Look: Things are still screwed up in this country, and you need look no further than Ferguson. Or the NFL. Or the continuing problems with diversity in Hollywood. There’s a lot of work still to be done. We may have a black President, Jennifer Lawrence may be the biggest star in Hollywood, and the second most popular sitcom on television may prominently feature a gay couple, but we’re still just scratching the surface. In the supposedly “liberal” Hollywood, dragging everyone into the 21st century can sometimes feel like pulling teeth.
But, we’re slowly and steadily making progress, and rather than reiterate the problems that still remain, can we just take a quick moment to celebrate some of the advancements in pop-culture we have made in 2014, including the fact that mainstream audiences are embracing good entertainment options over reality bullsh*t and Chuck Lorre?
Here’s ten worthy of of at least a golf clap or two.
1. A female (Michelle MacLaren) is directing a superhero movie (Wonder Woman) featuring a female in the lead.
2. Anal sex was the focus of a storyline in a network sitcom (The Mindy Project) and a fisting joke was made in another (New Girl) helping to normalize certain sexual acts and push broadcast audiences past their sexual hangups.
3. The most watched show on television, The Walking Dead, as of the end of the last episode (if you count Tyler James Williams) has nearly as many minority cast members (7) as white cast members (8).
4. The two highest grossing films of the year, so far (Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier) are also two of the best reviewed films of the year (90 percent and 89 percent, respectively, on Rotten Tomatoes).
5. As many people listen to the Serial podcast (2 million) as watched the $50 million reality show experiment, Utopia.
6. All five of the highest grossing films of the year pass the Bechdel Test.
7. A transgender person (Laverne Cox) was not only on the cover of Time Magazine this year, but was actually nominated for an Emmy.
8. There are more LGBT characters on television. They make up 4 percent of series regulars on broadcast networks, with an additional 33 recurring roles, and there’s 64 LGBT series regulars on cable, up from 41 last year.
9. The highest rated new series of the season (How to Get Away with Murder) stars a black woman (Viola Davis) and was created by a black woman (Shonda Rhimes).
10. Doctor Who finally hired a female writer, it’s first in six years, and — while it may have been tokenism — the other Time Lord on Doctor Who was a female.
Bonus: The theft of nude photos from the phones of scores of celebrities cannot, in any way, be considered a minor victory in anything, but the incident did have a couple of silver linings: 1) We finally began to see a shift away from shaming the victims and placing blame where it belongs: on the thieves, and 2) it helped to normalize the very common but unspoken practice in the Internet age of sexting. It sucks that photos were stolen off the phones of celebrities, but good for them for having healthy, expressive sexual lives.