Happy Thanksgiving! TYF Writers Share Who/What We’re Grateful for in Entertainment

Happy Thanksgiving!


After what this year has put us through, it’s more important than ever to take a moment to reflect on what we’re grateful for right now. The annual tradition continues as TYF writers come together to share what they are thankful for in the world of entertainment. We encourage you to share what you’re thankful for from the world of cinema, books, TV, music or video games!

Click through the slideshow to see who we are thankful for this year.

This year I’m thankful for books like Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. Out of all the coming-of-age books I’ve read this year, Flawed is one of the few books that has stayed with me months after I read it. Flawed centers around the life of Celestine North as she comes to realize that the world she lives in is not what it seems. She’s blacklisted by the elders in her community and is branded as a social outcast to the point where no one wants to even look at her. Still, she defies the authorities and the community that ostracizes her and rises above all the hate thrown at her. It’s a novel that goes the extra mile in exposing the imperfections in our society from a youthful perspective and urges young adults to stand for what they believe in even if it isn’t socially accepted. – Leigh-Ann Brodber


This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for J.K. Rowling. She continues to be one of the most wonderful and sincerest authors of our time. Even though Harry Potter ended nine years ago, she’s still providing not just the Harry Potter community, but the world at large, stories within the wizarding world that expand on what came before in interesting and cool ways. J.K. Rowling gave us Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this year, which I adored for its humor and willingness to be a bit silly while also telling a genuine story. She also bridged the gap between my two loves – books and film – by writing the script for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Though the film had its issues, the magic was alive and well. Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for continuing this world of wizards and witches and magic. It’s good to be back. – Katey Stoetzel

2016 has definitely been a great year in entertainment for one thing in particular: “comebacks.” We had the return of many things that used to make us happy during a certain point of our lives. On February, we had the pleasure of seeing once again the Tanner girls in Fuller House. On July, J.K. Rowling made us return (with a smile in our faces) to the Wizarding World with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and later on, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. To make things even better, Gilmore Girls is also coming back to our lives this week! If I could only ask for the return of Seinfeld, life would be perfect. Thank you, 2016! – Cristina Moreano


It might be on its seventh season, but Bob’s Burgers remains the show on TV I know I can consistently turn to in order to feel better about life. Always willing to embrace the weird (like showing a bloody decapitation in their holiday episode), it also manages to be family friendly and a completely earnest in its affection a world full of misfit characters. The cynical mind has no place for a show that managed to sell a man getting glued to the toilet with a touching musical number. And every Sunday I’m more than happy to sit down and indulge in some TV comfort food (usually while eating soup) and recharge the batteries for another week by smiling through a half hour with the Belcher family. In fact, I’ve made a Sunday tradition of watching Bob’s Burgers, running off to do some laundry, and returning just in time to sit down in my pajamas just in time for a little Sunday dessert TV…Last Man on Earth. I’ve always liked the show, but it’s almost hard to believe that three season in the show with the most unlikable character on TV by the end of season one has turned him into a lovable misfit, I wouldn’t have believed it. How did they make Will Forte’s jerk Phil into annoying but lovable Tandy? Seems Forte really is a comic genius, and has brought together a group of creatives to bring the show to life. What’s even more impressive is how easily the show manages to go in a multitude of tonal directions. Early in the season the show became almost a thriller, and just last week the show’s family centric episode had me close to tears. And at the heart of both Bob’s Burgers and Last Man on Earth remains common cast member Kristen Schaal. Whether making mischief as bunny eared Louise or demanding family togetherness as Carol, Schaal’s one of TV’s brightest stars. – Lesley Coffin


Now, especially in these times, I am grateful for feel good movies like Zootopia and feel good music like JoJo’s new album Mad Love. Life is hard with a few, brief moments of joy. And, honestly, if this year’s election isn’t a testament to that, I don’t know what is. You have to work at being happy and that means starting with feeling gratitude for the things we have. Even the things we take for granted like waking up in the morning, being able to walk, breath, etc. When you have a dark cloud constantly over your head, it can get tough. Having my own experiences, I know that the dark feelings aren’t everlasting and you will feel better. What can help, are movies and music like the ones aforementioned that resonate with you and make you feel less alone in the world. To make you feel less alone in your pain. So, with that, I’ll be on the look out for more feel-good art! – Melissa Berne

