Best Of C+S 2014: Pop Culture Moments That Make Me Cry

Happy 2015, everybody! The start of a brand new year is always a happy, hopeful thing – but as you get older, the passing of time can also make you a little blue. As you get older, you are also more and more likely to spend New Year’s day holed up in bed, watching Netflix and eating whatever your go-to hangover foods are. This didn’t used to happen to us. Anyway, these are all of the pop culture moments that make us cry, on a scale from one to five Crying Dawsons, in case your plans for the day include a lot of media content and a little crying.


Some pop culture moments are engineered to make you cry. Any time they show you an old man who is alone, or a beloved dog bravely facing his mortality, you know they’re trying to make you bawl.

Others aren’t supposed to be sad, but for some reason they grab onto your feelings and twist them until your eyes water. For instance: any time a child sings and it’s very beautiful.

Then there are those moments that were meant to be sad, but came out hilarious instead. I present for your approval:

This is the rare tearjerker scene that makes us weep – because we’re laughing so hard. So with Dawson Leery as our patron saint of pop culture crying, we’re listing those moments in entertainment that brought us to tears. Our scale stretches from one Crying Dawson (your eyes are lightly watering, but there’s no real tearstorm) to five Crying Dawsons (or as we like to call it, a Full Leery). And disclaimer: there will be spoilers ahead. Consider yourself warned.

One Crying Dawson1 crying dawson

  • The final, heartrending scenes of The Notebook. And I’m only putting it here because zero crying Dawsons wasn’t an option. I’m a monster, I know.
  • The end of Bridesmaids where Maya gives one last glance back at Kristen before she gets in the limo with her new husband. There’s an unspoken understanding between two best friends that just gets me.
  • Any time an actor/actress that is announcing Emmy/Oscar/Golden Globe nominations at the asscrack of dawn, only to announce their own name as one of the nominees.
  • Cyrus realizing he was the reason his hubs got killed on Scandal. You brought it on yourself dude.
  • When Little Michael Scott wants to grow up and have 100 kids so he can have 100 friends and no one can say no to being his friend.
  • The end of City Lights (taking it way back to the 1930s here!), when the blind girl sees the tramp for the first time.
  • When Mary is sort of mean to Martha in A Secret Garden but it’s because she doesn’t know how to play or love and her parents are dead and she lives in a creepy house in the middle of nowhere.
  • The “Love Is A Dream” sketch with Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks, serving the one-two punch of old people thinking about their youth, and people who died before their time.
  • When the now-elderly Peaches take a team picture and sing their song one last time in A League Of Their Own.
  • In The Great Gatsby, both the book and film adaptations, when Daisy delivers the “beautiful fool” line. Gut punch.

Two Crying Dawsons2 crying dawsons

  • When Papouli taught us about Greek dance, the love of family, and brief character arcs on Full House.
  • The look on Louis’ face when his daughter plays the violin duet with the neighbor on Louie.
  • The episode of The Simpsons where Homer gets the crayon lodged in his brain removed and suddenly becomes smart. At the end Lisa reads a letter he wrote her from before he got dumb again and it was the first time anyone in her family understood her.
  • Also, after Maggie is born and Homer goes back to work at the plant, he covers the mean plaque from Burns “Don’t Forget, You’re Here Forever” with her pictures so that it now reads “Do it for her.”
  • When Brian Williams reported on the NBC Nightly News that his daughter Allison Williams had been cast in the live version of Peter Pan. No matter what you think about the casting decision itself, you have no soul if you don’t get emotional watching him be so proud of his daughter.
  • Mr. Feeny dismissing class one final time.
  • Jen Lindley’s final conversation with Jack. And TBH, I might have cried more when Jack and Dougie declared their commitment to each other on the beach.
  • When Will believes his father isn’t going to leave him again on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air but Pops lets him down again, and Will breaks down in the arms of Uncle Phil asking why his dad doesn’t want him.
  • The voiceover at the end of The Time Travelers episode of How I Met Your Mother, when Future Ted says that he wants 45 extra days with The Mother… probably because at that point I had a pretty good idea of what that darn show was going to do to us.
  • Leslie saying goodbye to Ann on Parks and Rec. Uteruses before duderuses.
  • When Mel Gibson is getting ready to leave in The Patriot, and his mute daughter runs after him screaming “I’ll say anything!” Doubly so now that she’s passed away.

