TV Lists

The 9 Best Thanksgiving TV Episodes to Watch on Turkey Day

Celebrate thanksgiving by hiding from your family and watching these fictional families enjoy turkey day!

Celebrating Thanksgiving usually entails a day of eating, answering uncomfortable questions from your family about your career and romantic life, hearing about your grandma's bunion surgery, and, if you're lucky, a well-earned doze in front of the TV. This year, given the social distancing guidelines, you may bypass the family time and go straight to the couch.

Regardless of your plans for Turkey Day, when that second helping of turkey starts to settle in your belly and your eyelids start to feel heavy, it's time to shove your cousin (or cat) over on the couch, settle in, and turn on one of these classic Thanksgiving-themed episodes.


Keep Reading Show less
TV Features

How "PEN15" Brilliantly Navigates Tween Sexism

Season two of the cringe-comedy series is available to stream now on Hulu.

There's the average, innocuous middle school sitcom...and then there's PEN15.

The cringe-comedy series premiered on Hulu in February 2019 to universally positive acclaim, receiving an Emmy nomination and a "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It stars real-life best friends Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle as fictionalized versions of their 13-year-old selves, navigating the tumults of middle school alongside an impressive cast of actual middle schoolers. The second season of PEN15 only further affirms its status as arguably the most important sitcom in production right now.

Keep Reading Show less
CULTURE

Late Capitalism Diaries: Comedy Central and Awkwafina's New Marketing is Pure Evil

They have found the key to making my morning commute even more unpleasant

NBC News

Comedy Central has a new show starring Awkwafina, and you are not allowed to watch it.

I don't care how much you love Awkwafina's music, her character in Crazy Rich Asians, or her Golden Globe-winning performance in The Farewell. You can and should keep enjoying all of that stuff. Awkwafina is fun and weird and talented, and she's doing some great stuff with her career. I would give her a TV show too, but I will not watch Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, and you shouldn't either. Because watching her new show would be an endorsement of the inhumane treatment that I and tens of thousands of subway riders have endured this past week.

Nora From Queens

"Please remember to wear headphones when listening to music. Even if your playlist is straight fire."

"This is 103rd Street, Corona Plaza. And no, this is not where the beer is."

"This is a Manhattan-bound 7 local train. All the stops, baby!"

When I first heard these announcements on the 7 train last week, I was naïve, bright-eyed, and I still had some hope for the world. I happened to have borrowed my wife's headphones for my commute that morning and was blessed by the fact that they were a little louder and a little better at blocking outside noise than my own. Awkwafina's voice still cut through my music, but in a muffled, indiscernible way. It was only after her scream at Mets-Willets Point, "The Mets?! I love the Mets! 'Cause I'm from Queens," tore through my aural defenses that I knew something weird was going on and decided to pay some attention to the announcements.

I began freeing one ear from the headphones as the train arrived at each stop, tilting my head to listen to the energetic announcements of this young MTA employee, imitating the usual robotic messages, but following them up with a cute little riff. I was certain that, whoever this voice was, they were in the train's conductor booth trying to add a little joy and surprise to the drudgery of the daily commute. What other explanation could there be? But then I had the sudden realization that I recognized the voice…

Awkwafina Golden Globes

Could it really be? I knew that Awkwafina is from Queens, and she had just won a Golden Globe. Maybe she thought it would be fun to leverage that success into putting on a little impromptu performance for the borough. Her riffs weren't exactly brilliant, but she was clearly just going off the top of her head and having a little fun with it, so who cares? I hadn't yet heard about her new show, but, I thought,even if it was a publicity stunt, it seemed like a good one. Awkwafina doing a one-time, surprise stint as the 7 train announcer would be a fun, weird story that all the 7 train commuters would be telling their friends.

I was so certain that the announcements were live that, when I got off at my stop, I ran along the side of the train for several cars, thinking I might snap a picture of Awkwafina in the conductor's booth and have some proof for skeptical co-workers. The alternative—that the MTA would make a deal to replace their usual recordings for an entire week—seemed impossible. Would they really add that kind of insult to the daily injuries of a cramped New York City commute?

7 train crowd Flickr user NYC Subway Rider

Would they really make us all—tens of thousands of us—listen to the same lame "jokes" every day? Would Comedy Central's marketing team really rush out some lazy, free-associated copy, get Awkwafina to phone in a quick recording session, then replay the result on a loop—louder than the normal announcements and interspersed with reminders to watch her show? I was so innocent then. Looking back on the man I was a week ago, I can only grieve for that sweet, sensitive soul who still believed that there were lines that capitalism wouldn't cross.

"This is 69th Street, which is definitely, definitely not funny in any way."

"This is 33rd Street. In other news, the number 33 is a palindrome. Wait, can numbers be palindromes? Oh, and check out Awkwafina is Nora From Queens on Comedy Central."

"This is 52nd Street. If this is your stop and you asleep…well, that sucks."

www.youtube.com

By the time I was out of work and ready for my commute home, I had found out that the MTA truly had, for the first time, sold advertising for the train announcements. Because we are not people trying to live our lives; we are a captive audience—consumers, densely packed into tube where we have no choice but to listen. On the way home, I kept my wife's headphones firmly in place.

"This is 34th Street Hudson Yards. Hope you like weird architecture! Oh, and check out Awkwafina is Nora From Queens on Comedy Central."

By the second day, I was back to using my own, sub-par headphones, and they were no match for Awkwafina's voice. I heard every announcement, and they were already grating. The normal announcements are familiar and benign enough that they're easy to drown out, but the extra volume and emphasis from Awkwafina's voice refuses to be ignored—forcing the entire train to listen to the same tiresome routine. I started to pity the employees who have to sit through the same "jokes" dozens of times in each shift. That takes more bravery than the troops.

MTA conductor Thank you for your service Getty Images

"This is 82nd Street, Jackson Heights. And please remember, a train car is the worst place to clip ya toenails. Oh, and check out Awkwafina is Nora From Queens on Comedy Central."

If this marketing works—if people in Queens and Manhattan end up watching the show—what comes next? Gilbert Gottfried selling insurance while he announces your bus stop? Sofia Vergara promoting a Modern Family spin-off while the L train is stuck in a tunnel? Is this how they're planning to fund necessary repairs and updates to MTA infrastructure? By selling off every portion of public life—every point of access to our eyes and ears—to the highest bidder? This is not a better solution than raising taxes on the pied-à-terres of the ultra-wealthy.

Today is the last day of this promotion, so this afternoon should hopefully be the last time I hear:

"Oh, and check out Awkwafina is Nora From Queens on Comedy Central."

"Oh, and check out Awkwafina is Nora From Queens on Comedy Central."

"Oh, and check out Awkwafina is Nora From Queens on Comedy Central."

PEN15 Pictured: A better show you can watch instead

But I know those words will haunt my dreams, so I must beg you not heed her call. No one in New York should reward this marketing. Just to be safe, don't watch it even if you're not in New York. It's a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story in which Awkwafina plays a younger version of herself. Sounds great. Almost as good as PEN15, which never disrupted my commute. Watch that instead.

TV

The 50 Best TV Shows of the Decade

Did your favorites make the list?

The 2010s saw the advent of binge-watching.

Thanks to streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, it was suddenly possible to watch multiple episodes of a single TV series in one sitting without the interruptions of commercials. As the way we watched TV changed, so too did the kind of shows we watched. Gone was the overabundance of vapid, sugary-sweet sitcoms, and in came the era of political satire, dramatic comedies, and searing commentaries on everything from abortion to Hollywood. Summarily, the 2010s saw a golden age of television. Here are our 50 favorites, with the top 25 and bottom 25 listed in alphabetical order.

The Top 25 TV Shows of the 2010s

Atlanta

Atlanta Donald Glover

Atlanta first aired in 2016, with Donald Glover's Earn learning that his cousin Alfred has released a hit song under the stage name Paper Boi. Since then, the show has followed Earn's struggle to navigate different worlds as he takes over managing his cousin's burgeoning music career while also trying to be a good father to his daughter, Lottie, and to prove himself to Van, his ex-girlfriend and Lottie's mother. The show uses varying perspectives to flesh out the city of Atlanta and the complexities of being black in America with surreal touches that highlight the real-world absurdity. Yet despite the heaviness of much of its subject matter, it frequently manages to be among the funniest shows on TV.

