2020 in review

2020 was a really good year for me in spite of all the super obvious reasons it shouldn’t have been? i got freaking engaged, i’m making progress on my gender transition (it looks like i’m going to get an orchi soon!), i discovered new things about my gender (i’ve given up on ever really totally figuring myself out), i made progress recovering from a 10-year abusive relationship and took the lessons out of that and used them to be the best partner i can be and i’m so proud of myself for that!, i’ve gotten the ball rolling on getting into therapy to work on my mental health goals (finding out if i have adhd or if it’s something else and getting a treatment plan for whatever it is, and working on my anxiety & likely cptsd) and did i mention i got freaking engaged???

anyway, for anyone who cares (i’m so sorry if you do), here’s my thoughts on a lot of the media i’ve consumed for the first time in 2020 that was personally meaningful for me for one reason or another.

movies

according to letterboxd (which will give an imprecise number because it includes miniseries and single season animes etc as films) i watched approximately 215 films in 2020, and 62 of these were first watches. meaning only around 28% of the films i watched this year were first watches. that number used to be a lot higher (more on the order of like 70-80% when i was more of a film nerd and cared about stuff like my letterboxd numbers) but honestly i’ve found returning to films that i know i like, and especially experiencing them with loved ones, a lot more rewarding than chasing some kind of film nerd cred. it’s how i used to watch movies when i was a kid/young adult, and getting away from that for internet points was super dumb.

1. knives out (2019)

this was technically both the last film i watched in 2020 and the first film i watched in 2021, since we had to pause it with about 15 minutes left to smooch and drink champagne at midnight. every time i watch it it rockets further up my favorite movies list. i love it so hecking much.

(s-rank)

2. your name. (2016)

this movie is gorgeous. it’s easily one of the most beautiful traditionally-animated films i’ve ever seen. and honestly that would be enough to make it noteworthy but of course that’s not all. the music is equally gorgeous. basically the aural equivalent of the stunning visuals. and the two of them work in concert (sorry) to deliver an incredible experience.

(s-rank)

3. birds of prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one harley quinn) (2020)

this does not feel like a post-mcu world superhero movie. and it’s so gay and i want most of them to step on me. the ones who aren’t cops or kids. so like. huntress, harley, and canary. yeah. yeah. yeah. that seems pretty good. let’s go with that.

i went into this expecting it to be trashy fun and hella indulgent? and to have a big crush on margot robbie & mary elizabeth winstead in fantastic cosplay? I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR IT TO ACTUALLY BE GOOD??? AND BE TRASHY FUN??? AT THE SAME TIME??? LIKE. GENUINELY OMG????

ok. ok. let’s… let’s try to actually formulate some thoughts here.

the action scenes were SO GOOD and SO GIRLY and SO GAY. highlights include huntress STABBING A DUDE WHILE THEY’RE GOING DOWN A SLIDE, and harley staring dumbfounded afterwards and saying “you’re so cool!” then they’re all fighting and it’s so much fun to watch and harley is on ROLLERSKATES??? and canary’s hair keeps getting in her face so harley skates over to her and OFFERS HER A HAIRTIE?????? and just… it’s so AUTHENTICALLY GIRLY? and basically every hero in this movie is a woman who was trying to get out from under the thumb of a man. and, y’know, yeah, that spoke to me for… no particular reason…

i love this movie so hecking much. it went from “ugh they’re still making those?” to “wait i’m actually excited for this?” to “THIS IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER” so fast it kinda made my head spin. i can’t believe it exists. the fact that it somehow exists makes me want to make desperate love to it.

NOW GIVE ME THAT IVY/HARLEY MOVIE CATHY YAN WANTS TO MAKE. PLEASE.

(s-rank)

4. weathering with you (2019)

both this and your name. involve someone frantically trying to save the love of their life from seemingly impossible odds, with weathering with you adding the stakes that they are explicitly choosing their loved one’s safety over everything else. it’s difficult to imagine a central thrust speaking to me more.

(s-rank)

5. sonic the hedgehog (2020)

… heh. sonic the hedgehog is a valentine’s day movie. i love it.

(a-rank)

television

1. star trek: discovery, season 3

so the vast majority of season 3 of star trek: discovery aired this year (the season finale airs next year, close enough). my feelings about this show have been such a journey. when it premiered with two women of color as the captain & first officer amplifying each other’s power, and clearly having so much love & respect for each other, i thought it had the potential to be my favorite star trek series ever. when that turned into a bait-and-switch & was followed by the unbearable slog that was the klingon war arc, i thought it had a chance to be my least favorite star trek other than enterprise, or a “this is entertaining scifi i guess but it isn’t fucking star trek” like the reboot movies.

the mirror universe arc reeled me back in a bit, especially when the main character’s gentle mommy domme from the first episode came back as a badass mean domme. (… look i’m not sorry. you know this is the lens i see most things through.) but i finished the first season with mostly mixed feelings trending towards bad feelings.

season 2 righted the ship, and did have the good sense to make me cry, which is always a good play for any media that’s vying for my affection. i still had mixed feelings about it, and when season 1 of lower decks was over (more on that later) i was actually kind of sad about discovery coming back.

season 3 is blowing both of the previous seasons, and probably most other seasons of every other star trek series ever out of the water.

the storytelling is just fantastic, the emotional beats are pitch perfect, burnham & georgiou’s relationship was centered & paid off in the most incredible ways, and we got the franchise’s first trans and nonbinary characters (and one of the few nonbinary characters on television period), and they’re dating each other, and they’re forming this incredibly gay chosen family with the first two gay characters star trek had ever seen, and it’s like… it’s not a big deal in an awkward trying too hard way, but it is a big deal in the like i am freaking out so much about this and i don’t know how to handle it sort of way.

and as if all of that isn’t enough, it also feels like star trek in a way that nutrek really hadn’t until now. (except, surprisingly, for lower decks. again, more on that later.) this season honestly kind of feels like a love letter to star trek fans, but where that kind of thing can frequently go awry, this hasn’t. it doesn’t feel pandering or like it’s trying too hard. it feels like it’s made with a lot of love.

i am so over the moon for this show now. i really hope it stays this good.