Three Crying Dawsons

3 crying dawsons

  • The final moments of that old dog in Homeward Bound.
  • The Muppets (2012), just in general. It made both of us cry and neither of us knows why.
  • Jessie singing When Somebody Loved Me in Toy Story 2.
  • The little girl singing Desperado in In America.
  • I was in a hotel a few months ago and came across a documentary on like the Travel Channel or something that was about the new Diagon Alley attraction in Harry Potter World at Universal Studios Orlando, and the planning, construction and attention to detail that went into it before they opened the doors. Before opening it to the public, a select group of young HP fans were let into the park as a sneak peak and the look of awe was astounding. I can’t imagine being a kid, being obsessed with the books & movies and finally being in Diagon Alley for real.
  • In what is one of my favorite dances over all the seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, golden child Travis Wall choreographed an emotional contemporary (and Emmy nominated) piece to Coldplay’s Fix You, a dance based on his own experience of helping his mom through her bout with cancer. While Fix You is always a tearjerker, add on the brilliant dancing by Robert Roldan and Allison Holker and you have a piece of pure art that will leave you breathless.
  • Speaking of SYTYCD, season 11’s Ricky Ubeda was one of those winners who actually deserved the victory, thanks to his combination of talent and personality. But during Hollywood week, it was his solo that made me (and a lot of other viewers) single him out from the crowd, thanks to vulnerability and emotion he brought to the dance.
  • Lily telling Marshall his dad died on How I Met Your Mother.
  • The final scene in Friends when they all walk out of Monica & Chandler’s to go to Central Perk and there’s one final sweep of the empty apartment with swelling music in the background.

Four Crying Dawsons

4 Crying Dawsons

  • Carrie Underwood singing. Pretty much singing anything. Especially if it’s live. I’ve seen her in concert three times and every single time I was brought to tears. She sings with such passion and conviction. And if she’s singing any kind of religious song, you know she’s channeling the big JC, making her voice even more powerful for some reason.
  • The scene in both the book and movie version of The Fault in our Stars where Hazel is giving the ‘eulogy’ for Gus in the church.
  • The Normal Heart. All of it.
  • Friday Night Lights – pretty much the entire show. However, I’ll pinpoint one that stands out, which is when Coach throws Matt Saracen into the shower, but QB1 breaks down, insisting that his loved ones always abandon him. And to continue this Zach Gilford lovefest, the entire episode of The Son is heartwrenching, but I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it.
  • Call it the Jason Katims effect because Parenthood also makes me cry during every episode, no matter what. Again, it’s hard to pick just one, so the scene where Kristina tells the family that she has cancer – a scene so powerful with no words at all. This current season hasn’t been lucky for Zeek, and because of personal reasons, I’ve found his storyline extremely upsetting. Also Mae Whitman crying. Legit the best crier in the biz.
  • The series finale of Gilmore Girls in which Rory assures Lorelai that she’s “already given her everything she needs” before she goes on the road following Senator Barack Obama. In fact the final like 20 minutes of that show including Rory’s speech under the tent make me cry so hard that I’ve only watched the finale approx thrice, as opposed to like the 30 times for all the other episodes.
  • The finale of I ❤ Nick Carter where he and Lauren get married. Legit stayed up til 4am watching it and it was totally worth it. His family sucks but good thing they have the rest of BSB and other friends and family – that’s what got me.
  • Jim Halpert learning he and Pam are having a baby after she injures herself at the company picnic. The whole office singing Seasons of Love to Michael on his last episode. The ‘Forever’ flash mob at Jim & Pam’s wedding and them getting married on the Maid of the Mist and Jim cutting off his tie. The entire series finale. I had a hard time saying goodbye to The Office.
  • The first 5-ish minutes of Up.
  • When Mary and Edith realize that they’re the only ones left after Sybil dies.
  • I was never big into Buffy, but that scene where Buffy tells Dawn that their mom has died, and you’re watching it through the window of her classroom? Nope.
  • DOBBY. RIP.

