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    Stephanie’s 2017 TV Year in Review

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    It goes without saying that Twin Peaks: The Return was my show/film/whatever of the year and Orphan Black was my most emotional TV viewing experience of the year (I’m in such denial that it’s over that I still have yet to do a review of the series finale). But there are many other shows that stood out for me this year in some way.

    You’re the Worst: I watched the majority of this show when I had the flu in October. It was oddly comforting, and now I’m deeply in love with Aya Cash. I would also say that Gretchen is the inner monologue I choose never to voice. I relate to her way too hard sometimes (stop saying true shit, girl!). And while the first season was fun and entertaining enough to keep going, it is nothing compared to the amazing seasons that follow. Two terrible people drunkenly sleep together (Gretchen and Jimmy) and inexplicably find themselves in a relationship despite being completely unequipped to be in one. It follows their love story, as well as the often hilariously tragic lives of their friends.

    It’s also very rare to see mental illness captured so realistically (and not glamorized), and this show knocks it out of the park in its portrayal of Gretchen’s depression. Everything felt so real, so heartbreaking, and so frustrating. In the same episode, YTW has me laughing my ass off in one scene and bursting into tears the next. It’s rare to find that balance in shows these days. Some side characters are insufferable in their worst-ness but I love the core four Gretchen, Jimmy, Lindsay, and Edgar. Plus, you gotta give a show props for acting out the “This is fine” meme, as well as a Sunday Funday theme song. The upcoming fifth season will be its last. I’m sad but glad I found this show when I did. Watch it on Hulu.

    SMILF: Frankie Shaw created, wrote, and directed a show that mirrors her former life as a single 20-something mom just trying to live life and make ends meet. As you do. And it’s just such a treat. I look forward to it every Sunday night. Her son (who is actually played by twin girls) Larry is the cutest kid that has ever existed. I want him for myself. Anyway, the show is hilarious, sad, and empowering. A Thanksgiving-themed episode done as an homage to Run, Lola, Run is a very big standout one, as well as one where Bridgette and her friends decide to join a Mud Run basically just to say “fuck you” to the patriarchy. I basically don’t know how to describe this show other than, ughhhh it’s soooo good, because it makes me feel so many things despite being a rather simple subject matter. Watch it on Showtime.

    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Quippy, confident, take-no-shit Midge Maisel is an inspiration, despite her 1950s backdrop. After her lame, whiny husband leaves her one night because he had a lousy night attempting to perform his (stolen) standup routine, she finds that she’s the one with the real comedic talent. She pursues this with the help of her manager Susie (Alex Borstein), while navigating motherhood, the separation from her husband, and two very overprotective parents.

    The coloring of scenes, costumes, characters — everything — is just delightful. And there are some truly horrifying little things that show what a woman’s duty was in this time period. Would you wait until your husband went to sleep to take your makeup off and then make sure you wake up early enough to put your makeup back on and do your hair so you look immaculate when he wakes up? No thanks! Anyhoo, if you like Gilmore Girls, you’ll enjoy this show and recognize the dialogue style since the same creator is behind it. Watch it on Amazon Prime.

    Mindhunter: I love true crime. I love the 70s. I love David Fincher. So, this was an obvious hit for me. It was creepy, horrifying, and stressful — and I loved every second of it! A big part of the excitement for me was which serial killer they were going to interview next. They spend a significant time with Ed Kemper, which was fascinating. And then they visited Richard Speck, which was very exciting and awful. (The murders he committed have stuck with me and I’m in the middle of reading a book detailing it all.) I hope in season 2 we spend more time with Wendy rather than Holden. I was getting a little sick of his weird sexual shenanigans. And I’m curious to see which killers we’ll be spending time with. The evolution of BTK looks like it’ll be a theme — but who else? (Ted Bundy, pleeease!) Anyway, I loved this show. Its aesthetic and theme are perfect. Watch it on Netflix.

    Riverdale: So, I started watching this show — that I lovingly nicknamed “Hornydale”— out of sheer morbid curiosity, and now I just unabashedly love it and look forward to it every week. (I’m literally wearing my Riverdale HBIC cheerleader shirt while typing this.) Part of that is because of one of my favorite podcasts, Cry Me a Riverdale, gives me something to look forward to after watching the new episode, as well as hilarious inside jokes. Anyhoo, it’s kind of like a ridiculous combination of Twin Peaks and Gossip Girl. It’s lots of sexy, horny teenagers, corrupt adults, and some murder mysteries. I actually guessed the killer in season 1 thanks to my Twin Peaks knowledge. Plus, Shelly from TP plays Betty Cooper’s mom. But seriously, it’s such a gorgeous show and they really upped the writing and cinematography in season 2. It’s still campy and silly sometimes because it’s Archie but damn is it fun to watch. And those musical numbers — yas! Watch it on Netflix.

    Honorable mentions: Legion, insecure, Fargo, Glow, Turn, iZombie, MST3K: The Return, Black Mirror, The Handmaid’s Tale, Bojack Horseman, Hot Girls Wanted, The Keepers, Fleabag, Great British Baking Show

    What are some of your favorite shows from 2017? What did you discover (new or old)? What did you continue to love? Let me know in the comments.

    Stephanie Goes to (the First-Ever) PodCon 2017

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    I donated to PodCon‘s Indiegogo campaign on a whim back in… March? I knew I wanted to go back to Washington as a treat for my upcoming 30th birthday and saw that this potential podcast celebration/convention was scheduled for the month before my birthday in Seattle. So, perfect! And thus, the campaign was funded and the planning commenced. I conned Bee into going, who then got her friend Anne to go as well.

    Friday

    As an additional gift to me, my friend Caitlin got me a ticket for The Adventure Zone live in Tacoma the night before PodCon kicked off. Since it’s a bit of a hike from Seattle, Anne and I found another person to split our Lyft with to the show. (Thanks, Edwin!) What we did not anticipate was the insane traffic caused by two accidents and dense, soupy PNW fog. It definitely looked like something out of an X-Files episode. So, we all go to know each other and our cool driver very well on our two-hour journey. Since so many people were stuck in traffic and tweeting about it, the good ol’ McElBoys even delayed the show. When they made this announcement at the show, everyone actually cheered.

    The Adventure Zone was, of course, amazing. It was Candlenights themed and insanely hilarious. Griffin was the most frustrated I’ve ever seen him. Plus, despite the very enjoyable Commitment campaign, I always miss Tres Horny Boys. We headed back to the hotel and attempted to get food at the hotel bar (we did not succeed). However, Travis McElroy was sitting a couple tables away, receiving his/Magnus’s real-life Flaming Poisoning Raging Sword of Doom and playing with it. So, we unintentionally got a free preview of the sword in all its glory.

    Saturday

    The opening show was just a preview of the fun to be had for the weekend. It was lots of hilarity and excitement with most of the podcast guests getting everyone hyped, as well as the PodCon founders: Travis & Justin McElroy, Hank Green, Joseph Fink, and Jeffrey Cranor.

    After the opening show, I headed to the Still Buffering live show, hosted by Dr. Sydnee Smirl McElroy, Teylor Smirl, and Rileigh Smirl. They discussed holiday gifts for teens then and now, which included scrunchies, LipSmackers, easily breakable donut earrings, emoji bathbombs, and more. At the end of the show, the sisters lingered, so I word vomited a bunch of love at Sydnee because Sawbones is probably my favorite podcast. I thanked her for making it since Sawbones got me through some crappy work days and also taught me a lot of cool stuff. And then I talked to Teylor about Buffy cosplay. She was so sweet and said, “Nice to meet you, Buffy.” Sydnee also gave me one of the LipSmackers, so that is my favorite random PodCon souvenir.

    While walking back from that, Cecil Baldwin of Welcome to Nightvale approached me to compliment my Laura Palmer shirt. Random encounter! (I’ve never listened to WTNV but that was still very exciting.)

    And then it was time for puppets! Anne is an incredible plush making lady, and she made adorable puppets of Magnus, Taako, and Merle from The Adventure Zone. So, Bee and I were more than happy to take on the role of puppeteer for the entire weekend. We crashed the TAZ photoshoot with our puppets, taking selfies with people. I attempted to do the Taako voice as best I could and decided then and there that I must cosplay Taako ASAP. Anyway, everyone was extremely kind and excited to be there. Plus, everyone’s costumes were amazing. It was a fun shoot.

    We attended a panel about developing serial storytelling (where I squee’d about TANIS and The Black Tapes), then caught Criminal, which was a surprisingly hilarious show. I was anticipating some murdery true crime. I may need to subscribe because Phoebe’s voice was so very soothing. My Brother, My Brother and Me live was after that. LISTEN! TORONOTOOO! It was, as always, hilarious. And the audience questions were actually good! Great job, PodCon.

    Sunday

    Sawbones was first up and it was, no joke, the funniest Sawbones I’ve ever heard. The topic of conversation was coffee. However, Justin could not quite grasp the concept of how an enema worked (it will all make sense when you hear it). So, he decided to demonstrate on stage with Sydnee’s help. Oh man, it was so good.

