The Year That Was, 2013 is far too large of a topic to tackle all at once, even when only focusing on the pop culture aspects. Breaking things down month-by-month feels like the smarter call. We'll be working our way through the year one month at a time, remembering the songs, films, TV, and other fun/horrifying stuff that we may well have already forgotten.
The #1 Song
The world was full of lines in July, every one of them blurred. Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell Williams kicked off the month at #1 and kept right on going with "Blurred Lines," a song that managed to be so good that even a wave of op-eds couldn't kill it. It helped that there was a constant stream of other pop-culture institutions that kept giving you other things to think about besides the lyrics. The Roots and Jimmy Fallon played the song with children's instruments. Thicke showed up on The Colbert Report to perform the song after the Daft Punk fiasco, at which point "Blurred Lines" cemented its Song of the Summer status. Perhaps most importantly, Vulture paired "Blurred Lines" with Fat Albert and forever changed the way anyone would hear those "hey hey hey" interstitials ever again. [Yes, all three of these things happened in the first week of August. But in August, a certain tongue-sticker-outer would place her post-teen-rebellion stamp on "Blurred Lines," as you will no doubt read about in our next installment...]
The #1 Movie
Here's something to chew on: the #1 movie in all of July—a month that was once revered for its culture-dominating blockbusters like Independence Day—was Despicable Me 2. A movie none of you reading this have actually seen, even if you brought your own children to see it. Here's something else: did you know that Despicable Me 2 is currently the second-biggest box-office success of the whole year? (Soon to be overtaken by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but still.) Once again: a movie that, for all you know from personal experience, does not exist made the most money of any movie this year besides Iron Man 3 (which also doesn't feel like it was a big enough cultural deal to have been #1, but that's another discussion).
In a distant second place this month was The Conjuring, which was the closest thing we had to a horror-film sensation, proving that we tend to like it when Patrick Wilson takes part in a paranormal investigation of a haunted house. Also, clapping. We were very into clapping this year.
The Month in TV
The biggest ripples in the TV universe came, of course, when Hollywood Game Night premiered on NBC. No, that's obviously not true, though I will stick up for a show that so effectively reveals which celebrities would be worthy of joining you and your friends at your own game-night parties and which you would avoid like the plague.
No, the obvious big winner on TV in July was Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, which released its entire first season on July 11th and immediately (and somewhat unexpectedly) showed up its starrier, buzzier sister show, House of Cards. A second season was fairly quickly ordered, and an absolute cavalcade of underutilized actresses—Kate Mulgrew, Natasha Lyonne, Taryn Manning (yes, really)—reminded viewers what they have to offer.
Returning to somewhat lesser fanfare (to put it mildly) was HBO's The Newsroom, which actually came back as a more focused, less obnoxious show, at least relative to its earlier incarnation. A season-long story arc involving a falsified news report and copious scenes of Marcia Gay Harden delivering law-snark gave the season some good backbone (even if the ultimate reveal turned out to merely bury special guest star Hamish Linklater).
CBS managed to score headlines for its summer reality workhorse Big Brother, though not for anything close to what the network would have wanted. It seems that the casual racism that is occasionally dropped on the internet live feeds of the show became too much to ignore this year, to the point where the show had to bite the bullet, slap on a disclaimer, and air scenes of some of its cast members letting fly with some rather disgusting epithets and "jokes."
Finally, in news of import to a hardy (but enthusiastic) few, the Real World/Road Rules Challenge returned to TV with a Thailand-set season. If you're into that sort of thing. Which maybe some of us are.
The Emmy nominations were announced on July 18th. We all had a good laugh when The Newsroom's Jeff Daniels and Boardwalk Empire's Bobby Cannavale were nominated in Best Actor and Supporting Actor, respectively. Little did we know...
In a month of departures, Jason Sudekis announced he'd be leaving Saturday Night Live, some two months past the point where he might have gotten a farewell episode. Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones declared their intentions to exit Parks and Recreation, or at least were allowed to say so. And Nate Silver announced he'd be leaving the New York Times for ESPN.
And finally, the following gifs made their respective cases for Gif of the Year: