FROM the same team that brought you 2012 (the year, not the movie), 2013 was a year filled with excitement. It had everything we've come to expect in a year, plus Miley Cyrus. The special effects were breathtaking -- remember that meteor?
If the amount of coverage is anything to go on, the most important event of 2013 happened in November 1963.
A few other news stories managed to penetrate the thick fog of JFK-anniversary headlines. This year picked up right where 2012 left off, with the inauguration of U.S. President Obama to a second term. Beyoncé made news by not singing, which surprised people even though Britney Spears has built an entire musical career on not singing.
Dennis Rodman ran out of friends to play basketball with, so he went to North Korea and became pals with a terrifying dictator instead of joining a MeetUp group like the rest of us.
For a few awkward weeks, we all pretended we'd been paying attention to Syria for years. Fortunately we all stopped because some celebrity had a baby or something and babies are news, whereas there will always be plenty of humanitarian catastrophes to go around.
In 2013, we learned Edward Snowden likes airports so much he was willing to leak top-secret information about the National Security Agency (NSA) to several newspapers in order to be able to spend more quality time in a terminal in Moscow. It turns out the NSA has been snooping in my emails and phone records to find out what I am doing all the time, which makes me sad because it means the NSA must not be following me on Twitter.
Gay people got married in more states than before. A meteor hit Russia. These two events were unrelated, no matter what the Duck Dynasty guy says.
The U.S. federal government shut down but then started back up with a new operating system that didn't work, either.
Drones droned on and on. Anthony Weiner somehow performed the incredible feat of ruining the Weiner family name. Everyone you didn't want to get a pixie cut got one.
The U.S. national nightmare of prestige television neared an end. Breaking Bad broke good, at least according to all the people who have been saying that Breaking Bad is like having God touch you with his hand and making you superior to everyone around you and it's like The Aeneid but, you know, more erudite. Netflix released some original series, one of which starred Kevin Spacey as a Machiavellian figure laboring under the mistaken impression Congress is supposed to accomplish things. You could tell the show was deeply accurate because it included a newspaper reporter being discouraged from tweeting and blogging.
There were some hairy moments. We all remember that point in August after the MTV Video Music Awards, when we worried national reserves of indignation had been depleted through careless overuse of adverbs. Or how the year's early efforts to explore themes of race in a thoughtful way had disintegrated, by October, into Julianne Hough's Halloween costume.
But all in all, I would recommend this year, with some reservations. For instance, the news relied too heavily on anniversaries. Also, isn't it a bit early to start the Hillary 2016 speculation? Did we really need so many babies? And there seemed to be some redundancy with the theme of government dysfunction, which was explored sufficiently from 420 B.C. to A.D. 1992 and from 2000 to present, with pauses for the Clinton era and Visigoth invasions. This has been played out, and for 2014 it would be great to see more exploration of such themes as peace, prosperity and functionality, all historically underrepresented.
Still, a solid year. Three stars.
-- Washington Post