Guy Fieri, Kelly Clarkson, and the pop culture comfort food that kept me sane this year

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, register here.

There was one night last year that I will always remember when things were really at their darkest. the [gestures broadly] everyone had me, as is customary, depressed. So I did the thing I do when I’m weak. I activated the Food Network. Guy Fieri was not on screen. I have never felt so abandoned in my life.

I don’t know what I find so calming about Fieri shows, but Dinners, drive-in and dives and Guys grocery games have been my undisputed pandemic comfort television. I can and have watched them for hours, ignoring the mountain of viewers of exciting new TV series that I am privileged to obtain. Sometimes, or in the case of this past year, most of the time, you just need a shot of Fieri. Flavortown is my safe space.

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Everything we can’t stop loving, hating and thinking about this week in pop culture.

I think about Guy Fieri at the end of the year and I think about pop culture because, for all the great movies and TV shows that I have watched, I think those Food Network frenzy are the things that have the most signified tome. The world around me was disturbing. Things were changing constantly, and in frightening ways. (Hello, Omicron.) But I could always count on Guy. He was stable. He was consistent. He was my rock.

It was almost a deep realization, to remember that there were actually things from this past year that made me happy. Some of them didn’t involve a grown man with spiked frosty tips describing why a pork sandwich from a Minnesota restaurant tastes so delicious. Many of them involved Kelly Clarkson.

Once again, Kellyoke, the gimmick where Clarkson covers a new song at the start of each episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show– and usually sings them better than the original artist – brought me joy. I don’t care to divulge how many times I watched his cover of “River Deep – Mountain High”. I could never have imagined that her interpretation of Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” or Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” could be so exciting. I do think, however, that her performance of Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last” was designed specifically to make me happy.

Because, you know, the world is ending and there haven’t been any “plans” for almost two years, I traveled through time to embrace a once popular activity known as “watching. live television ”. Used to be in front of the TV at the same time each week to watch the latest episodes of Excellent chef (a spectacular season) or The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (I could talk about it for hours, and I did) was even a little dizzy. It’s not much, but it was something to look forward to every week.

Speaking of Real housewives, my friend sent me what I have to believe is every TikTok video of people making fun of Erika Jayne’s “Tom’s house was robbed” speech, plus every video memorizing the theme song “I ‘ m a Survivor ”by Reba McEntire. sitcom Reba, and I cherished each of them. While I still don’t necessarily understand what TikTok is and how it works – taking care of yourself means accepting that – the videos of people doing the Megan Thee Stallion dance on Adele’s “Water Under the Bridge” sort of found their way onto my phone and I became obsessed with them. The only physical activity I have done while on vacation is trying to learn dance on my own. It was a grotesque failure.

“The only physical activity I have done while on vacation is trying to learn dance on my own. It was a grotesque failure.“

If you read my list of the best TV shows of the year for The Daily Beast, you know I liked a few things more than watching. The two others, PEN15, Hacks, and What we do in the shadows this past year. But I would be lying if I didn’t mention the show I enjoyed the most. Every night before bed I would watch a few episodes of The nanny on HBO Max. Shine. Ridiculous shine. In this house we stan Fran Drescher (and often accidentally have sexual dreams about Mr. Sheffield.)

I don’t really like to revisit things, so it says a lot about the fact that there are two movies I’ve watched multiple times each this year: Tic, Tic… BOOM! and Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar. Two pieces of flawless cinema. I also looked at the pool number “96,000” from In the heights about a dozen times when the movie was first released on HBO Max.

I found every Oprah meme from her interview with Harry and Meghan to be an absolute delight. I have read three books this year that I kept thinking about: the Mike Nichols biography by Mark Harris; Memoirs of Casey Wilson, The wreckage of my presence; and Dave Quinn’s Real housewives oral history — all brilliant in obviously different ways. The Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell duet of Tony Awards “Wheels of a Dream” are perfect three minutes of television.

As serious as I take pop culture and its impact on our lives, thinking about it all was a pleasant – and especially now crucial – reminder of how fun and often silly it is, and it’s so important too. Yes, I’ll be kicking off watching this critically-acclaimed three-hour Japanese movie, and I can’t wait to catch up on the latest episodes of Yellow jackets that I missed (by the way it’s the best show on the air right now and you’d be smart to watch it). But for now, Guy Fieri goes looking for fish tacos at a food truck in Hawaii, and he calls me by my name.

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