Goodbye, 2013

2014

That’s all, folks. In just a few short hours, we’ll be ringing in a new year. Before the ball drops and the crowd goes wild, I want to briefly reflect on the origins of this blog.

Just seven months ago, I was sitting in my house after a long semester, wondering how I was going to fill the endless loads of free time that lay before me.

“Hmmm,” I thought. “I should start a blog.”

And Lieberman No Lie was born, simple as that. Not exactly feature film material, I’ll admit.

Seven months and 101 posts later, updating this blog has become one of my favorite pastimes. As I’ve been recapitulating for the past few days with my 2013 in Review posts, it’s been an exciting year for pop culture, with plenty of topics worthy of deep discussion and analysis. I love that I can write about what I want, when I want, how I want. I love that I’m becoming a better writer with each new post – or so I think. I love that I’m able to channel the thoughts swirling around in my brain into a record that I can reassess in the future.

Most of all, though, I love that you’ve taken the time, however little of it, to click on my blog and read some fraction of what I have to say. I love that a few of you have told me in person that you enjoy reading my posts, and I love that a few more of you have felt inclined to comment on what I’ve written. It’s an honor to look at my WordPress stats to find that you care about my thoughts on country music or Breaking Bad or Inside Llewyn Davis. It’s a thrill to see that you’ve clicked “Listen” on episodes of The M&M Report, a podcast I started with my friend Devin Mitchell. I can’t say or write it enough – thank you for caring.

I’ve got no plans of slowing down. In the next few days, I’ll review American Hustle, look back at the fourth season of Arrested Development, highlight some current cliché-defying country music and preview the year ahead. At some point, I’ll get around to reviewing the year in movies, but first I need to see a few contenders for the year’s best. So much to do, so little time.

I don’t know exactly what 2014 will bring, but I know that I’ll have this blog to analyze whatever pop culture has in store. And that’s No Lie.

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2013 in Review: The Moments That Made Lame Awards Shows Worth Watching

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

What’s the point of sitting through countless awards show every year if not to celebrate the few moments on those shows that actually justify our investment? As much as I like to complain that most awards shows are poorly structured, improperly paced and ineptly directed, I watch too many of them to argue that they shouldn’t exist at all. I watch them because I’m hoping to see something that will make the time go by more quickly, be it a spontaneous reaction or an exceptional performance. In chronological order, here are five moments from this year’s awards shows that had that effect.

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2013 in Review: Justin Timberlake’s Fractured Reign

Timberlake

During the first track on The 20/20 Experience, the first of two 2013 albums from Justin Timberlake, the multi-hyphenate superstar describes the love of his life as “my drug,” “my dealer” (yes, both), “my heroin” (rhymes with “wine”), “my cocaine,” “my nicotine,” “my blue dream” and “my hydroponic jelly bean.” (OK, that last one’s just plain weird.) He could have just as easily been describing his relationship with the American public, who gobbled up every morsel on his multi-course musical comeback menu with the vigor of, well, an addict. America simply couldn’t get enough of the suit and tie this year.

Or could they? Years from now, will we remember this year as the latest triumph in Timberlake’s impressive multi-decade streak, or the slow fade of an artist with plenty of energy but little substance beneath the style? The evidence from the first half of the year suggests the former, but the second half of the year brought its fair share of disappointments, casting a shadow over the Year of JT.

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2013 in Review: The Rest of Television’s Best

Arrested

Yesterday, I unveiled a list of my ten favorite shows of 2013. As I argued in my piece on Wednesday, though, this year’s television can’t be summed up in terms of just ten shows. Here, then, is a snapshot of other things I enjoyed on TV in 2013.

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2013 in Review: My Ten Favorite TV Shows

Parks

Yesterday I offered an overview of the year in television. Today, check out my list of my ten favorite TV shows of 2013. A few caveats:

1. I haven’t seen everything. Here’s a partial list of shows I can’t include on this list because I haven’t watched them: The Good Wife. Game of Thrones. Enlightened. Bob’s Burgers. Girls.Veep. Eastbound and Down. Treme. Broadchurch. The Fall. Masters of Sex. Justified. Sons of Anarchy. Boardwalk Empire. I’m not paid to watch television. I’m doing the best I can.

2. I didn’t rank these ten shows because I didn’t have the energy. Why bother? They’re all great. I’d recommend any of them to people who love watching TV.

3. Making lists is fun but inevitably arbitrary. Tomorrow, I’ll post another list of shows that missed this list but still deserved recognition. Boiling things down to a list of ten is important for the purposes of making difficult judgment but meaningless for the pursuit of quality viewing.

And now, the list.

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2013 in Review: Kingpins, Inmates and Serial Killers in a Rich Year for Television

Orphan Black

In 2013, couch potatoes reframed the phrase “too much TV” to signify the veritable bounties of powerful dramas, gut-busting comedies and intriguing hybrids splashed across an unprecedented array of channels and platforms. No longer can concerned parents or frustrated roommates complain that you need to get out more – they’re too busy binging on House of Cards and catching up on Scandal.

Regardless of what this visual buffet means for the state of physical fitness, there’s no denying that 2013 brought riches aplenty for people who find value in the artistic medium of “television.” Whether you were letting Netflix give you the royal treatment, carrying you from one episode to the next without so much as a click of the mouse, or you were continuing to exert power over your remote control, greatness was bursting from every frame. A brilliant thriller about an alliterative meth king ended its run in a blaze of frightfully intense glory. Serial killers and murder mysteries reigned supreme in a wide range of settings, tones and character shadings. We dove headfirst into the emotional lives of inmates in a women’s prison, found surprising emotional depth in the tale of two Russian spies whose marriage oscillates between façade and fulfillment, and marveled at the dexterity of a young woman tasked with simultaneously portraying nearly a dozen versions of herself.

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The M&M Report, Episode 14: The Year’s Best Music

Heart

Listen to Episode 14 here.

Welcome to the last 2013 episode of The M&M Report. This week, Devin Mitchell and I talked about some of our favorite albums and songs of the year. Keep in mind that Devin and I are far from comprehensive music consumers, so our musical tastes are limited to the genres we’ve enjoyed in the past. We’re open to tons of suggestions on new music we should try out, so bear with us and feel free to comment.

After we discussed six albums, we had a freewheeling conversation about the year in music, touching on everything from “Blurred Lines” and “Same Love” to Daft Punk and Miley Cyrus.

Here’s a Spotify playlist featuring some of the music we discussed during the show. Feel free to follow along.

Click through for the time breakdown and a bonus video from Local Natives, and we’ll see you in 2014!

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