Barry

Barry Bill Hader

For anyone who ever wondered whether or not SNL-alum Bill Hader could carry a serious TV show, Barry answers with an overwhelming "yes." To be clear, Barry is technically a dark comedy, or perhaps a crime comedy-drama, but Bill Hader brings a level of unprecedented seriousness to his titular character that oftentimes makes the show feel like a straight tragedy.

Playing a hitman who wants to leave his life of crime behind in order to pursue a career in acting, Bill Hader imbues Barry with an earnestness that makes us as an audience truly want him to succeed. This likability serves to make Barry's violent acts all the more disturbing. Barry's greatest success is its ability to effortlessly fluctuate between the quirks of life as a struggling actor in LA and the violent inclinations of a man who murders for a living and can never really escape that truth. It's one of the best character studies currently on TV and is sure to cement Bill Hader as an extremely versatile A-list talent.

Baskets

Baskets Zacj Galifianakis

Baskets premiered on FX in 2016, telling the story of Chip Baskets, an aspiring clown played by Zach Galifianakis, who is moving back to Bakersfield, California to live with his mother after a failed stint at clown school in Paris. Galfianakis' talent for melancholy slapstick makes the show by turns hilarious and touching, but it's his mother Christine Baskets—artfully portrayed by Louie Anderson—whose simple enthusiasm for small-town life makes the show one of the best of the decade. Watching Christine, Chip, and his twin brother Dale (also Galifianakis) heighten relatable family drama to exquisite absurdity never gets old.

Black Mirror

Nothing would be the same without Black Mirror. Though its later seasons have been inconsistent in quality, its earliest contributions were digital horror at its finest, with some of the episodes being downright visionary in terms of how accurately they predicted the near future. From the nostalgic visions of virtual afterlife in "San Junipero" to the eerie foresight of "Nosedive" and its digital ranking systems, Black Mirror made an indelible impact.

Bob's Burgers

Bob's Burgers

Whatever you've heard about Family Guy or South Park, Bob's Burgers is the true successor to the golden age of The Simpsons. The Belcher family offers an update to The Simpsons' satirical view on middle class family life that reflects how America has changed since the 90s—slightly more urban, with less overt child abuse and a lot more economic precarity. And just as with the best seasons of The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers maintains a touching core of familial love and solidarity amid the absurd hijinks and veiled political commentary. Throw in the added value of the frequently hilarious, occasionally moving musical numbers, and Bob's Burgers easily secures a spot as one of the best shows of the decade.

Bojack Horseman

Bojack Horseman

In terms of the quality of its writing, BoJack Horseman outdid itself season after season. What began as a parody of Hollywood's excesses quickly turned into a searing, and boundary-pushing meditation on depression, addiction, and what it means to change (or to be unable to). Increasingly self-aware and conscious of its hypocritical tendency to obsess over the misadventures of an evil but sympathetic celebrity, thereby glorifying them while criticizing them, BoJack Horseman is the political, devastating, timely, often hilarious show about an animated horse that none of us knew we needed. It's buoyed by the strength of its secondary characters, from the workaholic Princess Carolyn to asexual Todd to self-loathing Diane, and altogether the show takes deep-rooted fears that many share and refracts them in a funhouse mirror that's impossible to look away from.

Broad City

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson began producing an independent web series about their struggles to "make it" in New York City in 2009. Soon, Amy Poehler took interest in the series, and it moved to Comedy Central in 2014. The smash hit comedy was not only laugh-out-loud funny, but a beautiful portrait of a genuinely healthy, supportive female friendship—something TV has historically seen little of. Broad City can be credited for helping to usher in a new generation of female comedy creators and has become a cultural touchstone for millenials.

Catastrophe

catastrophe rob delaney

Catastrophe, created and written by the show's stars, Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, is one of the realest, grossest, and funniest takes on love and the mess of life. Two people entering middle age meet and hit it off, they spend a reckless night together, and when she gets pregnant, they decide to make things work—not realizing how complicated that will be. It's a simple enough premise, but the cutting dialogue and the absurd comedy that plays out as two near-strangers build a life together make Catastrophe one of a kind.

