My Most Memorable Pop Culture of 2018

Once again it’s time for my annual post on the pop culture that was most memorable to me over the past year. It doesn’t have to be something created in 2018. It just has to be something I consumed over the past year. And as always I emphasize that these are the things that meant the most to me, not necessarily the things that I think are the best thing made in any given category.

Movie I Saw in a Theatre

I actually went to the movies quite a bit this past year and saw some really good movies. I appreciated that there were a couple of romantic comedies in the actual theater and not just Netflix. I really enjoyed Love, Simon and that scene at the end of Crazy Rich Asians when he gets on the plane with the ring still makes me smile when I think about it. I’m always hoping for more romantic comedies to grace the screen. There was also A Star is Born, which was not really a rom-com, but did have elements of romance. Hopefully these movies will be the harbinger for more.

As for superhero films, the one I enjoyed the most this year actually goes to the late entry of Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse. I only went to this one because my husband wanted to go, but I wound up really loving it. It’s funny and smart and beautifully animated in the fashion of actual comic books. It was fantastic.

I think two of the best movies I saw this year though were documentaries. I was very much looking forward to the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor because I liked Mr. Rogers as a kid and I loved the creators’ previous documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. It did not disappoint. It felt so lovely during a time when the world seems so terrible. I also really enjoyed Charm City, which is a documentary about Baltimore. It touched all my feelings. I laughed. I cried. My heart broke for this city that has such great potential, but can’t get out from under hundreds of years of racial discrimination that have left it in the terrible state it’s in today.

Movie I Watched at Home

I think almost every other year I’ve written one of these posts I’ve said something about not watching many movies at home or not remembering them. This year I actually kept a list so that I had something to refer to. It does make me wonder if I’ve watched more movies in the past than I thought, but just didn’t remember them because I actually watched quite a few over the course of this year.

Again a documentary was one of my favorites. RBG, which is about Ruth Bader Ginsberg was fantastic. I don’t care what your politics are and whether you agree with her judicial decisions or not. This film shows what an incredible woman she is and how much she has accomplished.

Also in continuing my late entries with animated superhero movies, we recently watched Teen Titans Go to the Movies and it was a delight. I’ve never watched the cartoon, so I don’t have any reference point to compare it to but this movie was really funny and had a lot of references aimed at 80s kids of which I am one that hit me right in the sweet spot.

Probably the best movie I saw though was Paddington 2. I kept hearing people talk about this movie last year and how great it was. I remained super skeptical about why everyone was so gaga over a kids’ movie. They really were not wrong though. It was such a sweet and wonderful movie.

Fiction Book

Usually I have no problem narrowing my book categories down to one choice, but I apparently read a lot of really great books this. I was just looking through my ratings on Goodreads and there were a number of things I gave 5 stars to and I don’t know how to choose between them, so I’m going to list everything I gave the top rating to, and link to my full reviews on book review blog.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Ohio by Stephen Markley

In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Non-Fiction Book

Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men by Alexandra Robbins

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry that Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll by Ian S. Port

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by Alex Kotlowitz

My Own Devices: Essays from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love by Dessa

Educated by Tara Westover

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans

Coming of Age in the Other America by Stephanie DeLuca, Susan Clampet-Lambert, and Kathryn Edin

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

TV Show

There is 100% only one tv show that deserves to go in this category for me in 2018 even though it started long before this year and that’s Grey’s Anatomy. I started binge watching this show for the first time back in mid-August and four short months later I was caught up on all 14 and half seasons. I haven’t been that obsessed with watching a show in a long time. I feel like good character driven shows are few and far between these days. Grey’s certainly isn’t what it was in the beginning, but I’m still enjoying it enough now that I’m caught up to real time that I will probably see it through to its end.