Five Crying Dawsons

5 crying dawsons

  • The Quarterback episode of Glee where Finn (Cory Monteith) dies. I literally went through almost an entire box of tissues during that and I’m not even a huge Glee fan. The pain on everyone’s face was real, and watching Lea Michele sing – forget it.
  • The end of The Best Man Holiday – what in the fuck was that all about?! I paid $15 to see Taye Diggs and his fellow HBM co-stars possibly take their clothes off and it turned out that I needed extra sleeves because my tears and snot were all over the shirt I went in with.
  • Right before Leslie and Ben get married, when she’s talking with Ron in the hallway. I’m a wedding crier anyway, but jeez.
  • In Little Women, when Jo is going through the trunk in the attic after Beth has died (note: Beth’s death gets knocked down to 4 Crying Dawsons because of the weird brogue Claire Danes starts speaking in).
  • Everything that happens after Sara Crewe goes to live in the attic in A Little Princess. This is the second Frances Hodgson Burnett appearance on this list so I hope wherever she is, she’s proud of her vast legacy of children’s tears.
  • The funeral scene in Philadelphia, when they show the home movies of Beckett as a kid with his mom.
  • Good Will Hunting: 4 words – “It’s not your fault.”
  • My Girl: 6 words – “He can’t see without his glasses!”
  • Dead Poets Society: 4 words – “O Captain! My Captain!”

How to Cry in Public

Everybody cries. And in our dog-eat-dog, overly connected world, everybody has probably cried in public. Whether it’s a rough day at work, a funeral, or something sneaking out of your memory and into your eyeholes at in inopportune time, it’s a simple fact of life. You don’t have to feel bad about it, but you do probably want to minimize the damage:

(1) Stop It Before It Starts

  • Yawn

It’s been proven … somewhere … that fake yawning can help prevent real crying.

  • Pinch The Bridge Of Your Nose

I have no support for this except that it occasionally works for me.

  • Breathe deeply and tap the tips of your fingers, rapidly and one at a time, to the tip of your thumb.

When I accidentally took a meditation class in law school (long story?) I learned that I cannot meditate – or think, really – while sitting still. My brain works best when I’m able to shut down part of it by focusing on physical movement. Walking is best, but if you’re stuck where you are, try rapidly drumming your fingers against your thumb. It keeps a tiny bit of your brain busy – if you’re lucky, the part that’s a newly-opening tear factory.

  • Try a crying mantra

Repeat a phrase over and over again to yourself, like “not now” or or “don’t think about it” – but don’t do it out loud. Better to be the person who is crying in public than the person reciting a crying mantra in public.

(2) Go To A Second Location

  • Make a quick exit to the bathroom.

People might think you’re crying, but they also might think you have diarrhea. That sounds like a lose-lose, but since they don’t see you cry, you can still remain a beautiful mystery.

  • Take a walk

If it’s a situation where it’s not weird for you to leave, get out of there and get moving.  People may see you cry as you walk by, but you’re gone in a flash. Plus, movement helps your brain do something other than cry.

  • Assess your workplace cry-zones

Like kindergarteners making maps of their household fire plans during Fire Prevention Week,  know your escape routes before an emergency arises.

Not every bathroom is a good crying bathroom. Some have too much traffic, or are single-stall deals that may leave you crying in the hallway while you wait for someone to finish their business. If so, excuse yourself to your work station (full disclosure: I have my own office, which basically means I am the person that the #blessed hashtag was created for. But it comes with its own crying perils: last month I had a street view of a police officer’s funeral. It was a 3-hanky day.).  Once there, busy yourself. If you work in an office setting, maybe there is an empty conference room that you could weep in. Make sure that it’s empty first, though, because folks will remember the snot-faced person who barged into their meeting.

  •  En route to your second location, carry your cell phone in full view.

Then instead of crying over something stupid, it becomes plausible that you just received bad news or have to make a rough phone call. People will be less likely to stop you.

(3) Create A Task

If you’re already in tear mode and haven’t been able to remove yourself from the situation, I want you to create something to do. This can busy your mind enough that the tears will go away. It can be a real task, like refilling snacks or cleaning up garbage at a party. It can also be an imaginary one, like counting mustaches at a funeral.

