As 2019 comes to a close, the writers of Love Thy Nerd reflect on some of the best media of the year. Here are their favorite examples of selflessness in television this year. Some entries contain spoilers.
After spending time in the company of kind Xadians, newly appointed King Ezran wrestles with his conscience as he navigates the political quagmire left behind by his royal advisor, with the threat of war with either humanity or Xadia on the horizon. Ezran chooses to abdicate rather than lead the country to war because he is not concerned with himself or his rights to vengeance as the heir and king. Instead, he is concerned with his nation, as his abdication removes any threat of war from the human kingdoms who want revenge against Xadia. The selflessness of a child contrasts with the ambition of adults in this season, showing that purity of heart and selflessness shine brighter and are more inspirational than power-hungry ambition and destruction. – Jon Campoverde
Whether Carnival Row intentionally mirrors our culture is up for debate, but it undeniably landed in a horribly partisan culture that encourages us to label one another rather than listen. When war forces large numbers of people of mythological races to seek refuge in a city occupied by humans, the assumptions, suspicions, and disdain the latter has for the former deepen considerably. It is in this seemingly hopeless context, that a handful of privileged people are presented with the opportunity to identify with those society has trained them to dread. Carnival Row is excellent on numerous counts—superb acting, rich lore, and complex political drama—but what shines brightest is the message that those we fear are worth suffering for, even at great cost to ourselves. – Drew Dixon
Never has there been a show with more encouragement, joy, and kindness. The GBBS thrives on warm baked goods and warm hearts. Every contestant is keenly aware of the difficulty they all face in each challenge and often come together to help one another out in their times of need. Whether lending a hand, giving a hug, or speaking words of kindness, this show’s contestants and judges are an amazing example of humanity at its loveliest. – Drew Hood
While The Mandalorian sets itself up to be a show about a lone bounty hunter going on a gunslinging adventure shortly after the fall of the Empire, the introduction of The Child (affectionately named “Baby Yoda” by fans) at the end of the first episode quickly turns it into something unexpected. This Mandalorian isn’t just the hardened assassin he’s been set up to be, as he chooses to put the life of the orphan before his own. Perhaps The Child reminded him of when he was a “foundling” and was cared for by the Mandalorian tribes. Regardless, his willingness to take care of and protect this child as though it was his own is about as selfless as one can be. “This is the way,” as the Mandalorian tribe states. – Brittany Lofland
At the time of writing, we are halfway through one of the most ambitious television crossovers in history, Crisis on Infinite Earths, with Arrow and The Flash leading the way. Since the end of each show’s previous season, the threat of this Crisis has been looming over our heroes’ heads. Both Green Arrow and Flash know that they will not survive this Crisis, and each of them struggles with this knowledge. Oliver (Green Arrow) had finally found a peaceful life, retiring with his wife and newborn daughter and now he might have to abandon them forever. Similarly, Barry (Flash) is racked with guilt about having to put his family through yet another tragedy, having only just recovered from a loss of their own. Barry and Oliver would do anything possible not to be separated from the ones they love. But when a multiverse shattering menace threatens their loved ones, they don’t hesitate to do the impossible to keep them safe. After all, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). – Jonathan Reedy
Before her car accident, Alma Winograd-Diaz was angry with everyone in her life—her dad for his abandonment and unexplained death, her mom for being too controlling, her sister for being too perfect, and her boyfriend for wanting a different future than she does. After, Alma is still angry, but spacetime becomes a lot more fluid for her. While attempting to navigate her new reality, Alma learns more about the people closest to her and decides to have grace and see their best intentions rather than her own thwarted desires. – Madeline Turnipseed
We can’t help but root for Eleanor Shellstrop as we watch her wrestle with the questions, “What do we owe to each other?” and, “Are even the most selfish people capable of growth?” This year our hope in her was rewarded as she and her boyfriend, Chidi, mutually agree to sacrifice their relationship, erasing all their history, for the sake of saving all humanity. After spending her life profiting off of the humiliation of her friends, telling environmentalists she doesn’t care if they die, selling fake drugs to the elderly as a telemarketer—all to protect herself and her own self-interests—she then spends her afterlife learning that it is our bonds with other people that matter. She finds herself so changed by those bonds that she willingly gives up the one best thing in her life (and her afterlife) for a slim chance to spare the lives of people she has never met. – Erin Warmbier