There were a number of other shows that I enjoyed watching this year though. Staying on the Sandra Oh train, Killing Eve is a fantastic show starring Oh as a detective caught in a cat and mouse game with a female assassin played by Jamie Comer. It’s smart, funny, dramatic, and very intense. The second season is getting ready to start in January, so if you haven’t watched the first season yet I highly recommend doing so and then getting on board when the second season starts.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Cobra Kai, which is the YouTube sequel to the movie The Karate Kid. This show was way better than it had any right to be. I love the movie and this show was a great follow-up to it.

There were a couple of other shows that I really liked this year. Netflix’s Atypical is a great family drama about a teenage kid with autism and the impact that has had on his family. I don’t feel like I ever hear anyone talk about this show, but everyone should really watch it because it’s very good. I’m happy there is going to be a third season because I was worried Netflix was going to cancel it since I don’t think it’s very highly rated.

Life Sentence was a great goofy little show on the CW that got canceled after one season about a girl who marries a guy she just met when she thinks she’s about to die from cancer but then finds out she is going to live. Now she and her family have to learn how to live with her being healthy rather than on the brink of death as she was for most of her life. It’s the kind of show that I wish there was more of on tv, but alas apparently I’m the only once since no one watched this one.

Pose, Ryan Murphy’s show about drag queens in the 1980s was also a really great show that I thoroughly enjoyed and am looking forward to more of. So far it hasn’t fallen prey to all the foibles that seem to eventually plague Ryan Murphy shows. Hopefully that will stay true in future seasons.

TV Episode

The final season of The Americans was not perfect by a long shot. I mean what was the deal with the whole Mischa storyline? Why bother bringing in Phillip’s long lost son if he was never even going to know that Mischa was around? The final episode of the show was great though. That scene with train pulling away and Phillip and Elizabeth seeing Paige standing on the platform set to U2’s “With or Without You” was just perfect. I always like it when a show manages to stick the landing and The Americans certainly did.


2018 was a banner year for new music. There are any number of albums that could be slotted in here that I think would earn this spot. Dawes, Amanda Shires, and Florence + the Machine put out great new albums. Natalie Prass’s debut album was wonderful. I adored Leon Bridges’ latest album and will always have fond memories of bopping around a used book store in Richmond listening to it. But there is no way that this category could go to anything other than Brandi Carlile’s by the way I forgive you.

It is by far the album I’ve spent the most time with this year. That of course is in part because it came out in January, which meant I had the whole year to live with it but that’s not really what I mean. I have definitely listened to it more than any other album not to mention seeing Brandi in concert 5 times over the course of the year. She played the entire album at 4 out of 5 of the shows.

I’m so happy for the well-deserved success that this album has garnered for Brandi and her fellow bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth. It showed up on pretty much every music best of list for 2018 that I saw. The album and songs from it have also been nominated for 6 Grammy’s including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year. I’m guessing it won’t actually win any of them, but it totally should because in my opinion it really is the best album of the year.


For a long time I thought Hozier’s song “Nina Cried Power” featuring Mavis Staples would be my song of the year. It’s a beautiful, powerful song that certainly speaks to me right now.

But then it got bumped out the top spot by Maggie Rogers’ “Light On” I adore this song so much. She wrote it in response to the quick rise to fame she had after a video of Pharrell reacting to her song “Alaska” went viral. She talks about how of course everyone thinks she should be so happy with all her success, but of course there are a lot of not so great things that come along with that. She has such a great voice and I love the beat and music of this song. It’s by far the song that has brought me the most joy this year.


If you gave me a list of the concerts I was going to go to in 2018 on paper I would have said hands down my favorite show of the year was going to be Brandi Carlile and Jason Isbell co-headlining a show in Canandaigua, New York. If it was just based on the Brandi half of the concert it probably would have been. I saw her five times this year and this is the one show where the set list departed greatly from the others. It was just her and the twins up there acoustic and it was wonderful. Unfortunately I don’t know what was up with the sound mix during Jason Isbell’s set, but it was too loud and the rhythm was drowning out everything else. That put this concert out of the running as my favorite.

