The retrospective comes to the big screen


The Washington Post

“I liked it. All in all, a solid year.”

Vladimir Putin

“Hated it. Terrible. Zero stars.”

Barack Obama

“Someone told me that if I wanted my year I could keep my year, but now I’m being forced to switch to 2014. OBAMA’S AMERICA!”

Health insurance subscriber

“2013 was good until I realized it wasn’t 1863.”

Paula Deen

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. 2013 picked up right where 2012 left off, with the inauguration of 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.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., used the nuclear option, transforming the Senate into a frozen wasteland full of radioactive spiders. This was a notable improvement on the way the Senate usually operates, and members were actually able to pass some stuff afterward. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is trying to find out if there are any nuclear options he can use on the House.

In 2013, we learned that Edward Snowden likes airports so much that he was willing to leak top-secret information about the National Security Agency 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 federal government shut down but then started back up with a new operating system that didn’t work, either.

Wendy Davis, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz all talked for a long time — Davis in a filibuster to protect the reproductive choice of Texas women, Paul to keep his name in contention for the 2016 GOP presidential race and Cruz to support the cause of Hearing Ted Cruz Talk.

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.

Chris Christie won the 2013 GOP primary that is imaginary and run by pundits. Unfortunately, the actual primary is not until 2016, and it is run by real, live Republican voters.

Our 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 that Congress is supposed to accomplish things. You could tell that the show was deeply accurate because it included a newspaper reporter being discouraged from tweeting and blogging.

George W. Bush’s paintings revealed that he should not have quit his day job. (Actually, at the time of writing, the paintings had gotten us into zero wars, so, never mind.)

There were some hairy moments. We all remember that point in August after the MTV Video Music Awards, when we worried that 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.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog at

© 2013, The Washington Post

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