This year I absorbed more content than I ever have before. Have you ever finished watching a TV show and thought, “well that’s it, I’ve watched it all. No more shows for me” because that was me about every 2 weeks. So this year I’ve switched my format a bit, I’m doing my top 5 from each category, but just know there was a lot to choose from. Here’s to hoping 2021 is a breath of fresh air.

5 Albums

Honestly, I just listened to this album a lot. I loved Beach Bunny’s 2018 EP and was really excited for their first full-length; I even pre-ordered the vinyl. This album came out in January and was a great surf rock vibe to jam to in the new year, you know, living in the pre-quarantine bliss.

Favorite Song: April

Pitchfork and I rarely agree, but we both give this album a solid 10. Fiona Apple has always been unique but the sound this album brought was just so unexpected and so appreciated. I don’t have much to say, give it a few listens and you’ll see what I mean.

Favorite Song: For Her

In the words of the Spotify A.I. that judges you, “oh great another Car Seat Headrest stan…”. What can I say, I love a boy that can whine! This album feels a touch more sophisticated than Teens of Denial but with that same patented angst!

Favorite Song: Hollywood

I’m queer and I’m sad so I obviously love Phoebe Bridgers. This album is great, it’s the best she’s ever done and I would honestly listen to it anytime anyplace. It’s got some synth vibes which is a nice spooky addition.

Favorite Song: Garden Song

I feel like the caveat here is a lot of artists that I love came out with albums this year. Most are artists who I consistently love and am affected by, Okay Kaya is just the best of the best in that category. Her first album was genre-bending; the sound and lyrics were not something I expected to work together but they did. This album achieves the same feat but with more of a dance feel and it’s just phenomenal. This is an artist worth your time.

Favorite Song: Asexual Wellbeing

5 Video Games

I felt like I couldn’t do an end-of-year list without mentioning one of the most anticipated games of all time. I loved the queer representation of this game and the graphics are unfathomable on what is now a last-generation console, but too many good games came out this year. I thought it was a bit too long and the toxicity of revenge really took its toll on the story and some of my favorite characters.

Have you ever seen the 2002 hit film, Snow Dogs? This is basically Snow Dogs. It was so cute! It was a great game to play on a Saturday afternoon, I loved meeting all the dogs and who wouldn’t want a Husky named Bodega? I would recommend using the setting where the dogs can’t die but other than that, no notes!

I hadn’t been giving this game much attention, but finally caved after everyone started raving about it. It was a nice change of pace from our standard action-adventure games and overall was just really refreshing. Both its graphics and story were beautiful and the accompanying side quests always added to the story and didn’t feel too fetch-questy.

When the single for the theme song came out, this quickly became my girlfriend’s most anticipated game of the year. This game is basically Pokemon Snap (my favorite N64 game), but with bugs that are also snacks! Besides being adorable, this game also had amazing queer representation, 11/10.

Okay so I don’t usually like roguelike games but Hades is one of the best games I’ve ever played. The art style and level design are impressive enough but the way the dialogue changes based on your play style is how I’ve always wanted games to behave. With a claimed 300,000 words of dialogue, there is plenty to keep playing for. I have about 60 runs under my belt, and I still enjoy taking a quick run through hell.

With 600 hours logged this year, I think we all know this needed to be my #1 spot. I was already excited about this release since AC was one of my favorite games on the GameCube, but it really was released at the best possible time. My island of Rubbish was the perfect place to escape the small confines of my apartment and was a great place to hang with friends. I’ve really enjoyed being able to play the game with friends, and feel together as we catch fish and pick fruit, even while we are all apart. Their steady addition of seasonal items and new activities keeps me logging on consistently and I’m just thankful I had something this large to do this year.

5 Books

I’ve always enjoyed horror but have never read a Stephen King book. This was a good one. Scary movies normally freak me out a bit more because I don’t love jump scares, but maybe one day I’ll finally brave watching the movie version.

I became a manager at the beginning of this year, and I felt I needed a little guidance. This book is a great read for anyone considering if they want to be a manager or know how to be a better manager. I learned so much and still reference it frequently.

I’ve always enjoyed autobiographies, and I think comedians are some of the best story-tellers. They aren’t afraid to go deep but can also make jokes, that is probably why they are comedians! This is a great book, even if you don’t know Trevor Noah this is an eye-opening book.

This was a year that, hopefully, opened a lot of new eyes to the systemic racism in America. This is a must-read for anyone wanting further insight into the problems in our country, with practical advice for dismantling the system. I would also recommend Harvard’s Racial Justice, Racial Equity, and Anti-Racism Reading List for further reading.

Ronan Farrow is one of the best writers of our time and Catch and Kill details what good journalists deal with to publish the truth. He describes everything he went through reporting on the Harvey Weinstein story as well as the story itself in an incredibly elegant package.

5 Shows

This comedy perfectly encapsulated the horrors of being in middle school and is sometimes so funny it hurts. The fact that the two lead characters are adults playing middle schoolers with a bunch of middle schoolers playing middle schoolers honestly just makes it funnier.

This show covers the ballroom scene in the late 80s and, by association, the AIDS epidemic. It is a beautiful portrait of queer culture and my goodness is it sad. It will pluck at your heartstrings but it’s worth a watch. Bonus points for the cast including a slew of queer and trans actors, and people who were actually involved in the ballroom scene.

What can I say, like many people stuck at home I finally watched the Sopranos. It’s good, I don’t think I should add anything to the 50,000 opinions already on the internet. I understand a lot more references now.

This is one of those shows I tried to watch a few years ago and didn’t get it. When there were a few more seasons around I finally got it. Also, props AGAIN for great queer representation in a show. I’ll miss David Rose and Moira Rose in my life but this show ended perfectly and it’s become one of my favorites of all time.

I’m not saying this is the best series ever, but~~,~~ it’s pretty dang good. This limited series did justice to the original series in a version extremely poignant in the present-day. I think everyone should watch it.

Well, we made it. I won’t say this is the best countdown list I’ve ever written but we’re all tired. Thanks for reading and here’s to hoping your 2020 wasn’t too bad!

Passionate about systems thinking, good UX, and Star Trek. Senior Product Designer @ Crossbeam

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