It’s hard to pick a favorite show of there because there were a lot of concerts I really enjoyed. The Lone Bellow at The Barns at Wolf Trap was definitely a highlight. It was the best I’ve seen them play in a long time. I also adored seeing Sugarland at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I missed them a lot during their hiatus and it was great to have them back. I do ultimately have to go with one of the Brandi Carlile shows for this category though. I saw her two nights at the Beacon Theatre in New York at the beginning of her tour. I had always heard that the Beacon was a wonderful place to see a show, but this was the first time I had ever gone to anything there. It really is a fantastic venue. I also had first row center seats for that show. Brandi is always such a dynamic performer and it was great to be so close and surrounded by other super fans.

Broadway Theatre Production

Boys in the Band was probably not my favorite show that I saw on Broadway this year, although I really liked it, but it was absolutely my favorite Broadway experience of the year. The revival of this show starred a ton of really great actors including Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, and most importantly Matt Bomer. Matt Bomer has long been a tv crush of mine and my friends Jenny and Sarah so as soon as we heard he was going to be in this play we made plans to go up to NYC together to see it. Matt Bomer spends a lot of time practically naked during the first half of this show. It was worth seeing just for that. We also got to get autographs and pictures with him at the stage door after the show. Definitely my Broadway highlight of the year.



Baltimore Theatre Production

I’m torn about which show to put in this category. I loved Skeleton Crew from Center Stage’s 2017-2018, which focused the closing of an auto plant in Detroit. The most recent show from this season, A Wonder in My Soul was also wonderful. It was rewritten to focus on Baltimore instead of Chicago and is about racism, the dying of a neighborhood, gentrification, and family. It was poignant, funny, sad, and very moving. I also have to give a shout out to Sweat at the Everyman Theatre. I had wanted to see this play when it was on Broadway, but I could never arrange to get up to New York when it was playing. I think Everyman did a fine job with their production and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything seeing them perform it rather than the Broadway cast.


I still listen to more podcasts than I actually have time to listen to even after dropping a few. This year like last year though my favorite podcast is still Make Me Smart with Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood of Marketplace. It is still the one podcast I prioritize above all others in my feed. I love their dynamic, and I always do feel smart after listening to it. I learn so much about economics and technology and how they relate to my life and have so much fun while doing it.

I also really enjoyed The Impact put out by Vox. It’s hosted by Sarah Kliff and focuses on the impact laws and policies have on our every day lives. They’ve had two seasons so far. The most recent one from this year focused on specific interesting local policies being tried in various states and cities that their listeners alerted them to. One of the episodes was about a Baltimore program whereby people from certain low-income neighborhoods who are eligible for public housing can request it outside the city. It was something I’m already familiar with, but it was interesting to listen to the episode and think about how while it may be a good policy in helping individual people what about the city and the people left behind if all the people with the most resources and motivation leave?

Podcast Episode

Of course one of my favorite podcast episodes from the year would be from Make Me Smart and involved an interview with Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress. That episode was pretty much right up my alley.

I also really enjoyed the episode of Mark and Sarah Talk About Songs in which they ranked the songs on the Footloose soundtrack. Every 10 episodes they do an album ranking, and I had suggested to them that they should rank this soundtrack. I don’t know if my recommendation was the reason they did it, but I was happy they did regardless. I adore the movie Footloose. I may possibly have seen it more times than any other movie in my life. It’s at least in the running. I equally love the soundtrack. It brought me great joy to listen to them talk about it and rank the songs even if they didn’t necessarily rank them in the order I would have put them.

New(ish) Music Friday: Happier by Marshmello ft. Bastille

It’s been a few week since I’ve posted something for New Music Friday because this time of year there really is a dearth of new music. I don’t really have anything exactly new this week either, but I thought I would write about song I’ve been loving recently. I don’t tend to write a lot about pop music here because it’s not where the songs that hit me on a deep emotional level tend to be. I enjoy myself some pop music, but it’s essentially car music for me. I listen to it when I hear it on the radio when I’m driving. In general it’s not the music I’m buying nor the artists I go to see in concert. There may be one or two pop songs a year that I fall in love with and seek out when I’m not driving and when I am desperately hope I come across them on the radio.