Fargo

Anthology series like True Detective and American Horror Story can be really hit or miss, but in the three seasons that have aired on FX since 2014, Fargo has been consistently great. Maybe it has to do with the leisurely production schedule, the all-star cast, or the near-perfect movie that forms the basis for its tone, but whatever the cause, Fargo delivers murderous midwestern tragicomedy better than any show on TV—and nearly as well as the original. Season three, which followed the rivalry of the Stussy brothers—as played by Ewan McGregor—deserves a particular call-out, with season four due next year and featuring Chris Rock, Timothy Olyphant, and Jason Schwartzman.

Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's stage-play-turned-two-season-TV masterpiece took the world by storm at the end of the 2010s. In the series, the viewer is made into the protagonist's (an unnamed woman played by Bridge) confidante as she uses sex to cope with grief and complicated family dynamics. As the show progresses, the closely protected inner life of the protagonist begins to reveal itself. Many consider the second season to be an essentially perfect season of television, in large part because of the hot priest (played by Andrew Scott). Fleabag is a funny, searing commentary on what it means to exist as a sexual, complicated being in a world with ever-changing expectations of women.

Grace and Frankie

70 is the new 30, or 20, or whatever arbitrary year of life we as a culture are deciding to glorify for no reason, because age is just a number. If you weren't aware that Jane Fonda glowed with money or that Lily Tomlin is our collective spiritual mother, then Grace and Frankie enlightened you. When two septuagenarian women are told that their husbands are gay and in love with each other, the best phase of their lives begins.

Haikyu!!

Haikyu!!

It's almost 2020, the world is upside down, and yes, an anime about high school volleyball is genuinely one of the best shows of the decade. Haikyu!!, literally "Volleyball" in Japanese, is about the trials and tribulations of the Karasuno High School Boys Volleyball Team. Unlike pretty much every other high school sports anime out there, Haikyu!! takes a relatively realistic approach to...well...high schoolers playing sports. In doing so, Haikyu!! translates the genuine passion that goes into high school sports and the real dynamics of teamwork, better than any other show I've ever seen.

The protagonist, Hinata, isn't a superpowered Volleyball God; he's an extremely short boy who can't reach the top of the net, but works his butt off because he loves the game. Likewise, all the other boys in Haikyu!! have realistic strengths and weaknesses (both on and off the court) that they work to overcome with help from their teammates. Haikyu!! is an exercise in wholesomeness––there are no villains, just other kids at other schools who love the same sport our boys do––and in a decade full of so much bitterness, it's a much needed dose of medicine.

Hunter x Hunter

Hunter x Hunter

For anyone who likes long-running shonen anime, Hunter x Hunter is, without a doubt, the pinnacle of the genre. While the original manga began publication in 1998, and a previous anime adaptation ran from 1999-2001, the 2011 adaptation re-started the series from scratch and, most importantly, covered the Chimaera Ant arc (or season––kind of––for you non-anime watchers).

The entirety of Hunter x Hunter is fantastic, featuring likeable protagonists, dastardly villains, and a brilliantly creative power system called "Nen." But there's a reason the Chimaera Ant arc is often considered the greatest shonen arc ever, and that's because it's a total deconstruction of the genre's tropes and conventions. Everything from the "always optimistic protagonist" to "the ultimate evil villain" is turned completely inside-out. The Chimaera Ant arc is intensely brutal and ultimately poignant, making us question the very nature of what makes us human.

Killing Eve

Phoebe Waller-Bridge can do no wrong, and even if she could and did, I'd probably still clap. The combination of Waller-Bridge's cutting wit and Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer's flawless performances makes for a TV show that never quite lets you find your balance before sending you spinning again. It's dark and surreal, while managing to still be deeply human.

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Being a professional stand-up comedienne is hard, but being Midge Maisel is wrapping chaos in a designer dress. Created by the fast-talking husband and wife behind Gilmore Girls, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel created a stage for Rachel Brosnahan to showcase her comedic timing and Alex Borstein to be a solid, deadpan pillar within Mrs. Maisel's world of quippy, fast-talking, energy. Also Michael Zegen (Joel) is dead cute.

Mob Psycho 100

While One Punch Man might be manga artist One's best known series (and is fantastic in its own right), his other series, Mob Psycho 100, is profound in a way quite unlike anything else I've seen. The show revolves around Mob, an awkward, unconfident middle school boy with god-like psychic powers. Any other shonen anime would use this premise as a gateway to epic battles (and there are a few, and their animation is absolutely incredible), but Mob Psycho 100 focuses far more on the coming-of-age angle instead.

