Let’s Overanalyze Netflix’s New Viewing Metrics

The movie will also stream on AMC-owned Shudder (which, by the way, really is a must-stream destination during Halloween season.)

➽ South of Heaven (November 26): Ted Lasso himself, Jason Sudeikis, goes a bit darker, playing a paroled convict whose desire to give his dying girlfriend (Evangeline Lilly) a memorable final year gets derailed when he ends up running afoul of a crime boss. ➽ Number of hours consumed is absolutely a more valuable metric than the previous “accounts who watched for two minutes” number. Everything We Know About the Netflix Employee Walkout

Tags: Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by RLJE

It’s been a big couple of weeks for feature films streaming on subscription services and opening in theaters the same day. ➽ In explaining its rationale for the change in measurement, Netlix correctly said this new yardstick is more in line with what Nielsen has been releasing (total minutes consumed) and that it does a better job reflecting audience passion for a title. Rather than just offering a glimpse at viewership numbers through its earnings letters, or whenever it feels like bragging about something on Twitter, the streamer promised to “release title metrics more regularly” so that “members and the industry can better measure success in the streaming world.” It also said it would now reveal how many hours of viewership shows and movies subscribers consume rather than simply saying how many accounts sample something. While Apex is the only day-and-date release on the AMC+ November calendar, the other movies were all released to theaters relatively recently. A monthly release would also be a step up from the status quo (numbers at least every three months, usually with one or two random data tweets in between) but not exactly a game changer. Theoretically, these could be big developments, signaling the start of a new era of transparency for Netflix. (And Nielsen now confirms how big it is: The show’s first full week snagged a massive 1.9 billion minutes of streaming in the States, an 800% jump from opening weekend. The movie is one of four titles AMC+ will debut in November under the banner of “Friday Movie Streamieres” (hey, it’s better than “Peacocktober”) as the service attempts to expand its series-heavy lineup with new or nearly new theatrical films. And Then There’s the Chappelle Stuff

Netflix employees and allies stage a protest. There are some who are convinced the data it has been putting out the last year or two is b.s., and they’re not going to be swayed by a new flavor of it. If so, it would sort of be huge: We’d be able to see if a half-hour show or a comedy special actually was generating interest among members but simply had too short a running time to crack a top ten. Things get even jankier when you throw in differences in how many episodes a series produces per season. Needless to say, it was the No. It does away with all those doubts folks understandably had about people sampling something, bailing, and yet still being counted as a “viewer.” But this new data point has its own set of problems, not the least of which is that it ends up comparing apples and oranges — or in this case, comedies and dramas. The news here was once again positive, as the streamer added another 4.4 million net global subscribers (double projections) and said it’s making more money from each subscription, too. Email

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Bruce Willis in Apex. (For the record, I am not a Netflix Numbers Truther. Even Squid Game has rules. If Netflix wants reporters and the entertainment industry to take it seriously when it says it wants us to be able to “better measure success,” it should report more data and not simply different versions of it. Rising streamers such as AMC+ are always looking for ways to get folks to sample their platforms, and having this lineup of films on offer gives AMC+ marketing execs a new hook with which to tempt consumers. ➽ There was its massive dominance at the Emmys last month, where it not only crushed rival HBO but tied Nixon-era CBS for the most wins of any platform in TV history. A half-hour comedy such as Emily in Paris now automatically starts out at a disadvantage versus an hourlong drama. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

As expected, trans activists and their allies within Netflix used a rally and walkout Wednesday to draw attention to their anger over both Chappelle’s special and the company’s actions surrounding its release. Look, Netflix is never going to satisfy the reporters, agents, and producers who want to be able to quantify streaming audiences the same way we’ve measured TV consumption the past seven or so decades. I have no clue what happens next in this ongoing story. It’s not for me to say whether or not he’s said or done enough, but it seems clear to me that he is at least trying to rebuild whatever trust was broken between some staffers and the company. Anything less frequent would be a distinction without a difference. SNL’s Squid Game parody. If you’re Mindy Kaling, for example, do you want season three of Never Have I Ever being negatively compared to season four of You simply because your half-hour comedy simply has fewer hours with which to generate audience consumption? In reality? HBO Max, which has been doing the shared windows thing with Warner Bros. Related

How Will Netflix Clean Up Its Latest Mess? After all, subscribers who really, really love Never Have I Ever or Lupin may watch an episode two or three times. ➽ That was soon followed by the shocking success of Squid Game, which came out of nowhere (at least to clueless American audiences) to become a global sensation worthy of SNL parody just a month after launch. But if it won’t go that far, Netflix could at least decide to expand beyond reporting just on series and movies and publish regular lists of its top-performing comedies and specials, too, so we’d at least know how titles with similar lengths are doing. I’ll get back to the latest developments on Chappelle, but Netflix also used its quarterly report card to make some news on the data front. If that phrase ends up meaning weekly or bi-weekly reports, then yes, the company will have taken a big step toward letting outsiders figure out how stuff is performing on the service. Sarandos, having initially focused his energies on defending Chappelle, is now working overtime to assure Netflix staffers he also understands why the special has made them so uneasy. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by NBC

Netflix is such a big force in the culture that it’s rarely not making headlines in some way. movies since last December, debuted The Many Saints of Newark on October 1 and gets the new Dune today at 6 p.m. I emailed Netflix PR Wednesday for clarity; as of now, the company said it isn’t offering any more details on how its new plan will work. ➽ Apex (November 12): Willis is an ex-cop who’s landed in jail for something he didn’t do and is now trying to win his freedom by competing in a Squid Game–like competition where six sick folks pay big bucks to hunt humans like Willis. Peacock shot to number one in Apple’s App Store over the weekend just as Halloween Kills landed on the service (and simultaneously slayed at the box office). The full slate:

➽ No Man of God (November 5): Elijah Wood plays an FBI analyst who, in 1980, develops a complex relationship with the imprisoned Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby), hoping to better understand the inner workings of the famed serial killer. I would think creators of Netflix’s half-hour series would insist on this. 1 streaming show in America.)

➽ There was also the far less welcome controversy generated by the latest stand-up special from Dave Chappelle, whose decision to use his platform to question trans people’s identity prompted a walkout of Netflix employees and a clumsy reaction by execs. (The film was shot last year.)

➽ Prisoners of the Ghostland (November 19): Nicolas Cage does his villain thing in this Sundance flick, playing an evil bank robber who is let out of jail in order to track down the missing granddaughter (Sofia Boutella) of a rich tyrant (Bill Moseley.) The catch: Cage’s character is locked in a leather suit set to self-destruct if he doesn’t complete his mission within five days. I wrote a more detailed look at what was at stake in a special extra edition of Buffering sent out Tuesday (you can read it here if it’s not in your inbox), and Vulture covered the events at the protest, too. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. ET. Despite these issues, I don’t think Netflix’s latest evolution on data reporting should be written off as meaningless. Consider:

➽ The words “more regularly” in the aforementioned Netflix statement are maddeningly vague. Buffering has learned that the AMC Networks–owned platform has worked out a deal with sister company RLJE Films to bring the new Bruce Willis action film Apex to AMC+ on Friday, November 12, the same day the picture will open in theaters and be available via standard VOD purchase. South of Heaven, for example, opened in limited release just two weeks ago; the others opened later this summer. While the wording of the letter sure makes it seem as if we’re never going to know how many member accounts sampled a title — i.e., if the new metric replaces the current one — maybe the streamer will surprise us and decide to release both, the way it did in some sample lists released in the shareholder letter. And while none of them burned up the box office or made a big splash in the culture, in some ways that’s an advantage for AMC+: For most consumers, these films will essentially be AMC+ originals with well-known actors (Willis, Sudekis, Cage, Wood) as stars. That doesn’t show up when you’re only looking at which accounts clicked play, nor does it factor in folks who grew bored and tuned out a couple episodes into a show. ➽ And then there was the other big Netflix story of the week: The company’s third-quarter earnings. Another way Netflix could shock us all is if it started releasing hours viewed for all original shows. It also diminishes the impact of subscribers who begin watching a show toward the end of a measurement period. And something like The Chair — a half-hour dramedy with just six episodes — is now going to have to be really, really popular to land on any future top ten lists. While the company clearly choreographs data dumps to paint its programming in the most positive light, I don’t think it simply makes stuff up — if only because the stats Netflix puts out end up in the company’s earnings reports, which means that if the data were fabricated, execs could end up going to jail over it.) But if Netflix is going to play the numbers game, it should at least commit to putting out data points that have real meaning and allow folks to make accurate comparisons among different programs. All of this is true, but hours spent watching also doesn’t take into account members who like to take their time watching a series (not everyone binges in a weekend!) and thus may not have all their viewing show up in a report that measures the first four weeks a show is on the platform. Things got to the point that late Tuesday, co-CEO Ted Sarandos had to do a series of press interviews admitting he “screwed up” his handling of the situation. And now, the smaller-but-growing AMC+ is looking to get in on the day-and-date action, too — part of a bigger effort to bulk up its movie offering. This is exactly the rationale Netflix execs have given in the past when asked why they weren’t releasing time-spent-watching data, by the way. Well …

While it is a good thing the streamer seems to be making an effort to be a bit more open about who’s watching what on the service, Tuesday’s announcement sent mixed messages about just how much things are going to change. But even by that standard, the streaming giant has been dominating news cycles to an almost ridiculous degree the past few weeks. NOW PLAYING: BUFFERING
Sign up for Vulture’s insider newsletter on the streaming industry from editor Joe Adalian. That would go a long way toward ensuring that comedies and series with smaller episode counts don’t get erased simply because their shorter run times make it difficult to generate as many hours of viewing as something that takes twice as long to watch. For example, a five-episode limited series has to work twice as hard to tally up as many hours viewed as a standard ten-episode drama. For one thing — and this is a pretty important point — we still don’t know all the details of these changes.

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Beyoncé Lobs Her New Song ‘Be Alive’ Into the King Richard Trailer

King Richard is already expected to be a major Oscar contender, with Will Smith as a Best Actor favorite for playing Richard Williams. A Best Original Song nod would be Beyoncé’s first Oscar nomination, after “Spirit” from The Lion King was short-listed in 2020. Related

Will Smith Is Venus and Serena’s Undeterred Father in King Richard Biopic

Oscar Futures: Who’s in Front As the Race Kicks Off? “Can’t nobody knock it if they try,” she belts in the song. The 2022 Beyoncé Oscar campaign begins today. (“Listen,” from Dreamgirls, earned Beyoncé a Golden Globe nomination in 2007, but she didn’t share in the song’s Oscar nom because of rules allowing only three writers to share a nomination.) Beyhive, get in formation. The superstar has a new song, “Be Alive,” featured in King Richard, the upcoming biopic about Serena and Venus Williams’s coach father — and now, it can be heard in a new trailer for the film. From the trailer, “Be Alive” sounds like Beyoncé at her most epic, with thumping piano and percussion and massive vocals. Tags:

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Ricky Velez Is a Real New York City Stand-up

We’ve been kicking it for a while. And he’s still my boss, but I really always enjoy Judd because he will let you go as far as you want with an idea, and sometimes he’ll reel it back and be like, “No, that’s not what we’re doing. We used to come into New York City and put down red carpets for events and then take them up the next day. It’s really crazy. It was amazing. It was just weird. He was like, “You want to see a real motherfucker from Queens.”

