I always find it odd when magazines, newspapers, websites, etc. share their best and worst of lists in November or early December. There's still an entire month that they can miss. Therefore, I'm proud to present my 2016 best of/worst of list with only 2+ days left of this year.
Best Television Show: O.J. Simpson
This has been a really strong class of new shows on network television. Designated Survivor, This Is Us, Speechless, The Good Place, and Pitch all earned season DVR passes. Game of Thrones, Veep, and Better Call Saul were also amazing this year. However, for me, O.J. Simpson was the best thing on television in 2016. Ezra Edelman created a 5-part documentary titled O.J.: Made in America that did an outstanding job of not only describing O.J.'s life but also the history of race relations in Los Angeles. The murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman weren't even really discussed until part three of the series. Meanwhile, FX aired The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Sure, John Travolta and Cuba Gooding Jr. were a bit over the top, but the acting of Courtney B. Vance, Sarah Paulson, and Sterling K. Brown as Johnnie Cochran, Marcia Clark, and Christopher Darden, respectively, was incredible. I highly recommend watching both of these.
Worst Show: The Great Indoors
This was a really tough call between Man With a Plan starring Matt LeBlanc or The Great Indoors with Joel McHale. I guess I'll go with The Great Indoors only because Man With a Plan supposedly takes place in Pittsburgh, so the few stock photos of my hometown gives it a bonus point. The Great Indoors features McHale as an outdoors writer who apparently has never been online. Meanwhile, he now works with millennials who never leave their computers. Hilarity does not ensue.
Best Movie I Saw In the Theater: Arrival
I saw a whopping three movies in the theater this year (in related news, I did not receive media credentials for the Oscars), the most I saw live in probably 5 years. Arrival was definitely the best and should receive a Best Picture nomination. This is a sci-fi film but without the action/adventure component of most films in this genre. It's more of a thinking person's film that kept me engaged. Plus, I'd probably watch a 2-hour movie of Amy Adams reading from a phone book
Worst Movie: Sausage Party
Yes, there are some funny moments but the ending was just a big "wtf did I just see?"
Best Song: Starboy
My rule is that the best song of the year has to be featured in one of my Friday video blog posts. In my mind, this comes down to three songs: DNCE's Cake By The Ocean remains catchy after being all over the place for the past year, but I think I would regret this selection in a few years. I also really like You Don't Get Me High Anymore by Phantogram, but I don't think anyone actually knows this song. Therefore, my winner is The Weeknd's Starboy even though I have no idea what the song is about.
Worst Song: Work by Rihanna featuring Drake
It's not that this song is bad; I just have no idea what Rihanna is singing in the chorus.
Best Blog: Josh's World
I honestly don't know how Josh does it. He produces quality blog posts nearly every day on a variety of topics from book and movie reviews to sports to politics and what's going on in his life. I'm looking forward to his posts next year when he becomes a new dad.
Worst Blog: Everybody Loves You
Alex is one of my favorite writers...but he hasn't published a new blog post since early September! I know life gets in the way of writing and I miss his posts. (Maybe this will encourage him to start writing again. Maybe?)
Best Podcast: Pop Culture Happy Hour
While I enjoy YaJagoff! Podcast and The Jonah Keri Podcast, NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour is my favorite. In this weekly podcast, Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon (my personal favorite), and a special guest discuss one or two topics (generally a movie or TV show). Then, they conclude with a "What's Making Me Happy" segment where they each pick a book, podcast, show, etc. that they recommend. It's always an enjoyable listen. The Live PCHH with Kumail Nanjiani (of Silicon Valley) discussing romantic comedies was hilarious.
Worst Podcast: The Bill Simmons Podcast
I used to be a big Simmons fan devouring everything he wrote. He also put together some excellent podcasts with Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell, and others. Now, however, it seems like every single podcast is him predicting NFL lines with Cousin Sal. This bit was old years ago.
Best Sports Moment: The Penguins winning the Stanley Cup!
What a run!
Worst Sports Moment: Pittsburgh Pirates
After seeing the Penguins win the Cup, I really should complain about any Pittsburgh sports teams. However, after three consecutive playoff berths including winning 98 games in 2015, the Pirates were a disappointing 78-83-1 in 2016.
Best Fantasy Sports Person: Me
Sorry Meat Loaf, but in fantasy sports, 2016 was the Year of Sean. I won my fantasy baseball league for the second time in three years after going 20+ years without a title. In fantasy football, I won 2 of the 3 leagues I'm in, and I'm also in the Championship of the Pittsburgh Bloggers Fantasy Football League this weekend. Not too shabby!
Best Book: The Hike by Drew Magary
I've enjoyed Magary's writing in Deadspin and the old Kissing Suzy Kolber for a long time and his books are also great. The Hike may be his best work. I'll let Washington City Paper give a quote:
“The Hike reads like a mix of The Odyssey and The Phantom Tollbooth, with the same humor Magary uses on Deadspin. . . . Along the way, Magary’s hero hunts for an enigmatic mastermind, encounters man-eating giants and monsters, and teams up with a talking crab. What starts out as a saga of suburban ennui quickly turns into gripping tale of survival.”
Worst Book: None
I didn't read enough books to have a worst book this year. I need to do better and read more in 2017.
Best Blog Post: (Tie) My Interview with Vinny Karpuszka & Donald Trump Is Going To Be President
My interview with Vinny, the Pittsburgh Penguins' gamenight DJ, was a lot of fun. The second one isn't particularly great; it's just that I was correct in my early March prediction that Donald Trump would win. This particular line seemed quite prophetic:
"Will Clinton be able to inspire the Democratic base and get enough Independents in Virginia, Florida and North Carolina to win the election? As of today, my guess is no."
Worst Blog Post: Shooting at Burger King
I blamed a Whopper for shooting someone.
Feel free to share your best and worst of 2016 in the comments below, and have a Happy New Year!