Glass Cannon | Top 10 Best, Blandest, And Worst Lily Orchard Videos

NOTE: Hey guys! Sorry it’s been a while, but I’m back with a vengeance. Just found out I have COVID today, so I’m writing this for me just as much as I am writing it for you. I just… really needed something to do.

For those of you who are unaware, Lily Orchard is a self-proclaimed progressive media critic and professional hardass who spends most of her time unpacking storytelling tropes and pushing for diversity and representation. She has two main video series on her YouTube channel: “In A Minute”, where she riffs on movies and TV episodes in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and “Glass of Water”, her video essay series focused more on in-depth analysis. She started out as a member of the My Little Pony fandom, centering most of her content around discussion of the show, but has since branched out to other franchises, using the loosest possible definition of “branching out”.

Now, I could spend this time going over Lily’s tumultuous history both on and offline, but I’ll just limit mentions of her past to the points in this list where they are relevant, if such an occasion even comes up. For more information… well, have fun on Google, everybody.

But this (mostly) isn’t about that, it’s about her videos. I’ve seen a lot of them and, for better or worse, I have a lot to say about them. Today, we’re counting down Lily Orchard’s most… exemplary videos.

Best- For videos that are well-structured, make good points, and are engaging and fun to watch (because for as much shit as I’m about to talk on Lily, she can make good videos sometimes).

Blandest- For videos that are just repeats of talking points from other people or Past Lily (there’s a lot of videos like these, especially recently).

Worst- For videos that go above and beyond in misinformation and hostility (her bread and butter, as you will see).

Rules:

  • I’m not going to put a video on the Worst list just because Lily’s being a hypocrite in it, or else we’d be here forever. I can only bring up the hypocrisy if it’s not the ONLY thing making the video bad.
  • I’m not going to put a video on the Best or Blandest list just because it isn’t as bad as the others. The quality of the videos in the Best list is not relative.
  • No joke videos (therefore disqualifying the April Fools videos).
  • No unlisted/deleted videos. They must still be publicly available on her channel, implying that she still stands by them.
  • On that note, videos from any time are on the table, but I will still be referring to Lily by her current name and gender identity.
  • If a video has a part two/three/etc., or some sort of rewrite, I am counting it along with the original.

(And yes, I know somebody else covered Lily’s videos using this format before, and I know that this format originated with Zero Punctuation, but I’ll get to that later. I’m trying my best for these to all be unique picks, and likely there will be almost no overlap with the list made by Star Giant Productions.)

10th BEST: Salt And Sanctimony (Published Sept. 19, 2017)

This video has its flaws, sure, but it does a solid job of exploring the points made by the episode in question (“Stranger Than Fanfiction” from Season 7 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic). The stance taken by Lily that both the episode and the people it’s criticizing are wrong works surprisingly well. It did, however, set into motion the ever-present conundrum of “are we supposed to take Lily’s word as gospel or not?”, further compounded by the fact that she claims to have been directly referenced in the episode while this has not, to my knowledge, been confirmed.

Yeah, even Lily’s good videos are riddled with issues. Get used to it.

10th BLANDEST: You Don’t Know What Censorship Means (Published Nov. 9, 2014)

Have you ever heard somebody say “It’s only censorship if the government does it” before? You have? Then you’ve seen this video.

10th WORST: Electronica Literally Fucking Kills You (Published May 17, 2018)

Now, I’m not the best person to go into the things Lily gets wrong in this video, so I’m just going to leave this here.

I will say, though, this is Lily’s pathological ignorance and dishonesty at its most benign (at least it’s aimed at a song here and not a person). Enjoy it while it lasts.

9th BEST: Why Is The Puppet Female? (Aug. 4, 2015)

It might seem silly to put this video here, but for what it is- a short coming-out statement- I genuinely like it. At the very least, Lily is more charming and likeable here than in the last 72 hours worth of streams she’s done. Not to mention that if this video was made today it would be at least 4 minutes long.