I do have a chip on my shoulder because all that stuff I did. He doesn’t just tell you. I didn’t know that’s what we were going to call him. So, I did two different 15 minutes on it of just bangers — just going for it. Well, Ricky Velez, whose debut hour special Here’s Everything premieres on HBO on October 23, would like you to know he’s from-from New York. I knew nothing about Bruce Springsteen. He just kept putting me in great positions. I didn’t have a parent pay for an apartment for me. A lot of the stuff he preaches is like, “Lose the ego.” And that made it comfortable to work. One of my boys got fired for yelling at the Entourage guys. I cried. Then he was like, “How about you’re on set every single day?” And quickly me and him just started to relate and have fun and just enjoy each other’s company, and we just kind of became friends. Pete [Davidson] was begging for me to get an audition for King of Staten Island. On Vulture’s Good One podcast, Velez discusses his new special, working with Judd Apatow, and representing Queens. Queens, specifically. I saw him standing on the side of the stage while I was up there. I didn’t know the story. I was basically trying to get my dream while Adrian Grenier fucking walked over my shit. There’s nothing I haven’t done to try to get my dream going. I was like, “When am I going to get on this?” But I went to a performing arts high school, so it’s cool to see the kids that didn’t get to continue to follow the dream being like, “Yo, thank you.” I went to dinner the other day, and this kid came up to me, and he goes, “Thank you for representing Queens.” And I was like, “That means more to me than anything.” And then I was like, Thank God, I tipped this kid well. Fifteen minutes into that Broadway show, I was using my mask to wipe my tears. It was nuts. Tune in to Good One every Thursday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. But not unlike the players on a sports team, no one thinks about where the comedians are actually from. We go to some Mets games together. He came out, and I thought people were booing him. I painted the ceiling of a comedy club up on 53rd. It was awesome. And there was none of that. I saw them postin’ up about somebody the other day. When you’re working with people of that high stature and people that have the past that he has and the how people look at him, you’re a little nervous to start spitting ideas out because his idea is usually the best. This makes more sense.” Then he gives you answers on why that makes sense. It was the worst situation. Ricky Velez
Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photo by Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

When people talk about New York comedy versus L.A. I was like, If I bomb and then have to do stand-up in front of him … But I had a really great audition, and then that night, the two shows couldn’t have gone better. I mean, my high school won’t show me no love. I grew up in 50 Cent town. More From This Series

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Tags: I didn’t know Bruce was the Boss. That’s who Pete is; he’s the best. You can read an excerpt from the transcript or listen to the full episode below. On Being a New York City Native

It means more to me than everybody else, honestly, because I’m actually from here. It’s funny because some people have told me I have a chip on my shoulder for it, and it’s like, “Yeah, I do.” When I started comedy, I was laying carpet. Everybody says, “Uh, I’m a New York comedian.” No, you’re a tourist in my city. And I went in, I auditioned, and that night, I had to do a show with Judd at Largo in L.A. Then I went back home to New York and I was sitting in bed with my wife, and I got a phone call from Judd, and he’s like, “I want you to write on the movie.” He basically sent me the whole entire script to do a punch-up on. Half hour bus plus the last stop on the F train. I worked at comedy clubs. comedy, they usually are discussing stage-time norms and the comics who make up the cities’ scenes. And New York has been with me the whole time. Good One
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On His Comedic Courtship With Judd Apatow

I wasn’t really on his radar. I saw Bruce Springsteen [with him]. And though his career is on quite the roll after acting in and producing on The King of Staten Island, leading to him developing a TV show for HBO with Judd Apatow, this fact is more important than anything. That would’ve sucked. I used to have to take the F train to the last stop, go back to my house, go live in my basement, come back into the city the next day. It was really weird.

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Dave Chappelle the Comedy Relic

Chappelle has said in previous acts and repeats in The Closer that “taking a man’s livelihood is akin to killing him,” in reference to DaBaby and Kevin Hart, both of whom lost major deals — a Lollapalooza performance and an Oscars host gig, respectively — in the wake of homophobic commentary, before moving on to other profitable opportunities. (It should be noted, however, that Hart voluntarily stepped down and refused to host the Oscars despite continued invitation from the show’s producers.) But he’s also talking about himself here, likening public critique and any imagined consequences he hasn’t actually experienced to a figurative loss of life. He tells a story about a white friend who gets pulled over by the police while drunk, high, and driving erratically and is released after explaining, “Sorry, officer. When he realized a white crew member was laughing at him and not with him, he concluded that the sketch was “socially irresponsible.”

Today, his loudest supporters aren’t talking about hilarity, they’re talking about free speech, people being too sensitive, cancel culture. Photo: Netflix

I teach a college course on African American comedy almost every year where we use literary and cultural-studies theories to address the public and political significance of African American satire and comedy from the 19th century to the present. To them, he is the Chappelle of 2021 — The Closer Chappelle. He quit after dressing up as a Zip Coon minstrel in blackface. Part of Chappelle’s early appeal was his stoner charm — he was the funniest pothead in the dorm. But what I’ve noticed in the past few years is that students are finding Chappelle less and less relevant. Dave Chappelle in The Closer. Of course, these same supporters are quick to remind people on social media that if you don’t like his style, you don’t have to watch. In the most recent special, Chappelle attempts to once again leverage his “friendship” with trans woman and comedian Daphne Dorman as a sort of anti-apology for all the things he’s said. These racist caricatures demonstrated to eager white audiences that slavery was good for the enslaved because look at how happy their stand-in was on the stage. What he’s really asking is: How can he punch down? He’s not getting as many laughs as he’s getting “clapter” that’s usually associated with self-satisfied leftist ideologies but that here allows conservative viewpoints validation because they’re being espoused by a traditionally left-leaning Black man. Comedy has often served as a defense mechanism or a survival tactic; it’s a way to take aim at a world that would destroy you otherwise, to articulate your selfhood when the world denies it. Chappelle — who left his multimillion-dollar contract with Comedy Central in 2005 — certainly knows that more acutely than most. He claims that he takes aim at everyone but focuses with laser precision on the most marginalized groups, specifically groups that push back on his work. We analyze in Killin’ Them Softly, for example, Chappelle’s clear articulation of racism and white privilege when it comes to policing. Turns out, I’m genetically predisposed to liking chicken!” He returns to this idea four years later in For What It’s Worth, explaining, “Just ’cause I eat chicken and watermelon, they think there’s something wrong with me. In talking about the real-life implications of comedy, I refer my students to the tropes of the minstrel stage in the 19th century, which were used to support chattel slavery, recruit KKK members, and enact continuing violence against Black people. The class is centered on analyzing film, television, literature, and stand-up comedy. You might make mistakes. The performance was used to justify the status quo and erase the appearance of the violent reality only so that the violent reality could exist in secret. We talk about why we are disturbed by a rich, cisgender, heterosexual man making jokes about trans women. And, unfortunately for Chappelle, that might ultimately be what’s happening. You might punch down. It shows you agree with who is being targeted. They can see why we were laughing then, but they’re watching a ghost of comedy past. (A person who might criticize this as college-campus chatter might also remember that Chappelle has always been ubiquitous on campuses, in dorm rooms on Chappelle’s Show and on campus-comedy tours.)

But, of course, Chappelle knows exactly what “punching down” means, because he uses the question as a segue into a transphobic tirade in The Closer. But in recent years that analogy has lost its savor, especially with students; for the new generation, his approach has been akin to an out-of-touch uncle who corners you at the holidays when you’re just trying to hang out with your cousins. He’s forgotten what my students know: that comedy exists in the terrain where boundaries are recognized and then transgressed without harming people who don’t deserve it. I … I didn’t know I couldn’t do that.” Students are always particularly drawn to Chappelle’s discussion of racial stereotypes. Last week, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos sent out a memo to Netflix staff in support of Chappelle, saying, “While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.” Sarandos later walked back his defense as an “oversimplification,” but it wasn’t just too simple; it was demonstrably false. “All these years, I thought I liked chicken because it was delicious. Tompkins — continue to resonate with younger fans. It’s Chappelle’s ability to respond to the realities of that time — to racism, sexism, policing, government mismanagement — with humor and precision that captivates them now like it captivated comedy audiences 20 years ago. When you are used to having to scrap for a position as a comedian, it’s possible that when you’re finally empowered, you’re still so used to scrapping that you’re unwieldy. It’s not until I show students clips from Chappelle’s earlier stand-up specials that they start to understand what was once his appeal. Also, he’s just funny. These examples, even 20 years later, still hold their significance. A man who’s so consumed with yelling at people on the internet that he forgot to be funny. Indeed, the bulk of Chappelle’s stand-up archive — what the public will have available to them to view and review — has been produced post-2016. In teaching Chappelle, it’s become increasingly important to address how a person can be marginalized while also marginalizing others. The comedian he is now is the comedian he’s been most. It’s the sort of response the minstrel stage elicited, and it’s also the response that made Chappelle leave his show in 2005 when it was directed at him. When I introduce them to his early material, they are often surprised and impressed — by his ability to punch up, to speak truth to power, to focus his “attacks” on injustices and institutions with discernibly more power than he had. It was specifically intended to have real-life consequences. Related

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Tags: What could be dismissed by longtime fans as a misstep is being considered by younger audiences as his modus operandi. He can’t be transphobic because he has a trans woman friend, right? This kind of response has less to do with jokes and more to do with ridicule. With the release of The Closer, Dave Chappelle has been a particularly unavoidable figure this term. What the fuck does that mean?” When I talk about punching down with my students, we talk about the negative tension created when a comedian with a certain amount of power targets someone with less. And this isn’t an inevitability due to his age; stand-ups older than Chappelle — comics like Tig Notaro, Leslie Jones, Marc Maron, and Paul F. If you don’t like chicken and watermelon, something is wrong with you, motherfucker!” This is Chappelle at his best: Acknowledging everyday racism in the lives of Black people, revealing its absurdity without making light of the targets of such racism. To my students’ generation, those specials are relics. I’ve taught Chappelle in one context or another for the past ten years, but teaching him in the past five years has felt different. To younger audiences, he is out of step not only with the comedy of the moment but with the zeitgeist in general. To my generation, watching Chappelle’s early-2000s specials felt like we were seeing someone turn into one of the greats in real time. He goes so far as to say that accusations that he’s now “punching down” — particularly at trans women — are his least favorite: “Punching down? He does so in a moment when transgender and gender-nonconforming people are literally dying. When boundaries are transgressed and people who don’t deserve it are harmed, it’s no longer comedy — it’s horror. Most of my students were born after the release of Chappelle’s 2000 special Killin’ Them Softly and were in preschool when his follow-up, For What It’s Worth, premiered four years later. In this same special, he recounts the time a restaurant employee correctly guessed he was going to order chicken.

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The Gothams Announce Their Nominees, Gender-Neutral Acting Categories

We’re arbiters of taste.)