See, Mob doesn't like his psychic powers because they make him feel weird. So instead of focusing on the one thing he's innately talented at but doesn't like, Mob tries to improve himself in the ways he actually cares about improving––making friends, talking to girls, working out with his school's Body Improvement Club. If anything, Mob's incredible psychic powers are a backdrop for the show's larger message––that no person, no matter what natural abilities they may have, is better than anyone else. Mob Psycho 100 shows that everyone has their own struggles, and that the only person you should ever hold yourself up in comparison to is the person you were yesterday.

The OA

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij's labyrinthine show only ran for two seasons, but it managed to earn a cult following during that time. Deeply weird, profoundly earnest, and full to the brim with observations on the connections between the environment, parallel universes, and technology, the two seasons that we do have are irreplaceable and paradigm-shifting examples of what TV could become, if we let ourselves believe.

Orange Is the New Black

Orange is the New Black

Piper Kerman's post-grad rebellious stage went from a felony to a cultural touchstone. As Netflix's most-watched original series, OITNB boasted a female-led cast and cutting commentary on race, class, and the industrial prison complex.

PEN15

Those who didn't have a gruelingly awkward middle school experience are, by scientific evidence, simply inhuman. Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle tell it best in Hulu original PEN15, which co-stars the real-life BFFs (who also wrote and executive produced together) as 13-year-olds. Here, there's no sugarcoating the calamities of tweenhood, whether they're as trivial as thongs and AIM messaging or as weighty as race identity. All delivered with Erskine and Konkle's razor-sharp wit, it's absolutely hysterical to anyone who's lived past the seventh grade.

Rick and Morty

"To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty. The humour is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics most of the jokes will go over a typical viewer's head."

Okay, so first things first, we need to separate Rick and Morty from the Rick and Morty fandom. The Rick and Morty fandom is so annoying that memes making fun of them are barely distinguishable from the things they actually say. But, to be fair, Rick and Morty really is a great show full of smart writing, surprisingly deep characterization, and the exact kind of bizarre, abstract humor that lends itself perfectly to endless memes. No doubt, Rick and Morty will be the defining animated comedy of the 2010s.

Russian Doll

This tightly-wound and big-hearted thriller stars Natasha Lyonne as a jaded New Yorker who gets caught in a loop in time and has to relive the night of her 36th birthday party over and over again. A perfect blend of humor and seriousness, and riddled with quantum leaps and profound connections, it's as satisfying as it is provocative.

Shameless

Shameless

We fell in love with the trainwreck family the Gallaghers when it debuted on Showtime in 2011. William H. Macy brought so much toxic charm to the abusive and neglectful father Frank Gallagher that we actually found him, if not likable, then good television. Emmy Rossum managed to cause tears and laughter within the same scene, and the entire cast was as impressive as their characters were appalling.

Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)

After the first season of Attack on Titan premiered in 2013, it received so much hype that even people outside of the anime community were raving about it. The show featured an incredibly high-concept premise, following the last surviving humans as they tried to fight back against giant, man-eating monsters called Titans. Had Attack on Titan stuck to that premise, it would have been top-notch action-horror, albeit not necessarily one of the best shows of the decade.

But Attack on Titan turned out to be so much bigger than its initial premise. As the seasons progressed, Attack on Titan reshaped itself time and time again, leading viewers through an increasingly complex, expertly plotted narrative featuring some of the most compelling characters and intensely emotional moments that I've ever experienced in fiction. At its core, Attack on Titan is a deeply thematic contemplation on war, othering, and humanity's will to survive against impossible odds, alongside the moral sacrifices they oftentimes make to do so.

Shrill

It shouldn't be revolutionary for a show to feature a fat female lead, but it is. Shrill, the brilliant Hulu adaptation of Lindy West's memoir, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, gave audiences a badly needed narrative about a woman who is actively seeking to change her life for the better, in ways that have nothing to do with her body. It's funny, it's heartfelt, and it shows a woman getting an abortion and finding it empowering. Woah. Hell yes.

