The kids are in trouble! Or so said several supposedly edgy movies about youth on the road to ruin in 2013:
"Spring Breakers." Director Harmony Korine leered at wild girls in bikinis (including Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez) but still gave them a hard moral spanking.
"The Bling Ring." Sofia Coppola's movie informed us that suburban teens are overly obsessed with wealth and fame -- shocker!
"The Canyons." Paul Schrader presented Lindsay Lohan as (ahem) a failed starlet sleeping her way through an iPhone-enabled Hollywood. Sex and drugs! Guns and crime! Hookup apps!
-- RAFER GUZMÁN
Mariah Carey. She had a rocky start on “American Idol,” passive aggressively duking it out with fellow judge Nicki Minaj, though she was always kind to the contestants. With that platform, she rolled out the excellent single “#Beautiful” with as much fanfare as anyone can really gather these days without twerking. But then she opted not to pull the trigger on her new album, which has been pushed back indefinitely.
Justin Bieber. What he should have done is taken the year off to regroup out of the spotlight, giving his fans some time to miss him and then impress them with undeniable new music. Um, he did the opposite. He traveled the world stirring up controversies -- arguing with his California neighbors, scrapping with paparazzi in London, abandoning his monkey in Germany, dissing Bill Clinton, among other missteps -- and then cobbled together an uneven album.
One Direction live. Let's be honest, the One Direction lads actually have more musical skill than people give them credit for, especially as they lean more toward rock and folk. However, the group's Nikon at Jones Beach concert this summer, in which the band sat through long stretches of the show while its fans stayed on their feet, just felt weak. If your fans are standing, you should be standing.
-- GLENN GAMBOA
"60 Minutes'" botched report on Benghazi. The role of a great news organization is to clarify and illuminate, not to muddle or (worse) add fuel to an already raging political fire. But this Oct. 27 report managed both, by quoting an ex-security officer, Dylan Davies, who said he was at the compound -- he was not. Meanwhile, a CBS-owned Simon & Schuster imprint was publishing his book (not mentioned, either). Two huge strikes led to correspondent Lara Logan's suspension.
Network TV comedies. Has there been a sorrier batch of new comedies on network TV in recent seasons than the batch foisted on an innocent public this past fall? Fox's "Dads" was merely the most loathed (by critics). But what to say about NBC's "Sean Saves the World" and "Welcome to the Family," or CBS' "The Millers" and "We Are Men," or ABC's "Super Fun Night"? Lots -- not a whole lot of it complimentary. The star of "The Michael J. Fox Show" may have scored a Golden Globe nomination, but this show may be the biggest disappointment of them all.
Shows that never, or have yet to, live up to their promise. "Smash," NBC's attempt to bring the thrill of the Broadway musical to the small screen, only to grapple with producer turnover and that modern spitball phenomenon known as "hate viewing"; "Under the Dome," an initially terrific CBS Stephen King adaptation that ultimately felt trapped, and smothered under that dome; Fox's "The Following," a Kevin Williamson creation that didn't quite get one; AMC's chilly, remote "Low Winter Sun," and, yes, ABC's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," which is still waiting for that must-watch tag.
-- VERNE GAY
Scarlett Johansson. What went wrong? After a smashing, Tony-winning Broadway debut in "A View From the Bridge," the intelligent, heat-seeking missile made Tennessee Williams' Maggie the Cat into someone dull, ladylike and -- dare we say it? -- sexless.
Orlando Bloom. His hotly anticipated Broadway debut in "Romeo and Juliet" turned out to be a nonevent. He was sort of dashing but not riveting, and he was mismatched with a stiff of a Juliet in rising star Condola Rashad. Sad to say, she was over her head in her first Shakespeare.
"A Night With Janis Joplin." The brief, raw, massively influential blues rocker who died so young has been scrubbed and domesticated into just another nice, ordinary '60s chick who idolized black female blues singers and loved her siblings -- who just happen to be involved with the production.
-- LINDA WINER
"Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy," Helen Fielding. We loved Bridget. We loved Darcy. But Darcy is dead, killed by a land mine in Darfur, and Bridget has skated too far over the parody line, looking for a man on Twitter and doing a stale single-mother act. Since we still love Helen Fielding, may we suggest she watch Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk about creativity and the dangers of success? Second acts for British literary lives await!
"Inferno," Dan Brown. If you are a Brown fan, you are a plot person. As long as the suspense sucks you in, you'll overlook chunks of research appearing as dialogue, and the fact that every detail is repeated three times, once in italics. But will you like this fourth installment of the Robert Langdon series, in which the Harvard symbologist is deep in Renaissance art and 21st century bioterrorism? Which has run thinner -- the formula or your patience?
-- MARION WINIK