The Last Five People Who Got Us Through This Awful Year
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’ve been shout out five people who got us through this wretched year. (Here is the one from three weeks ago , here is 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. This is the final installment. We thank all of them.
There is no excuse for not having watched “I Will Destroy You” on HBO yet. (It’s right there on HBO Max: You can even watch it on your Roku now.) What Phoebe Waller-Bridge was to 2019, Coel was to 2020.
Clayton Kershaw is very well the best pitcher anyone under the age of 35 has ever seen pitch live, depending on whether or not you got to stay up and watch Pedro Martinez or Roger Clemens as a kid. But up until this year, this greatness was always tinged with regret, because not only had he never won a World Series, he had in fact always come up short in the postseason. You had to wonder if he’d ever get that last bit of his resume filled out. Well, it happened this year: The Dodgers won their first World Series since 1988, Kershaw was terrific all season and now his Hall of Fame plaque will be complete. And he’s a great dude too.
So here’s something people keep forgetting about 2020: More people saw Hamilton in 2020 than have ever seen Hamilton before. If you lived in a coastal city and had plenty of expendable income, Hamilton was probably old news to you. But for the rest of us, the arrival of Hamilton on Disney-Plus on July 4 weekend was an opportunity to, at last, see if it lived up to the hype. It very much did, and it hit differently than it did initially: Given to us in the middle of a pandemic, it transported us away from the isolation with which we were stuck.
If you don’t know the name Kemp Powers, you will soon. The former journalist with an incredible backstory is responsible for two of the biggest movies this December. Soul, which he co-wrote and co-directed, is Pixar’s first film with a Black protagonist and has received some of the best reviews a non-sequel Pixar film has received in years. And his play One Night in Miami was adapted, by him and Regina King, into a potential Best Picture nominee. These are also his first two screen credits. That’s called getting off to a good start.
You can argue about the insanity of an economic system where a couple can amass such absurd wealth that a divorce can give one person so much money that they can give way $6 billion in one year. That’s probably not how this should work! But you cannot argue that the world isn’t a better place because this woman gave away $6 billion this year. $6 billion!
Next year’s going to be better, everyone. It has to be.
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.