Steven Universe

When Steven Universe first aired on Cartoon Network in 2013, it was a light-hearted and silly children's show with some super-powered action from the Crystal Gems and a lot of silly jokes from their sidekick—the childish titular character. Since then an entire galaxy has been fleshed out around the boardwalk of Beach City where much of the show takes place. Along with the alien gem creatures and their elaborate history, the show has introduced us to a cast of characters that have grown and changed—overcoming insecurities and facing complex questions of love and identity. While Steven matured and developed into a hero worthy of his last name, the show evolved to become one of the best of the decade.

25-50 Top TV Shows of the 2010s

  • American Horror Story
  • Archer
  • Big Mouth
  • Community
  • Homeland
  • Inside Amy Schumer
  • iZombie
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Jessica Jones
  • Justified
  • Last Week Tonight
  • Love
  • Stranger Things
  • Suits
  • The Good Place
  • The Newsroom
  • This Is Us
  • True Detective
  • Unreal

VeepThe 5 Worst TV Shows of the 2010s9-1-1

  • Chicago PD
  • Daybreak
  • Once Upon a Time
  • What/If
FILM

Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend of June 14

Who asked for a Men in Black reboot? Why would anybody want that?

RLJE Films

Welcome back to "Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend."

This week, someone rebooted Men in Black for some reason.

WIDE RELEASE:

Men in Black: International

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL - Official Trailer #2 www.youtube.com

The first Men in Black was just okay. It benefits from nostalgia goggles, but so do the Burger King tie-in toys it spawned, and nobody's going to argue that those were high-quality. There wasn't really any fan demand for a reboot of this franchise (are there even Men in Black fans?), and there probably wasn't any reason behind the decision besides "reboot everything." The point is, Men in Black: International doesn't seem like a story anyone genuinely wanted to tell, and the trailer reflects that. It looks painfully generic.

Shaft

SHAFT – Official Trailer [HD] www.youtube.com

Like everything else in 2019, the new Shaft arrives with a wink and a nod. Five films deep, the Shaft franchise has shifted from blaxploitation crime action to action comedy. The premise is really cool, centering around a new Shaft (Jessie Usher) teaming him up with the original two (Samuel L. Jackson and Richard Roundtree). The trailer seems fun, so hopefully the Shaft franchise can adapt to this new tone while still maintaining the serious themes that made it so culturally prescient in the first place.

LIMITED RELEASE:

Plus One

PLUS ONE Official Trailer www.youtube.com

Plus One is a rom-com about two friends who make a pact to be each other's plus ones at the many, many weddings they need to attend. It stars the incredibly talented Maya Erskine (PEN15) and was written and directed by Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer, both writers for PEN15. The plot may sound a bit contrived, but that's part of the fun of rom-coms. The trailer looks funny and, again, Maya Erskine is fantastic. As such, Plus One is my PICK OF THE WEEK.

The Dead Don't Die

THE DEAD DON'T DIE - Official Trailer [HD] - In Theaters June 14 www.youtube.com

The Dead Don't Die is a horror movie with a cast. We know this because "CHECK OUT THIS CAST" has been their primary marketing point. I tend to distrust movies that market like this. If a movie needs to rely on the size and renown of its cast, it usually doesn't have a narrative that holds up on its own. Granted, the cast here really is great. Bill Murray, Adam Driver, and Tilda Swinton are phenomenal. But chances are that the movie itself is just okay, at best.

Hampstead

HAMPSTEAD Official Trailer (2019) Diane Keaton Romantic Movie HD www.youtube.com

Brendan Gleeson absolutely kills every role he's ever been given. I love, love, love him. Old people movies though? Eh. Queen of old people movies, Diane Keaton (Book Club, Poms, etc.) plays a widow who falls in love with a kooky squatter and, as a result, discovers the spice of life or something. Brendan Gleeson is, of course, the squatter who just wants to be left alone in a shack that the government is trying to take away. But he's about to find out that sometimes, the only thing better than a shack is shacking up with an old person. Nice.

Giphy

The Jonas Brothers' upcoming "Happiness Begins" tour is a nostalgic flash of early 2000s pop music, Disney Channel's golden age, and trendy purity rings that successfully marketed sex to tweens by constantly reminding them not to have sex.