Best Feature

The Green KnightDavid Lowery, director; Toby Halbrooks, James M. (As always, full disclosure: Some Vulture writers are among the nominating committee. Studios)Rachel Sennott in Shiva Baby (Utopia Distribution)Suzanna Son in Red Rocket (A24)Amalia Ulman in El Planeta (Utopia Distribution)

Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes)

The Good Lord Bird, Ethan Hawke, Mark Richard, creators; James McBride, Brian Taylor, Ryan Hawke, Ethan Hawke, Jason Blum, Albert Hughes, Mark Richard, Marshall Persinger, David Schiff, executive producers (Showtime)

It’s a Sin, Russell T Davies, creator; Russell T Davies, Peter Hoar, Nicola Shindler, executive producers (HBO Max)

Small Axe, Steve McQueen, creator; Tracey Scoffield, David Tanner, Steve McQueen, executive producers (Amazon Studios)

Squid Game, Kim Ji-yeon, Hwang Dong-hyuk, executive producers (Netflix)

The Underground Railroad, Barry Jenkins, Colson Whitehead, creators; Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, Mark Ceryak, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Colson Whitehead, Jacqueline Hoyt, executive producers (Amazon Studios)

The White Lotus, Mike White, creator; Mike White, David Bernad, Nick Hall, executive producers (HBO Max/HBO)

Breakthrough Series — Short Format (under 40 minutes)

Blindspotting, Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs, creators; Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs, Jess Wu Calder, Keith Calder, Ken Lee, Tim Palen, Emily Gerson Saines, Seith Mann, executive producers (STARZ)

Hacks, Lucia Aniello, Paul W. In a first for the awards, the acting categories have been made gender-neutral: Outstanding Lead Performance, Outstanding Supporting Performance, Outstanding Performance in a New Series, and Breakthrough Performer. Downs, Lucia Aniello, Michael Schur, David Miner, Morgan Sackett, executive producers (HBO Max/HBO)

Reservation Dogs, Sterlin Harjo, Taika Waititi, creators; Taika Waititi, Sterlin Harjo, Garrett Basch, executive producers (FX)

Run the World, Leigh Davenport, creator; Yvette Lee Bowser, Leigh Davenport, Nastaran Dibai, executive producers (STARZ)

We Are Lady Parts, Nida Manzoor, creator, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Surian Fletcher-Jones, Mark Freeland, executive producers (Peacock)

Breakthrough Nonfiction Series

City So Real, Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Alex Kotlowitz, Gordon Quinn, Betsy Steinberg, Jolene Pinder, executive producers (National Geographic)

Exterminate All the Brutes, Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety, executive producers (HBO/HBO Max)

How to With John Wilson, John Wilson, creator; Nathan Fielder, John Wilson, Michael Koman, Clark Reinking, executive producers (HBO/HBO Max)

Philly D.A., Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, Nicole Salazar, creators; Dawn Porter, Sally Jo Fifer, Lois Vossen, Ryan Chanatry, Gena Konstantinakos, Jeff Seelbach, Patty Quillin, executive producers (Topic, Independent Lens, PBS)

Pride, Christine Vachon, Sydney Foos, Danny Gabai, Kama Kaina, Stacy Scripter, Alex Stapleton (FX)

Outstanding Performance in a New SeriesJennifer Coolidge in The White Lotus (HBO Max/HBO)Michael Greyeyes in Rutherford Falls (Peacock)Ethan Hawke in The Good Lord Bird (Showtime)Devery Jacobs in Reservation Dogs (FX)Lee Jung-jae in Squid Game (Netflix)Thuso Mbedu in The Underground Railroad (Amazon Studios)Jean Smart in Hacks (HBO Max/HBO)Omar Sy in Lupin (Netflix)Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)Anjana Vasan in We Are Lady Parts (Peacock)


Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland Rambles Its Way to Top of Gotham Awards Winners List

Tags: As for the TV categories, we’re especially excited to see recognition for favorites like We Are Lady Parts, How to With John Wilson, and Reservation Dogs. Because the Gothams are thoroughly indie, A24 led the awards with ten nominations for its films. What can we say? Downs, Jen Statsky, creators; Jen Statsky, Paul W. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter and Rebecca Hall’s Passing earned four nominations each from the voting body, which recognizes excellence in independent (i.e., budgets under $35 million) films and television. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Netflix

Two debut films from female directors, which both happen to be literary adaptations of female authors, lead the list of nominations for the 31st annual Gotham Awards. The Gotham Awards will kick off the coming awards season on November 29, 2021. Johnston, David Lowery, Tim Headington, Theresa Steele Page, producers (A24)

The Lost DaughterMaggie Gyllenhaal, director; Osnat Handelsman Keren, Talia Kleinhendler, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Charles Dorfman, producers (Netflix)

PassingRebecca Hall, director; Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, Margot Hand, Rebecca Hall, producers (Netflix)

PigMichael Sarnoski, director; Nicolas Cage, Steve Tisch, David Carrico, Adam Paulsen, Dori Roth, Joseph Restiano, Dimitra Tsingou, Thomas Benski, Ben Giladi, Vanessa Block, producers (NEON)

Test PatternShatara Michelle Ford, director; Shatara Michelle Ford, Pin-Chun Liu, Yu-Hao Su, producers (Kino Lorber)

Best Documentary Feature

AscensionJessica Kingdon, director; Kira Simon-Kennedy, Nathan Truesdell, Jessica Kingdon, producers (MTV Documentary Films)

Faya DayiJessica Beshir, director and producer (Janus Films)

FleeJonas Poher Rasmussen, director; Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Charlotte De La Gournerie, producers (NEON)

PresidentCamilla Nielsson, director; Signe Byrge Sørensen, Joslyn Barnes, producers (Greenwich Entertainment)

Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, director; Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent, David Dinerstein, producers (Searchlight Pictures, Onyx Collective, Hulu)

Best International Feature AzorAndreas Fontana, director; Eugenia Mumenthaler, David Epiney, producers (MUBI)

Drive My CarRyusuke Hamaguchi, director; Teruhisa Yamamoto, producer (Sideshow and Janus Films)

The Souvenir Part IIJoanna Hogg, director; Ed Guiney, Emma Norton, Andrew Low, Joanna Hogg, Luke Schiller, producers (A24)

TitaneJulia Ducournau, director; Jean-Christophe Reymond, producer (NEON)

What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?Alexandre Koberidze, director; Mariam Shatberashvili, producers (MUBI)

The Worst Person in the WorldJoachim Trier, director; Thomas Robsham, Andrea Berentsen Ottmar, Dyveke Bjørkly Graver, producers (NEON)

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director AwardMaggie Gyllenhaal for The Lost Daughter (Netflix)Edson Oda for Nine Days (Sony Pictures Classics)Rebecca Hall for Passing (Netflix)Emma Seligman for Shiva Baby (Utopia Distribution)Shatara Michelle Ford for Test Pattern (Kino Lorber)

Best ScreenplayThe Card Counter, Paul Schrader (Focus Features)El Planeta, Amalia Ulman (Utopia Distribution)The Green Knight, David Lowery (A24)The Lost Daughter, Maggie Gyllenhaal (Netflix)Passing, Rebecca Hall (Netflix)Red Rocket, Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch (A24)

Outstanding Lead PerformanceOlivia Colman in The Lost Daughter (Netflix)Frankie Faison in The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain (Gravitas Ventures)Michael Greyeyes in Wild Indian (Vertical Entertainment)Brittany S. The full list of nominations is below. Hall in Test Pattern (Kino Lorber)Oscar Isaac in The Card Counter (Focus Features)Taylour Paige in Zola (A24)Joaquin Phoenix in C’mon C’mon (A24)Simon Rex in Red Rocket (A24)Lili Taylor in Paper Spiders (Entertainment Squad)Tessa Thompson in Passing (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting PerformanceReed Birney in Mass (Bleecker Street)Jessie Buckley in The Lost Daughter (Netflix)Colman Domingo in Zola (A24)Gaby Hoffmann in C’mon C’mon (A24)Troy Kotsur in CODA (Apple)Marlee Matlin in CODA (Apple)Ruth Negga in Passing (Netflix)

Breakthrough PerformerEmilia Jones in CODA (Apple)Natalie Morales in Language Lessons (Shout! The nominee list for the latter category is made up entirely of female performers. But because we live in 2021, Netflix tied with them.

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Categories: Entertainment News

Behold, Adele’s Framed Piece of Gum Chewed by Celine Dion

Photo: Vogue


There Is Still Nothing Like New Adele

30 Questions for Adele’s ‘30’

Tags: “It’s pretty amazing,” she said, handing over a framed piece of gum that had been chewed by Dion herself. “James Corden, who’s a friend of mine, but also does ‘Carpool Karaoke,’ which I did, he did it with her and knew how much a fan of her I was,” Adele explained. (Like you wouldn’t do the same.) Adele is also a noted fan of Celine Dion, and an equally intense one, she revealed in her new Vogue “73 Questions” interview. And she’s gone to some pretty extravagant lengths for those fandoms — remember her story about nabbing a sweaty tissue from a Beyoncé concert? Lemonade, 3. After being asked about her “proudest possession” (around 13:12), Adele led the camera back inside to show her innocent interviewer one bizarre, wonderful piece of memorabilia. I Am … Sasha Fierce, 2. Adele’s fandoms have been well-documented, from Beyoncé to the Spice Girls. Her shouting the Tottenham Hotspurs chant, impersonating Al Pacino, and ranking her top Beyoncé albums (1. “So he made her spit her gum into a piece of paper and he framed it for me!”

Other treasures from the singer-songwriter’s interview, which actually spanned 95 questions (because, of course, 19+21+25+30=95)? And as for her upcoming, long-awaited fourth album, 30, Adele added that one of the songs is her second-best ever (behind “Someone Like You”), and the album has some of her favorite lyrics too. Decide if she’s right in just under a month, on November 19. B’Day).

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Categories: Entertainment News

Why Michael Hobbes Won’t Tell You You’re Wrong Anymore

There’s other nice non-online stuff that I’m also looking forward to focusing on. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. You could tell Mike wasn’t really into it.” That wouldn’t be fair to Sarah. The announcement came as a bit of a surprise, to me at least. You know, the hardest thing in this “rise and grind” culture we have is that we can’t just sit and not have any emails to answer or feel like you have to do something every day. There are nice cafés to sit in all day. But I have some time left over now, and I’d like to sit with it. Honestly, I have no idea. Like you know this truth that nobody else seems to, so there’s this separation between you and everybody else? Oh, you like podcasts? I don’t want to pretend we were the only people doing that. You’ve briefly discussed this on the show already, but could you talk about why you decided to step away from You’re Wrong About? And with our listeners, it’s the same thing. Tonya Harding wasn’t the monster you thought she was — here’s the evidence.”

This is something I wish journalists would do more. You’re Wrong About has this quality of being your buddy who’s really obsessed with something and wants to tell you about it at a bar, and I got to do that for a large group of people. She has made me a more empathic person. People really loved our Jessica Simpson episode, and when her book became such a big best seller, there was this real cultural conversation around, like, Oh my God, what were we doing to people in the ’90s? 1.5x Speed: A Weekly Newsletter of Podcast Recommendations and Reviews
Listening notes for the top shows, from Vulture’s critic Nick Quah. I wanted to interview people who were there, people who lost loved ones, epidemiologists. The phrase moral clarity gets thrown around a bunch these days, but you two really seem to have that. It wouldn’t be fair to listeners. It just felt like a good time to make a move. I’ll probably break my promise in three days and start doing something again, but for now, it feels good. After all, “it was capitalism all along!”)

