As 2016 draws to a close, New Times is looking back at the year's stories with the most impact. Ten film and TV articles stood out from the rest, at least according to their large number of readers. This year, Miami readers proved to be an eclectic bunch, clicking on a weird mélange of pieces that one might not expect. So what's on the list?
1. 13 Hours Trades Truth for Explosions, but It's Not Truly Political
In her review of Michael Bay's 13 Hours, Amy Nicholson does much better than simply write off the movie (which is what most folks tend to do with the film's director). She instead dives into the way Bay cranks everything up to 11 and the way he proves himself surprisingly apolitical when compared to other films about American heroism, notably American Sniper and Lone Survivor. In 2016, Benghazi was on everyone's mind, and every conservative was yowling for Hillary Clinton's head, so it's no surprise this film raked in readership.
Simon Abrams' interview with Patrick Warburton — famous for a great number of things, from Venture Brothers, Seinfeld, Rules of Engagement, and Family Guy to The Tick — reveals a lot about the guy. Coming months before the reboot of The Tick that, sadly, didn't star Warburton as the titular character, it's surprising this story was so popular, but it covers everything from the way his looks match his voice (even though when he was young, he was anything but the tall, imposing force he is now) to the fact that he's been offended by Family Guy only once in his whole stint.
Everything about Broad City is magnificent, and Inkoo Kang's piece discusses one of the things that makes the Comedy Central show so great: body humor (and feminism). Ilana and Abbi are all about discussing their bodies and, as Kang says, "are pioneering a kind of fuck-it feminism about body shame that feels distinctly new." The piece discusses the show's brand of humor in comparison to Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and Lena Dunham and hopes Broad City is a "glimpse into a near future when feminist fun isn't an oxymoron."
Flex those abs and throw on a loincloth (or some tight, wet, not-so-revealing pants), because it's Tarzan time. We all know you clicked the link to find out how often Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie would be wet and/or scantily clad. What you got instead was Alan Scherstuhl's reading of the film, which was all about how The Legend of Tarzan was updated for "our age of heightened sensitivities and bit rates." He weighs the pros and cons of the film and leans positive, explaining this Tarzan installment "makes a hell of a case for pulp fiction."
Bilge Ebiri's review dives into the way Finding Nemo was one of Pixar's "first overt forays into the workings of the human mind" and how Finding Dory takes that process even further, with accompanying emotional undercurrents. Yes, the animated film is bouncy and fun, but it's also about "memory, trauma, loss, and existential dread."
This year, everyone and their mothers went batshit crazy for Stranger Things, the series that grounds itself in the '80s. Alan Scherstuhl discusses the way the creators of the series, the Duffer Brothers, pull from Stephen King and Steven Spielberg to make their very own work.
Robyn Bahr's piece about Baby Cobra poses the above question and then dives into society's fascination with motherhood. "Rising comedian Ali Wong draws loud applause but also silent awe when she steps onstage to perform her one-hour comedy act" in a "slinky, skin-tight horizontal-striped dress, her third-trimester belly protruding underneath." This is obviously something you don't see every day, and as Bahr says, Wong's "cutting observations and blue cracks make for a superbly cohesive and feminist piece of art."
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Harmonquest is one of the most niche shows around, and Tina Hassania's piece addresses that from the get-go: "It’s a gathering of nerds transformed into a cartoon." Hassania explores the close ties between Harmonquest and the documentary Harmontown, pointing out that the show can appeal to Dan Harmon fans and haters alike. It's a Dungeons & Dragons-esque show, sure, but it's also just fun, and the piece specifically highlights the role of dungeon master Spencer Crittenden.
Anyone who watches RuPaul's Drag Race knows All Stars 2 was one of the greatest seasons of reality TV in years. Megan M. Metzger's piece begins with that declaration and then dives into problematic fan responses and why "sending death threats to drag queens on a TV game show is not fucking cool." Yes, it's predictable. Yes, it's catty. Yes, it's repetitive. But it's all entertaining as hell to watch.
10. Netflix Kills the YouTube Star in Haters Back Off!, a Comedy About the Joys of Hatin'
Being a YouTube star means you can launch yourself into practically anything these days: book deals, commercials, TV shows, and, now, Netflix comedies. Comedian and singer Colleen Ballinger's series explains the origin of her YouTube character Miranda Sings. As Michael Leaverton's review of the series describes, "Miranda sounds like Ariana Grande after stepping on a flash grenade." But Haters builds sympathy for its main character before tearing her down.