Pop Culture We’re Grateful For

Today, we give thanks for "South Park," @SocalityBarbie, Tame Impala, "Star Wars: Battlefront" and DJ Khaled’s defeat by hot wings


This Thanksgiving, we express our gratitude for the things that matter. We celebrate our families, friends and the comforts of home, because those are the things that matter most. And yet, in the loose hours after the turkey is consumed and before the screaming-monkey hell of Black Friday, we will look to other things for comfort: our smartphones, our game consoles and Netflix. We will do this because, if I have to be around my in-laws one more goddamn minute, I swear I can’t even.

That’s why I asked the employees of WENDOH Media—the staffs of Vegas Seven, Life Is Beautiful, Corner Bar Management and more—to share the pieces of pop culture for which they’re most grateful. Their answers run the gamut from music to television to Twitter feeds, and it’s a very respectable spread. For my own part, I’m grateful for Disneyland, The Venture Bros., the friendship of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey—and to work with people who constantly expand my pop culture horizons. –Geoff Carter

I’m grateful for the Helium app (JadenGeller.github.io/Helium), which allows me to watch the presidential debates while I live-blog about campaign finance reform and Citizens United. (Just kidding: I’m watching “Hotline Bling” parodies.) And for Sam Smith’s ability to instantly make any moment into sexy time. –Xania Woodman

I’m grateful for Algiers and their amazing, self-titled debut album. Their sound immediately grabs you and shakes you, with a mixture of raw, soulful vocals with jagged noise-rock guitars and atmospheric production that’s like nothing else right now—or ever.

I’m also grateful for the first season of Wonder Woman—every year of the show was solid, but Lynda Carter was truly at her best when kicking Axis ass. The disco ‘n’ comic strip opening! That spinning transformation into the bodysuit ‘n’ bracelets! That Lyle Waggoner, always needing to be rescued!

And I’m grateful for the group of artists who are completely covering the warehouse at First Street and Coolidge Avenue with murals, paste-ups and graffiti. It’s like having our own Five Points—just in time for someone to tear it down to build condos. –Lissa Townsend Rodgers

I’m grateful for South Park and its relentless efforts to highlight offhand pop culture references each and every week. The recent Yelp episode (“You’re Not Yelping,” October 14) proves once again that Trey Parker and Matt Stone should stop getting Emmy Awards and just be knighted. –Ryan Doherty

A family affair: Stevie Wonder at Life Is Beautiful 2015. | Photo by Jesse J Sutherland.

A family affair: Stevie Wonder at Life Is Beautiful 2015. | Photo by Jesse J Sutherland.

I’m grateful for Stevie Wonder’s performance at Life Is Beautiful. I got to experience it with my parents, who have been married 38 years. Their first date was a Stevie Wonder show; their wedding song was by Stevie Wonder; and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” was playing the moment my mother gave birth to me. Enjoying that Life Is Beautiful set together as a family is something I will remember forever. –Nicole Scherer

I’m grateful for Jesus H Christ on Twitter (@Jesusontwittorr). Sample tweet: “Some fat kid just prayed for an Xbox. I gave him diabetes instead. LOL.” –Ryan Olbrysh

I’m grateful for anything ending with “-alking Dead,” as in The Walking Dead (graphic novels), The Walking Dead (the TV show, and particularly Lauren Cohan), Fear the Walking Dead (the new “companion” TV series) and Talking Dead (the live talk show). I’m not sure why I love it so much. I just know Monday mornings are a lot more dreadful if I can’t watch my favorite TV show(s) the night before.

And I’m grateful for DJ Khaled eating spicy wings on First We Feast’s Hot Ones interview series. For all his boss-isms and “We the best!” sloganeering, dude finally took an L, quitting after three wings. (Granted, El Yucateco ain’t no joke.) And yet, he proclaims: “If I stop, that doesn’t mean I gave up.” Huh? As Khaled himself would say: “Congratulations, you played yourself.” –Zoneil Maharaj

A different flavor for everybody’s taste: The Walking Dead. Photo by Gene Page/AMC.

A different flavor for everybody’s taste: The Walking Dead. Photo by Gene Page/AMC.