(4) Fix Your Face

  • Water yourself like the beautiful flower that you are

Cold water is your friend. Splash it on your face and into your eyeballs. This may wash off your makeup, but your makeup is already ruined unless you wore waterproof mascara (what, did you KNOW you were going to be crying today?).

Drink a lot of water, too: it’s good for your puffy skin and your tear-hangover.

  • Ice, Ice Baby

Get a cold soda can and press it against your face. You can also use an ice pack or frozen veggies if you have them. It will cool down and depuff your skin.

  • Your eyes are the windows to your soul and the whole world is full of peeping toms.

What I mean is, cover your eyes as you would a window you didn’t want people to look in. If you can’t wear sunglasses, try these:

  • Gently tap your undereye area and the corners of your eye with your fingertips.
  • Are you publicly crying in a place where you have access to milk? Soak a cotton ball or a balled-up tissue in it and leave it on your eyelids for a while.
  • If you have eye drops handy, use them.
  • Pop an anti-inflamatory. It might bring down your face-poof, but if not it will still help knock out your crying headache.

(5) Live To Cry Another Day

So, you cried in public. It’s fine. Anybody has a problem with that has a problem with the fact that you’re a human person with feelings and tear ducts. If anyone looked at you like you were crazy, it can be fun to craft crying revenge scenarios.  If you are crying because someone honked at you, just imagine how dumb he would feel if he knew that your dog just died. And that snippy lady at that bank would sure feel cruddy if she realized that you just got dumped.  Then, find something that always makes you happy, whether it’s a favorite funny movie or a friend who’s good at making you feel better. You may be a snot-faced tear factory, but so is almost everybody else.

Break It Down: The Best and Worst Places To Cry

Let’s get one thing out of the way: if you’re reading this blog and are subconsciously (or consciously) thinking that crying is for wusses, get out right now. Every human being does it. There shouldn’t be a negative stigma around it. Even the manliest men on the earth cry. Just look at Ron Swanson. Crying is good for you. Crying relieves stress. Seriously, it’s scientifically proven that it lowers blood pressure, removes toxins from your body and boosts your mood immediately afterward. So if you’re a Negative Nancy and think crying is below you, come back next week when we return to our regularly scheduled pop culture programming.

Now that that’s out of the way, we welcome you to a whole week about allowing your emotions to take over and letting it all out with tears. Sometimes you find yourself in need of a good cry, other times you can’t help the spontaneous tears from flowing. I myself am a crier. I cry at pretty much anything that will make me feel feels. If it’s sad, if it’s happy, if there’s a really good four-part harmony, I will shed all the tears.

So given I’ve had my fair share of crying everywhere, there are some places that are prime for breaking down, and others that are not as ideal. Here are just a few locations I’ve had good and bad luck with letting my emotions out. What are some of your favorite/least fave places to let it goooo?

Best: Your Own Bedroom

When I moved to LA approx five years ago, the first week or so was focused on finding an apartment and job. The excitement of being in a city for the first time as a resident was exhilarating, but the moment that harsh reality of realizing I had just moved 3,000 miles away from my friends and family hit me like a ton of bricks. I distinctly remember being on the phone with my friend Brian while he was at some party with all our friends/co-workers in Boston, and I felt a mixture of happiness hearing their voices but also jealousy and, yup, homesickness, that washed over me. After I hung up with him, I went into my bedroom with all my newly constructed Ikea furniture and plopped face down on my bed and sobbed. I put on my favorite crying music (which you’ll hear about later on in the week) and made so much noise while trying to breath through the snot. I’m pretty sure my roommates could hear me, so thanks M & R for letting me grieve alone in my dark bedroom. That must have been a little awk. Crying by yourself is the key to a good session like 90% of the time, and there’s no better place than the privacy of your own bed to do so.

Worst: While Operating A Vehicle

Ok to clarify, the key word here is *operating*. I am such a huge proponent of crying in your car. One time I didn’t feel like being in my room so I got in my car and drove around crying and ended up getting a burger to sop up all my tears. But here’s the bottom line – crying while trying to drive does not only put you in danger of getting in an accident but all the other folks on the road too. But you knew that. I’m not trying to be patronizing, but my point is that if you’re gonna cry in your car, do it while parked. Preferably with torrential rain outside while you play All By Myself on your CD player.

