Debbie’s Totally Random and Completely Insignificant Pop Culture Awards of 2016

Yay, awards time! As always, these are about my personal preferences and just for fun.

The Television Episode that Kicked the Ass of Anything in Movies Award:

The Battle of the Bastards, Game of Thrones

Yeah, I know I already covered the awesomeness of this episode in a previous post. And, yeah, Game of Thrones has been overrepresented in this category since I started doing these awards.

But…it is so totally deserving, I couldn’t pick anything else. Especially since my criteria for the award is how it stacks up to scenes made for the big screen. This one did it, and did it the best.


The Disney Heroine I’ve Been Waiting for Award:


I love Disney animated features, including all the princess movies. Lately, the princess movies have evolved to more than just young women waiting for their prince to show up, and it’s wonderful.

Moana is not a princess (though there’s a cute joke about how she IS one) but a future chief of her South Pacific island. She craves setting out on a sea voyage, which her parents warn her against, telling her to be content with the world she knows.

She embarks on a bona fide hero’s journey, where she’s not just helping a loved one, but saving her people as a whole. She’s a female Perseus, seeking help from gods and battling monsters.

Even Mulan had a love interest—in this story, the heroine is not at all concerned with who she will marry one day. (Better yet, it’s a subject that’s never even brought up.)

To see a story about a young girl on a grand adventure shouldn’t be such a rare thing—but it is. And given the Disney treatment, with superb animation, songs, and a terrific script, it’s a transcendent experience.


The If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It Award:

The Great British Bake-Off

The massive hit show The Great British Bake-Off (The Great British Baking Show here in the U.S.) has ended its run on the BBC and is now moving to Channel Four. Which wouldn’t seem a big deal, except they immediately fired the two hosts, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins and judge Mary Berry elected not to follow to Channel Four. Only judge Paul Hollywood of the original cast will remain with the show.


Having the perfect chemistry among cast members is as important as the concept and writing. Without the original quartet, I find it highly unlikely that the show will be as good as it was. MAYBE it could survive new hosts, but without Mary Berry?


When Project Runway moved from Bravo to Lifetime, they kept the same cast, because everyone knows it wouldn’t be the same without Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum. Michael Kors eventually left, but losing just him wasn’t a calamity.

THIS is a calamity.


The Emmys Finally Get It Right Award:

Tatiana Maslany wins Best Actress for Orphan Black

The Emmys have been accused—rightfully, I think—of awarding the same small group of people over and over. It was great to see them break with that this year and give one to Tatiana Maslany, who plays who-knows-how-many-characters-I’ve-lost-count on the sci-fi show Orphan Black. More than deserving!


The It’s Official, The Star Wars Franchise Is Back and Better Than Ever Award:

Rogue One

While it has some minor flaws, Rogue One is an exciting addition to the Star Wars franchise that does something almost unheard of: changes the way you look at the original films, especially A New Hope. Almost devoid of the lightheartedness of the OT, Rogue One is a film that reminds us that war is not a game, that there are nameless people who fight and sacrifice for what they believe is the greater good.

Whatever one wants to say about George Lucas, there’s no doubt now that he created a universe where many, MANY stories can still be told. With this and The Force Awakens, the franchise isn’t just back, IT’S BACK, BABY.


The Best Casting News Ever, Ever, EVER Award:

Donald Glover cast as Lando Calrissian in the young Han Solo movie.

Do we REALLY need a young Han Solo movie?

I didn’t think so, until I heard about Glover’s casting as Lando. I was literally squealing and jumping up and down at the news, because he’s SO PERFECT for the role.

Now, I’m actually looking forward to the movie, and take it as another sign of the resurgence of the Star Wars franchise.


The Show with Deaths More Devastating than Game of Thrones Award:

Call the Midwife

I’d heard lots of good things about Call the Midwife, but only binge-watched all its seasons this year.

What an amazing show. I plan to write about it more extensively in a future blog post.

Based on a memoir about midwives and Anglican sisters who serviced women in post-war London, it is gut-wrenching just as a matter of course.

It’s a show as much about the end of life as the beginning of it, and some of the deaths can be devastating. This year, the final episode had one that practically had me flat out on the floor in tears. (My niece quipped that the writers must have a running contest to see who can make the audience cry the most.)

Death on TV series used to be quite rare, but now it’s fairly common. Call the Midwife knows how to do it with respect, giving the audience a well-earned catharsis.


The Light in a Very Dark Year Award:

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Man, what a cluster-you-know-what of a year. We lost so many beloved pop culture icons, some well before their time. Politics, both at home and abroad, were a horror show. The future at this moment seems very uncertain.

The one light that kept me going was Lin-Manuel Miranda. Someone on Twitter said that following him is like a master class on being an artist, and I think that’s very true.

He shone his positivity on the Tony Awards with his “Love is love is love is love” speech after the Pulse massacre in Orlando. His contribution to the Moana soundtrack—both writing and performing—gave us at least three new classic Disney songs. His tribute to Prince after his death—with the Hamilton cast singing and dancing to Let’s Go Crazy—was joyful and poignant. He released the extraordinary Hamilton Mixtape. His hilarious appearance on Drunk History to retell the Alexander Hamilton story was amazing. He kept his promise to record Hamilton with the original cast so that someday those who couldn’t make it to New York before they left the show could see them perform it.

Every interview, tweet, post, is full of gratitude for his success and a desire to pay it forward.

History has its eyes on you, Lin-Manuel, and it’s all good.

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