You know that feeling when you're the only one who doesn't like something that literally everyone else likes and you have to pretend to like that thing even if, I don't know, it tastes really gross and you need to spit it out or is really boring and you just want to turn it off or is, objectively, a really stupid thing that no adult should fall prey to liking? I got that feeling a lot this past year. By my count, at least ten times. And, again, I don't know, it could easily be something that's inherently flawed in me that makes it impossible for me to take pleasure in what other people enjoy. So, it's okay if no one agrees with me about these things. I can continue to be the iconoclast that I was in high school, when I was maybe the only person I knew who didn't like Dave Matthews. Yeah, I KNOW that's still controversial. But like I said, iconoclast.
So, I think Frank Ocean has a great story and seems like a really interesting and intelligent guy or whatever. And I really wanted to like his music. But I don't. It's not that it's boring, exactly, it's just that there's nothing in it that makes me want to latch on and...suckle? That might not be the perfect analogy. But, well, whatever it is that music I like makes me want to do, this doesn't do it. It's fine for background noise—it's perfect for background noise—because it's not distracting to me at all. And that is not what I want in my music. I want it to distract me. This puts me to sleep.
A lot of people hate Lena Dunham. I don't. I know all the reasons people hate her—well, I'm not entirely sure why John Cook on Gawker hates her SO much, because I don't think she killed his puppy?—but none of those reasons seem so specific to what Lena Dunham creates and markets, which is a rendering of a lifestyle remarkably similar to those of the people who hate Dunham. Only the movie and the HBO series and the book deal are all property of Lena Dunham, not of anyone else, no matter how much better they think they could have done with the opportunity. Anyway. I don't think she's perfect or anything, but I can't hate her at all. Not even a little bit.
Nothing makes me want to shove my face in a pillow and ignore the world around me quite like the Olympics. First, I can't really get behind the idea of viewing my nation as a team. Unless, I guess, we're at war. Even then, it just seems to lack any kind of nuance. But, whatever. I also just don't care about the athletes. Or their life stories. Like, at all. Athletes seem to me to be the most boring people on earth, because in order to become world-class athletes, they need to focus everything on whatever physical endeavor they're attempting. And that necessarily excludes thinking about and doing a lot of other important things. I mean, they're pretty to look at. But so are lots of other people that aren't wearing red, white, and blue uniforms.
Oh god. I hate Downton Abbey. I mean, the first season was fine. I wasn't actually offended by it. And who didn't want to just crawl into one of the velvety folds of Maggie Smith's face and take a nap? But the second season was completely unwatchable to the point where I honestly thought it was a joke that the British were playing on American audiences. I don't think that's the case though? It's actually supposed to be taken seriously? But it's awful. Just pure schlock.
Why did this become the year when it became okay to like crappy musical theater? Is "On My Own" a great song if you're a teenage girl? Yes. Is Les Mis/z a real touchstone for those of us who grew up in the tri-state area and took French and went to see it on various class trips? Sure. But is there any real excuse for so many adults to willingly subject themselves to a 3+ hour long movie that involves several instances of Russell Crowe singing? I can't imagine that there is.
So "The Marriage Plot" was technically released at the end of 2011, and that's when I read it, the end of 2011. But I'm including it in this list because people are STILL talking about it and I saw it recommended on all sorts of recent holiday shopping lists, as if it was a good book at all. It's not. It's an absolutely terrible book and so transparent in its takedown of Eugenides's idea of David Foster Wallace that I was physically uncomfortable reading it. I squirmed. Not to mention the fact that the main female character is impossible to believe as a real woman which made me realize that Eugenides maybe can only successfully write girls from the perspective of some creepy pubescent voyeur which then made me depressed because he is a grown man, and just ugh. Also, there's his author photo, windswept vest and all. Terrible. But people still seem to like him?
I know most people didn't take it seriously. But it was still the subject of a lot of jokes. And most of them weren't even that funny. Trust me. I half-heartedly made some bad ones myself. But I just couldn't really get behind it. The world ending on one day that was pre-determined centuries ago? The idea that there is actually some master cosmic plan? We should all be that lucky. And, well, I don't think we are.
So, I watch Homeland. And I like it. Claire Danes is great. Mandy Patinkin will always be one of my favorite actors of all time. Damian Lewis is fine and everything, especially considering he plays Nicholas Brody, one of the most nonsensical characters ever to be on television. This show is fine. But that's kind of all it is and yet it's praised as one of the most ground-breaking, tightly-written dramas on television. It's absurd in a way that defies all belief. I find Game of Thrones to be far more realistic in terms of the characters' motivations and Game of Thrones is not realistic at all. I just don't understand how Homeland became a critical darling when it feels like a warmed over version of 24 and no one has ever been able to explain it to me, so, I might keep watching but only for Mandy. Always for Mandy.
Everyone tells me to join. Everyone tells me that I need to join. Maybe it's going to be like Twitter, where I dragged my feet forever before finally getting pretty into it? I don't know though. It's all the selfies. All the artfully filtered selfies. I just can't handle them. I do like pictures of puppies though, so we'll see.
Kale is fine. But I don't love it. And its everywhere. Like bacon. But bacon is undeniably good, while kale is just undeniably good for you. I can't get excited by it. I can't work up the enthusiasm to make, like, chips out of it, or whatever people do. It's there. I'm used to it. But that's as far as I'll go.
Ikea Monkey: or Redemption
I actually wasn't super interested in Darwin, the Ikea monkey, when he first surfaced. But everyone else seemed to love him. And then I spent more time looking at pictures of him and GIFs of him scampering through the Swedish superstore and, well, I fell in love. I got it. I finally understood what everyone else was talking about and, let me tell you, it felt good.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen