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Panda's Best of 2023

In 2023 I found myself returning to old favorites over new ones. I don’t think it was anything to do with the standard of recent titles, more an attempt to find comfort and familiarity in an increasingly scary and unfamiliar world.

“Oi with the poodles already”

Growing up I had a handful of shows that never failed to pull me in and offer me escape. Charmed was one of those shows, and I found myself leaning heavily on it while we waited out the end of the pandemic in 2021/22. Gilmore Girls was another, and its recent resurgence as a fall staple has had me rushing back to Stars Hollow when the leaves start turning. I actually made it through a full series re-watch that finished up at the start of 2023 and it still really holds up, even if Rory gets more and more unlikable with time. My Supernatural rewatch (which is still on-going) has been a fun experience - my first time ever going back to it for a second viewing. I’ve honestly forgotten a lot of the stand-alone mysteries so it’s been fun to watch them unfold all over again. Also, I think ‘Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid’ is in my top three Supernatural episodes ever. I will take a moment to lament the touch of homophobia sprinkled throughout those early episodes. There are a lot of jokes where characters being gay is the punchline. They made up for it down the line with Charlie.

“Will You Be Slaying?”

Like many other Doux Reviews writers, Buffy was my golden series to go back to. The crown jewel of 90s/00s supernatural dramas and the perfect depiction of coming-of-age teen angst, it never failed to pull me right in no matter how many times I’ve gone back to it. When certain stories emerged a few years ago, I just couldn’t get myself to travel back in time to Sunnydale. It sounds super dramatic, but I almost felt betrayed; as if I had been stabbed in the back by a life-long friend. Things got weird this year, though, and with the show’s finale hitting twenty years back in May, I decided to go back and try again. I’m glad I did, even if certain parts of my mind did wander at times. My own personal reasons for trying to watch Buffy (and Angel) again are my own, and I feel like there’s better places to discuss those in detail. I won’t discuss the Audible series at all because, despite my initial excitement, I never started it once I read the pretty awful reviews. A shame.

“Which of the Pickwick triplets did it?”

It’s not the same as a 90s/2000s rewatch, but there were a few returning series this year that I was delighted to see come back for more, if only for more familiarity. Yellowjackets season two was a lot of fun, even if it missed the mark in parts (you can read more of my thoughts in my season reviews). Sex Education’s final season wasn’t a patch on the show’s first couple of seasons, but it did wrap up most characters' journeys as well as it could have (I won’t forgive them for how hard they fumbled Eric’s storyline, though). Only Murders in the Building has fast become a household favorite of ours, and season three was full of the same zany performances and tongue-in-cheek storytelling as the first two seasons. I hope the strike doesn’t delay its return too much. The Witcher’s third season left my mind almost as quickly as I watched it, which is a shame. I really enjoyed the first season, and I feel like I’ve become a season two apologist, as well. I’m willing to stick around and give the show’s soft reboot a go in season four, but Henry Cavill will be missed.

“I’m still pretty much a dumbass and I’m doing just fine”

I am still enjoying brand new arrivals, though. Daisy Jones and the Six was a fun journey, even if it was a tad uneven. I watched the first season of Hacks. I enjoyed it... then never went back to it. Maybe that’s a sign? Along with the rest of the world, I watched all of The Last of Us on the edge of my seat, while my husband commented on every similarity or change to the game's storyline. Poker Face was a pleasant surprise. I loved the classic case-of-the-week approach, and Natasha Lyonne continues to be her usual mumbly, lovable self. Most recently I’ve just finished A Murder at the End of the World and loved it. I have a soft spot for Brit Morgan and Zal Batmanglij’s approach to storytelling after watching The OA (RIP) and while this was quite different, it's incredibly captivating.

“Who gives a fuck about movies?”

I don’t have a lot to say about movies, in all honesty. With the exception of Barbie, there haven’t been a whole lot of blockbuster releases that I’ve been excited about. Marvel’s recent output is showing dire signs of oversaturation. Even what was considered the best of their output this year left me cold. I personally found Oppenheimer a little overwrought (sorry). Scream IV was a lot of fun, and captured a frantic energy that the franchise needed, but my excitement for any future releases has been killed off in light of recent events. I feel bad for not even seeing the new Hunger Games yet, despite how hard I stanned the original batch of movies. Hopefully I’ll be happy with what I see when I do get around to sitting down to watch it.

“It was rare you remember it...”

Outside of TV and movies my life feels consumed by my identity as a Swiftie. I’m completely insufferable about it, and I make no apologies. I’m proud to be a fan of an artist who’s at the top of their game. I feel like I’ve earned it as a supporter who’s been around for more than a decade, and fought in the trenches of her “downfall” in 2016 – I use the term “downfall” lightly since it hardly felt like she suffered one, with her continued streak of chart successes and sold out stadium shows. Bringing things back to the screen, The Eras Tour movie was a huge highlight this year. I have yet to see the live show in person (only six months to go until I do!!!!!! – I used six exclamation marks there, iykyk) but I feel like it captured the spirit of what makes her such a magnetic performer. In the wake of both Eras and Beyonce’s cinematic release of her Renaissance tour, I hope there is a wider resurgence in big concert movie releases. They’re a whole lot of fun.

I’m not sure what my 2024 viewing will look like. It’ll definitely feature lots of Taylor Swift. More re-watches are inevitable. I’m hopeful for new Yellowjackets, but that’s very much up in the air given the recent strikes. Maybe the new True Detective? I hope I won’t need to rely on my old staples as much as I did in 2023, but I make no promises. In fact, I think I feel Sydney Bristow’s pink wig pulling me back to 2001 right now...


  1. Panda, I went through much the same with my old faves and am currently (and slowly) working my way through Buffy, Angel and Supernatural. It's been so long since I've seen the early seasons of Supernatural that they almost seem new. (Buffy, though, is so familiar that I tend to recite the lines with the actors.)

  2. I understand. Sometimes I am not ready to move on to a new series.

  3. I've been contemplating a re-watch of something recently. I definitely understand where you're coming from.

    I bounced hard off of The OA, although I know Billie loved it. (We usually agree!) I'm tempted to give A Murder at the End of the World a try. It sounds interesting, I think.


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