“Happier” by Marshmello featuring Bastille is one of those songs. I love nothing more than a jaunty sounding song with sad lyrics except maybe a melancholy Christmas song, which I guess is really just the reverse. I love the bittersweetness of this song of being in a relationship you know isn’t working out but where you still really care for the person and don’t know how to let go even though you know it’s for the best for both of you. This is most likely my last New Music Friday post of 2018. I’ll be back at some point before the end of the year with my annual post on the pop culture that’s meant the most to me over the past year. Until then, enjoy yourself some happy sounding sad pop music.


Year of the Cookie

I’ve made no secret here about how the past couple of years have really worn on me psychologically. At the beginning of 2018 I felt like I really needed to do something to try and bring a little bit of joy into the world while also doing something to try and get me out of my funk. Also, around the same time I got an e-galley of the Sally’s Cookie Addiction cookbook. There were many delicious looking cookie recipes in it, but there is no way I was going to have any reason to try that many cookie recipes. That sparked my idea for Year of the Cookie. I thought I love to bake and people love eating my baked goods so why not send a little joy out into the world by making people cookies.

I put the word out on my social media accounts telling people that I had declared 2018 the Year of the Cookie and if they wanted to receive some cookies at some point during the year they should fill out the Google form I created, which in addition to name and address asked people what their allergies and dislikes were so I could hopefully make sure people got cookies they would like and be able to eat. I also found some take out containers that were cheap and would just fit inside the smallest USPS flat rate shipping box so that I could pay for all the shipping online for the ones that needed to be mailed.

I basically made cookies whenever I had a chance. Sometimes that meant several weekends in a row and other times there were long stretches in between batches due to travel and other life events. I tried to give everyone around a dozen cookies, but it mostly depended on how many fit inside the container I bought. Since most recipes make 2-3 dozen cookies multiple people got the same kind of cookie and I was able to give out multiple batches at a time. There wasn’t much rhyme or reason as to who got cookies in a given batch other than whether it didn’t have something they disliked or were allergic to in them, whether the cookies seemed like ones kids would like if the receivers had kids, and whether I just wanted to be able to drop cookies in the mail or whether I had time to drive around Baltimore dropping them off in people’s mailboxes.

My only other rule was that I wanted people to be surprised when they got them. Several people said oh I figured you would just bring me cookies at some point when we were already getting together, but I wanted people to receive a nice surprise one day when they opened up their mail (Year of the Cookie also taught me some of y’all don’t check your mail on the regular based on when I know they were delivered and when you let me know you got them.) or walked in their front door. Multiple people let me know that their cookies came at the perfect time when they were having a really crappy week, and I’m glad that serendipity worked out but am also just as happy for the people who just got a little bit of joy in their day. It made me feel good to see my cookies pop up on people’s social media and know I made someone’s day.

I also loved the people who told me how much they loved this project and were really happy following along with it even though they didn’t want any cookies of their own. That was something I hadn’t anticipated, and it’s nice to know that I brought even more joy into the world than I thought I would be when I started this project.

I do have a list of all the types of cookies I made during the year, but I unfortunately don’t know what the exact recipes were for all of them. I often just googled for a recipe and didn’t keep track of which specific one I used when it was a pretty generic cookie. The list of cookies is below. I linked to the recipes I know that I used. The ones with (SCA) beside them are recipes that came from the Sally’s Cookie Addiction cookbook, and most of those recipes are not online.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies (SCA) – These were the first cookies I made for the Year of the Cookie, and I think it was one of my favorites.

Funfetti Chocolate Chip (SCA)

Homemade Berger Cookies – I thought the cookie part of these was decent, but the cookie is kind of beside the point with Berger cookies. The fudge topping tasted nothing like a Berger cookie. I’ve been wanting to try these again but swapping in my own attempt at the frosting.