Instead, we’re seeing a radical shake-up. (They would never, of course. It’s so gratifying. That level of self-knowledge is something that has always struck me about you and Sarah, and I think it extends to the way you both cover topics on the show. So that sense of righteousness comes from the frustration of watching us make the same mistakes as our parents’ generation. Yet it’s nowhere near remembered as a Watergate-level scandal. I wanted to find out what it was like in San Francisco at the time. I know myself well enough to know I will start slacking off once my brain starts getting excited about other things. The way we process information involves quite explicitly bringing our own perspectives to it. Even if I disagree with them, I can respect the fact this is someone with a lot more expertise. Berlin seems like a good spot for just sitting and being. Same thing within journalism. Like I said earlier, I have some half-formed ideas for topics and rabbit holes I want to explore, but I don’t know how I’ll be presenting those. It felt like we’ve been making this technique video where the kinds of things we’re doing — reading all the original documents, telling stories in order, taking each one of the characters in whatever story we’re telling seriously as people — and I think other people have started to do that around the culture with things that are happening right now. It’s not fair to myself. A lot of us get our historical information from teachers or from these dry, nutritious Ken Burns–style documentaries, which try really hard not to have a conclusion or come to it from a perspective where you say, “This person sucks, and this person didn’t.”

That’s not the way people tell stories to each other. Could you expand on that? Does that ever make you feel out of sorts? Email

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Privacy Policy and
Terms of Service apply. Why aren’t people talking about this all the time? You know, I had a real vision that you should be the next co-host of On the Media, but hearing this Berlin stuff makes me feel like maybe you should chill for a few years. A lot of it comes out of doing the research. The way I learned about it growing up was as a footnote, some complicated thing that Ronald Reagan might have done, but then you do the research and, no, it was straightforwardly really bad and far worse than Watergate on the merits. She’s always open about how she’s making an argument: “This is how it makes me feel to read about Tonya Harding. In the latest episode, Hobbes briefly mentions that the choice to step away was a personal one, a mixture of needing a creative reboot and the juice that can come only with new projects. “Can I just comment on how weird it is that anybody would want to know my thoughts and my methods?” said Hobbes, who is currently in Berlin, when I reached out earlier this week. If you’ve done all the reading on a topic and you’ve come to a conclusion, I wish you would share those conclusions more. But it really makes me happy to see all those Britney Spears documentaries. Maybe they’ll be podcasts; maybe there’ll be videos or articles. For example, I’m really interested in the HIV epidemic and had thought about doing a series around that for You’re Wrong About. You’re Wrong About devotees shouldn’t despair, however. Meanwhile, Hobbes can still be heard on Maintenance Phase, a podcast that applies a distinctly You’re About Wrong–esque critical lens to questionable health fads and cultural ideas, which he co-hosts with the writer Aubrey Gordon. Related

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Tags: For me, so much of the experience of You’re Wrong About was tied to lockdown. And as a longtime listener of the show, I felt compelled to memorialize the moment. What comes next for you? I mean, I don’t know … I have no idea what I will end up doing. Everybody’s chill. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a period like this where there’s little going on in my life. Maybe something will come up; maybe nothing will come up. That sense of righteousness comes from the frustration of watching us make the same mistakes as our parents’ generation. It was a frankly refreshing explanation, one that feels true to the spirit of the show and its hosts. This is one of the reasons I like Sarah’s work so much. Like the show had moved on from me, or I had moved on from it. Then lockdown was over. From the outside looking in, it seemed You’re Wrong About was on an ascent of sorts: an underground indie darling that was now on a trajectory toward something much larger. This marked Hobbes’s third appearance on the program. You start reading up on something like, oh, I don’t know, Iran-Contra, and you’re like, Holy shit, this is a big deal. First of all, Sarah is the best person to tell this stuff to because she adds so much insight and humor. The most recent episode of You’re Wrong About, the beloved podcast by journalists Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes that reconsiders a person or event that has been miscast in the public imagination, brought with it a piece of big news: Hobbes is stepping back from the show. And I didn’t want to leave behind something where people would be like, “Yeah, that show was good until the last six months. Sarah and I talk about this a lot, but I just don’t think that works with the way we do the show. A lot of us get our historical information from teachers or from these dry, nutritious Ken Burns–style documentaries, which try really hard not to have a conclusion or come to it from a perspective where you say, ‘This person sucks, and this person didn’t.’

You should take whatever I say with huge salt grains, but I think people aren’t used to hearing historical stories told by one human to another human in a human way. My favorite recipe YouTuber, Chef John, has this thing where he says, “You’re making a technique video, not a recipes video.” So he’ll do a curry recipe and he’ll be like, “This is a technique video, so whatever spices or vegetables you like, just swap those in.”

This was another reason why it felt like a good time to leave You’re Wrong About. So part of me feels like I was reaching the end of my attention span for the You’re Wrong About format. Everyone should be treating huge scandals as huge scandals and not just moving on. It’s going great. You’re Wrong About also became so much more popular during lockdown. More on that in a bit.)

Still, it’s the end of an era. It robs you of your ambition, Berlin. I know myself well enough to know there’s always been a two-to-three-year fuse for me. We were doing two episodes a week. Really? For a long time, it felt like Sarah and I were broadcasting into nothingness, and suddenly our listenership blew up and people were talking about us. We talked about his decision to leave the show, its significance, and what comes next. She comes to stories from a perspective. And as we started to come out of that hard-core period — for me, that was February or March; I hadn’t been vaccinated yet but was moving up the line — I just started getting this sense that the show was ending in this weird way. Given the state of the podcast business these days, I started to half wonder if we were due to see Marshall and Hobbes announce a lucrative Spotify deal any day now. I’ve learned much from her about how to really take people seriously as people in a story. (Hobbes also appeared on a recent midweek installment of WNYC’s On the Media, in which he walked Brooke Gladstone through the whole Bad Art Friend thing. Why do you think the show caught on the way it did? Now, I don’t want to take credit. That show seems like a grind. Oh yeah, totally. Marshall will continue hosting the show, backed by a line-up of guest co-hosts, for the foreseeable future. Why aren’t people talking about this all the time? Everyone should be treating huge scandals as huge scandals and not just moving on. There were these little pangs of procrastination: “Oh, I don’t know if I want to research this yet,” or I’d put off editing. The costs are low here. And I started thinking about other stories I wanted to tell. You start reading up on something like, oh, I don’t know, Iran-Contra, and you’re like, Holy shit, this is a big deal. Then in the aftermath, they’ll be emailing and tweeting at us, so there’s this aftershock where other people are going through the same emotional revelations that we’ve gone through with the research. Other people will be like, “Now I’m really mad about Iran-Contra, and it happened 40 years ago!” And I’m like, “Yeahhh.”

In your good-bye episode, you mention how it feels like the culture at large is kinda meeting You’re Wrong About where it is now. I worked in human rights for 11 years before I became a journalist, and I moved between jobs every few years for that entire career. That’s the best thing about having a podcast by far. Sign up for Vulture’s new recommendation newsletter 1.5x Speed here. This is the first time in my adult life that has happened. If I wasn’t recording an episode, I was editing or researching an episode. You can listen to the older episodes and hear me being radicalized in real time as I read up on what these events actually were and how the media—I don’t want to say deliberately, but how the media was almost deliberately misinterpreting things and fucking people over. I’d rather that than the fake “One side says this, and this other says this so who am I to say?” Well, you’re actually kind of an expert on this, and I’d like you to tell me what you think about it. That sounds exciting, actually. So I’m just going to experiment with that. I’m still doing Maintenance Phase, which is a lot of work, of course, and I’m very passionate about that show. I realize many of these people are not even aware of our show, but it just feels like we’re in this cultural moment where we’re returning to these stories and literally retelling them from someone else’s perspective and coming to a completely different conclusion on them. It started to feel like we were actually influencing what people believed about the world. Well, I’ve been lobbying them to hire Sarah, but she’s also going to be really busy. Since You’re Wrong About debuted, in 2018, its deeply researched, funny, and heartfelt reexaminations of the past have helped the show accrue a steady, solid fan base, one that positively exploded during the pandemic as more people sought out new podcasts to consume as well as a sense of companionship during lockdown; there was even a glowing write-up in The New Yorker. Photo: Courtesy of the show.

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Let’s Talk About the Ending of Only Murders in the Building

They are aghast when she describes Sting as the guy from U2. Basically, Only Murders in the Building did all the things in its finale that most viewers could have wanted. Maybe the most pleasant surprise in Only Murders in the Building, though, is that it turns out to be more than just a pleasant, diverting mystery-comedy. But what’s more fascinating is the way this series keeps sending our conceptual understanding of it in whole new directions. She can cozy up to a boomer or a millennial. The episode about Theo, the deaf son of Teddy Dimas (Nathan Lane), showed us the world from Theo’s standpoint by including no audible dialogue, and it turned out to be the most elegant and ambitious installment in the whole series. The thing is, this finale actually does live up to the promise Oliver makes. Story, and Shopgirl.) But when we learn that she also was sleeping with Tim, that turns our perception of her upside down. Only Murders in the Building got its kicks out of blindsiding us and its characters, introducing viable suspects (okay, Sting doesn’t count) and then leaning toward new ones; by pinning Tim’s death on the Dimases, then revealing they were not responsible for it after all; by having Charles avoid drinking the potentially poisoned beverage from Jan, only to realize too late that she had poisoned his handkerchief instead. Oliver has ongoing issues with his son, Will, but in the finale, they reconnect. In other words, she’s comfortable going 20 years older or 20 years younger. With its new murder victim — Bunny bites it! The spaces between people aren’t always as vast as they seem. There are multiple reasons we listen to true-crime podcasts: morbid curiosity, our obsession with violence, to avoid feeling FOMOOCAM (that’s Fear of Missing Out on Conversations About Murder). It provides an answer to the question “Who killed Tim Kono?” (It was Jan. That’s not an incorrect assessment, but during the second half of the season, the series allowed for the POVs of supporting characters like Detective Williams (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) and Theo Dimas (James Caverly) to take center stage. So basically, the lesson here is to never underestimate a Gen-Xer, always fear them. Certainly there is some of that going on here. Only an old-school showman like Oliver — and, for that matter, Short — would announce, “We’ve got a really great show for you tonight,” while in the midst of solving a murder. The moment when Mabel discovers a dead Bunny is a surprise, too, but only for those who forgot that the whole series begins with a scene where Mabel, in a bloodied sweater, is discovered with a deceased body before the action flashes back to two months earlier. Despite all the missteps, the Only Murders podcasters eventually do identify the real killer, with an assist along the way from an actual cop, and that’s a public service. The mere fact that Mabel, Oliver, and Charles are able to get one up and running so quickly and eventually capture an audience suggests that any rando could start a successful podcast. As Charles says in his podcast voiceover, “We are all connected. We are all Tim Kono.” Unfortunately, that means that all of us can potentially enter a relationship that turns us into a victim. — and the arrests of Oliver, Mabel, and Charles in that case, it sets up a whole new mystery for its already green-lit second season, which I assume, like Cinda Canning’s potential podcast about the accusations facing our trio, will be called Only Murderers in the Building. Actually, no. The real point is that age does not need to be and often is not a barrier in relationships. And per episode eight, the show doesn’t exactly make podcast superfans seem like well-adjusted, normal people. Based on the premise of Only Murders and its first couple of episodes, it seemed reasonable to view this as a star vehicle focused on its three principal actors: Martin, Short, and Gomez. But the finale and the first season overall weren’t satisfying simply because they met expectations. The series admittedly never attempts to reconcile that respect with the negative aspects it also brings up, but maybe that’s too much to ask from a series that’s also aiming to be entertaining and funny. But a huge motivator is our love of surprise. And, just like Mabel, Oliver, and Charles, any of us can form alliances that make all parties involved look like suspects. Related