Nick Jonas recently shared his discomfort at the time, telling The Guardian, "What's discouraging about that chapter of our life is that at 13 or 14 my sex life was being discussed. It was very tough to digest it in real time, trying to understand what it was going to mean to me, and what I wanted my choices to be while having the media speaking about a 13-year-old's sex life. I don't know if it would fly in this day and age. Very strange." Undoubtedly it was strange; for a while in the 2000s we treated the topic of sex like a minefield that would detonate if we spoke of its reality. Thankfully, we seem to have gone from praising Disney Channel stars' manufactured wholesomeness to embracing frank depictions of puberty in all its disgusting glory.

From Big Mouth and Pen15 to Eighth Grade, media's depictions of teens figuring out sex, masturbation, and sexuality have taken full 180 turns from the shame-based silence and push for abstinence that dominated the 90s and 2000s. In reality, "The Rise and Fall of the Pop Star Purity Ring" was the result of a generally conservative political climate and brilliant marketing. Specifically, the sinking record company Walt Disney Records found their saving grace in marketing their stars' virginities as standout additions to the lust-addled pop music scene. The Muse noted, "The real reason puritanical sex ed managed to infiltrate Top 40 radio for a bizarre moment in the aughts had less to do with the actual personal beliefs of its stars and far more to do with the conservative political climate that helped create them."

Indeed, Nick Jonas, now 27 years old, has described his family as "incredibly religious" and recounts "a person in [their] church who at one point demanded that all the kids in the youth group put these purity rings on and make this commitment. So without a full understanding of what we were stepping into, we all made this commitment."

Additionally, while the Jonas brothers, famously lauded and mocked for their purity rings, believed in the token sentiment, no young teen wants the public to fixate on their sex life. "It was such a strange thing to a lot of people to wear these purity rings, especially as young men in a pop boy band," Nick added. "But I think when I'm looking back on it, although it was challenging to live with that, to be seen and have that attached to our name was very tough."

jonas brothers purity ring NexisLexis

In fact, between 2007 and 2008 the use of the word "virginity" in news, blogs, and magazines saw a huge spike in popularity. Politically, there were powerful conservatives pushing abstinence and fostering a "purity panic" to maintain their influence over policies. Sara Moslener, professor of religion at and author of Virgin Nation, noted, "The purity movement was about conservative evangelicals keeping access to political power. And it was young people, sexually pure young people, who could best make that case." Consequently, abstinence-based sex education programs in schools flourished in the '90s, including organizations like Silver Ring Thing, which received over $1 million in federal funding thanks to President George W. Bush's 2001 Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) program.

But how does that lead us to Big Mouth's celebrated depictions of awkward early sexual encounters, manifested onscreen as a lascivious hormone monster and menacing shame wizard? Well, studies prove across the board that abstinence-only education doesn't work. They're "not just unrealistic, but it leaves our young people without the information and skills that they need," one researcher concluded. We fail our young people when we don't provide them with complete and medically accurate information."

big mouth hormone monster Big Mouth: Hormone MonsterGiphy

big mouth shame wizard Big Mouth: Shame WizardNetflix

Also, the Jonas Brothers and other Disney darlings who launched purity rings to popularity, like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and Demi Lovato, have all grown up. Some have gotten married. They have all had sex (a fact they've confirmed in what were probably not awkward interviews at all). Nick Jonas has reflected that the purity ring trend had the positive effect of showing him why sex shouldn't be taboo. He said, "I think it was a good thing. It gave me a really good perspective, to whereas now my main thing is about being OK with who I am as a man and the choices I've made, and I think everyone should have a good and solid conversation with either their parents or loved ones about sex and about what they want to do with their life, because it shouldn't be taboo. It's a big part of who we are and what makes us human, and if we can't address these things head on, then I think that it can really be challenging."

Pen15Hulu

Today's buzzwords focus on inclusion and self-acceptance through body positivity and LGBTQ+ awareness, which are pieces of a cultural attitude towards sex positivity and away from shame-based abstinence. Sure, there's a risk of producing over-sexed media that could influence teens' behavior, but history shows that making sex taboo through abstinence-only programs have not reduced rates of teen pregnancy or STDs, so what's the danger? Media will always influence teens' behavior, no matter what. So, from showing that all genders experience crude changes to their hormones to depicting fumbling sexual experiments, series like Big Mouth and Pen15 show that sexual awakenings are awkward, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. The point is to subvert the history of shame surrounding sex talk, rather than obfuscating the fact with silence and using chastity as a brand. After all, it's 2019; haven't you heard—The Jonas Brothers like sex now.