Ginger Pistachio (SCA)

Rolled Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip – These tasted good, but I thought they turned out a little flat.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chai Spiced Shortbread (SCA)

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies (SCA)

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Chocolate cookies with Chocolate and White Chocolate Chips

M&M Cookies

Lemon Ricotta Cookies 

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Funfetti Cookie Pizza (SCA)

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies – I’m not sure what recipe I used for these, but you wouldn’t want to use it anyway. They were blah enough that I wound up not even sending these cookies to anyone.

Koulourakia (Greek Easter Cookies) – I don’t know what recipe I used, but it was one without sesame seeds

Toffee Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies – These were probably my favorite cookies that I could make for any occasion.

Brownie Cookies

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie – This recipe says you can use a 10-inch or 12-inch skillet, but I made it in a 12-inch skillet and I wouldn’t make it in anything smaller.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – I hate oatmeal raisin cookies. Raisins are the devil’s fruit and these cookies are evil because they too often masquerade as chocolate chip until you’ve bitten into one. I swore when I started this project that I would not bake any cookies with raisins in them, but when my uncle, aunt, and parents visited me in May they were all going on about how delicious it oatmeal raisin cookies are and how it is really too bad I wouldn’t make any, so because I love my family I went against my own rules and sent the these cookies.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft Ginger Cookies – These cookies were probably my favorite overall cookie from the year, but they seem very season specific so they can’t be an all around go to cookie. They are super soft and almost melt in your mouth. This recipe is definitely a winner.

Eggnog Cookies – I don’t really like drinking egg nog because I don’t like the consistency, but I like the flavor of eggnog. These cookies are the perfect delivery system for that eggnog flavor.

It was a really fun project and I’m glad I did it, but to answer the question everyone has been asking as the year comes to a close, no I will not be doing it or something else in 2019. I will still be baking, but not on this scale. Also cookies are really the only realistic food I could do this with. Nothing else mails as well. It also was not a cheap project between the supplies for the actual baking and spending $7.20 on every batch that had to be sent via the mail, so I think I’ll be giving my wallet a little bit of a break in 2019 too. I’m super happy I made 2018 the Year of the Cookie. It did exactly what I wanted it to do and more.

Mumford and Sons with Maggie Rogers at Capital One Arena

This past summer at the Newport Folk Festival Mumford and Sons were the surprise Saturday headliner. They had Maggie Rogers out with them for part of their set and even gave her time to sing “Alaska” with them backing her so I was unsurprised to see that they were going to be touring with her as an opening act. It also made me really want to see said tour enough that I was willing to go see it at Capital One Arena.

In general I loathe arena shows and try to avoid them unless there is someone I want to see bad enough and it’s my only option. I refuse to ever go to another stadium show though. Arena shows are pretty terrible because they are not designed for concerts. The music always sounds muddy, and of course they are huge so you’re so far away from the stage in general. Although as much as everyone wants to bulldoze Royal Farms Arena because it’s so old and outdated, I actually don’t find it a terrible place to see a concert. Anyway, I wanted to see this show enough that I decided seeing it an arena venue was worth it and it was.

By the time this show rolled around I was more excited to see Maggie Rogers than I was Mumford and Sons. She is one of my current favorite singers. Her first major label album isn’t even due out until January and yet she is a solid stage presence even in an arena, which I find even seasoned acts sometimes have a hard time commanding if they aren’t relying on a lot of fancy technical stage production that has nothing to do with them or their music. She was fantastic to watch perform and her voice is just amazing.

She’s originally from Easton on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and she talked about how she first saw Mumford and Sons at Merriweather Post Pavilion when she was 16. I was also at that show. It was the terrible one where there were crazy thunderstorms and we all got hailed on and then the lawn was madness for the rest of the concert. It must be surreal to be in the audience for a band when you’re 16 and then 8 short years later to be headlining for them in arenas. She told that story leading into her song “Light On”, which is all about everything good and bad that happens when you rocket to fame like Maggie Rogers did after a video of Pharrell discovering her song “Alaska” went viral. Spoiler alert “Light On” is going to show up as my favorite song in my annual most memorable pop culture blog post for 2018. I will have more to say about the song then, but needless to say seeing her sing it live last night was the highlight of the night for me. It’s obviously not even 2019 yet and anything could happen, but there’s a good chance that her album could be my favorite 2019 album. My favorite album of 2018 was something that came out in January. I’ll let you try and guess what that might be until I reveal it in another week or so.