Best: The Shower/Bathroom

Again, crying by yourself is great. It gives you time to think about your situation, and when you’re already in a confined space in which your showerhead is already crying on you, it’s ideal.

Worst: Your Desk At Work

We will talk about crying at work later in the week, because both of us have done it. But who hasn’t? I’ve cried at work in a bathroom stall, but I’ve unfortunately had the unpleasant experience of crying at my desk. In front of my boss. Luckily, he was pretty lax and understanding about it, but if it was a more formal setting, that wouldn’t have been good. If you’re going to Robin Scherbatsky it and cry under your desk with a wine bottle, just make sure no one else is around (NOBODY ASKED YOU, PATRICE!).

Best: A Friend’s/Significant Other’s Couch

So if 90% of crying sessions are best by yourself, obviously the other 10 are with a crying companion. I am an only child who is very independent and enjoys being alone most of the time, so I don’t find myself utilizing this particular one a lot, but I hear it works for people who are much more sociable than I. Yay friendship!

Worst: At A Party In Front Of Everyone

You know when you’re at a party when you were at those college parties and there was the super drunk girl who either got in a fight with her boyfriend or the friends she came with and broke down in the kitchen? Yeah, don’t be that girl/guy. If you find yourself in desperate need of letting out some tears, go to the bathroom or a secluded area and do the deed there.

Best: The Floor

I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes I just like laying on the floor. It provides for a different view from like the couch or the bed, and I feel like I can just spread out and do my thing. Much like Jessica Day in that GIF, I enjoy a good cry on the floor with used tissues surrounding me.

Best: Movie Theater

Ideal situation: going to see a super sad movie by yourself, with a bucket of popcorn and alcoholic drink if you’re at one of those theaters, and all the napkins to dry up both your real tears and the ones caused by Nicholas Sparks (I’m assuming).

Worst: Public Transportation

Just, don’t do it. It’s awkward and then this picture will show up on Reddit and you will became a viral internet sensation.

Point-Counterpoint: Ugly Cry Showdown – Anne Hathaway vs. Claire Danes

 Film-goers and TV viewers love a good ugly cry. As a matter of fact, apart from gaining or losing a lot of weight or wearing unflattering facial prostheses, ugly crying may be the best way to secure acting award nominations. While less-serious starlets look put-together and beautiful while they cry, maintaining matte skin as a single, picturesque tear rolls down their cheeks, ugly criers are the real deal. Their eyes and noses get red, there is snot all over, their mouths gape, and sometimes I swear they’re practically drooling.
Two of the best ugly criers of our generation are Anne Hathaway and Claire Danes. Both got their start on network TV, then moved on to film roles. Today Danes is an Emmy winner for her work on the acclaimed Homeland, while Hathaway is nominated for an Oscar for her role in Les Miserables. But until now, nobody has settled who the best ugly crier of the two really is. Wonder no longer — Cookies + Sangria point-counterpoint has you covered.

Point: Hathaway ugly-sing-cried in Les Miserables.

Most actresses struggle to produce even an acceptable ugly cry, but Hathaway did the unthinkable – she managed to ugly cry and sing at the same time. Do you even realize the breath and mucus control that requires? Next time you’re ugly crying, pay attention to your diaphragm. It’s probably spasming, or at least not working regularly. Alright, now try to sing I Dreamed A Dream. It’s almost impossible! But not for Anne Hathaway. Note how she retains her trembling, wailing mouth-shape while performing a pitch-perfect rendition of a musical theater classic — LIVE. For added unattractiveness points, Hathaway’s hair is cropped and she’s made up to look like she has tuberculosis. THAT’s how you cry when you’ve just been forced into prostitution and haven’t seen your child for years and your teeth were ripped out and you’re singing your feelings.

Counterpoint: Claire Danes’ Ugly Cry Is So Iconic That It Was Lampooned On Saturday Night Live

Okay, Hathaway does a pretty good ugly cry, but do you know what the root of all comedy is? Truth. Well, and robots fighting with things. And fart noises. But mostly truth. So when SNL chose to parody Claire Danes’ ugly crying on Homeland, they were doing so because her hideous weeping is known far and wide. Once something has been spoofed on this late night comedy, you know that it’s a feature on the pop culture landscape. I mean, come on. They put mom jeans on the map.