9th BLANDEST: Sarah Z Made A Video Filled With Lies (Published Mar. 7, 2019)

You know the old cliché of the “critic who can’t take criticism”? It fits Lily to a tee no matter how much she denies it. This is only in the blandest list and not worst list because nothing Lily does in this video is new, and she’s been like this ever since. Falsely claiming to have been taken out of context, playing her minority cards to call people bullies, and so much more is just who Lily Orchard has become. It’s on the blandest list because it’s a perfect showcase of Lily’s ultimately boring victimhood-centric personality.

Not to mention the fact that Lily insists that she never called Rebecca Sugar a fascist/ fascist sympathizer when that’s… uh… not the case.

9th WORST: Tropes Vs Ida Davis (Published Apr. 12, 2017)

If you’ve never heard of Lily Orchard before, then the statement “this doesn’t feel like a Lily Orchard video” won’t mean anything to you. That being said, Lily’s take on the Family Guy episode “Quagmire’s Dad” is… unexpected, to say the least. You’d think that from the constant transphobic remarks to Brian projectile vomiting over having slept with a trans woman to the fact that the episode is called “Quagmire’s DAD”, a trans woman like Lily would hate this episode.

Instead, her stance is that you’re not supposed to sympathize with the transphobia, and that Family Guy is actually full of well-written social commentary no really stop laughing. Question is, how can Lily believe that this episode is good because it’s realistic and simultaneously believe that LGBT+ characters experiencing bigotry in-universe is a tired trope at best and offensive and triggering at worst?

I’m just saying, this “I’m a trans woman and this episode isn’t offensive” bit wouldn’t go over so well with Lily if it was done by, say, Blaire White.

8th BEST: On Your Marx (Published Jan 25, 2017)

I would complain about the shade thrown at Josh Scorcher as well as his words being misinterpreted, but to be fair, it wasn‘t as aggressive a potshot as it could have been and the clip was mainly used as a jumping-off point. This video is a great breakdown of the ways communism is often misunderstood by people who jump to “this is a commentary on (insert thing the person hates)” whenever a cartoon mentions the word “equality”.

8th BLANDEST: Top 10 Worst Musical Numbers (Published Dec. 3, 2017)

“Villain songs good, pop music bad”.

Yeah, that’s about it.

8th WORST: The Audience Is The Problem (Published Jul. 15, 2014)

Guys, stop having fun. You should only like the things Lily Orchard likes!

Anyway, there’s a lot to be said about why some fan-works get popular and some don’t, and about why that doesn’t really matter, but no such analysis or nuance exists in this video; as I previously, this can essentially be summed up as “stop liking things I don’t like!”. Additionally, this video is one of the earliest examples of Lily’s tough-talking, taking-no-prisoners, brutally honest approach that she’s most known for.

Yeah, she’s one of those people.

7th BEST: Who Was The Best Villain? (Published Dec. 24, 2014) + ADDENDUM (Published Dec. 16, 2015)

A detailed, easy-to-follow analysis of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic’s roster of villains. Not much to say here, except that Lily just doesn’t make videos like this anymore.

7th BLANDEST: Lore Bore (Published Nov. 1, 2018)

Bold of you to imply that the Zelda timeline isn’t a meme for a reason.

Anyway, in this video she talks about lore in the same way she always has; stating that world-building is less important than story and characters. This isn’t a bad position to have, it just can’t maintain the spotlight on its own.

Kinda like lore, actually.

7th WORST: Slurred Speech (Published Nov. 15, 2018)

I really don’t know what to say about this one. This is easily one of Lily Orchard’s most infamous videos- the logical and historical inaccuracies contained within were seized upon and ripped apart by multiple content creators (here’s just one of them). Throw in some jabs at other LGBT+ people for liking things that she doesn’t, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Now, I myself don’t use the word “queer”, either as a blanket term or a self-identifier, but my reasons are different from Lily’s. They’re also better. I’ll go more in-depth with it some other day, but not now.

6th BEST: Encanto Made Me Cry (Published Feb. 2, 2022)

I was pleasantly surprised. The speculation on the reason for the Madrigal family’s powers being given the way they were was thought-provoking, her speech on “there is no inherent value in suffering” was really good, and except for randomly complaining about people “not sympathizing with a woman of color”, the tangents were kept to a minimum.