Mumford and Sons were also good. This is the fifth time I’ve seen them in concert and the first time I’ve seen them at an indoor venue. I heard some people walking into the parking garage with us commenting that they hope Mumford and Sons comes back in the summer to play at an outdoor venue because it’s so much better and I would concur but I think they did an admirable job of trying to make an arena seems small. Their stage was in the center of the floor and they had standing room only floor tickets on either side of the stage. I had originally been trying to get tickets in one of the sections on the side of the arena because they would have been closer to the stage, but wound up getting seats on one of  the ends, which wound up being way better. We had a great view of the stage and I don’t think any of the seats on the side would have been that great because they would have been looking at the side of the stage the whole time.

The band moved around a lot and faced different directions. There were drum kits set up all over the place. Both ends of the stage were higher than the main part and they used these to create smaller more intimate seeming stage spaces. They even did one of those things where they gathered around one single mic and played a song acoustic. That’s brave in an arena. Marcus Mumford also went out and went all around the arena during one of the songs. I thought the girl behind me might keel over from excitement the way she was screaming with Beatles at Shea Stadium levels of excitement and the closest he got to us was an aisle two sections away.

As I said I’m not much for all the stage production and theatrics that usually go into arena shows and there was some of that but I don’t feel like they relied on it too much. There was one moment I will totally give them and say the pyrotechnics were totally on point. I have always loved the point in the song “Believe” where the music sort of drops out and then everything kicks into high gear. They definitely used some pyrotechnics to great effect for that, which can see in the video. It’s not from the show I was at because it doesn’t seem like anyone has posted one yet, but same deal. The rest of the pyrotechnics I couldn’t have cared less about but these worked for me really well.

They also had Maggie Rogers back out during the stupidly long encore to sing “Awake My Soul” with them, which was amazing. But also why you gonna take your leave of the stage after playing just over an hour and then come back for a 30 minute encore. Encores are dumb anyway, and I super appreciate the rare band that refuses to take them like Ryan Adams and Wye Oak, but if you’re going to do it do it like a normal band and come back out for 2 maybe 3 songs not 5 .

It was a really great show though and I’m glad I put aside my hatred of arena shows and trekked down to DC in the rain to see it. Of course now I’m just kicking myself for not getting tickets to see Maggie Rogers at the 9:30 Club in March and now they’re all sold out, and I hate feeding the scalpers. We’ll see if I cave as the show gets closer because if she was that great at Capital One Arena I can only imaging how stellar she will be at someplace like the 9:30 Club, which is such a better venue.

Grey’s Anatomy

Back in August my husband was away for several weeks in a row for various reasons, so I had a lot of time on my own to watch television. We typically watch most of our tv shows together unless there is something that only one of us wants to watch. At the time I wasn’t currently binge watching any old shows so I was looking for something to binge watch that I knew he wouldn’t care about. I finally decided on Grey’s Anatomy, which I had never watched before.

I didn’t have anything particularly against Grey’s Anatomy. I’m all for soapy drama. However, back in the day when Grey’s started I was in graduate school and working full time, so there wasn’t a whole lot of room in my life for a lot of television watching. Also back in ye olden times the only way we had to watch something if we weren’t home to watch it live was to record it on a VCR (kids ask your parents). I had a few long running shows I would do that for to keep up, but I certainly wasn’t trying to add any new tv to my life at that point. Then by the time I might have realistically started watching the show it was already so many seasons in. Then the number just kept growing exponentially larger and it seemed like a Herculean task to even think about watching the show. But apparently with 14 seasons streaming I decided now was the time to finally dig in. Now please enjoy my stream of consciousness ramblings on my thoughts about the show.

It’s kind of funny watching a show which for such a long time was so very much talked about. I knew so many characters and plot points before even ever watching an episode of the show. Of course some of those things played out slightly differently than I imagined them based on what I knew. I also didn’t know about how the timing of some things happened particularly in relation to characters leaving based on knowing the actors had left the show. For instance I thought Sandra Oh had left the show well before season 10. I thought when Cristina went to work at the Mayo Clinic that was her exit, but she was on the show for 2 more seasons. I also thought it was another year or two before Patrick Dempsey left the show.

It’s also weird the characters I knew about versus those I didn’t. Literally in the first season I thought Alex must not be on the show for that long because I don’t ever remember hearing about him. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that since he’s one of the few original cast members still around. I guess because he for the longest time at least during the hey day of the show never had any good romantic pairings. Plus he was a big jerk in the first 5 seasons so I don’t think anyone was rooting for him to get together with Izzie when they did, which would probably have been the one pairing I might have heard about. I do really like his character development though. I really like when long running shows allow their characters to grow. I loved him as a peds surgeon and his relationship with Arizona as his mentor. I also really love Alex and Jo together (although do not get me started on the stupid season 13 story line where he beats up DeLuca). She is the first good romantic partner they have ever given him in all the seasons of this show. I’ve never liked Elizabeth Reaser as an actress so making her some crazy patient Alex falls in love with was a particularly unpleasant plot.

With the show having been on so long it’s also kind of funny how even though I watched it in a four month time span the characters that left in the first half of the show seem so distant to me. I barely remember they were there compared to characters who joined later but stuck around longer. Even though they were there for five seasons it seems like Izzie and George were barely even on the show at this point. Also by the way I’m still kind of mad that they never really became a thing. I liked them as a couple and was annoyed when they finally got together only to be like oh maybe we’re not actually attracted to each other. That was dumb. I always thought maybe they would come back around because I thought George, not Denny and all that stupidness both before and after he died and definitely not Alex, was her OTP.

The early season relationships were definitely much better than most of anything that has happened in the last 5 seasons. Those early seasons had such intensity and emotion with the couples you were rooting to get together that the show hasn’t had in a long time. I’m guessing partly because as time goes on the characters are already paired up, so it’s harder to do that without making it feel forced which it very much does now. It’s like they have to automatically put together the few single characters left even if there’s no chemistry. See the current season where Meredith apparently has to be either with DeLuca or Linc. Before I caught up to this season I kept seeing things about Meredith and DeLuca before I even knew who DeLuca was. Then when he joined the cast I was like what? He’s a baby. That’s who they’re going to pair Meredith up with? Then we got to this season and I was still like I do not see this at all, but then they started offering Linc as an alternative and they sort of forced me to get on the DeLuca train because if I have to choose between the two of them there’s no contest. At least Linc finally cut his ugly surfer bro hair. They also seem to rush characters into relationships now instead of letting there be a nice slow burn that builds up over time.

When I started watching I wasn’t sure I would make it through all 14 seasons that were available at the time. I knew there were plenty of points where people jumped ship on the show. I know the whole Denny/Izzie ghost sex story line was something that did a lot of people in back in the day. It’s funny to me now because yeah season 5 for most shows would be a point where they were running out of ideas and the show would be nearing the end of it’s run, but in this case it was only 1/3 of the way to where we are now. Even though there’s not that heady excitement of the first half of the seasons, I still mostly enjoy the show. I think binge watching it certainly helped because the story lines that I hated I could get through in a day or two of watching even though it sometimes felt like a slog as opposed to it dragging on for half a year. There was a whole stretch in the middle seasons where I came to dread the season finale because there would always be some giant disaster befalling the people of the hospital that would then result in people having various forms of PTSD that we had to watch them deal with for half a season, which just felt so tiresome. Had I been watching some of those seasons in real time I’m not sure I would have kept with the show. I certainly would have dropped it in season 13 when the aforementioned Alex beating up DeLuca story dragged on for the entire season not to mention that they were obviously trying to save money by doing all these special episodes that only starred one or two cast members doing something outside the hospital. That season was probably the lowest of the low for me.