    I went to the bathroom when it was over since I had been chugging coffee during the show and, as we all learned at the show, coffee is a diuretic. (Okay, I already knew that… but still.) On my way back, I was taking pictures of the downtown Seattle scenery when I turned around to see Justin McElroy himself taking a photo with someone, so I asked him if I could get a picture. And he was nice enough to appear just as thrilled to be taking a photo with me as I certainly was with him.

    Next up was The The Adventure Zone Zone where we got a preview of an animated trailer for the show. All it did was make me want an entire animated series of the show. I know, I know, there’s a graphic novel coming out but… their voices really do make it what it is. We also learned that TAZ will be going weekly for these shorter campaign bursts starting in January. (And I’m like, yay but also oh no, how will I ever keep up!?) Travis showed off his Magnus sword for the crowd and the boys answered some fun questions.

    I had my Still Buffering signing after that. All the signings were done by a lottery system that you entered well before the con — and I was lucky enough to get into one. And the best part? There was no extra charge for an autograph or selfie like at all the other conventions of the world. I took a selfie with the Smirl sisters and had a lovely time chatting with the fans who were also waiting. Get this — we got to SIT IN CHAIRS while we waited and line up one row at a time. I feel like all other LineCons are some sort of torture system now that I’ve been treated to such luxury.

    I opted to shove a quesadilla into my face shortly after this and listened in on a meet-up about fandom podcasts, then went to a panel about starting your own podcast. (‘Cause, y’know, it was inevitable — and boy, do I have such a fun idea. I can’t wait to actually get the first episode recorded now that I’ve done a basic outline.) And then, sadly, it was time for the closing show. It all went by so fast!

    The closing show was a bunch of hilarious snippets, hosted by the gorgeous Symphony Sanders and Gaby Dunn. My favorite part was the “Smart Stuff” live show with Justin McElroy and Roman Mars. I was dying. And then, of course, the standup set by Aparna Nancherla destroyed me. It was so good.

    When the show closed out, we got stopped by several more people for photos with the puppets, including one of the volunteers, who was positioned at the end of the podcast guest channel. Plus, we were having a dance party to “All Star” — the most appropriate closing song. As people were taking photos, I saw the entire McElroy/Smirl clan coming down the way. Travis spotted me with the Taako puppet and pointed at me/Taako saying, “THAT’S AMAZING!” And then Griffin made some sort of excited/distressed noise as he ran away. Charlie waved to us/the puppets, as did the Smirls. And good ol’ Clint McElroy, everyone’s favorite internet dad, stopped to take photos with the puppets. It was such a lovely, crazy end to the convention. Thanks, McElroys & Smirls, for being so nice to your fans even when you were likely exhausted/hangry.

    Anyhoo, for a first-year convention, PodCon was definitely really well run. Everything was on time, easy to find (once you knew where you were going), and well organized. And while I want it to be successful, there’s always something special about a convention that’s so small and intimate. It’s easier to make connections with people and bump into your favorite podcast guest and randomly tell them you love them/their show/get a picture with them/etc.

    And not only was it an enjoyable convention experience where I got to see so many amazing live shows and find some new podcasts to listen to, it was also insanely inspiring. I spent many hours yesterday finally sitting down to do the outline of the podcast I’ve been wanting to start for many months. So, thank you, PodCon, guests, fellow attendees, and Bee & Anne for joining me for this experimental adventure. Y’all rock.

    And now… onto a zillion photos:

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    Stephanie Reads Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier

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    For those that had trouble digesting the very densely packed Secret History of Twin Peaks, The Final Dossier may be more of a fun read. Plus, it’s way shorter.

    While I enjoyed the Secret History, it took me forever to get through it because, frankly, some parts of history are boring. It goes all the way back to Lewis & Clark’s expeditions (maybe even before, it’s been a while) up through the 1990s. But overall, I enjoyed how the Twin Peaks mythos was fit into real-world history. I think it’s well worth reading for Margaret and Carl Rodd’s alien encounter as children, the Packard family history, Ed and Norma’s tragic love affair (that we now know has a very happy ending), and why Josie is THE WORST.

    Both books are fabulously, intricately designed to look like you’re holding files or newspaper clippings, so having the physical copy is well worth the investment. Especially the Secret History.

    While the Secret History focuses more on the origin of the mythology, the Final Dossier focuses on all those Twin Peaks characters we’ve come to know and love over 25+ years. We play catch up with some of them we didn’t get as many details on in the Secret History, learn intricate backstories that we never knew before that may shed light on some things from the original series (especially Norma and Annie) while still leaving us with even more questions as we go over some of the major events of The Return.

    Major spoilers ahead…

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