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Tags: In the beginning of the season, that’s the expectation the series set, and I was okay with that. This can be for better, when a healthy connection is made, or for worse, in a relationship that is predatory or, you know, winds up with one person getting poisoned. As has been the case in every unofficial, non-Hasbro-sanctioned game of Clue I have ever played, the bassoonist did it.) It lays out how the crime went down and, at least for a few minutes, vindicates our three crime-busting heroes, Oliver, Mabel (Selena Gomez), and Charles (Steve Martin). The nods to actual true crime — Jan’s incriminating matching handwriting, for example, has to be a reference to Robert Durst’s misspelled “Beverley Hills” in The Jinx — imply a respect for what the genre, in podcast form or otherwise, can do. It acknowledges, too, the exploitative nature of true crime, though it never gets dark or gritty enough to dig really deeply into that thicket of issues. The small group of podcast superfans that hang out in front of the Arconia are certainly obsessive, but they also are knowledgeable: When Oliver invites them in to assist with what is originally conceived as the podcast’s finale, they are able to consider the evidence critically and offer useful insight. Photo: Barbara Nitke/ HULU

Spoilers ahead, obviously. And Jan’s dalliance with Tim plays into that cross-generational theme as well. What made Only Murders such a standout was its capacity to surprise, both with its twists in the Tim Kono case and in its evolving identity as a series. “I’m a sucker for lonely guys with notable age differences I meet on elevators,” Jan explains. Even the catchphrase that Charles popularized as his ’90s TV character, Brazzos — “This sends the investigation into a whole new direction” — nods to how prized twists are within the series (and also how bad the dialogue on procedurals can be). This tenth episode also gifted us with the sight of Steve Martin doing some incredible physical-comedy gymnastics as a poisoned and partially paralyzed Charles. But ultimately, Only Murders expresses an appreciation of podcasts and what they can achieve, leaning in a more earnest direction than a truly critical one. The former Broadway producer and perpetual boom-mic carrier is referring to the podcast within the Hulu series, which is also called Only Murders in the Building, but in one of the many meta touches that has made this season such a delight, Oliver’s words could just as easily be taken as a comment on the episode that’s about to unfold. Even the messy relationship between Teddy and Theo Dimas is a cross-generational one. Almost every relationship that is central to the series involves a generational gap, Mabel’s relationships with Oliver and Charles being the most prominent example. In the finale, even Tim Kono (Julian Cihi) gets a chance to explain himself, his loneliness, and his affair with Jan. But by the end, I realized that, while still a fun mystery-comedy, Only Murders was ultimately about how vital it is for adults to break past the generational gaps that divide them, especially in a place like New York City, where it’s possible to feel deeply lonely despite the crushing mass of humanity. A light, amusing series with twists and turns is a perfectly fine thing to be. At first, Jan, played by Amy Ryan, registers as a type we’ve seen in Steve Martin films before: the much younger woman who winds up in a relationship with Martin’s character despite the age difference. As Tim says, “Get to know a fellow a little before he tells you how he died, right?”

Only Murders in the Building also seems, at first, like it’s going to be a satire of podcasts and podcast culture. The disconnects between them are a source of ongoing humor; she makes fun of them for being old, out of touch, and unsure how to properly use technology. (For examples, see Roxanne, L.A. Mabel and Oliver discover the evidence that directly points to Jan’s guilt while in her bathroom, a place they thought to look because of their fascination with another podcast, Baker’s Dozen, in which the killer kept all her incriminating evidence in her bathroom. But by the end, they are genuine friends, and Charles has even learned that you don’t need to sign your name at the end of a text. As much fun as it is to solve a crime before a podcast does, the pleasure, as in any storytelling, comes from being completely blindsided by where each episode takes us. So do Charles and Lucy, the daughter of his ex. “What a terrific goddamn finale this is going to be,” announces Oliver (Martin Short) in the opening moments of the season one conclusion of Only Murders in the Building. She’s an age-agnostic Gen-Xer.

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3rd Rock From the Sun and Cowboy Bebop Are Coming to Vulture Festival

This is your chance to see them live before they’re winning Emmys or selling out arenas, and it’s hosted by former Comedian You Should and Will Know whom you now know and love, Joel Kim Booster. Institutions

Photo-Illustration: Vulture

Harry Bosch, L.A.’s top homicide detective, and Hollywood Handbook, a podcast about two A-list “It” boys living their showbiz dreams. Join us as we talk to them about the film, working with Joaquin Phoenix and Gaby Hoffmann, and take a deep dive into Norman’s secrets to youth and longevity. But now we’re ready to announce the next batch of events we’ve lined up just for you. They’re also two friends and legendary comedians who have agreed to let us all hang out with them for an hour or so and hear what they have to say. TV

An Extremely Cool and Exclusive Preview of the New Cowboy Bebop

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Stars of the upcoming live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop John Cho, Daniella Pineda, and Mustafa Shakir join us for a discussion of the upcoming Netflix series that’s had everyone in an absolute tizzy. Comedy

Comedians You Should and Will Know, Hosted by Joel Kim Booster

Photo-Illustration: Vulture

Every year, Vulture highlights the up-and-coming comedians who are currently dominating what we call “industry chatter.” That’s right, baby: These are the comedians who are hot, hot, hot! Get your tickets now at VultureFestival.com! And yes, we know listening to two comedians talk is not necessarily a holiday tradition, but hey, if we wanted to, we could just make it one! Maisel’s Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle sit down for a night of fond recollections and deep chats that’ll have you realizing quickly that they are actually your new mom and dad, whom you love VERY much. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Mom and Dad

Photo-Illustration: Vulture

Your favorite melodramatic parental units are coming to Vulture Festival. Film

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Academy Award–nominated writer-director Mike Mills is coming to Vulture Festival to talk his newest heartfelt feature, C’mon C’mon. TV

Hollywood Handbook Dives Into Hollywood Homicide With Bosch: A Coming Together of Two L.A. Join the six finalist couples from the milestone 30th season of Dancing With the Stars as they show off their latest dance moves. John Lithgow, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kristen Johnston, and French Stewart will join us to celebrate — and oh my God, they’re GORGEOUS! TV

Dancing With the Stars of Dancing With the Stars

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All the stars are here! Titus Welliver, who portrays Harry Bosch in Amazon’s longest-running series, Bosch, joins Hayes Davenport and Sean Clements, Hollywood Handbook hosts–Bosch superfans (Clements has a dog named Bosch), for a discussion of all things Bosch and all things Tinseltown. Tags: TV

A Lovely Time With Mrs. Cowboy Bebop will be there to give us a sneak peek at the new live-action series; Mike Mills and Woody Norman will be there to talk about C’Mon C’Mon; Simon Rex and Sean Baker will chat with us about the upcoming film Red Rocket; and we’ll be getting a showcase performance of Vulture’s Comedians You Should and Will Know, hosted by Joel Kim Booster. Film

A Conversation for Your Consideration: Simon Rex and Sean Baker Talk About Red Rocket

Photo-Illustration: Vulture

Acclaimed writer-director Sean Baker, best known for his remarkable films like The Florida Project and Tangerine, lit up the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year when he debuted the audacious new film Red Rocket. They’ll also treat us to a few sneak peeks of what’s to come, if you’re lucky! A new chapter of Bosch will premiere in early 2022 on Amazon’s premium free streaming service, IMDb TV. Bosch; and learn to dance with the finalists of Dancing With the Stars. But that is not even all! Vulture Festival is fully back, live and in person and outdoors at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel November 13 and 14, presented in association with Clear, Pluto TV, Showtime, Spectrum Originals, and Taylor Creative. Starring Simon Rex in a magnetic, live-wire performance, Red Rocket is a darkly funny and humane portrait of a uniquely American hustler and a hometown that barely tolerates him. Joining him in person, for the first time since filming, is the young up-and-comer Woody Norman. Reunions

A 3rd Rock From the Sun Reunion

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Incoming message from the Big Giant Head: It’s a whole extraterrestrial family reunion for the Solomons as the cast of 3rd Rock From the Sun comes together for the beloved NBC series’s 25th anniversary. Last week, we gave you a glimpse of our lineup, which includes Niecy Nash, The Great, Henry Winkler, Insecure, Meredith and Brooks Marks, a screening of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion with Mira Sorvino, and a sneak peek at Showtime’s Yellowjackets. Start your holidays off right with Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogen; have a lovely time with Mrs. Moderated by Vulture senior editor and Good One podcast host Jesse David Fox. Photo-Illustration: Vulture

Yes, this really is happening. Maisel’s parents Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle; join Hollywood Handbook’s Hayes Davenport and Sean Clements as they chat with Titus Welliver, a.k.a. Both Mom and Dad will take a look at the hit series’s past three seasons, as fans anxiously await the upcoming fourth season on Amazon Prime Video. And yes, there is one more thing: The cast of 3rd Rock From the Sun is reuniting for the first time ever, live and in person at Vulture Festival — come see how tall John Lithgow is in person! TV

Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogen: Two Friends: A Holiday Spectacular

Photo-Illustration: Vulture

Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogen are both starring in the upcoming HBO Max series Santa, Inc. It’s the perfect event for people who need to take their TikTok game to the next level, want some tips for how to spice up a night out, or are simply fans of the hit competition series. Join us for an in-depth conversation with Baker and Rex as they talk about tackling tough subject matter with authenticity, location as character, and much more.

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Is Brian Cox Allowed to Be Saying All This?

Maybe not! premiere of Succession’s third season: “And a British audience, too … They’re not like American audiences, which have a sort of mindlessness to them. Photo: Arturo Holmes/WireImage

Scottish actor Brian Cox, 75, is on the cover of a digital British GQ spinoff called GQ Hype. Rowling:

“He said, ‘Well, she believes women menstruate. Reader’s Digest thought this section of the interview would be worth publishing. “He said, ‘Well, people don’t like that.’ And you go, ‘Oh, for Christ’s sake!’ Call something what it is as opposed to something that you think it should be. According to an interview with Cox in U.K. Nicholas Braun is certainly a hypebeast. That was not the correct date, but it led many fans to speculate — correctly — that October 12 would be the cast premiere and that therefore the new season would premiere on HBO October 17. Plus it reminded us of our favorite Succession C-plot: Brian Cox just sort of running his mouth to the press. Below, some highs and lows from the lead-up to season three. Jeremy Strong portrays one as Kendall. Maybe he thought this was something else entirely. L-to-the-O-G off, Brian. That’s what they do, don’t they?’” He belly laughs. We never would have guessed Logan would share a plotline with Rebecca Bunch. They sound absolutely terrifying. In the Hype interview, Cox says straight-up there will be only one or two more seasons of Succession after this one, “and then I think we’re done.” This isn’t the first time Succession’s five-season ceiling has been invoked, but it was a confirmation, and he said it so casually and assuredly. Related

Brian Cox Knows Exactly Why Logan Smiled in Succession’s Shocking Finale

Tags: They’re much more discerning. But no one goes full fucking beast to the press like Cox, who can be disarmingly candid. I keep well away from it.”

