Our 2020 favorites
What a year, lol. This is our last newsletter of 2020, so we took a look back at some of our favorite recommendations from the past twelve months—here are the ten things that helped us make it through this year.
📺 High School Musical: The Musical: The Series from Letter 31
This was from the second letter of the year, and although I haven’t re-watched the show since my initial viewing, it does feel representative of a lot of the joy I attempted to capture through media during the pandemic. I rewatched Glee, I rewatched the HSM trilogy, I listened to musicals in the shower and while I cleaned. I think, in a normal year, I would have done these things, too, but the utter joy I felt watching HSM:TM:TS colored all of this. I am crossing my fingers for the second season to happen once TV production is safer.
📱 Tangerine from Letter 32
I used this app all year to track my daily habits and my mood, and I still love it. Since I first mentioned it, they’ve added more journaling features, so you can write with prompts to release stress and anger, reflect on what you’re grateful for, calm your anxiety, etc. I also really like having the Tangerine widget on my home screen so I can see my progress toward completing all of my daily habits at a glance.
🎙️Theme Park Trash from Letter 34
I feel like I don’t really like podcasts, anymore! I’m over the audio medium! Ok, that’s not super true, but my voracious listening has definitely lessened these past few months. The podcast I am always excited for, though, is Theme Park Trash! Even though amusement parks should be completely dead during a global pandemic, Miya and Rosie have continued to make excellent content these past few months. They’re funny! They’re smart! They don’t act like Disney has any business firing all of those cast members and then just opening for dining! I really love this podcast, I love their minds, and I am more than happy to spend an hour or so every few weeks with two people who also probably might put HSM:TM:TS on their end of the year list.
📺 The Untamed from Letter 44
When I first wrote about this show back in August, I said it had fully consumed me for a month. And guess what! It’s December and it is still fully consuming me! I have watched it all the way through a second time, and now I’m starting to watch the “special edition” (whatever that means) and the various spin-off movies. It’s a whole thing. I love this story and its many adaptations with my whole heart and it is, in a way, the thing that has had the biggest impact on my year. So as much as this is a recommendation for The Untamed, it is also mostly a recommendation for finding a piece of media you can immerse yourself in and love with your entire being and share with your closest friends, because it’s such a great feeling.
📖 Deluge by Leila Chatti from Letter 44
I’ve thought about this book every day since I read it. I’ve had it off the shelf, as an option for a reread, too; I’ve flipped through pages, but I think I do need a little distance before I can give it the time it deserves. I love this book, it’s my favorite of 2020, and I just want everyone to read it.
📱 Teleparty from Letter 43
Netflix Party has rebranded to Teleparty, and now lets you watch TV shows and movies on Hulu, HBO, and Disney+ on top of Netflix. My friends and I have used it a lot this year, since watching TV online with your friends is the closest you can come to having a party in the middle of a pandemic. It is buggy and imperfect, but we love it very much for bringing us together.
🎮 Hades from Letter 49
I am only more certain than I was when I recommended this initially that this game, is, in fact, perfect. I will allow myself hyperbole, something I am trying to do less often, for fear of learning the people who made it were actually terrible, employees were mistreated, or something that could tarnish my pleasure. Well, nothing like that has happened yet! Instead, hearing about the workplace practices of Supergiant only made it feel more too-good-to-be-true. I love this game, I love this game. For the monotonous day-to-day in pandemic times or not, for the depression cycle, for the anxiety of doing things; this game is a balm.
📱 Duolingo from Letter 48
I’m pleased to report that I’ve maintained an 83-day Duolingo streak since I started using it earlier this year—turns out I really enjoy learning new languages, and Duo makes it really easy to get started and maintain consistent studying. (If you’re wondering: I’m still practicing French and Mandarin every day, and I’ve also started learning a tiny bit of Japanese.)
🍽️ Making salted caramel from Letter 51
I’ve been craving sweets pretty much every single day…of my life? I’m exaggerating, but being sad always exasperates my desire for something indulgent. A few of my favorite places closed this year, including my favorite place to get cake. Making this salted caramel was a nice way to give myself something extra; I make a lot of cookies, I use the Ghiradelli brownie mix, when I see my mom I eat knafeh—but nothing is really as tooth-chillingly, disgustingly sweet as I want it to be. Adding a glob of caramel to ice cream, to brownies, whatever? It helped! I felt happier! And it’s so easy, it’s so satisfying to make, I feel like there’s no point in trying anything else.
🎮 Among Us from Letter 47
Among Us is one of my favorite games I played this year, especially because it’s been a good way to connect with friends I can’t see IRL. There’s nothing better to me than a quick, silly multiplayer game where my main objective is completing tasks on a to-do list. And now you can play it on the Switch!