“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes / How do you measure, measure a year?”
If you are familiar with the Broadway show “RENT” — and let’s face it, if you’re reading this then you probably are — you know the answer to that question is “love, seasons of love.” Well, for me I measure a year by pop culture’s five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred “best of” year-end lists. All the greatest magazines, entertainment shows, YouTube channels and Starbucks baristas have them. Heck, this very issue of Watermark, our annual Year in Review, has an A-Z list of the best moments in LGBTQ pop culture.
One of my favorite lists growing up was the year-end collection of TV Guide’s weekly “Cheers & Jeers” column. It looked at the best (Cheers) and worst (Jeers) that television had to offer over the course of that year. As a kid I actually dreamed of working for TV Guide as its “Cheers & Jeers” guy, but these days no one uses a TV Guide and I don’t even know if the column exists. I do work here though so in this, our last issue of 2019, I offer up my own version of the TV Guide classic that I’m calling 2019’s “Fab & Drab.”
Fab: Ronan Farrow
If you read my column a few issues ago then you know why this first one is Ronan Farrow. Farrow is my professional idol, and possible future husband – call me if things don’t work out with Jon, Ronan – and had a fab year with the release of his best-selling book, “Catch and Kill.” Farrow’s recount of the events leading up to Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer’s downfalls was by far the best book of 2019. Farrow also launched his podcast of the same name and it is by far the most compelling podcast of the year.
Drab: “The Masked Singer”
The drabness of Fox’s latest reality competition show, “The Masked Singer,” isn’t necessarily from the concept of the show, which brings masked celebrities on stage to sing without the audience knowing who they are. The drabness comes from the collection of “celebrity panelists” they have. Robin Thicke is creepy, Nicole Scherzinger is boring, Ken Jeong is loud and Jenny McCarthy is a crazy anti-vaxxer. Throw Nick Cannon, the worst TV host ever, on top of that and you officially have the worst show of 2019.
If you are looking for fabulous television from 2019, just turn to HBO, and no I’m not talking about the final season of “Game of Thrones,” I’m talking about “Watchmen.” The show continues the story of DC Comics’ original “Watchmen” graphic novel and recounts racial tensions in Tulsa, Oklahoma in a world with superheroes. The cast includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Jean Smart, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and full-frontal, male nudity. That is neither here nor there, just a nice surprise from, what I consider, the best show on television in 2019 – although it’s not really TV, it’s HBO.
Drab: Celine Dion
The drabness here is not directed at the goddess Celine Dion. I have had the power of love for her since I first heard her voice all by myself in the early 90s, continued to love her every time a new day has come and my heart will go on for her always and that’s the way it is. The drabness is I have never seen my beloved in concert and when she announced tour dates this year, it was revealed that she would be going to Tampa but not Orlando. No worries my dear Celine, I shall get a ticket and go to you no matter how near, far, where ever you are.
Fab/Drab: Streaming services
This is a part fab, part drab entry on the list. While several streaming services have been around longer than this past year, 2019 was the period where it kicked into overdrive and every company launched or announced one of there own. Adding to what were the big three — Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime — we got Disney+ and Apple TV+, as well as announcements that Time Warner would launch HBO Max and NBC/Universal would launch Peacock in 2020. These services all cost under $20 a month and have content they refuse to share across other platforms.
When streaming first kicked off, it was like a gift from the gods. We had a couple of services to get and it let us, the little people viewing the content, stick it to big cable who for years were charging way too much for a number of channels no one was watching. Now, if you want to watch the shows everyone is talking about, you have to pay as much if not more than what you were paying for cable. All of these companies need to agree on like three streaming services and put everything on them. That being said, Disney+ is the fabulous exception. You keep giving me Baby Yoda, Baby Groot and all my childhood classics and you can have my firstborn kid if you want.
Of course, the biggest fab of 2019 has been you, our readers. Thank you for making this one of the most fabulous queer years in Central Florida and Tampa Bay. It has been our privilege and honor to be your LGBTQ news source and I can’t wait to see what 2020 has to offer. Happy New Year!