2020 In Review: Yet Five More People Who Got Us Through This Awful Year
Next in a weekly series until this monstrosity of a year is finally over.
This year has been awful: You don’t need me to tell you that. But to try to accentuate the positive, if that’s even possible, every Friday until the end of December I’ll shout out five people who got us through this wretched year. (Here is the one from two weeks ago and here is last week’s.) These people may work in politics, or entertainment, or the arts, or any field in America or around the world. All that matters is that their contributions in 2020 made it a little easier for the rest of us to make it through.
Also, send me your recommendations and nominees at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the Responses to this piece. Who has gotten you through this year?
Generation X may be ignored in every facet of American society — I swear, we’re basically the generation between Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, which is a very depressing way to be described — but Fiona Apple is out there representing. Her album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” her first release in eight years, was an instant smash and has won just about every critics Best Album of the Year award. And she’s pretty much incredible: This Rachel Handler Vulture interview with her was maybe my favorite celebrity Q and A in years. Even the dogs barking in the background of this album sound great.
There is reason to question whether or not Kamala Harris turned out to be as electorally valuable to Joe Biden as her selection was supposed to be. (And there’s still more data to come on that.) But what is undeniable is that Kamala Harris, daughter of immigrants, graduate of Howard University, is about to become the first woman Vice President in the 245-year history of this country. As her boss might say: That’s a big effing deal.
I’ll try not to get too sporty with these, but Maya Moore, perhaps more than any other athlete in recent memory, continues to transcend sports. She has in fact not played in the WNBA for two years, dedicating the prime of her career to fight to get a man named Jonathan Irons, wrongly convicted of assault and burglary 20 years ago, released from prison. This year, right before the pandemic hit, those efforts were finally rewarded. We are all struggling, as we see those suffering around us, with how to help, what we can do, how we can contribute to justice. Maya Moore showed us how it can be done: With persistence, sacrifice and dedication. And now she might just go out in 2021 and win her fifth championship.
This is has been an incredibly difficult year for sports, in every possible way, and the NFL, the wooly mammoth of North American sports, has been no different. Games canceled, positive cases spiking, empty stadiums, schedules in chaos, low quality of play … this has not been a year the NFL will be eager to show on the highlight films for years to come. But Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has been a revolution all by himself, transforming the game through his speed and savvy and a cannon for a throwing arm. And he’s responsible for perhaps the definitive play of the whole season, a Hail Mary to DeAndre Hopkins to beat the Bills in November. It was tough to watch sports this year. But you couldn’t take your eyes off Murray.
Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci
I’m not sure we’ve really quite grasped how truly remarkable it is that vaccines are already being deployed, just nine months after Covid-19 began making its presence felt in the United States. In the early days, it was widely thought by scientists that it would be 18–24 months, at the soonest, until vaccines were available. And here we are, watching the Vice President get vaccinated. These two doctors, Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci, founded the company that developed the Pfizer vaccine that Mike Pence received today. They’re global heroes. And I bet this is the first time you have heard their names. Even better: They’re married! To each other! They should really bring this up at dinner parties moving forward.
Who are your nominees? Email me at email@example.com or leave them in the Responses.
Will Leitch writes multiple pieces a week for Medium. Make sure to follow him right here. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his family, and is the author of five books, including the upcoming novel “How Lucky,” released by Harper next May. He also writes a free weekly newsletter that you might enjoy.