So hulking Orson or massive Torin misrepresented why people were really upset with Rowling (hint: It rhymes with Smurf), Cox didn’t look any further into it, and U.K. Based on this anecdote, a part of me wants to give Cox the benefit of the doubt and believe he didn’t even realize any of it had to do with transphobia, trans men, and TERF-dom. This rules because in the cast of Succession, Cox is surrounded by hypebeasts. September 2, 2021: Cox spills the wrong premiere date on Cameo

In a Cameo message that has since been taken down, Cox said Succession’s third season would premiere October 12. But they were whooping and hollering. And it is — it’s the cancel culture. Rowling

For context: Cox has two (in his own words) “giant teenage sons,” named Orson and Torin. October 20, 2021: Cox calls American audiences mindless

Circling back to GQ Hype, Cox began the interview by recounting the U.K. September 23, 2020: This guy just has to weigh in on J.K. September 28, 2021: Cox spoils a surprising plot point

In a profile, Cox told the New York Times, “In this season — I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this — but at one point he has a UTI infection.” Spoilers, Brian! It was unlike anything I’ve seen before.” Oh, Brian. Reader’s Digest, he asked one of his sons about what was going on with J.K.

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How Impeachment Transformed Clive Owen Into Bill Clinton

We wanted to make it not so fake.”

To put the wig on, Mazzarese-Allison would slick Owen’s hair down with a strong gel, airbrush white makeup around his hairline, and attach the lace-based wig with adhesive and toupee clips. One particular peccadillo Buster and Owen worked through was a higher-pitched rasp that would occasionally appear when Clinton was tense. Pakula and cinematographer Gordon Willis for a throwback effect. “Ryan came to the table with two massive references: All the President’s Men and The Parallax View. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News via Getty Images and FX

When it came to physically matching Clinton’s appearance, Owen was initially in favor of a drastic transformation, while Murphy wanted as few prosthetics as possible. That’s due to a number of factors: the writing, the actor’s intense preparation, the hair and makeup, and the filming of the show itself. “We looked at, of course, the famous speech: ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman.’ We looked at the deposition because that’s all on video. Raleigh began by taking a life-cast scan of Owen. It’s not open to your interpretation.”

Tags: “With Clinton, the big elements were really the forehead — Clive has very big, full, bushy eyebrows, where Clinton had very, very thin brows — and then, obviously, Bill Clinton has a very distinct bulbous nose shape as well.”

Using a model of Owen’s head, Raleigh tested prosthetic designs with clay. At the end of the shooting day, she’d gently remove and clean it with alcohol (she shampooed and conditioned it every two days) then style it again in the morning with sprays of Evian water, mousse, and a blow-dryer. “I got the belly down, don’t worry about that,” he says, laughing. Photo: Tina Thorpe/FX

With the lines set, the accent dialed in, and the prosthetics and hairs glued on, all that was left for Owen to do was act. In the deposition scene, close-ups are used to emphasize Clinton’s growing realization that he’s caught in a lie. “I wasn’t sure what that would do for me, really,” Owen says. And we looked at his acceptance speech when he was reelected. Then there came a point where I realized, actually, it’s really important for me to do that because rhythmically and sensibility-wise, you keep in the right place.”

The Hair and Makeup

Prosthetics makeup designer Justin Raleigh thinned out the bridge of Owen’s nose and applied a new set of eyebrows every day before filming. It’s a fair question. “I started looking at all the footage from that period, reminding myself about the whole thing. “With Clinton, I always saw him as being almost ambiguously backlit, more in shadow — iconic but at the same time mysterious, like the smoking man in the car park. It was decided early on that they’d take cues from the Washington-intrigue work of director Alan J. “I used to find it very pretentious when I saw actors staying in the accent all the time. “Ultimately, you try to make it as believable as you can.”

Interestingly, Owen never met with Lewinsky to discuss his portrayal — as Simpson pointed out, they felt it was better that he only see Beanie Feldstein as Monica. The British actor doesn’t look much like the former somewhat doughy American president. And even though he’s not a method actor, Owen always stuck with the accent while he was on set, lest he slip up and let his natural Englishness come through. “There’s something quite unusually satisfying for an actor about knowing clearly what the objective is,” Owen says. Then, Raleigh would slick down and paint over Owen’s bushy eyebrows and glue the prosthesis on with silicone adhesive. “ I knew she was very present in the process and that she talked to Sarah and Ryan a lot. Photo: Courtesy of FX

“With Clinton, the research is done for you already. Some overhead shots of the West Wing spin counterclockwise, an effect meant to disorient viewers. “We found a place that resembled Clinton, but you still kind of know it’s Clive. But for Murphy and executive producer Brad Simpson, it was all about the eyes. He wanted that sort of shadowy, ’70s conspiracy-movie feel, which got me really excited because Gordon Willis is my all-time hero,” says Dennis. The compromise, according to prosthetics makeup designer Justin Raleigh, was to start with the most extreme configuration and pare it back to a version that resembled Clinton but didn’t erase Owen. I said, ‘You’ll get an episode where you really walk in Clinton’s shoes as the world is collapsing around you.’” The episode is the season’s seventh, titled “The Assassination of Monica Lewinsky,” in which Owen’s Clinton sits for an increasingly tense deposition in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case and publicly utters the infamous “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” line after his affair comes to light. Because the pieces were so thin and fragile, they could only be used once, meaning that each day of filming required a new piece plus backups. To paraphrase Hillary, it took a village of collaborators to transform Clive into Bill, and Vulture spoke to Owen, Simpson, and five members of Impeachment’s behind-the-scenes team to learn how it all went down. There’s so much archival footage,” Buster says. “I read that he had acid reflux, so his vocal cords were constantly being burned, but also, he talks so much — just vocal fatigue. Despite earlier misgivings, Owen saw the appeal of taking on a role with physical requirements and historical weight unlike anything he’d ever done before. It sits right up in his neck and back of his throat, so we incorporated all those elements.”

The pair worked together in person, on set and off, and over Zoom, and Owen would listen to recordings of both Buster and Clinton while sitting in makeup every day. But the performance could only fully come together behind the camera through the efforts of the directors and cinematographer Simon Dennis. It pushes you to do things that you would not ordinarily do,” he says. “I just ate what I wanted.”

The Camera

“With Clinton, I always saw him as being almost ambiguously backlit, more in shadow — iconic but at the same time mysterious, like the smoking man in the car park,” says cinematographer Simon Dennis. Then there’s the basic thing, of course, that Clive is just an incredible actor.”

After spending an hour with the producers and hearing their goals for the show — mostly that it’d focus on the women in Clinton’s orbit, including Monica Lewinsky, Linda Tripp, Paula Jones, and Hillary Clinton — Owen was intrigued. All eyes go to him,” Simpson says. They then picked out six colors — shades of white, silver, and brown — of actual human hairs that would be combined for the three wigs that represented different time periods in Clinton’s life: a darker one for flashbacks and two lighter ones — one slightly fuzzy and one more neatly trimmed. In many other scenes, the camera angles emphasize the male characters physically imposing over the women, giving everyday interactions a feeling of menace. “Clive really wanted to know that we were going to show all the complexity of Bill Clinton: the good, the bad, and the gray,” Simpson says. They started working together in December 2019, with Owen scheduled to start filming in the spring of 2020; that date was ultimately pushed to February 2021 because of the pandemic. I thought it was better to just concentrate and work, really.”

The Accent

Memorizing Clinton’s words was one thing, but it took much more intensive work to nail the President’s southern accent. Sometimes it was the sound of something or the feel: ‘Am I just being flat? “Clive would confer with me a lot, even about slight changes. To measure for the hairpiece, they wrapped Owen’s head in plastic and drew on a hairline to resemble Clinton’s. Owen enlisted the help of dialect coach Michael Buster to switch from his natural British baritone to the higher-pitched, occasionally raspy Arkansas lilt. Clive Owen spent an hour and 45 minutes in hair and makeup every day before shooting his scenes as President Bill Clinton in Impeachment: American Crime Story. Both Burgess and Simpson say Owen insisted on portraying Clinton as a flawed human. For instance, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. To that end, writer Sarah Burgess drew from a number of sources, including the recollections of Lewinsky, who served as a producer on the series. Dialect coach Michael Buster transcribed Clinton’s words in the scripts phonetically. Photos: Getty Images; FX

When Clive Owen learned that Ryan Murphy was thinking about casting him as Bill Clinton in the Impeachment season of American Crime Story, he had one thought: Of everybody, why would he do that? All you see are his eyes and the backlit smoke. Photo-Illustration: Vulture. The reusable portions of the whole getup were the wigs, which were overseen by hairstylist Suzy Mazzarese-Allison and built by designer Stacey Butterworth. “Then we would slowly, over the course of the edit, work our way into him. I was taking those tricks before we start to unveil Bill in a way that was more honorable to his own problems and dilemmas.”

The team used several subtle maneuvers to add a sense of unease. Every time you cut back to Bill as the questions go on, the camera gets closer and closer. “There’s something sort of attractive about being scared. “Obviously we can’t take anything away, so we’re limited to what we can augment,” says Raleigh. “I have a memory of Clive in his full Clinton prosthetics chasing me down a hallway of the West Wing set because he was so excited to match Clinton’s actual language, speech pattern, pauses, ums and uhs, and dry mouth to the real video,” she says. So we listened to that and found the placement of where it lives. I never told anybody to lie” became “aa did naht hav sex-shooul ruh-lay-shnz with that wuum’n, miss Lewinsky. “I learned a while ago doing accents, I’m not very good at switching on and off,” he says. Then there were a couple of vignettes online where he was being conversational — more casual, everyday speech.”

Buster began by identifying Clinton’s trademark sounds then transcribed the scripts phonetically. “Clinton was known for taking up a lot of space in a room and for having a certain type of magnetism, which Clive inherently has. Aa never told inny-buddy ta laa.” Buster would record himself reading the script and reciting similar words in Clinton’s accent, so Owen could listen and repeat them verbatim. Then, he’d record himself reading it for Owen to listen to. That’s a very simple technique.”

Dennis was also tasked with re-creating the camera angles of archival interviews and news footage so Impeachment would look identical. He landed on two separate applications — a nose piece adding height to the bridge of the actor’s nose to make it appear thinner and a full forehead piece for the eyebrows — and manufactured them using silicone ranging from ¼ to 1/32 of an inch in thickness. “Weirdly, it’s a bit like doing stunts — it’s a very definite thing. The Writing

As Madeline Kaplan’s fact-checking of the series proves, Impeachment takes its historical accuracy seriously. What is this based on?’ It was delightful.”

“Obviously, because of TV, you’re never going to show everything, but I was very concerned when it was too abbreviated or neat because people searching for things is where the real drama is,” Owen adds. “Clive has something that Clinton also has, which is a lot going on behind these really emotive eyes. Burgess notes that Owen himself was a diligent fact-checker who always noticed when the scripts deviated from Clinton’s actual words. “There’s a thinness to his voice,” says Buster. The eyebrows were constructed over the course of three and a half hours, with each hair (sourced from humans, Angora rabbits, and bears) individually punched into the silicone. Am I being incredibly manipulative here? “We didn’t want to make his hair look too white because he has a totally different skin tone than Clinton,” says Mazzarese-Allison. “When we’re shooting the questions, that would be off eyeline, but when we’re on Bill, I had it uncomfortably close,” says Dennis. Between the prosthetics and wig application, the process took an hour and 45 minutes each day, longer than Owen had done on any other project. Eventually, the practice paid off, and Clinton’s voice became muscle memory for the star, allowing him the headspace to focus on his expressions and movements. And as we moved in, we were using wider lenses, so it feels a bit warped. The stakes were so high, and it was a story that reverberated around the world,” he says. “And the fascination of trying to recreate some of that footage exactly as it was — I couldn’t shake that off.”