I’m thankful for… Frank Ocean. After I complained about it for years, Frank Ocean gave us the album we had waited for so long. We’re so lucky to have artists like Frank Ocean that work in silence and let their work speak for themselves. He doesn’t need a marketing team, he doesn’t need a huge promo tour, Blonde and Endless are proof of that. I’m thankful to be a fan of an artist like Frank Ocean, whose lyrics make me reflect on who I am as a person and the person that I want to be. – Luciana Villalba

I’m thankful for artists who use their talents and platform to create diverse stories in media, from film to comics. Ava DuVernay and her brilliant cast for the upcoming A Wrinkle in Time makes a statement on its own. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight is the year’s best film and tells a story that defies stereotypes and is beautifully transcendent. Issa Rae gives young women everywhere a relatable character in her hilarious and authentic show, Insecure. And G. Willow Wilson gives us a wonderful and thoughtful superhero with the new Ms. Marvel. – Gabrielle Bondi

2016 has been a big disappointment in terms of blockbuster movies; out of the six big titles this year had to offer, only Captain America: Civil War delivered. But for the independent film industry, this year has been on fire. A majority of that success can be attributed to A24, an independent distribution company from New York. Thanks to them, we got plenty of diverse voices that bigger studios wouldn’t dream of taking on. We got The Witch, American Honey, and Moonlight—three spectacular films that are accumulating so much awards buzz (American Honey and Moonlight are currently tied for six nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards). A24 has never been afraid of the “controversial” picks. One of their more interesting distributions actually turned out to be one of my favorites of 2016: Swiss Army Man. The existential picture, featuring Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse, prompted multiple walkouts at Sundance. However, A24 took a chance on it and gave that voice to first time film directors, Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.  With so many women and people of color being shafted in the film industry, I love that A24 is bringing their beautiful stories to the big screen. I only imagine what they have in store for 2017. – Yasmin Kleinbart

I am thankful for my fellow Finding Her Voice podcast ladies, Gaby and Ally, for not only allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts on film with them but also to hear theirs first-hand. It has been such an incredible and inclusive experience, and I am so lucky to be a part of it and to bring to light the importance of equality in filmmaking and writing. I’m also thankful for all the female-directed films I’ve watched this year (Girlhood, you break my heart in the best way). For stress-inducing How to Get Away with Murder reaction posts, for the charmingly goofy anime series JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure that my boyfriend introduced me to, for Ricky Montgomery’s Montgomery Ricky (which I still cannot stop listening to; I’ll likely never tire of the tunes), for Dean Young’s “The Art of Recklessness.” I’m thankful for reruns of The Office, which got me through many a tough day in my Master’s program. I’m thankful for Inside, a game that caught me so off-guard, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Thankful for my breakfast club of a friend-family, who’ve made me better in so many ways. Especially thankful for my first year (OK, OK, it’ll be a full year in December) with The Young Folks! – AJ Caulfield

There are many movies that came out in 2016 that I love, but only one that I’m actually thankful for coming out in 2016 specifically, and that would be Arrival. I knew next to nothing about the movie going in save for the fact that it was another alien flick, but I left with a feeling of refreshment and edification that I haven’t felt in a long while. It made me think about the limits and potentials of our ability to learn, and made me question what I would do if I learned the monumental things Amy Adams’ Louise Banks did. So I’m thankful that such a smart piece of speculative science fiction was able to hit the big screen and tackle seriously human themes instead of reveling in the action tropes often tied to alien invasion scenarios. But more than that, I’m thankful for its themes of communication and teamwork being the solution over taking sides and fighting. 2016 had the most divisive, polarizing and contentious political cycles of my life and I kept getting exasperated at how people would rather start fights than conversations with each other. The greatest irony (or tragedy, I suppose) of Arrival is that often it seems Louise Banks is having an easier time communicating with a completely different species than the different governments trying to communicate with each other. But rather than end with a pessimistic or doomsday tone, Arrival delivers a bittersweet, but ultimately optimistic conclusion that when we finally figure out how to stop our bickering and communicate effectively, that’s when problems finally get resolved. I think we can all learn something from that going into the new year. – Alexander Suffolk

