THE GIFTED: Emma Dumont as Polaris/Lorna Dane in THE GIFTED. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ryan Green/FOX

2017 Year In Review: The Entertainment & Humanity That Saved Us

2017 has been what we here at Writes of the Roundtable would politely call a year of trash…but we’ve already covered that. Just to be on the “fair” side of things (and actually close out this hellfire with something positive), we present to you an actual roundtable about things we loved. You might even say these things saved us in 2017. God knows we needed something to.

Ok, gang. Tell me about your television favorites.

Brittany: Game of Thrones had a spectacular season; every episode was solid. In some past seasons, my criticism has been due to the series’ straying off the path onto weird, little subplots. This season, on the other hand, every scene and line had a purpose.

Shana: The Gifted was easily the best new show, as well as one of the best series overall, this season. I will absolutely fight anyone who disagrees. Not only did the series provide for a very real look at prejudices and all sorts of other real-world issues (as mutant stories do), but the characters were just some of the most well-rounded I’ve seen in a long time. That especially goes for the female characters — Polaris in particular.

No, really.

I can’t stress enough how well-done The Gifted was, especially in its treatment of the newest love of my life, one Lorna Dane, mutant name: Polaris. She went through unspeakable horror in prison — all while pregnant — but ultimately didn’t need a man to be her white knight. She had the true grit to attempt breaking out of her cell, even when stuck in a collar that put her through unbearable pain for using her powers. Even if that attempt was unsuccessful, it just showed so much about how wonderful this woman was. Sure, the Mutant Underground ultimately had to hatch and execute a plan to free Polaris — but it wasn’t exactly as if she just sat passively by and cried for help while they did.

Lorna wasn’t a “strong female character” trope, dashed on with some flaws related to “oh no, some boy hurt me” or anything like that either. Yeah, she’s messed up and kind of has a chip on her shoulder…but it’s not forced. It just is. She’s flawed in exactly the same way that a male hero or anti-hero might be, and I’m so disgustingly here for it. Add the utter awesome that is Emma Dumont, the actress who portrays her, to the mix…and just wow. (More on Emma later because GUSH.)

And Polaris wasn’t alone in being one of the best female characters on television in a while, either. As I wrote about over at The TV Addict, after her mind was violated, Clarice Fong (Blink) was able to put the pieces together without anyone having to save her. And then there’s Lauren Strucker, who — along with her brother — possesses the greatest power, like, ever. Even the “ordinary” Kate Strucker is a badass in her own right. Given that she comes to us courtesy of Amy Acker, I suppose that should surprise no one.

Ok. Shutting up now. Just, like, The Gifted, guys. Go watch it. Please.

Lizzie: I’m going to forget about all the cult and/or popular shows people are praising and go profound, for reasons. It’s almost 2018, so bear with me. The Handmaid’s Tale was…not uplifting, and not fun, but important? Jamie and Claire’s reunion on Outlander was one of the moments of the year. Game of Thrones had some really high points (the whole dragons versus Lannisters battle, the Arya/Sansa reunion, the end) in an otherwise uneven season. The Gifted is as good as Shana says. In its musical, Once Upon a Time delivered a perfect episode. But the best thing for me, this year, was Sweet/Vicious. There are shows that do a good job of entertaining you; there are shows that try to send a message; and then there are shows that do both of those things and change lives, as well. Sweet/Vicious was one of those.

Anam: This Is Us has been incredible since it started. Although the series seems to be dragging out the inevitable, the last three episodes surrounding the Big 3 really gave each actor a chance to really delve deep into their characters. Game of Thrones was impeccable as always: the dragons, the white walkers, Dany/Jon, etc. — all good. Scandal’s final season has been a hoot. Shonda Rhimes is not shying away from everything she wants to talk about (and more) before the curtain closes. The Handmaids Tale was uncomfortable at best, but it was amazing and came at the perfect time. Absentia brought Stana Katic back to the small screen and lived up to the hype. The only downside is that the series is not yet available everywhere, but it will be soon enough. There has been a lot of quality TV this year to save us from going completely insane.

Luci: Oh, there’s so much to talk about that I don’t even know where to start! TV has been so good this year, and most of my favorites have delivered some pretty amazing episodes. I started so many new shows in 2017, but I’ll try to stick with the highlights; otherwise, we’re going to be talking about this all day.