Counter-Counterpoint: Yeah, But It Was Hathaway Who Did The Claire Danes Ugly Cry Parody

Dying is easy, comedy is hard. What that means is, it was nothing for Hathaway to ugly cry as a consumptive prostitute, but to ugly cry and make it hilarious? That takes some serious chops.

Point: Claire Danes International Ugly-Cried in Brokedown Palace

Have you seen this? If you had HBO in the early 2000s, the answer is probably yes, because it was on all the damn time. Anyway, Brokedown Palace is a treat. Claire Danes ugly cries her way in to and out of a third world prison. And she ugly cries so vehemently that she is practically slobbering and seizing. Seriously, like you wonder if someone was off camera ready to hold her tongue so she didn’t swallow it.

Counterpoint: Hathaway is so committed to crying that she cried every day while filming Love And Other Drugs

According to the Internet, Hathaway said: “I was a wreck from start to finish. I think I cried every single day. I had to lean so much more heavily on everyone around me than I’m used to. I’m used to pulling my own weight. But I totally fell apart.” Did you get that? God, Hathaway ugly cries even when the camera’s not rolling. You can tell me she cried beautifully, but I won’t believe it for her second. Recreational ugly crying?! Anything for her craft. [Ed. note: please note Hathaway’s references to “leaning heavily” and not being able to “pull her weight.” This was obviously before she went from regular skinny to very, very skinny for Les Mis. Her weight loss secret? Expelling excess water through tears. Very strict regimen. Lots of onions and feelings.]

Point: Danes’ Award-Winning Teen Angst Crying In Little Women, Romeo And Juliet, and My So Called Life

You know what’s hard? Being a teenager whose love interest wrote a song that you thought was about you – and learning that it was about his car. You know what’s really hard? Being a teenager dying of scarlet fever. You know what’s ridiculously hard? Being a teenager whose star-crossed love affair ends in the death of the both of you. It’s hard to even imagine how difficult those scenarios are, but luckily we don’t even have to – Claire Danes’ tears did the talking, before she even had a driver’s license. What were you ugly crying over at that age? Whatever it was, you probably weren’t winning Emmys for it.

Counterpoint: Anne Hathaway is the Crown Princess of Genovia

A lot of things happened to teenaged Hathaway, too! Like, this one time, she thought she was a regular teen, but then she found out she was a princess! But you know what she didn’t do? Cry about it, really. She made some ugly faces of disgust and shock but that only gets you like a half-point, maybe. I still don’t know how I’m supposed to be scoring this but I think Danes wins this round.

Point: Temple Freakin’ Grandin, though.

The real Temple Grandin has said that “geeks that cry keep jobs” and that she “turned her anger into crying.” What are the chances that one noted crying enthusiast would play another noted crying enthusiast in an HBO biopic? And you thought there were a lot of parallels between Halle Berry and Dorothy Dandridge.

Counterpoint: (Rachel Getting Married Spoiler) Killed her sibling while drunk. How’s that for ugly?

Little known fact, if your character inspired the ugly cries of other characters in the film, that counts a little, too. It’s like getting a recruitment bonus when you sign a friend up for your insurance.

The Verdict:

I don’t really know how to quantify this. I mean… they’re both really good. Why does everything have to be a competition? Why can’t we just appreciate their unique, teary, snotty-nosed talents on their own merit? Okay… I’m calling it a tie. But if Hathaway wins on Oscar night, she becomes the reigning queen of the Ugly Cry, until Danes EGOTs or something.

Note: All images link to source. You’ll notice that a lot of the Danes pics link to The Claire Danes Cry Face Project . I found out about that blog when I was drafting this, but haven’t read it yet because I didn’t want to be influenced… but now I’m going to go spend half a day there and you should too!
 
Note 2: Those wanting further discussion of the Hathaway ugly cry should join us on Sunday, February 24, as we live-blog the Oscars!
 
OSCAR UPDATE: Anne Hathaway won an Oscar for her Fantine ugly cry, gave a shoutout to prostitutes, and made our worst dressed list. She started her speech with “… it came true!”. “It” being the dream that she dreamed, of being the ugliest crier in all the land. Details are in our liveblog.