In a year that feels like it’s been one disappointment after another, I’m grateful for the book One Day. It’s a simple book with a simple enough premise in that it follows two people, Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley, on the same day over the course of twenty years, beginning with when they’re fresh out of college. Over the next two decades, they will have tremendous highs, lows, and heartbreak, but throughout it all, they’ll never stop thinking of each other. It’s not like we haven’t seen this story before, the one with the working class girl and the rich boy, whose star falls as hers rises, and above all, two people who are clearly meant for each other. But author David Nicholls is just so damn compassionate and insightful that you feel like you’re seeing Em And Dex for the first time, along with all the compromises and struggles as their lives end up very different from how they’d imagined. Any time I want to feel soothed, or inspired, or hopeful, or really anything positive, I just pick up this book and turn to a random page, where I’m sure to encounter something touching, insightful, or humorous, as Nicholls seems to know exactly what it’s like to be any age. And I’m thankful that I don’t feel the need to hate-watch the godawful, spectacularly miscast movie adaptation. – Andrea Thompson

I contemplated for a while about what I was going to write about this year, especially considering the tragic nature of 2016 be in media, politics or a bit of both. In the end, I’ve cheated and gone with a bit of two things I’ve listed in the past. Writing will forever be something I’m thankful of. It allows me to express my opinions, share my opinions, about what I love. In the past two years I’ve begun taking a heavier stance in writing about films directed by women, whose voices I’m also thankful for this year. This year I began the podcast Finding Her Voice and have participated in Define, a podcast about diversity in Hollywood. I’m thankful that I write for a site that is encouraging of celebrating those voices, refuse to unnecessarily champion those who have been publicly accused of heinous crimes or hate speech, and one that brings together a group of writers all of whom share the intention of celebrating films and storytelling from all wakes of life. – Allyson Johnson

This year a lot has happened, and I’m thankful for being a part of The Young Folks team. I’m thankful for the new Emeli Sande album after having waited so long for it to come out. I’m thankful for films like Moonlight, Moana, Under the Shadow, and Zootopia. I’m thankful that I’ve become more engaged in social media this year. I’m thankful that in doing so, it’s allowed me to become even more hyper-aware of the double standards minority characters face in film, TV, and criticism. I’m thankful for Mr. Robot and for Rami Malek being the first Arab-American to win an Emmy for outstanding lead actor. I’m thankful for film festivals such as DC Film Fest’s Arabian Sights, which spotlights films from the Middle East. I’m thankful for superhero shows like Luke Cage and The Flash. I’m thankful for female characters like Iris West, who represents what a generally well-rounded woman of color on a superhero show can look like. I’m thankful for La La Land, which reminded me why I love musicals and the magic of movies. I’m thankful for getting to see Aladdin on Broadway for a second time. Finally, I’m thankful to have met so many great people through writing about movies and TV! – Mae Abdulbaki

This year I am most thankful for HBO’s newest series Westworld. Just as I was in the midst of the post-Game of Thrones depression that follows each season when you remember it’ll be another year until you feel happy again, I saw the trailer for this incredibly unique and cool looking show. At first glance, I saw cowboys, robots, futuristic set pieces and Anthony Hopkins. I figured it was too good to be true, and boy was I wrong! The pilot episode felt like its own Oscar-worthy movie, and it completely blew my mind. As an avid Game of Thrones viewer, I’m pretty used to the fantastic storytelling, the colorful and graphic violence and nudity, and the overall adrenaline rush that only a show on HBO can give you. As I continue to watch more of Westworld, I am shocked that I am feeling the same emotions and rushes in a show that doesn’t involve dragons and White Walkers. This show has the most intricate and powerful storylines and a phenomenal cast that make me excited for what comes next and to find out what big twist will throw me through a loop! – Tyler Carlsen

There’s so much to be thankful for in our pop culture scene. I’m most thankful for Lady Gaga for releasing her spectacular new album Joanne, for continuing to push the boundaries of what it means to be a musician and for showing the world that you can be a strong woman and be vulnerable at the same time. I’m also thankful for HBO and Netflix for releasing great content and being on their A game when it comes to television. Watching Stranger Things and Westworld has been a highlight of my year. – Amanda Hayman