As viewers of the show can attest, it’s easy to forget it’s Owen playing Clinton. “Our objective every season, with every character, is to know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. The one area where he didn’t need any prosthetic help was mimicking Clinton’s gut. Despite the inherent challenges, these scenes were particularly fun for Owen to film. Even though he’s a big man, there was not a lot of body resonance in his voice. Using Photoshop, he overlaid that image with one of Clinton to identify what needed to be changed.

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Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg Are Hunting for Treasure and Trouble in Uncharted

Get your treasure maps ready, because Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg are chasing whozits and whatzits galore in Uncharted. A prequel and origin story to the video games of the same name, Uncharted follows Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter who discovers historical secrets from around the world. The reshuffling of the lead character is just another reminder that time passes, and that Mark is a zaddy and Peter Parker is a worthy heartthrob. In the trailer, we get to see a beautiful bonding moment between the adventure-seeking duo as Holland remarks, “I’m pretty sure he just threatened to kill me,” and Wahlberg lovingly responds with, “Don’t touch your ear like that; you look like an idiot.” Uncharted is exclusively coming to movie theaters February 18. Holland will play Nathan Drake, while Mark Wahlberg, who was originally cast as Nathan way back in 2010, will play Victor Sullivan, a father figure and fellow fortune-seeker. Related

Spider-Man: No Way Home Trailer Drops, Officially This Time

Joe Bell Is a Moving Tale That Misses Its Chance at Greatness


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David Byrne’s New Book Is (Nothing But) Dingbats

So talented! So considerate! Related

Jerry Seinfeld Punched Up a Joke for David Byrne’s American Utopia

Tags: Byrne previously showcased these works at New York’s Pace Gallery in November 2020, writing at the time that “I got a bit carried away and made them quite a bit more elaborate than the typical dingbat.” Related: You’re a dingbat if you still haven’t seen American Utopia. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

While you spent your quarantine era pondering how did you get there and where is that large automobile, David Byrne was on a break from American Utopia illustrating and writing an entire book for us. Phaidon unveiled today that Byrne’s A History of the World (In Dingbats) will be published in March 2022, featuring dozens of original Byrne drawings created in lockdown that “evoke the complex, global systems the pandemic cast in bright light.” Contrary to popular belief, dingbats are not only dumb bats, but instead a typographic ornament used to illuminate or break up blocks of text; he illustrates this through whimsical drawings of people, places, and things, such as an office building with feet or country roads with women’s eyes. So handsome!

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Zach Galifianakis’s Kids Think He’s a Librarian

“I’ll just deny it. Photo: JC Olivera/WireImage

How do you talk to your children about a movie as raunchy as The Hangover? If you’re Zach Galifianakis, well, you don’t. I had nothing to do with that movie.’” And as for more lenient parents? Sources

entertainment tonight


Zach Galifianakis Is Happy to Play the Sad Clown

Tags: “They don’t even know.” Galifianakis has sons ages 4 and 7 with his wife, Quinn Lundberg. “My kids think I’m a librarian somewhere,” the actor and comedian said. “They shall never know of it,” he said of The Hangover. The actor spoke to Entertainment Tonight about his children’s understanding of his career at the Tuesday premiere of his upcoming movie Ron’s Gone Wrong. I’ll say, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. They’re a bit young for R-rated movies, but Galifianakis says his stance is permanent. “People used to come up to me and be like, ‘Oh, my kids love The Hangover,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re a terrible parent,’” Galifianakis continued. Not a real librarian. Meanwhile, his biggest flaw seems to be giving his kids unrealistic expectations for a librarian’s salary.

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American Horror Story: Double Feature Recap: Happy Evacuation Day

He uses his last words to basically tell Valiant to go Plath himself. None of the theories we collected amounted to a goddamn thing. How could I have forgotten? Dwight D. Theta delivers a strong monologue about how humans are filth and it’s time to let someone else have a shot at a better version of Earth, and then she explodes Mamie’s head. Vampires. And aliens. I love it because of it. With Eisenhower out of the office, Nixon (Craig Sheffer) gets put behind the podium to “play ball” with the aliens, but when he balks at their plans and then refuses to resign, he’s abducted and anally probed until he falls back into line. You may be asking yourself, “What then?” Which is a perfectly normal thing to want to ask right about now. • Mamie as Deep Throat? The gays, Nico and Troy, are dead, killed by their own tentacle baby, and Kendall births a specimen so perfect that they cut off her head and preserve her body as a non-stop birthing tube so that she can make more. Upward of one an hour. Email

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Terms of Service apply. Plain as day. Maybe even a zero. Maybe it will be just far enough into the future that alien technology will allow for a clip of it to play from my gravestone in a continuous loop. Which is a concept that gives me cramps just thinking about it. And that’s … it. I don’t love AHS in spite of its insanity. Or maybe one of the prop people was like, “You made me drive all the way to Long Beach to buy these yellow vertical pupil contacts, and now we’re damn well gonna use them.”

• Best bit of dialogue from the whole season, hands down, was Mamie and Calico’s exchange in this episode:

Mamie: “Tell me, do you like fudge?”Calico: “More than life itself.”

If I’m ever in a place in life where I can legitimately have a Make-a-Wish Foundation scenario, I’d like to reenact that bit of dialogue with Sarah Paulson. And now I can be fine with it. And Mamie (Sarah Paulson) asks for Valiant’s assistance in faking her own death before absconding to Area 51 to live forever. Well, what nothing. Leading us by the hand out of this season is Valiant Thor (Cody Fern), who I now know, thanks to a commenter on last week’s recap, is a direct reference to a real-life conspiracy theory that dates back to 1957. That’s the answer. All is well, for a while, as she floats around in her pink nightgown having cupcakes and jello cubes with Calico (Leslie Grossman), but then melancholy sinks in when Mamie realizes that the stories she’s telling are the only stories she’ll ever have to tell. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. The baby-making factory at Area 51 is in high gear, with or without the cooperation of the abducted birthing vessels inside or the public at large. And now we can sit for a year and wonder what’s gonna happen in season 11. I had spent the whole episode waiting for something more, and that something never came. Deep Throats and Even Deeper Thoughts

• It was honestly funny how, in the very last episode, they brought lizard people into the mix. I’m gonna lay on the couch, sans notebook, and let this insane trash wash over me. In this fictional continuation of that (probably) fictitious conspiracy theory, he’s gotten everything he needs from his associations and manipulations within the White House and is ready to finalize his plan for alien-human hybrids to take over Earth. Everyone in the White House is coming to the realization that all the sacrifices they made for alien technology weren’t worth the trouble. I even dragged the episode back a few minutes to make sure I’d seen everything correctly. Mamie attempts to convince Calico and Theta (Angelica Ross) to let her kill the perfect alien-human baby specimen but doesn’t get very far in her plan. When I finally came to terms with the fact that, yes, this season was in fact over and that, yes, it was only about what we were shown and nothing more, I wanted to rate it a two. There aren’t a lot of new memories to be made in Area 51, and any juicy ones that come along are usually quickly followed by a knife to the throat or an alien baby tentacle to the face. VULTURE NEWSLETTER
Keep up with all the drama of your favorite shows! Maybe it’ll be about talking buttholes. Eisenhower (Neal McDonough) is on his deathbed, having learned that the planet is not only being overrun by aliens, but lizard people as well. Why? Tags: I’m imagining one writer on staff, probably the nephew or niece of a higher-up, who was like, “Remember, you promised that my lizard thing would make it in,” and then they had to go ahead and do it. The two parts of Double Feature didn’t tie together. I honestly can’t wait. For all that thirst, for all that wanting, and for all that pushing and pushing in hopes of the perfect end result, we’re left with a little glob of goopy mess staring back at us with its big reflective eyes as if to say, “What, you expected something different?”

Putting a rating on something is difficult because you have to split the difference between the loftiness of your own expectation as a viewer and the quality and entertainment value of what you were actually given. I couldn’t get a grip on having spent so many weeks trying to look for deeper meanings and strings to tie together, when I could have, and should have, just sat back and enjoyed what I was given at face value, nothing deeper than fudge and bitchy bloodsuckers and Kaia Gerber saying words and looking beautiful. American Horror Story
The Future Perfect

Season 10

Episode 10

Editor’s Rating

4 stars



Photo: FX

The finale of “Death Valley” centers primarily on the end of humanity as we’ve known it and the beginning of a new race of alien-human hybrids 60 years in the making. Next week, I’m gonna watch this season all over again and enjoy it like I should have from the beginning. Because I love it. It’s almost like what can’t she do? As the credits rolled on this episode, and this season as a whole, I blinked hard and looked around the room, wondering if I’d nodded off and missed something. We went from Harry Gardner (Finn Wittrock) sucking down blood smoothies in part one of Double Feature to Kendall Carr (Kaia Gerber) pushing out the perfect alien-human hybrid specimen at the end of part two, and, in a way, it’s the perfect metaphor to sum up the viewing experience of the past ten weeks. Especially when Vietnam was put on the table by Valiant as a distraction so that Americans wouldn’t pay attention to just how many people were going missing each year.

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Meghan McCain Is Still Using her Stylist From The View

But the Glam Squad did nothing wrong. On WWHL Wednesday night, Meghan McCain reiterated that she feels she was “bullied” off The View. Responding to a rumor that current View staff and stars are being discouraged from talking to her, McCain said that she still uses one member of the show’s hair and makeup team (please let it be the hair), as well as still using their stylist. Related

Meghan McCain Felt ‘Slapped’ When Joy Behar Said She Didn’t Miss Her on The View

Meghan McCain’s Hair Snatching Itself From The View

Tags: But apparently, she hasn’t been bullied out of using some of the show’s style team. When asked if she had any role in the alleged toxicity of the show’s behind-the-scenes vibes, McCain evaded, saying only one person was bullied off the show and therefore kinda sorta implying only one person could be blameless in all this.

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Dune Is Coming to HBO Max a Day Early

Don't have HBO Max? ET / 3 p.m. might just have killed the Dune franchise.” To which WB has seemingly responded, “You don’t want your movie to come out the same day on streaming as theaters? It’ll come out the day before.” The Verge is reporting that Villeneuve’s sandworm opus will debut on the ad-free version of HBO Max on Thursday, October 21 at 6 p.m. PT. And the simultaneous streaming strategy may have been part of why Christopher Nolan is taking his next picture to Universal instead of the WB. Photo: Warner Brothers

Dune director Denis Villeneuve has strenuously argued against Warner Bros./AT&T’s strategy to release Dune on streaming at the same time as it comes to theaters. Disney’s decision to release Black Widow on Disney+ along with theaters resulted in Scarlett Johansson suing the Mouse for breach of contract. Dune worry about it! “Warner Bros. Sign up here

When and how to release films digitally is becoming an extremely fraught topic for studios. No word yet on whether Villeneuve is going to sic the Fremen on Warner Bros. Sources

The Verge


Dune, Reviewed By Someone Who Popped an Edible Beforehand

Tags: “Warner Bros.’ decision means Dune won’t have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph,” he wrote in Variety last year.

