Some call 2012 the year the world will end (we’re looking at all of you Mayans out there). Others will remember it as the year they spent in a fog of Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe.” But who does 2012 really belong to? The CIA. Yes, you heard me. The agency that President Truman created has been taking 2012 by storm. We break down why your favorite intelligence agency dominated the news and pop culture.
1.Homeland – Never mind any real-life accomplishments the agency made this year. By sweeping the Emmy Awards with six wins and much critical acclaim, Homeland certainly helped make the CIA relevant again. As we left the Bush era’s torture wielding Jack Bauer and entered an Obama White House, we needed a new kick-ass hero to dominate our sets. Our protagonist came in the form of the ever complex Carrie Mathinson (Claire Danes) whose keen intelligence and questionable judgment calls make her one of the most compelling characters on television right now. And despite the occasional face-off with most wanted terrorist Abu Nazir, working with top notch intelligence officials seems even enjoyable for Carrie. I mean, where else can you have Mandy Patinkin as your mentor while simultaneously having an affair with a turned P.O.W.-turned U.S. Congressman? Only at the CIA.
2. Argo – In addition to the small screen, the CIA dominated the silver screen this year too. Directed by and starring Ben Affleck, the film is based on the declassified documents of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis that kept the country on the edge during the Carter administration. The movie’s receiving much Oscar buzz for its script and hilarious supporting performances by the epic Alan Arkin and John Goodman. (We’re still telling everyone, “Argo f— yourself.”) But what made this movie so great was the extraordinary true story that the CIA saved six U.S. hostages by pretending to be a Canadian film crew scouting movie sets in Tehran. This is the kind of story you wished happened in the CIA, but never expected would actually exist. Argo fulfilled our dreams of what it would be like to be real spies. Let the role-playing begin.
3. Zero Dark Thirty – While Katherine Bigelow’s anticipated follow-up to The Hurt Locker has only been seen by insiders and critics, we can’t wait for it to hit theaters. Another film targeting academy voters, Zero Dark Thirty is about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The story itself doesn’t exactly drive us to the theater…I mean, there’s no surprise ending here! What we’re more excited for are wonderfully unpredictable casting choices in this film. Besides current academy darling Jessica Chastain, the film also features Kyle Chandler (interestingly, also in Argo), Chris Pratt of our beloved Parks and Recreation and one of my personal favorites, Mark Duplass. Chris Pratt is a stand out in physical comedy, but it’s encouraging to see him move beyond the pratfall and take some riskier choices like this movie and 2011’s Moneyball. And while we know Mark Duplass is incredibly talented as the director of indie films like The Puffy Chair, we’re also rooting for him as an actor. He caught our eye in this summer’s Your Sister’s Sister and hope he can continue to make his way onto directors’ short lists. Finally, we love that Kyle Chandler is getting his due. Can’t lose, Coach Taylor.
4. The Petraeus Affair – How can we talk about the CIA this year without referencing the infamous Petraeus Affair? Shortly after the 2012 election, news leaked that CIA Director and four-star General David Petraeus resigned from his position after he admitted to an affair with his ambitious biographer Paula Broadwell. As the story unraveled, more of our most revered military men and women became involved in this web of adultery, including General John R. Allen and Tampa socialite Jill Kelley. This story changed our entire perception of the CIA from a capable, top-secret organization to a Mad Men-like party scene. Does this mean Petraeus is Don? Either way, God bless America.
5. The Culinary Institute of America – In case you didn’t know, “CIA” also stands for our premier cooking school in the country, the Culinary Institute of America, and we must say, food is also having its best year ever. Just by looking at your Instagram feed, there’s probably enough food porn out there to put Ron Jeremy out of business. Chefs like Marcus Samuelson and David Chang were 2012’s rock stars, and despite its glitches, the Great GoogaMooga festival kept Brooklynites foaming at the mouth. With boutique restaurants and cafes popping up on every corner, America’s greasy burger and fries have transformed into grass-fed steaks served with artisanal mayonnaise right before our eyes. We can only hope 2013 is as fresh, organic, and local as 2012 was.
“The Big & Best of 2012: A Year End Celebration Presented by T-Mobile” goes LIVE at 12 p.m. ET on 12/12/12. Watch at BigAndBestOf2012.com for eight hours of live performances from stars like Bruno Mars and Miguel, surprise guest appearances, prize giveaways, special editions of “RapFix Live,” “Big Morning Buzz Live,” “MTV After Hours,” “You Oughta Know” and much more!
[Photos: Showtime, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Getty Images, Instagram]