Outlander continued to deliver a cinematic experience episode after episode, but Jamie and Claire’s reunion after 20 years apart was probably one of the best hours of television I have ever seen. Both Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan more than exceeded our expectations — and they were already sky high. Also, the photography in this show is just out of this world. I can’t quite put into words just how beautifully shot Outlander really is. It’s just something you have to experience for yourself.

Even though The OA was released last December, I only watched it this year — and it was spectacular. If you’re looking for something to binge watch over the hiatus, go for it. It’s a beautiful, beautiful show, so profound, and I absolutely can’t wait for season 2.

The Good Place is definitely in my top three this year. This is coming from someone who is not a comedy girl AT ALL, but this show is just so clever, funny and current that I burned through the two available seasons like wildfire. Kristen Bell and Ted Danson are fantastic in it, and their comedic timing is just perfect. I can’t say enough good things about it. Just do yourself a favor and go watch it.

I know I mentioned it in my worst TV shows list, but Arrow wins the most miraculous recovery of the year for me. After a god-awful fifth season, the show reinvented itself, deciding to focus on the original characters for a change, giving them meaningful storylines and actually showing how they’re growing and learning from their mistakes. Oliver Queen as a father is probably my favorite storyline to date on this show, and the writers have finally managed to stick to his character development — instead of going the whole two steps forward, five steps back, route that they seemed so fond of. Please keep up the good work, guys. I love seeing one of my favorite shows back on its feet and thriving.

Not to mention, my OTP is alive and well; and things could not be better for Olicity. In fact, most of my ships had a fantastic 2017. Olicity got married; Jamie and Claire reunited after 20 years apart; and CaptainSwan also got married and lived happily ever after with their family and new baby — just to mention a few. This year was pretty spectacular for love on TV.

And last, but most definitely not least, we need to talk about Timeless! Remember how NBC canceled and then resurrected my favorite time travel show? Because the fans were so loud and outraged because they had axed one of their best shows in a while? That was probably one of the highlights in fandom culture this year for me.

Timeless is an amazing experience with well-developed characters, a great plot, ridiculously amazing costumes and fun dialogue. And we even get a history lesson every week! Why NBC ever decided to cancel it is beyond me, but I’m so glad they came to their senses.

Which movies saved the film industry?

Brittany: Comic book movies ruled the world this year. For me, the best movie of the year was Wonder Woman. Thor: Ragnarok was also wonderful. Spiderman: Homecoming was an adorable and fun reboot. The Lego Batman Movie was so much better than it ever had a right to be. It’s hard to believe it, but Logan was also a 2017 release. Hugh Jackman asked in his 2009 Oscar Opening , “Why do comic book movies never get nominated?” After his performance in Logan, that question really needs to be answered.

I also really appreciated Get Out for being original, intelligent, and gripping story.

Shana: I’m going to be a traitor to womenfolk everywhere and say that Wonder Woman was my number two movie for 2017, and Logan took top honors. It was the first movie I actually cared to spend money to see in theaters more than once in a long time — and with good reason. Wolverine has owned my ass since I was a little girl, reading some of my cousins’ comics and playing with their action figures; and I really felt that Logan captured all of that magic while telling an amazing story that said farewell to my favorite, all while introducing the insanely vicious Laura.

Ok, maybe I’m not a traitor to women for loving Logan the most, after all. Guys, X-23. Ok? Laura! That child was everything her father was and then some.

I would also suggest that everyone needs to go see I, Tonya — even if it did kind of give me mixed feelings in terms of whether or not we really should’ve made the film in the first place. It’s out there now, so…

Oh, and Step! How could I forget?! Seriously, everyone watch that. What an AMAZING story, and you can catch it on Hulu now!

Lizzie: What they said, what they said. Thor: Ragnarok and Spiderman: Homecoming were high points, in a way I didn’t expect either of them to be; and Wonder Woman was, quite possibly, my favorite movie of the year. I also have to mention The Last Jedi here, though some people (*cough* Shana *cough) didn’t love it; Beauty and the Beast, which made live-action Disney remakes a thing we actually needed to care about; and Coco because that’s the movie that touched my heart the most.