This year, I am thankful to one of the few films that truly inspired me this year. Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals may look like an overtly pretentious art film, but it actually is a perfect balance of prestige and pulp fiction. It’s both a deft psychological thriller and a sharp commentary of the soulful nature of art. Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams lead what is by far the best cast of the year, with every single performer giving nomination worthy performances. This is a labor of love from start to finish, created by a filmmaker who is slowly becoming one of the new masters. – Michael Fairbanks

I’m thankful for television that is high concept in its foundation of setting and storytelling. HBO typically slays in that field, albeit in a less consistent fashion over the last few years. Westworld has undoubtedly filled that creative void, which has floored me nonstop with its sprawling production and mysterious characters. Week by week I craved an additional episode to follow after the one just aired, and when a show has the power to that, it’s certainly a keeper. #ThandieNewtonForAllTheAwards – Tyler Christian

When it comes to entertainment, this year I’m thankful for the Affleck’s. Ben and Casey have had great years on-screen. It seems like Ben has been a punching bag for people for years. Everything this man does is criticized. His directing gets some praise, but no one wants to see him acting. I do. Ben’s acting work has been getting better and better. The Town, Argo, Gone Girl have been movies that legitimized him back again. This year he’s firmly established himself not only as a major star again, but an elite actor. Two of my favorite three movies of 2016 are Batman v Superman (I will argue and fight for it until you give up) and The Accountant. Not only were these movies exciting and fun, but Affleck was tremendous in both. Ben is back to being unquestionably one of the premiere actors in Hollywood. I’m thankful for his films and the roles he’s chosen in the last few years. I’m looking forward to being thrilled again in January in his next film Live by Night.

Casey Affleck is the most underrated actor today. It amazes me how he’s not a household name by now? Granted, he does seem to keep a lower profile than his brother.  Casey was really good in Triple 9, a movie that flew under the radar. He was edgy in this brooding film. Affleck blew me away in Manchester by the Sea, an Oscar worthy performance. I really appreciate the range of acting that Casey has. He’s only going to get better.

Two very different brothers, that took different paths to personal success. Both Ben and Casey have had the more memorable films and performances of this year. I’m thankful for the Affleck’s for entertaining and inspiring me with their work this year. – Jim Alexander

This year, I’m very thankful for Coffee Stain Studio’s The Westport Independent. What was already a bold game about journalism, government, and censorship (real censorship, not changing Tracer’s pose censorship) means so much more in a reality of the Donald Trump Presidency. Westport is a game where you play an editor of a newspaper that must navigate government speech laws while publishing reliable news. Most video games receive criticism for daring to be “political” right now, but I cannot stress enough the power of a game that puts the power to resist or submit on the shoulders of the ordinary. The knowledge that letting a story have teeth could get its writer killed makes every story edit horrifying. Getting a letter from the government, even to just remind you they’re watching is terrifying. In a year where distrust of the news is at an all-time high, we as a culture need a reminder of the power and importance of a free press, and how blessed we still are to have that. The Westport Independent isn’t a cheery game, but it is a very human game. I’m grateful for that, and for the press. If you didn’t play it for some reason, get it for your phone right this second. – Travis Hymas

This year, I’m thankful for Hamilton: An American Musical, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. I was very skeptical before listening to the Hamilton soundtrack – hip hop is definitely not my first choice of music. But after I listened to Hamilton for the first time, I understood the hype. After the second, I found myself wanting to learn the lyrics. I now consider myself a true Hamilfan, and I’m always trying to get friends to join the club. From spontaneous Hamilton sing-alongs with friends at all hours to watching digital #Ham4Hams, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s genius has made my year so much better. – Lauren Wengrovitz

It’s hard to find something to be thankful for in such a terrible year. As a gay man of Mexican descent, it is hard to see the light ahead through all this darkness. Hard, but not impossible. This year I am thankful that through the atrocities I was able to discover I am not alone. I found support through long-time friends, like-minded strangers, ever-present family, and even industry colleagues like the amazing crew of writers here at The Young Folks. This is the inspiration that fuels me and forces me forward with a gleam of optimism. Knowing that I am not alone and that we are all in this together gives me hope that we can overcome any obstacle or tyranny that lays ahead. – Jon Espino



Everyone at The Young Folks wishes you a wonderful Thanksgiving day and Holiday season!

Who/What are you thankful for?


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