Before we move on, I just want to briefly mention the random self-harm imagery in the middle of the video. What the hell, Lily? I know you included a content warning, but why was the image necessary in the first place?

6th BLANDEST: Stop Saying Pixar Films Aren’t For Kids (Published Feb. 14, 2021)

Now, my own personal set of principles keeps me from saying “literally WHO is saying that?”, because I know that at least one person probably has (a good rule of thumb: NEVER say “nobody’s saying that”. If the person you’re arguing with can pull up even one example of somebody “saying that” that isn’t provably ironic, then you just look less credible).

But seriously, is gatekeeping kids media from kids really that common? And idiots mistakenly thinking that kids can’t handle complex themes doesn’t count. It’s hard to be invested in a video when you’re stuck on its premise being iffy at best.

6th WORST: Drama Queen (Published Sep. 22, 2018)

Someday in the future, I plan on writing extensively about anti-anime progressives and the inherent racism in their generalizations of the medium. A lot of that can be seen in this video, topped off with the bizarre assertion that animation quality across all anime is exactly the same. For now, I’ll just say that Lily has no right to complain about the things she complains about regarding anime for… obvious reasons.

5th BEST: Stop Shipping Siblings You Freaks (Published Apr. 12, 2020)

On its own, this is actually a solid video. Lily breaks down the idea that Frozen was a coming-out metaphor (which I always thought was nonsense), specifically questioning what that would say about Elsa’s relationship with Anna. She then touches on the idea that Elsa X Anna was an intentional shiptease within the movie, saying that it wasn’t and the dialogue implying this was accidental. This is true, of course, but…

Okay, here’s the thing: since I’m trying my hardest to keep each entry of this list on topic, I was hesitant to mention Steven Universe Is Garbage And Here’s Why. That said, I want to bring it up for just a moment. Particularly the beginning of “The Part Where We Talk About That”, wherein Lily states the following.

Let me let you in on a little writing secret. The biggest lie any creator will ever tell you is that everything was planned from the start; nothing ever is. Changes and new ideas happen all the time, and only so much planning can ever be done. The only part where you can say all the planning has been done is at the very end of pre-production, when the scripts are finalized and the voice actors have to twist themselves in knots trying to make your garbage dialogue sound realistic.

Look at this quote, then back at the video, and then back at the quote, and then back at the video. Something doesn’t add up here…

5th BLANDEST: Star Wars Needs To Let The Dark Side Be More Interesting (Published May 4, 2022)

I’ll keep it brief; Lily wants the aesthetics of the Dark Side without any of the moral complications. The idea that there’s more to the Sith than Star Wars media usually wants to portray is not new, and most certainly did not originate with Lily. That one kid you knew in grade school who always rooted for villains because the heroes were too “boring”? Yeah, they made a YouTube video.

5th WORST: An Artist Meltdown Story (Published Feb. 27, 2017)

This video is literally just slander. To make a long story short, Lily Orchard was asked to credit an artist for their art which Lily used in a video. Lily objected because the art was only on screen for a couple of seconds. One thing led to another, only for Lily to make a response in which she painted the artist as a hysterical control freak for asking to be credited. For more information, this video covers the topic pretty well.

But my biggest question regarding Lily’s stance in this video is this: if Christy is such a mediocre “art diva” of an artist, why are you so hell-bent on your supposed right to use her art? You’re right up there with the guy calling the girl he was just hitting on a “dumb slut” after she rejects his advances.

(Side note, but this isn’t the first time she did this, either (Bhaalspawn is an old alias of Lily’s)).

4th BEST: Inferno (Published Nov. 8, 2017)

What’s this? A Lily Orchard video that doesn’t just complain that something doesn’t work, but suggests that something else could work in its place? And the suggestion is actually good and makes sense?

Not bad. Not bad at all.

4th BLANDEST: Deus Sulk (Published Sep. 5, 2018)

My least favorite genre of content is “people complaining about people complaining”. If you’re not a fan of that either, then you might as well skip this video, because it’s nothing except “stop hating things before they’re released” (that’s not how trailers work) and “men’s interest in media begins and ends at its nostalgia value and sex appeal” (sexism isn’t magically okay when it’s directed at men).

