but I did this type. I saved so many lotr pins afterwards 😂😂 but I’m not quite at your level yet. I love it and the podcasts sounds awesome!!
    Haha Lorde was my of my top artists of the year too 🥰😂 I’m glad you loved Taylor Swift’s music, I haven’t listened to any of it yet 🙈 I really should!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh I hope you can continue The Good Place and Schitt’s Creek soon! 😀 Eleanor is SO funny 😂

      Ahh hooray, so glad you enjoyed LOTR this year! And yesss your music taste is clearly spectacular if Lorde was one of your top artists 😉 You should listen to Taylor Swift’s new music!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dead authors are the best comfort authors 😔 (That probably sounded really creepy out of context)

    I love She-ra and Anne with an E a lot! I watched She-ra this year too, and it’s just the best thing ever. If you’re looking for a new TV show, may I recommend Untamed? It’s a Chinese fantasy drama about two queer martial artists and it’s both hilarious and super angsty. The show was adapted from a Boy’s Love novel, and the show isn’t explicitly gay because of Chinese censorship laws, but it still manages to be pretty darn gay all the same. It’s on Netflix!

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  4. Such a good year for film, music and tv, even if it wasn’t for anything else haha. This has 100% inspired me to write a similar post if that’s okay (with credit ofc)? I watched The Good Place last year I think (the months blur so it could have been early 2020 no clue haha) and I love it so much!! Might rewatch it at some point because it’s just so good but I will miss the excitement of all the plot twists. Schitts Creek I’ve also just started and I love it!! I know a lot of the plot because a lot of my family members love it but I’m excited to see how we get to all the major plot points.
    Taylor Swift was also such a blessing in 2020 I love her and her music so much.
    Anne With an E I haven’t watched yet but I should because I adore Anne of Green Gables – one of my all time favourite books for sure. I just reread it actually so now would be a good time to start the show!
    Hamilton is also brilliant! I’m glad I can see it again and again now without just watching bad bootlegs on YouTube oops.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re absolutely right! And YES I’d love to see what media brought you joy this year 😄 So glad you loved The Good Place too! And I hope you enjoy watching Schitt’s Creek!!

      Ooh I highly recommend Anne with an E—it’s quite different from the books (or what I remember of them) but keeps the same tone. And Hamilton was truly such a wonderful part of 2020! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Taylor Swift really did singlehandedly save 2020 haha. also loved Hamilton!!!! (I watched it the day the election was called and it hit so different than in July omg the pure joy!!!) and the half of it (although I swear that was so long ago was that really 2020??? what a long ass year good riddance) loved this post!!

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  6. I’ve now watched The Old Guard four times since its release this summer, and I regret nothing. In fact, maybe I should watch it a fifth time before years’ end.

    I’m totally there with you on LOTR, too. I just finished rereading the last two books, and we had a three-week marathon of the movies, and it was just everything that I needed to close out this hell year. I’m embarking on the History of Middle-earth next year, too, and I can’t wait to just be constantly living in Tolkien’s mind!

    Emma was truly a perfect adaptation, and I’m just so glad it exists in this world and that it maintained its hilarity! The Half of It was also just wonderful, and I definitely need to rewatch it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is absolutely a good idea, I think 😀 Ahhh yes so glad you’re rereading LotR too!! Living in Tolkien’s mind is a great remedy to hellyear 2020.

      Emma is SO hilarious, I already want to rewatch it. And I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking about how brilliant The Half of It is!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. omg emma and schitts creek and the good place 🥰🥰🥰🥰 i feel like all my fav shows ended this year buy they all had such beautiful endings 🥺 i also rli love rewatching parks and earlier this year, it brought me so much joy💖💖💖

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  8. This is a really great list! It made me realize that I need to finish watching Anne With an E- I watched the first season when it came out, but I never got around to the rest. I do remember enjoying it and thinking the cinematography was beautiful though, and Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books, so I really should watch the rest. I also need to watch Emma! Her and Mr. Knightley…okay, I will go cry now.🥺

    Yes to Taylor Swift’s albums getting me through 2020! The best surprises ever, honestly. I’ll have to listen to some of the songs you mentioned- I don’t know if you’ve heard this one before, but I do love “Talk to Me” by Cavetown. I hope you find lots of new media to spark joy in 2021 too! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh you should continue with Anne with an E! It does differ a lot from the books (or at least what I remember of them) but it’s such a lovely show. And Emma and Mr. Knightley definitely make me cry ❤

      Taylor Swift's albums truly were the best surprises of 2020 😀 Thanks so much, Olivia!! I hope you find lots of media that sparks joy in 2021 too ❤

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  9. Apparently, our tastes are quite similar! The Good Place and Schitt’s Creek were two shows that managed to brighten my year – I haven’t finished the latter, but I’m so excited to do so. I loved The Half of It so much, and The Old Guard I’ve already watched three times. I don’t typically watch action films – like you – but this one is so good?? I love the characters so much, and I’m hoping for a sequel. I watched Hamilton soon after it came out – I never actually listened to the soundtrack before, so it was all new to me. I watched it twice, and then became obsessed with the soundtrack… the Hamilton Cast ended up as my third most listened to artist in my spotify wrapped, lmao. My most listened to artist was Taylor Swift – I love folklore and evermore so much! Great post, Margaret!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh clearly you have great taste! 😉 I’m so excited for you to finish Schitt’s Creek—the ending made me smile so much. And yesss The Old Guard blew me away! I watched it twice ahaha and I can definitely see myself watching it again. Hooray for Hamilton ending up as one of your top artists of the year! 😀 I’m so glad you could discover it this year! Thanks so much ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. i heard great things about emma, but i think it was your review that now has officially convinced me to watch it. i am not a fan of pride and prejudice (which i think it’s a crime basically? lol), so i don’t know how much this adaptation would work for me, but it makes me happy that the writing is humorous.

    i didn’t think i would enjoy little women either, but it was much more dynamic than i anticipated for a period movie. it felt like a historical movie but with a modern writing, if that makes sense, and i really enjoyed it!

    hamilton really was a masterpiece and it made into my top albums of 2020 on spotify, which i was definitely not surprised about, hahah. folklore made it too, along with harry styles’ fine line and niall horan’s heartbreak weather. (i am definitely a directioner, can you tell? hahah).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh I hope you love Emma, even if you don’t love P&P! This adaptation definitely leans more into the humorous side 😊

      Yess that’s such a perfect description of Little Women! It felt like such a contemporary story, even though it took place in a historical time. Dynamic is a great word for it!

      I love that Hamilton was one of your top albums of the year! Ahaha I definitely had a few harry styles songs among my top of the year too…

      Liked by 1 person

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