Our Favorite Nerve Articles of 2011

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One last look back at love stories, hilarious interviewees, SNL-related arguments, and our beloved honey badger costume.

by Peter Malamud Smith

It's been a busy year here at Nerve, and we've already got a piping-hot buffet of delicious content rolling out for 2012. But before we get too caught up in the new, we're taking one last look back at our favorite Nerve stories of 2011.


Our signature True Stories remained a focus, with memorable entries on falling in love at work, the perils of dating spiritual guys, dealing with the death of a significant other, being pursued by a sketchy bassist, trying to get into porn, finding love on Casual Encounters, asking out the same person twice (without realizing it), and being a compulsive cheater. (This last incited some unsurprisingly intense responses from the commentariat.) In September, we ran this well-received piece about having terror-induced sex after 9/11. (Relatedly, we also ran these pieces about the best and worst pop-culture responses to 9/11.) Our regular series of true stories about first-time sex continued with its usual combination of vigor and pimply awkwardness.

Nerve readers also submitted stories about grand gestures of love gone wrong, starting great relationships in unlikely circumstances (like in a bathroom stall), sleeping with people they never meant to, same-sex experimentation, hooking up with teachers and students, getting back together with exes, screwing up their brilliant seduction plans, and meeting the parents (there's a real corker in that last one). We also fantasized lustily about our favorite fictional characters, and reflected also lustily on our greatest sexual accomplishments of all time. 2011 also saw around 30,000 Dating Confessions posted by anonymous (and libidinous) Nerve readers.


One of the oldest Nerve features, Sex Advice From, remains one of the most popular. This year we got advice on love and sex from competitive eaters, pot growers, girls with underarm hair, gay dads, graffiti artists, and people with old-person names (like "Edith") — as well as from such luminaries as Emily Mortimer, Stephen Malkmus, and loveable pop band Los Campesinos!. On that last note, we also got a hilarious (albeit dispiriting) account of life on the road, titled "Female Musicians Never Get Laid," from Los Campesinos!' adorable bassist, Ellen.

Also on the subject of advice, our own Miss Information doled out hard-hitting wisdom to hundreds of troubled souls this year. Meanwhile, our own Ben Reininga scored consistently hilarious zingers at the expense of the hard-hitting non-wisdom of Maxim and Cosmopolitan, in his much-loved column, Ridiculous Tips for a Miserable Sex Life. More advice (good and bad), as well as more funny stories about love and sex, came from the folks we interviewed weekly in Talking to Strangers. And still more (on the subject of style) came from the nerd-chic, dreadlock-wearing, and pixie-cutted people we talked to in Tools of Attraction.


In the world of film, we ranked the complete filmographies of many directors, including Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, David Lynch, and Steven Soderbergh. We also assessed the complete output of Marvel Studios. (It turns out Blade has surprisingly loyal defenders.) We reflected on once-promising actors (like Kristin Stewart) and the franchises that ruined them (i.e. Twilight). For those with big hearts and strong stomachs, we rounded up the most disgusting romantic movies of all time. We saved Anna Faris fans the trouble of actually watching The House Bunny and picked out the actress's best scenes in movies ranging from great to unbearable. Amidst a related conversation about the indignities visited upon romantic-comedy actresses, we compiled this instructional video on how to make mainstream audiences like female characters (short version: make them fall on their asses). And we listed the fifty greatest cult movies of all time, earning the wrath of a lot of cults (and the gratitude of fifty others).


On smaller screens, we ranked the casts of 30 Rock, Community, and The Office from least to most funny; debated the relative virtues of Mad Men and Breaking Bad; gave The Walking Dead a playbook for getting good again; and lamented that cutesy New Girl Zooey Deschanel was ruining our sex lives. Reaching back to vintage television, we pulled together what's almost certainly the greatest montage of old-timey douche commercials you've ever seen. We also ranked every Saturday Night Live cast member ever, with predictably controversial results — even, we confess, within the hallowed confines of the Nerve office.

Speaking of controversy, perhaps the most controversial piece of the year was this polemic against the ever-growing dominance of geek culture, which earned comments ranging from thoughtful to scathing, as well as a full-length rebuttal. Wherever the author is, we're sure he feels either contrite or mildly self-satisfied. (Unconfirmed reports say he disguised himself as the noble honey badger, using leftover props from this internet-meme-Halloween-costume photo shoot, and fled the building.)


In other memorable debates, we argued the relative virtues of The Smiths and The Cure. And while we're on music, we also polled people in the street about what was on their headphones; ranked the complete discographies of REM, Radiohead, and Tom Waits; and tried to talk you into listening to bands that music writers love. We celebrated Bjork's new album with a list of Bjork outfits that make Lady Gaga look like your mom. Our regular series, Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now, turned up a ton of great new music sourced by DJs, bloggers, and concert organizers. And, in a months-long project only slightly less involved than the Apollo missions, we chose the twenty-five greatest love songs of the 1960s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and 2000s. (Protip should you ever decide to do this yourself: the '60s are the easy part.)


Finally, we'll leave you with the heartwarmingest of Nerve features, Before You Were Born, which has now seen many a writer interview his or her parents about how they fell in love. (Here's a classic.) Just think — someday your kids might be interviewing you about the heady, romantic days of 2012! (If you'd like to meet someone new, have you considered Nerve Dating?) In the meantime, enjoy this bounty of Nerve features, and stay tuned for more great reading this year. Cheers!