As a counterpoint to Week 13 (Things I wish I liked but actually do not) it was suggested that I write up some things that I like but are otherwise unpopular. I tend to obsess whenever I like things that people love to hate, so here are a few examples.
It feels odd including The Decemberists in this list as they are fairly popular and every time I saw them play it was to a packed house that only got larger as time went on.
Yet for a while in 2006 through 2010 or so, you could not throw a stone on the internet without someone talking about how Pretentious and terrible the Decemberists are. How they think they are so much smarter than everyone, how they just use big words to sound smart, how singer Colin Meloy uses such a fake British accent when he sings. It started to seem like I was the only one who liked them at all, when really they were growing a huge following and I am just dumb.
Mumford & Sons
This band has become a new punchline in the last couple years. The accepted opinion is that their music is completely fake bullshit and that they are trying too hard to seem like they are living in the 18th century.
In 2011 they had a pretty big radio single, Little Lion Man, that I would hear a lot while commuting. I thought it was catchy and had no real strong opinion about it. When I heard they were performing at Coachella that year I looked into their music and liked what I found. I think their Take Away Show is really good (especially the second song, starts at 5:20).
Then I saw them perform on Saturday night of Coachella and it was really special. The band had this magnetic hold over the audience and I felt truly moved by their show. It went beyond just being a good performance into something more and I still feel warm thinking about it.
So I understand if everyone thinks they make terrible music or are putting on a facade. Make all the jokes you want. I have my memories of that night, which are not nothing, and they mean something to me.
Lena Dunham's show, Girls, is the worst example of navel-gazing, self-obsession, Instagram and GPOY, thinking you are important but nobody gives a fuck Millennial bullshit ever compiled into a single package. She only got the job at HBO due to nepotism, none of the four leads would be working if not for having famous parents, and she is fat and ugly. So says the internet anyway.
Also, Lena Dunham is a white-supremacist, and because I like her show, Girls, I am also a white-supremacist. That might sound harsh, but it is the textbook correct term for it. I cannot refute this last claim, and learning to live with the label has been difficult.
That all said, I still really like Girls. I recently re-watched the first season and it reminded me why I like the show so much. From the pilot episode onward, I felt like the things happening to these characters spoke to me in ways I did not realize TV could. And as the series went on it continued to put the characters in scenarios that I could relate to more and more.
I am not any of these characters, I do not want to be any of these characters but I like watching what happens to them because I think maybe I can learn from their mistakes.
Everyone loves to hate Aaron Sorkin. His work has become unbearably preachy. When Will McAvoy on The Newsroom says that this is the "Worst. Generation. Ever." it is really Aaron Sorkin screaming from behind the pen. At least, that is the accepted wisdom. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was the worst TV series ever (to the point that TV critics continue to enjoy writing articles bashing it years after its cancellation) and now The Newsroom is even worse. How dare he try to push such a strong agenda?
My thoughts on this are two-fold. One, it does not bother me if TV tries to have a message. Yes, I agree that the way more recent Sorkin work does it is a lot more beat-you-over the head than earlier work. I still do not mind, partially because I tend to agree with the things he says and partially because I also believe they are worth saying. I would rather watch a drama that is trying to say something meaningful, however clumsily, than one that has little to say.
The other thought is that even if the shows are objectively terrible (which they have become), I do not care. I like the ways he writes characters, concerns about the female characters in the Newsroom withstanding, and I do not think there is a better dialogue writer working today.
I want to live in the worlds he builds for his characters. I want to spend my time around the smartest, funniest people. I want to have conversations while walking down hallways seemingly for no real point. I want to ask a question and have everyone in the room already know the answer. I want to work late into the night every night to feel like we are working together toward a common goal that has meaning.
I guess this makes me an Aaron Sorkin apologist, a title I will happily carry. I am not saying his work is good, again it seems pretty clear the most recent of which has not been, but I like it anyway.