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Open Channel: What Pop Culture Surprised You This Year?

Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in Netflix's The Witcher, smiling at Anya Chalotra's Yennefer.

Image: Netflix

For as bad as 2021 could get, pop culture provided us some bright spots. Be it pretty good movies, solid video games, or enchanting novels, there were plenty of ways to escape a year that bounced erratically back and forth between being tolerably bad and agonizingly painful.

In a lot of cases, the things that we wanted or needed to be good ended up being good, perhaps even great. You know by now that a Marvel movie is gonna give you a solid 2.5 hours of entertainment, or that a Netflix original (that the company actually deigns to tell you exists) will usually be well worth the weekend binge. More interesting, though, are the things that you didn’t expect to enjoy as much as you did, or the things you initially had mixed or negative thoughts on, but ended up being won over by. That kind of unpredictability is always welcome.

There were a few pleasant surprises for me throughout 2021. I didn’t fully expect to be won over by Hawkeye of all shows, or get some delight from the absurdity of the short-lived Cowboy Bebop. Like many others, I wasn’t prepared for Arcane to completely win me over, or for Masters of the Universe: Revelation to make the He-Man’s corner of the universe worth caring about. Movie wise, I found myself delighted by Malignant, No Time to Die, and Dune, to name a few. And for games, I came away really taken in by Guardians of the Galaxy (like a lot of people) after its iffy E3 showing, along with the flashy anime RPG Scarlet Nexus and the dizzying first-person shooter Boomerang X.

As we’re in the last weekend of 2021, tell us: what thing did you watch, play, or read this year that took you by surprise? Alternatively, is there something that you thought you’d like more than you actually did? Let us know in the comments below, and have a good holiday.


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