Are you ready for a recap of 2016 that actually puts you in a good mood? As difficult as this year was — and it was very difficult! — there was a ton of amazing art and culture. And the way things are heading, we might have even more fascinating movies, music, books, and shows to look forward to in 2017.
The podcast The Sewers of Paris rounded up some recommendations for the best queer culture of 2016. Normally each episode features a chat with just one gay man about his favorite entertainment, but this week’s is a parade of gay podcasting stars: Dan Savage, Marc Felion of Feast of Fun, Kevin Allison of RISK!, and many more. Here are a few of their favorite bright spots of the year.
1. Dan Savage from Savage Lovecast
Dan Savage, host of Savage Lovecast, explains that he loved Moonlight because it challenged his assumptions about how gayness improves a person’s life. “I sat there watching … expecting that character’s homosexuality to be what propels him out of poverty and drugs and crime,” he said. “That’s not quite how it plays out.” But, he says, that won’t change the advice he gives queer youth who are facing adverse circumstances: even though life can throw some terrible challenges your way, it still gets better when you “make choices that facilitate the up-and-up.”
2. Kevin Allison from RISK!
You might remember Kevin from The State on MTV, or perhaps you know him from RISK!, his storytelling podcast. With his background with talented ensembles and his fascinating with plot-twisting tales, it’s no wonder that he’s become obsessed with Game of Thrones — particularly after this year’s season. “I’ve been transported,” he said. “This show just lavishes and loves and relishes atmosphere.”
But, he reveals on the Sewers of Paris, the show’s also made him aware of some disturbing things about himself.
3. Cody Melcher from Tomefoolery
Cody hosts Tomefoolery, a podcast about comedians and weird/funny books. He’s needed some reasons to laugh this year — he had a tough breakup and was feeling very sad. So he turned to Reba, which is his recommendation for 2016. To be fair, it didn’t come out this year. But a little sugar-coated, uncomplicated, sweet-hearted sitcom fun is exactly what this difficult year called for. He also loved that Reba’s character starts with a divorce, and then “the rest of the show has nothing to do with her getting back into dating … it’s about her taking care of her own life.”
4. Ryan O’Connor from LadyWatch
Fresh of his time working diligently on the Hillary Clinton campaign, Ryan’s back behind the LadyWatch microphone with co-host Jason Powell at Ladywatch. Ryan’s had a lot of highlights this year: Lemonade, Jackie, and then the lovely My Name is Doris. The conversation soon turns to what might lie ahead for lady actresses: “we’re just one Easy Rider away from our generation’s Nine to Five,” he says — but who would you cast in a Nine to Five remake? Ryan has some ideas.
5. Dave White and Alonso Duralde from Linoleum Knife
The magnificent hosts of Linoleum Knife have seen hundreds of pieces of media this year, and their picks are about as expert as any you could hope for: Dave loved Cemetery of Splendor, a challenging film about war; and Alonso loved Take me to the River, a chilling take on family reunions. Dave was also energized by the song Panda by Desiigner, particularly as performed on Wendy Williams’ show. “It’s an obscure-sounding song,” he said. “I love hip-hop, but I really love hip-hop that comes out of far left field and catches you completely by surprise.”
6. Bil Antoniou and Daniel Krolik from BGM: Bad Gay Movies/Bitchy Gay Men
As two of the co-hosts of BGM: Bad Gay Movies/Bitchy Gay Men, Bil and Daniel have seen lots of terrible films this year. But Daniel loved Billy Eichner in Difficult People. And Bil was delighted by Isabelle Huppert in Elle, a Paul Verhoeven film about assault (shall we compare to the shocking scene in Showgirls?). As a huge Huppert fan, he couldn’t be more pleased. “I feel like a lot of the films she’s been in have been films where directors hire her for the things they already like about her,” he said. “It’s very exciting that this is the year of Isabelle Huppert.”
7. Marc Felion from Feast of Fun
Marc’s show Feast of Fun, which he co-hosts with his husband, is about to enter its 13th year, and in that time he’s seen a lot of queer stories. This year he was awestruck by Moonlight, as were so many others. And he also had a blast working on a show called Cooking with Drag Queens. They brought Cynthia Lee Fontaine on to make a traditional Puerto Rican dish and followed her at the Puerto Rican Day parade, where communities came together to commemorate the lives lost at the Pulse shooting.
Matt’s the host of The Sewers of Paris (as well as the LGBT news-chat show Defining Marriage) and did the legwork of rounding up the recommendations for this episode. His favorite thing this year was a life show: BenDeLaCreme’s Inferno A-Go-Go, an incredible cabaret/burlesque/drag show that’s a retelling of Dante’s Inferno. The mashup is strangely timely, as it reflects on why humans find themselves plunged into suffering at each others’ hands — and sometimes their own.
Check out The Sewers of Paris for even more recommendations and clips.