Anam: Ditto to what everyone else said. Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, and Spiderman: Homecoming were all great. Beauty and the Beast was a lot better than I had expected — which was a very pleasant surprise. The same goes for Power Rangers. I listed those last two more for nostalgic reasons, but they were well executed nonetheless. I haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet, so I can’t say for sure; but if it’s even half as good as the originals, I’d probably put it on this list.

Luci: I wasn’t much of a film girl this year, but Wonder Woman wins hands down for me. It was the first superhero movie I actually wanted to watch on the big screen, and it more than exceeded my expectations. I left the theater feeling so emotional, empowered and full of hope that maybe the next generation of girls will grow up believing they can be anything they put their minds to. Including a superhero.

Who were your people of the year?

Brittany: I would like to put in a vote for Patty Jenkins, the director of Wonder Woman.

Shana: Emma Dumont, folks. Not only did she kick major ass as Polaris on The Gifted, but my God, she’s amazing in her own right. Lizzie can back me up here: We had no idea when we did the SDCC press room for The Gifted that we were about to fall in love, but we totally did! Emma had some extra time at the end of the roundtable interviews, so she happened to park at our table and ask if anyone had anymore questions. All of my recording stuff was put away, so I couldn’t get it on the record, but Emma and I had the most fabulous conversation about ballet. (Regrettably, I didn’t take her advice and do that pre-pointe conditioning thing…yet. I did, however, torture myself for six weeks of a pirouette focus class. I want to die.)

…and then there was this recent interview with ComicsVerse that made me fall even harder. I’ve gone from zero to Extreme Fangirl so quickly.

Ok. Moving on before I vomit anymore rainbows here.

In counterpoint to our negative roundtable, I’m also going to have to give a shoutout to every brave person who came out to expose the shitty men of the world. And to all of you still afraid to lose a job or be blacklisted but still dealing with your trauma internally, we love you, too. We support you. We’re here for you, whether you’re able to stand up or not. We get it.

Lizzie: When I agree with Shana, I agree with Shana. But I, in particular, feel like each and every woman who came out, who told their story, who pushed the #MeToo movement forward, deserves my praise. Our praise.

Anam: Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Tamika Mallory — the women behind the Women’s March. They ran with this idea to protest the new administration — to show them that we are not going to be complicit — and garnered international efforts. Sister marches happened all over the world.

Then, we have Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Maxine Waters, Elizabeth Warren, and more: the democrats on Capitol Hill that are fighting to keep the GOP from completely ruining this country. After the March, they continued showing up and leading efforts all year…and are continuing to do so.

Also, all the women that came out with their stories and are fighting to show these jackasses that sexual harassment and sexual assault are not going to be tolerated.

On the entertainment side of things, I’m going to give a shoutout to my girls Lana Parrilla and Rebecca Mader for absolutely rocking Sundays at the cons, as well for as all the charity work and causes they’ve supported this year. They not only entertain, but offer life lessons and support through their own experiences, and are amazing — even when they are overworked.

Luci: All the women (and men) who had the courage to speak up about being assaulted. Sophia Bush, Alyssa Milano and so many other celebrities who are using their social media platforms for good, trying to create awareness about issues we should all be fighting for.

On the acting front, Caitriona Balfe and Tatiana Maslany were my MVPs of the year. I already miss my sestras.

Bonus round! Read any good books lately?

Brittany: Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan. It’s the third installment of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.

Shana: This summer, I stumbled upon A Shadow Bright and Burning, the first in Jessica Cluess’ Kingdom on Fire series. It was awesome…like, Harry Potter meets Arthurian legend, kind of(?) — only with a female saving the world. And some of those monsters…YIKES. The second book, A Poison Dark and Drowning, actually came out in 2017; and let me tell you, it was amazing. Just like the first book, I couldn’t put it down. Who needs sleep? Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you I haven’t shut up about these books and am anxiously awaiting next year’s final installment.

Lizzie: The Hate U Give and Dear Martin were my two standouts of the year. Also, a book I just discovered this year, though it came out a while ago, was Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Anam: Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can, which is more or less her memoir but hilarious. Her personality shines through the pages, and it’s a must read for any Gilmore Girls fan.

Luci: Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series made a fangirl out of me. It had been a while since I loved a series of books this much, but this one had everything I absolutely love in a novel — romance, fantasy, action, drama. It’s FANTASTIC. I absolutely can’t wait for the next one.

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