The art that kept me going this year

Not quite the Year in Review post I used to do; here’s 2010 (surprisingly holds up, other than being sometimes being thirsty on main and a general 19-year-old basic guy), 2015 and 2016 (where I was too lazy to actually write something).

So 2020 has a different spi: three things that got me through this year.

The George Lucas Talk Show

Look. There is no way to describe this show in a way that makes it justice. This is a show you feel, not watch.

In its simplest form: The GLTS is a weekly talk show hosted by “Retired Filmmaker George Lucas” and sidekick Watto, with their on-camera producer Patrick Cotnoir. They started it all this year with a 31-hour-long Star Wars charity marathon. So far, they’ve raised over 150,000 to various charities and funds through 2020, endangering their own well-being and sanity with unadvisable stretch goals.

Like everyone, I did not expect this year to go this way. I moved to a new country and city, Los Angeles, to do what I wanted to be doing: attending live comedy, meeting people, enjoying everything a new city has to offer.

That did not happen. But GLTS, unlikely as it sounds, helped fill that void. It built a community, both nourishing and feeding from it. The audience is as big as part of the show as the crew, with them providing fan-art and piling on the bits with remarkable speed.

Nothing else engaged me this year like this show did.

It got me out of the House to walk around Hollywood to where Studio 60 exteriors were shot! I learned how to create Instagram filters! I translated something from Spanish for Lea frickin’ Thompson. I built a very specific wiki****toydarian.com website I won’t link to because even I have limits on undignifying myself for a bit.

So to the crew at The George Lucas Talk show, thank you for helping me keep my sanity — or losing it along with you.

RIP Watto’s Pastrami sandwich.

Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso arrived at a crucial juncture over the summer, where the initial shock of March and April turned into the numbness and despair of June and July. With its sunny disposition, sharp writing and brilliant relationships, Ted won me over like he did everyone on the show.

The writing in particular sticks out to me. The show provides deep characterization, and empathy, to them all. So many showy series struggle with the basics of structure, characterization and dialogue. Too many are content to coast by with the usual plot points. Ted Lasso treats its characters as human beings, not plot devices, and is all the better for it.

The moment this show went from good to great, in my opinion, is Episode 7. With the team celebrating a critical win, ice queen Rebecca breaks out Let It Go as Ted crumbles emotionally… just great.

Blank Check (and Special Features)

It’s no secret I love Blank Check. David Sims, film critic for The Atlantic, and Griffin Newman, from The Tick and nothing else in this article, always provide the smart and funny film commentary I seek. I know more about movies now because of them, and this year has at least provided me the chance to watch the movies before their discussion, which wasn’t the case in years before.

However, it is Blank Check’s special features on Patreon that really got me through the doldrums of living alone in a new country during a pandemic. David and Griffin, joined by producers Ben and Ang, put out an outstanding amount of work this year under difficult circumstances, without missing a step.

Doing commentaries along film series like Star Wars, Toy Story, Mission Impossible (“That’s… the… job”), and Alien let me watch and rewatch movies in a fun way. With theaters closed (or open for stupid, systemic reasons), watching big movies like Tenet or Wonder Woman 1984 on my couch does not provide the full movie going experience. Audience reaction (and commentary, if watching with friends at home) is a big part of it and Blank Check Special Features provided that.