I do read things other than pop culture criticism, but since it's the end of the year and some people with vacation time might want recommendations, let's just focus here.
I absolutely loved Emily Nussbaum's New Yorker piece about Netflix's Jessica Jones. (Even if I disagree with Emily that the first few episodes are a slog — it's great the whole time!) Her review gets at what's riveting about Jessica Jones, and so relevant to current cultural discussions/brawls about sexual assault and consent. She writes that the 13-episode comic-book drama — with Krysten Ritter as its angry, sorrowful star — is “distinctly adult, an allegory that is unafraid of ugliness.” And she ties it to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so this review is pretty perfect.
Over at Vox, Todd VanDerWerff wrote an incredibly personal, beautifully written critic's notebook about the FXX show You're the Worst, tying the show's plot to his wife's depression. He seamlessly weaves in and out of discussing the show to revealing deep, sad, and, yes, inspiring things. I cried reading this piece, and you don't have to know the show in order to be moved by it.
Here's something insane for Game of Thrones loyalists (and there are about 20 million of us). Vulture compiled 50 fan theories about George R.R. Martin's books, the source material for the show. I mean, holy crap! I knew some of these, and had thought of a few myself — but my god, it goes deep. Be afraid.
In closing, I'm now recommending something that I haven't read yet! And that is BuzzFeed News' Alison Willmore's review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Even though I have written about the new movie, I did not want to go to a screening, and don't want to know much at all until I see it with my friends this weekend. But I'm recommending you read Willmore’s take on it, because everything she writes is great.