2. star trek: lower decks, season 1

i gotta admit, i was pretty skeptical going into this one. it was such a pleasant surprise. this was just the year for star trek media to surprise me in good ways. idk i was really put off by the animation style superficially resembling a lot of dudebro cartoons that i hate, and the fact that the creator/showrunner previously worked on one of those dudebro cartoons. but just… the vibe wasn’t that at all. it was very star trek in a way that discovery kind of wasn’t at the time (it got better).

3. cells at work

this adorable little anime is one of my favorite television series of all time. it’s lightly educational. the main characters are red blood cells and white blood cells and what have you, and the action will occasionally stop for text/voiceover explanations of various things these cells or their enemies (germs etc) do.

but above all it’s just so freaking cute? and it also indulges in dumb anime tropes so hard it’s hard to tell whether it’s a loving parody or just an incredibly earnest example of silly anime tropes, and i don’t really care which it is? i just love it.

this is the show that has made me say things like “OMG THIS SHOW IS SO DUMB I LOVE IT SO MUCH.”

4. aoharu x machinegun

it’s a sports anime with very upfront bdsm themes. yeah, i’m into it.

5. star trek: picard

at times this felt more like a mass effect show than a star trek show, which isn’t exactly detrimental for me considering that mass effect is up there with my favorite games of all time. it heavily features the romulans and borg, which y’know hi yes that’ll work. i didn’t really like that it was “about” one guy, even if that guy was captain freaking picard. it does have a great ensemble cast but yeah i’d rather have a more traditional star trek series set on a federation ship.

6. love live! nijigasaki high school idol club

has strong potential to be my favorite love live! series just by virtue of being the first one i’ve watched while it’s actually airing, but on top of that wow it’s just so good? and it’s very front-loaded with gay stuff? i freaking love it.

7. citrus

this is my fiancx’s favorite anime of all time, and i really appreciated sharing it with vir. it’s v explicitly gay which is great, and you really do feel for the characters. i’d be pretty selective about who i recommend it to though, it’s definitely not gonna be everyone’s cup of tea.

8. neon genesis evangelion

woof this is a heavy-hitter. i had a very love-hate relationship with it, but i’m for sure glad i saw it. i think. look, it’s a lot.

video games

1. monstergirl mansion

this is an incredibly important game to grammy, and she played it with me, and now it’s an incredibly important game to me. it’s short but very sweet. it’s got good domme/sub dynamics, it’s very trans & very lesbian, and it literally made me cry. i cannot recommend it highly enough.

(s-rank)

2. animal crossing: new horizons

this game is so wholesome, and it let mommy & i build something together, and everything is just so nice & lovely. you just water flowers and befriend animal cuties and send letters/gifts to your friends (both aforementioned animal cuties & irl friends). i always used to think it sounded boring but it’s not it’s just… so, so good.

(s-rank)

3. heart of the woods

the writing is incredible. it made me cry several times. and i love this big family of queer girls.

i think the thing about the writing that impresses me the most is how real all the emotions in this feel. it’s really good at drawing you in, at making you feel what the characters feel, and feeling for them. it also tackles abuse in a way that made me feel incredibly seen.

it’s not without flaws. the fact that maddie & abigail are afforded two sex scenes while tara & morgan are allowed none is a problem. a big, frustrating, unsurprising problem. the developers’ excuse is that they’re worried about people fetishizing tara or being transphobic, and just… hi. no. please get out of here with those excuses.

as if straight men haven’t been fetishizing cis lesbians for basically as long as they’ve known there’s such a thing. and i notice they don’t let concerns about homophobia stop them from showing two cis women having sex.

ok, this is really what i want to know. why are you more interested in how cis people are going to react than how trans people are going to react? we play your games too. you’re going to include a character that’s “for” us but not afford her the same space to explore her romantic relationship as your other main characters? honestly, fuck off with that.

in spite of how angry i am about this, i don’t want to undersell how much i genuinely love this game. i already talked about how incredible the writing (otherwise) is, and it made me cry like a bunch of times. and one of the reasons i’m so upset that tara didn’t get her freak on is because the character means so much to me, and for me to hold that against the developers while not also giving them credit for creating a character that means so much to me feels patently unfair.

honestly, in spite of my one fairly substantial complaint, i hecking love this game. any game that makes me cry this much & is this gay is gonna be a favorite of mine.

(a-rank)

4. ringfit

this got me back into working out, which is so important to me. and it makes it genuinely fun without detracting from the results. highly recommend.

(a-rank)

5. halo: master chief collection

we kinda got stuck on odst (idk if we’ll even finish it, it’s so boring, might just move on to reach which i remember liking). 1 & 2 were replays for me (2 was one of my favorite games of all time, more because of the multiplayer mode than the story mode), 3 i had played a bit of but beat for the first time, and 4 i don’t think i had ever played so that would also be a first play.

(a-rank)

6. clubhouse games

this honestly rules. it’s a bunch of standard board games & card games, and has online multiplayer. i played it with several of my partners on a pretty regular basis, and one time i even played with my entire polycule together. it’s very simple but whatever, it rules.

(a-rank)

7. dungeons & lesbians

kinda short and the endings could use more variety, but still p dang good. it’s so wholesome & gay & nerdy.

(b-rank)

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