best of 2020

2020 has been a really interesting year for …a multitude of reasons, but it’s extra interesting specifically because it’s been a chance for us to revisit great older things, a chance for us to appreciate slower-paced things, and a chance to find supreme joy in very simple things.

My media choices for this year have clearly reflected that. I got obsessed, absolutely obsessed with at least one thing from every major category this year.

Film: Humko Dewaana Kar Gaye (2006)

I watched this little known, achingly mediocre movie 6 times this year — I want to get one more viewing in before the end of the year, just haven’t had time. I won’t rehash why I love it so much since I’ve already written about that in its own post.

I think it’s pretty interesting how my top movie of this year isn’t some mind blowing thriller or a social drama that speaks to my soul — but a simple film with good chemistry and people just hanging out. All I want in life right now is exactly what they have in this film. I want to be swept into someone else’s world. I want to hang out all the time.

Song: Haan Mein Galat from Love Aaj Kal (2020)

So, this one isn’t an older song… It crashed into my life with a bang in January and nothing topped it.

However, if you look at my favorites overdose playlist on Spotify, a ton of older songs were rediscovered in a new light this year. Here’s a list of those added to my favorites list:

There’s dozens and dozens of other songs I had brief fascinations with that just didn’t make it to my favorites list. Everything just hit different since there was so little new music coming out. I’d be listening to a playlist or a Daily Mix and something would itch somewhere inside of me, and suddenly I’m in love with some random old song.

I still want to expose myself to new music, but this year’s music just hit on a different level.

TV Show: Wizards of Waverly Place (2007-2012)

This could be simplified as the year of Disney+. I first fell back in love with Disney Channel 2 years ago. I randomly started Liv & Maddie and instantly fell in love with Dove Cameron, started watching the Descendants movie, and then Disney+ happened. I almost exclusively watch Disney Channel content on Disney+.

I’ve still never really seen Star Wars, I don’t like Marvel, Nature documentaries hold very little appeal for me, and the only Pixar movie I loved is The Incredibles.

Wizards of Waverly Place is new to me, I had never seen it growing up because it didn’t come on ABC Kids (the Saturday morning channel). I didn’t have cable growing up.

It still feels nostalgic to me because I was definitely watching its contemporaries (at least the early seasons) — Hannah Montana, the Original Suite Life, and the end of Kim Possible and That’s So Raven.

I watched a ton of Disney Channel Original Movies on DVD as well — Starstruck (I’ll never admit this is one of my favorites), Princess Protection Program, Avalon High, Read it and Weep, Twitches, and most importantly — High School Musical.

I feel like Disney+ is finally a chance to catch up on everything from Disney Channel that I missed. I like just about everything on the service, as long as there’s no Indian stereotype as a recurring character (BYE Jessie, BYE Phineas and Ferb, I will never love you).

I’m starting to appreciate sitcoms more at this age (as long as they’re good sitcoms with a wide range of characters!), as evidenced by the fact that I’ve been seriously watching Friends since December 31st, 2019 — the day it left Netflix.

Video Game: Persona 5 (2016)

This is also a new game. It’s something I always wanted to play. I have vague familiarity with the Persona series from playing a few hours of some Shin Megami Tensei game and Persona 3. This game didn’t surprise me — it felt familiar yet extremely modern.

I have a whole tag about Persona 5 that you can read here. However, I’d like to spend a moment talking about why this is nostalgic for me. This is the first turn-based JRPG game I’ve played on my PS3/PS4. It opened up this whole new world of possibility — there can be modern feeling JRPGs.

It also re-awakened something that I’m fairly private about, but a very significant hobby in my life nonetheless. I read a lot of visual novels and interactive fiction. My favorite ones of all time are Digital: A Love Story and G-Senjou No Maou. But, I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours on these sorts of games. I just find them to be really imaginative and the focus on relationships is really interesting to me from a gameplay perspective.

The Persona series is the only really mainstream representation I’ve seen of that sort of game since 999.

Being able to publicly enjoy a game that strikes all of these nostalgic points for me — a turn-based JRPG with visual novel elements is a return to my roots. It’s everything I love in gaming.

Book: The Gallagher Girls Series

This is an interesting one. For me, binging this series brought a lot of confidence in my reading ability. I sped through some of these in 1 day. They’re really quite short and quite easy to read, but still, it feels really good to finish a book in 1 day.

I wanted to get back in touch with the fact that I like middle grade books, I like spies, I like a fast pace and a fun story. This was just a good time, and a great reminder that reading doesn’t have to be hard. Reading doesn’t have to eat at me.

I have a small tag about this series here. Honestly, it isn’t a very good book series. I had a good time, though. It’s probably geared towards an audience that’s just a little too young for my taste, but I still love the concept of “girls who go to high school and are also spies.” I just wish it was a little bit more Kim Possible, where the high school stuff overlapped more, but it started to lose that in the later books once the main character became the chosen one and whatever.

I’m hoping 2021 has more new stuff in store, but honestly I feel really good about my experience with media this year. I had a good time. The ability to just freely explore this year has been really interesting and really calming. Part of this was because of covid, but it was also just mostly because I was finally settled into a city, job, and lifestyle that I’m comfortable with. I hope I get to relax this much next year as well.