Now that I’m caught up to season 15 in real time I’m definitely not loving the show the way I did in the first half of its run, nor am I even loving it as much as I did 3 or 4 seasons ago, but at this point it sounds like season 16 will probably be it’s last if Ellen Pompeo sticks to her guns about leaving after her contract is up, so I feel like I should just finish it out. Watching in real time is going to be a whole different experience though, and I think it may be harder to hang on since there aren’t many characters left that I like that much.

Callie and Arizona have always been my favorite characters. I always loved their relationship, and probably my favorite part of the whole series was their little trio as parents with Mark before he died even though I never had much use for him before that. I was super bummed when they broke up. Penny was a super drip of a character and I never bought that she would be the grand love of Callie’s life. I was even sadder when Arizona left at the end of last season even though they intimated that she was going to go to New York and get back together with Callie. The way they wrote that was just kind of dumb because a. Penny’s fellowship was only supposed to be a year, so why couldn’t she and Callie just tough it out or why didn’t they come back when the year was up? Also if Callie and Penny broke up as was suggested when Arizona was leaving why would Callie stay in New York instead of coming back to Seattle to be near Sofia? I know it’s all predicated on the actresses leaving the show and then wanting to belatedly give the viewer some closure on their relationship, but it just bugs me that my favorite characters never got to have a proper happily ever after. I am super missing having at least one of them around this season now that both Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw have left the show.

All along the way there have been new characters I have liked and others that haven’t done much for me. I laugh at myself because after 9 seasons later I still say Mercy Westers are the worst like the characters did in the season where Seattle Grace and Mercy West merged. They got rid of a lot of those characters fairly quickly which was fine by me, but I never really cared that much for Jackson or April. Jackson has just always been boring in my opinion, and the actor’s accent makes it sound like he’s mumbling all the time. April I always found to be annoying. I can’t say I’m missing having her around this season. Jo was the only one I ever really cared about from her class of interns. I’ve like a few other people who have come in along the way like Teddy. I’m glad she’s back this season even though I kind of like where Amelia and Owen are in their relationship. That’s really the only story I care about so far this season. In general Amelia kind of annoys me though as does Maggie because neither of them ever shuts up. They just ramble on all of the time. It was part of my problem with April too. Just shut up for a minute. It’s like the writers decided all the female characters should have verbal diarrhea because obviously that’s how women are. The new interns aren’t doing much for me this season either. I know they’re supposed to be green and not really know what they’re doing, but apparently the writers think the only way to make them interesting is to make them grossly incompetent at everything.

Anyway, as I’m finally nearing the end of this ridiculously long post I feel like I probably need to talk about Meredith and Derek since their relationship was so much the heart of show for so long. Meredith and Cristina too I suppose. Certainly their will they or won’t they was such a driver of what made this show tick in the beginning. It was a really well done love triangle with Addison and all of Meredith’s relationship issues. By the time Patrick Dempsey left the show I wasn’t so much sorry to see him go though. Derek had become kind of a jerk by that point in the show, and I don’t really miss him. However, I can’t really picture Meredith with anyone else at this point. Derek was her one great love, and with the time the show probably has left there is no way they can develop a relationship for her that will ever rival what she had with Derek and I wish they wouldn’t even try. Just let her be happy with her kids and her work.

I don’t know if anyone reading this actually made it this far, but I’m super glad I finally watched Grey’s Anatomy because I really did love it. I have spent the last four months of my life obsessively watching it and now that I’m all caught up I’m not really sure what to do. It’s still on so it’s not quite the same feeling of loss that I normally get when I finish with a long running show, but there’s definitely a little hole in my heart for all the characters I loved that have already come and gone.