4th WORST: Blame And Groom (Published Jan. 29, 2018) + ADDENDUM (Published Feb. 5, 2018)

I’ll talk about this video {series} a bit more in the future, but for somebody whose history is so tied to the MLP fandom, Lily has essentially made her living off of pushing the worst stereotypes of the fandom as true based on the actions of a few (she was doing it before this, too.).

But this video in particular was the beginning of an era of sorts, in which Lily began a sort of “anti-pedophile” crusade with the Brony fandom as her primary punching bag (mostly to cover her own ass). Don’t believe for a second that she cared about ToonKritic’s victims, or that she thought nobody else was handling the situation the right way. What really happened is that Lily saw an opportunity to not only separate herself from but elevate herself above the rest of the Brony fandom before eventually leaving it for good, and she took it.

3rd BEST: Self Destruction ( Published Aug. 18, 2015) + ADDENDUM ( Published May 27, 2016)

Lily Orchard’s best videos are ones where she uses a piece of media as a jumping-off point for a broader discussion. In this case, she goes into the dangerous mentality of treating mental illness like a “quirk” that can be solved by somebody telling you to “not be depressed” or whatever, as well as the romanticization of mental illness and self-harm in various corners of the Internet. This video has its flaws, but at its core it’s an empathetic love letter to people suffering from depression and self-harming behaviors. At the very least, it’s better at tackling this subject matter than something like 13 Reasons Why (an admittedly low bar, but still a worryingly mainstream one).

3rd BLANDEST: High Guardian Spice Is Disappointing (Published Jan. 1, 2022)

One thing I hate is when progressives overcompensate for Anti-SJW hate mobs by preemptively praising/ defending something that those same progressives later decide isn’t good enough. In this video, Lily criticizes this phenomenon while also having played into it (See my #4 Blandest entry for just one example, but she also did this with the 2018 She-Ra reboot). Not to mention that Lily didn’t watch the whole show before making the video, giving her criticism very little weight.

And yes, she still found a way to blame anime fans for everything, despite almost all of them finding this show stupid and insulting.

3rd WORST: Tropes Vs Sheldon Cooper (Published Jan. 12, 2018)

Lily’s been contradictory on the subject of representation before, but this time she’s REALLY done it. Lily tends to go off the rails when defending something she likes that she should logically hate.

In this video, Lily attacks autistic people who think that Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory is a demeaning and harmful portrayal of autism. Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Lily’s attitude of “marginalized groups get to decide how they should be represented” (an attitude overwhelmingly common across progressive spaces) that she applies when defending women and people of color would be present here, especially since she has claimed in the past to be autistic.

Not only is that not the case, but her supposed autism diagnosis never comes up in this video. What really takes the cake, though, is her statement at the beginning that autistic people’s hatred of Sheldon comes from a persecution complex. She would not accept such a stereotypical portrayal of any other group, but neurodivergent people just aren’t worth the effort of nuance, I guess.

There’s a lot more to be said on Lily Orchard’s ableist tendencies, but that’s for another time.

2nd BEST: Bug Spray (Aug. 23, 2017)

On one hand, the assumption that people refusing to address assholes in their community are inherently immoral in their inaction is flawed. That aside, it’s really nice to see somebody tear apart a drama- hungry crank without talking themselves out of it with “eh, I don’t want to give them attention”. There should be more videos like this, God knows there are plenty of people deserving of such treatment.

2nd BLANDEST: Can We Please Just Let Avatar Die Already? (Published Apr. 13, 2022)

I knew this video was going to suck. When she leaked some of her script fragments on stream, I read the Avatar one and immediately thought, “Lily, you’ve already said all this before. I think you should just scrap it.”

She did not scrap it, and we are all worse off for it.

I don’t think she made a single new point in this entire video. It’s just 12–13 minutes of her working up the courage to say, in no uncertain terms, that Avatar: The Last Airbender was overrated. Nobody knows why it worked, stop trying to follow in its footsteps, comparing everything to Kingdom Hearts, World of Warcraft, and Star Wars (the only three things Lily knows how to compare anything to)- all of this is stuff Lily has said a million times. I feel like she could have cut this video down into a couple of paragraphs and worked it into her adventure fantasy video.