I’m grateful for James Corden and Stephen Colbert. They’re both welcome additions to late night TV, and quite frankly, their shows are the best things on it. They’re causing everyone to step up their shtick. –Craig Nyman

I’m grateful for Last Week Tonight on HBO. An eternally bemused, exponentially trenchant John Oliver crafts thought-provoking segments on subjects I think about so little that I didn’t even realize they were worthy of comedy. How he can make net neutrality, hidden sugar in food and standardized testing not only understandable but also funny is remarkable. I’m still not a subscriber to HBO, but this always informative and hilarious segment is required YouTube viewing each week. Even his incessant preying on Americans’ lack of geography knowledge never fails to entertain. –Paul Szydelko

I’m grateful for The Smith Center. The only reason I wasn’t completely happy with Las Vegas at first was its lack of a performing arts center. I used to drive to Los Angeles for shows, and now I don’t have to! I’ve been a Broadway Las Vegas Series season ticket holder since the opening. –Kara Dennis 

I’m grateful for Nacho Libre and how he made me love all of the orphans in the whole world. I’m also grateful for those cheap pop art websites, because now, I can see my children through Andy Warhol’s eyes. –Annmarie Feiler

I’m grateful for Inside Amy Schumer. No one else creates such timely, edgy comedy that reminds people feminists can have a sense of humor. –Nicole Ely

I’m grateful for Aziz Ansari, the Sean “Diddy” Combs of comedy. The 32-year-old released a stand-up special in March, his first book, Modern Romance, in July, and the terrific Netflix series Master of None earlier this month. When Hollywood’s not handing him opportunities, he creates them himself. And he adores his parents. Swoon. –Camille Cannon 

I’m grateful for the paid upgrade on Tinder. Now all females can see which loser-ass Johns have to pay for sex. –Alexis Smith

I’m grateful for the podcasts that make rush hour more bearable: On Being, This American Life, Radiolab, The One You Feed and Freakonomics Radio. For Socality Barbie on Instagram (@socalitybarbie) and her incisive skewering of social media culture; if you need a primer on how to #liveauthentic, look her up and feel instantly #blessed.

And I thank my lucky stars that Beach House is so prolific. Two full-length albums in one year! It’s shoegaze pop at its dreamiest—lush, gauzy and otherworldly. –Genevie Durano

I’m grateful for the coming of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. Its characters Patsy and Edina are my only true heroes in life and the continuation of their misadventures is the only thing keeping me alive for 2016. And Another Period, Comedy Central’s spoof of period films. I just binge-watched the first season and laughed my butt off. I can’t wait for Season 2. –Ben Ward

I’m grateful for Charlize Theron, who is ridiculously hot no matter how much dirt Mad Max: Fury Road threw on her. For Jurassic World, showing us that a T-Rex can still kick a lot of ass. And I’m grateful for Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out. It’s a great example of a company producing cerebral entertainment not just for kids but adults as well. –Sim Saltzman

I’m grateful for IO Hawks being such quick, easy and reliable douchebag indicators. For Snapchat’s new filters, because I really needed to see all of the fun events I missed in slow-mo. For the Stone Roses reunion: 26 years later, I still wanna be adooooored. For Terry Richardson Volumes 1 & 2: Portraits and Fashion, for putting all of our favorite pieces by the famed photographer/creep in one convenient location. And I’m grateful for Star Wars: Battlefront, for giving me another reason to never leave my man cave. –Ian Caramanzana

I’m grateful for The Wizard of Oz. I fell hard for the 1939 movie because it was the first time I saw a girl as the protagonist in her own adventure. Indeed, Frank L. Baum’s Dorothy is the first young female protagonist in literature who is not only the center of the story, but the character through whom we see the story, which was revolutionary for a book published in 1900. (Alice in Wonderland and The Secret Garden are told from the point-of-view of condescending narrators, and are not the true architects of their own adventures.) Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the quintessential American novel, both for its singularity and for its enduring cultural meaning.

And I’m grateful for Quentin Tarantino. The rapid-fire pop culture references, the stylized cinematography, the encyclopedic soundtracks—nobody does it like Tarantino. His screenplays are master classes in storytelling. –Emmily Bristol

I’m grateful for Portal 2, because GLaDOS verbally abusing me feels like a kiss, in a homicidal artificial intelligence kinda way. And I’m grateful for Tame Impala’s Currents LP. You’re anatomically incapable of not grooving to this record. Kevin Parker repackaged psychedelic rock and gifted us with this gem. Thank you, sir. –Amber Sampson

Photo by Thomas Tran

Photo by Thomas Tran

I’m grateful for the Runnin’ Rebels. The experience, the tradition, and the community coming together around them—it’s the few hours a week where nothing else matters. For Trey Anastasio’s two-night run at Brooklyn Bowl; it was just pure magic. I expect nothing less from Anastasio, but it was really special seeing him in that intimate setting. And I’m grateful for Game of Thrones coming back. When does it come back? –Justin Weniger