My favorite part is the offhand mention of how badly Avatar’s female characters were written, which she will probably never elaborate on. Come on, Lily. Don’t complain about gaybaiting and then pull stuff like this.

2nd WORST: Steven Universe Is Garbage And Here’s Why (Published Sep. 24, 2018) + I Rewrote a Segment of the Steven Universe Video for Comparision (Published Apr. 18, 2021)

Yep, here’s the one you’ve all been waiting for. Right off the bat, the video starts off in one of the most insufferable ways possible.

“Ohhhhhhhhhh good Lord, this was a mistake”.

If your video begins with you either saying that you didn’t want to make it or lamenting the inevitable backlash it will bring, that’s enough to leave a sour taste in my mouth right off the bat. What follows is a nightmarish two-hour sermon consisting of making things up, misunderstanding context, going off on unnecessary tangents, treating fictional people like they’re real, treating real people like they’re fictional, and fishing for social brownie points. There’s a lot to hate about this video, but let’s go over some highlights:

  • Steven Universe is apparently fascist apologia because a 13-year-old boy is uncomfortable with the idea of killing people.
  • Lily called non-binary people “inherently interesting”, which thankfuly many people called her out on (but did this stop Lily from talking about LGBT+ characters in an uncomfortably objectifying, commodifying manner? No. No, it did not.)
  • The lesbian wedding between two female-presenting characters, one that Rebecca Sugar had to fight tooth and nail to even get on the air, wasn’t good enough because they didn’t say “wife”.
  • Lapis Lazuli is a “bad” trauma survivor for trying to hurt and kill people but Bismuth is a “good” trauma survivor despite trying to kill Steven.
  • The Pink Diamond twist couldn’t possibly have been planned from the start. What’s that? A video detailing all the hints and foreshadowing preceding the big reveal? Those are all just coincidences! Yes, all of them!

The best part is that every time Lily brings this video up afterwards, she pulls another tired content creator cliché, the ol’ “all my detractors are just butthurt fans of the thing I’m criticizing” bit. Not even people who hate Steven Universe like this video, and they’ll eat anything if it tastes remotely like “somebody bashing the thing I hate”. That is a special level of failure.

BEST: Tropes Vs Orchard Blossom (Published Dec. 9, 2015)

This video isn’t completely devoid of Lily’s usual idiosyncrasies (failing to understand the underlying idea behind #NotYourShield, taking a potshot at anime for no reason), but this video is still incredible not just by Lily Orchard’s standards, but by any standards. She doesn’t belittle the people who found the concept of Brotherhooves Social offensive, but she explains that there’s more to the episode than meets the eye, topped off with a succinct explanation of the artificial nature of Internet controversies in a way that doesn’t broad-brush any particular group that doesn’t deserve it.

Lily, I don’t know where you pulled the sensible, level-headed version of yourself in this video from, but can we have her back, please? She’s not perfect, but she’s still the best version of you there is.

BLANDEST: Season 2 In 2 Minutes (Published Dec. 10, 2014)

If you watched the video above (you might as well, it’s only two minutes), then what you just witnessed was a literal robbery!

Every single line in this video was stolen from TV Tropes (here, if you don’t believe me). Consider “Season 6 In 6 Minutes” a tie for the blandest, because it’s also 100% stolen, but this is chronologically the first time she’s done this.

I suppose you could argue that the sheer audacity required to lift an entire script from elsewhere without citing your sources could qualify this video for the worst list, and on one hand I agree, but on the other hand… eh, whatever.

WORST:

I struggled for a while with what I wanted #1 to be, but not for the reasons you may expect. I had a lot of options to consider, sure, but for a while my consideration was merely a formality because I already had the faintest inkling in the back of my head of what it would be. Then I saw something on Lily’s Tumblr that only made me more confident in my decision. I wondered if this was a fair #1 entry for that reason, but the video is bad enough on its own. It’s just that the extra added “Yikes!” factor of the Tumblr post…

was enough to cement “Not Good Enough” (Published Dec. 19, 2018) in the #1 spot.

Sit down, everybody. There’s a lot to unpack here.

You know that one person who is never satisfied by progress of any sort, who always wants things done faster, and exactly in line with their vision, or else there is something morally wrong with you? Lily Orchard trains that person.

The TD;DW of this video is that it’s a manifesto of sorts laying out Lily’s distaste with the modern state of LGBT+ representation, claiming that it’s in a “dark age”.

Now, those of you with more than two brain cells to rub together may be mentally decrying this as absolute nonsense; look at all this new LGBT+ content we’ve gotten in the past decade, especially since the time of the United States’ same-sex marriage ruling in 2015! Sure, things haven’t been go great in the past, but the quantity and quality of representation is higher than ever before! Right?

Well, not according to Lily. She’s seen all these so-called advances, and deemed them to be a farce. She’s the representation discourse equivalent of a flat-earther.

As for the video itself, it’s absolutely wild. It starts with a brief recap of the Voltron: Legendary Defender “controversy” (picture size 96 quotation marks around the word controversy) in which Lily somehow ends up taking the position that Dreamworks- yes, the soulless, faceless corporation who cares for nothing but money- were the good guys the whole time. There’s something to be said about automatically taking the side of corporations over workers in a “they said, they said” scenario (I’ll go into further analysis of this article later) when they historically have stifled artists’ desire to represent marginalized groups, but this is right in line with Lily’s “whatever suits my narrative” view on progressivism. The rest of the video is hand-waving the presence of LGBT+ side characters because they’re not main characters, bemoaning slow-burn romances, chastising LGBT+ people in fandoms for latching on to any representation they find when I guess she wants them to seek total domination of the media or something? Anything that isn’t two lesbian protagonists making out on screen in the first episode (but not too sensually, we wouldn’t want the men in the audience to be turned on by girl-on-girl action because apparently that’s the worst thing in the world) is just table scraps of representation. When she says “not good enough”, she means that it’s not good enough for her.

But we’re not done yet.

Remember that Tumblr post I mentioned earlier, the one that solidified this as Lily’s worst video? It’s time to take that pin out.

“But the writers were being criticized, not harassed! Lily was just saying that they shouldn’t have done what they did if they didn’t want to be criticized!”

But Lily (and the anon in question) didn’t say “criticism”. She said “harassment”. She acknowledged that they were getting a “torrent of bile” for their egregious mistake.

And she’s strangely happy about that.

Sure, Lily has emphasized the importance of representation in the past, and she’s endorsed violence in the past, but before this, I never thought that these two facets of her rhetoric would collide. The vague nature of the word “harassment” is the most concerning. What exactly is Lily picturing in her mind? Doxxing threats? Rape threats? Death threats?

Now, for anybody who thinks I’m looking too far into this, that the idea that she would excuse death threats in this scenario is a stretch, keep this in mind for any defense of Lily you might make here or any other time she goes into “win at all costs” mode: she saw the word “harassment” (something that she supposedly has a history of dealing with, apparently up to and including death threats) and ran with it. She didn’t say “dogpiling writers for using a “bad” trope isn’t harassment, it’s constructive criticism!”. She said “Yeah. It’s harassment. So what?”.

Is that really justifiable behavior? Especially when it’s a crusade over a fictional series where nobody was actually hurt?

And that, at the end of the day, is why I simply can’t recommend Lily Orchard to anybody with a genuine interest in issues regarding identity politics. Any good points she makes are often lost in a sea of tedious nonsense. Maybe at one point she started posting her thoughts on the Internet with the intention of encouraging people to think more critically and write more creatively, the intention of pushing to make fandom spaces safer and more inclusive, but there’s not much of that to be found anymore. All she’s known for now is manipulating, threatening, and lying about people.

Good intentions are, in Lily’s own words, not good enough.

A special shout-out to everybody whose responses to Lily’s work were linked in this article, as well as those who procured the archived Tumblr posts I used as sources. Thanks so much, this video would have been much harder, potentially impossible, to make without your help.

Thanks so much for reading. Until next time, stay on the hook!

--

--

Welcome to my innermost thoughts. Enjoy your stay. She/They. Age 21

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store