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The Challenge: Spies, Lies & Allies Recap: Better Off Ed

That being said, this show really can’t afford to lose any more eyeballs. I’m also sick of watching people make Big T work out. This team has done an impressive job so far, but I’m still not buying that they’re that hard to beat, so long you follow TJ’s instructions. Tags: If Cory is going to give us any sort of fictional coach energy, give us Coach Taylor! Ed, who’s clearly very bored in this house, offers to go down to the Lair in place of Logan, who was an obvious choice because of his injured hamstring. Let’s start with this tired Mighty Ducks narrative the producers have forced upon the Ruby Cell, even though they’ve only worked as a team once and are tied in losses with Team Sapphire. Next week, it seems like CT pisses off another woman, so that will be fun to break down. The Challenge
Mucus Plug

Season 37

Episode 11

Editor’s Rating

1 stars



Photo: MTV

If you couldn’t already tell by this week’s shocking episode title plucked from a forgettable conversation between Kyle and Amanda about childbirth, The Challenge is in a very delicate place. This isn’t really the earth-shattering move the competitors’ faces portray. Ed presents more of a threat physically and politically, so the agency gives him what he wants. However, to his credit, Emmanuel doesn’t emit oppressive hetero-male energy. I also don’t believe this woman who looks pretty fit and has been stuck in a house for several months has never picked up a dumbbell or ran around the pool! We also know who’s coming back into the house based on a clip in the mid-season trailer. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. The greats are brazenly talking shit about the show on podcasts and in their Instagram Stories, including the franchise’s currently MIA mascot, Johnny “Bananas,” on his Ringer podcast. Kyle decides to infiltrate the Sapphire Cell and take Nelson’s place, making him a member of a Ruby Cell. But as Kyle has said many times on this program, he doesn’t give up and knows how to weather the storm. At this time, I’ll point out that I made a mistake in my last recap when I said the only power the agency had was immunity. All this to say, this passé brand of humor doesn’t tickle me. Some alumni, like the famously messy lovers Cara Maria and Paulie, have even claimed that producers have blackballed them despite their notable contributions to the show. However, I know these game producers could’ve designed something slightly more compelling than having the competitors jump from platform to platform as the teams on the ground hose them with water. We get a montage of Cory leading his decided pack of underdogs in a workout like the hot PE teacher you never had. But the scenes in this episode mainly convey the boring message of “this person has a mom!” We see Kyle’s pregnant baby mama, which leads to the aforementioned conversation between him and Amanda, where she explains a bunch of gross stuff that happens when going into labor. The challenge also failed on account of difficulty because most of the players couldn’t complete it. But other than that, “Satellite Sabotage” should’ve stayed on the drawing board. Yawn! This banter is reminiscent of a very ’90s sitcom trope where the dad passes out after accidentally seeing his wife’s expanded vagina. If you’ve been steadily reading my recaps, you know I’m a sucker for an over-water challenge. In the first round, Ed is throwing Kyle around like a rag doll. Email

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Terms of Service apply. It’s that sort of “applaud me for being brave enough to dress up like a woman” thing that ultra-straight men do that’s very different from drag and usually offensive. Unfortunately, this week’s episode is a nearly drama-less, sleep-inducing hour and a half of television. After Kyle fumbles the instructions on the last jump, TJ announces that the Emerald Cell won yet again. See you then! I didn’t notice that, in deliberation, the agency were the only competitors with tablets to vote. Anyway, the only thing at stake in this episode seems to be the possibility of the winner infiltrating their team (snores). Next, we watch Ed, Big T, Kyle, and Nelson FaceTime their families back-to-back. Anyway, Kyle and Ed do an iconic pole wrestle. This elimination isn’t bad or even boring, per se. Meanwhile, The Challenge: All Stars on Paramount+ seems to be where all the hype and fan love is, with season two just around the corner and some big names floating around Reddit for season three. And that’s a lot of minutes to be bored, especially when CBS or Bravo are just a few remote clicks away. They do have Josh and Nany, after all. This bit, formerly done with CT, was never funny and obviously produced. I felt the editors were trying to make this challenge as ridiculous as possible, which only emphasized how dull it was. It was exciting, of course, watching CT casually take a step from each platform like the Jolly Green Giant he is, and Kaycee successfully complete it for the women. People’s Choice Awards”–like pep talks with their humongous veneers in my face if I was on their team. For instance, the A-block features what I consider two cardinal sins of competitive reality programming that are almost always used as filler when nothing exciting is happening: a workout segment and a FaceTime segment. Still, it’s 2021, and I could do without! The ratings have been consistently dismal despite a mostly entertaining season. Aside from being annoyed at how lazy this construction was, I was also distracted by all the comedic effects the editors were trying to layer onto the segment, the James Bond surf-rock music, and the endless cutaways to the players operating the ground hose and laughing maniacally. My bad! That’s all. Speaking of passé brands of humor, we also get another flirty moment between Emmanuel and Tori where Emmanuel dons a wig and booty shorts and does a basic girl impression, much to Tori’s excitement. My only note is that I would shoot my brains out if I had to listen to Cory and Nelson give their long-winded, “Noah Centineo’s speech at the E! Welp. You could also feel the editors trying their best to create funny and emotional moments out of the most unamusing scenes. It just feels like it really doesn’t matter who returns between Ed and Kyle, from a game perspective or for the sake of our entertainment. VULTURE NEWSLETTER
Keep up with all the drama of your favorite shows! I like watching growth, but I need some other narrative aside from Cory and the new and improved #GirlDad stuff. Finally, we go to the Lair, and I’ve never been more excited to get an episode over with. I can get a little too excited to call these producers out on their inconsistencies and nonsensical decision-making. And he does, despite Ed basically giving him a concussion, and wins two rounds in a row. Back at the house, they have a very uneventful meeting about who to vote into elimination. Additionally, this challenge is an individual sport, so we didn’t get to watch the teams display their chemistry, which I thought the whole workout segment led us to. Kyle apologizes for letting his team down at deliberation, and Cory gives another one of his coach speeches. Phone calls and FaceTimes home have occasionally been a useful device in previous seasons, either adding important context to story lines, delivering upsetting personal news, or interfering with a competitor’s game — a recent example being when Zach was threatening to break up with Jenna if she didn’t quit on national television over a DM that no one believes existed on Total Madness. Social media is hungrier than ever for the show’s greats and fan favorites to return, something the producers seem firmly against as of late. I guess we’re supposed to get a kick out of seeing Cory in positive-dad mode, but this is pretty much who he’s been since he hit rock bottom after the infamous pasta fight on Final Reckoning. I immediately thought of a much better version of this challenge on Cutthroat, one of my favorite seasons, where the teammates have to travel across the platforms together while also creating less room for each person to jump, increasing the difficulty. Now, let’s get into this week’s challenge, which I found deeply frustrating to watch.

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Categories: Entertainment News

Survivor Recap: I Am Here to Make Friends

Keep up with all the drama of your favorite shows! This should make for a compelling rest of the season. Instead, the season is succeeding because of interesting characters playing at a high level and creating enough drama on their own. After Shan’s star-making blindside toward JD last week, Survivor doubled down on its love for the Mafia Pastor. Tiffany is a smart player, and I’m glad to see she’s in a power position in her tribe. This season hasn’t been the case, which should make a delightful post-merge (where the game really gets interesting). We’re not even at the merge, yet she is positioned as Survivor’s Lead Star of a Reality TV Series. This means the people in possession of parts one and two remain unable to vote at tribal council. Except, Tiffany already knows about the idol thanks to Evvie and calls him out, noting he’d already said the secret idol phrase at previous immunity challenges. Her competitors would obviously include Kyle Richards in Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Symone in RuPaul’s Drag Race.)

There’s the possibility that Shan is receiving a *second spoiler alert* Jeremy in San Juan del Sur edit where her position as the season’s threat will lead her to be voted out promptly post-merge. Except, he lies and tells her he found it that morning. Genie shares this information with Shan and Ricard, who convince her to leave it unopened. (Could you imagine if this were an actual Emmy category? It’s proof Ricard and Shan’s relationship is rock-solid — at least for now. Possibly. She’s a great contestant and quickly proving herself to perhaps be one of the Survivor elites. And who knows what’s going to happen once the Luvu tribe breaks up and heads to tribal. Because, if you look around, Survivor has a stacked cast this season. Now, that’s a smart move, and this all occurs just five minutes into the episode. They wager it’s the three-way hidden immunity idol of which Xander is known to have the second part, but they believe the Luvu tribe still hasn’t found the final piece. Yase picks Shan from the losing tribe and Liana from their own as tributes. Occasionally, when a player is just so good — or perceived to be that way — Survivor can’t help but become a one-person show. So, behind Genie’s back, she and Ricard open the advantage and replace it with a fake immunity idol. This makes tribal council a heated three-way standoff, and Genie ends up being betrayed and sent home. Plus, if we read Shan’s active social media presence as tea leaves, it’s clear she’s invested in her growing reality TV celebrity status too. *Spoiler alert* Parvati received a similar treatment in Micronesia; so did Kim in One World, Tony in Cagayan, and Tyson in Blood vs. Shan is dominating the season — and these recaps — to the point that it looks like she’s receiving a winner’s edit. Naseer even shares a heartwarming story about his days training for Survivor: He’d spend every day finding immunity idols that his daughter had created and hidden in his backyard at their home. Still, the Shan Show is a little concerning from a viewer standpoint. Email

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Terms of Service apply. Here’s hoping. Take Tiffany, for example. Could the plethora of advantages lead to wonky gameplay? They’re funny! In a funny exchange, Xander informs Tiffany of his three-way immunity idol to bond with her. Liana and Shan immediately bonded with Shan sharing a tearful story about growing up in foster care, finding her “higher power” through the church, and rekindling her relationship with her mother shortly before her mother’s death. This has happened before. With only three players left, they all might be gunning for one another. Sometimes pre-merge episodes are expected and formulaic. As we approach a merge or tribe swap that previews for next week seem to indicate is coming, there’s one thing to note. This leads to an intense scene between Ricardo and Shan. They don’t need bullying castaways. For all the focus on multiple advantages this season, including Knowledge is Power, Beware, and Extra Vote, they largely haven’t been used. It’s a welcome respite after a few very serious seasons of erupting fights, Big Little Lies-esqe tearful stares into the vast ocean, and vicious gameplay. Survivor
The Strategist or the Loyalist

Season 41

Episode 5

Editor’s Rating

3 stars



Photo: Robert Voets/CBS

Can you feel the Shantasy? Tags: She did not say Himbo Rights this episode. She secretly mugs for the camera throughout the conversation and even gets Xander to apologize for lying in a game all about deception. The trip ends with the two women at the “Protect Your Vote/Risk Your Vote Wheel.” Shan protects her vote so Liana can risk hers and receive an advantage. It won’t be this week. Liana receives a new advantage, “Knowledge Is Power,” that allows her to steal another player’s idol or advantage simply by asking them just once if they have an advantage, and they reply, “Yes.”

Meanwhile, Shan returns to find her tribe publicly airing their gameplay. This is followed once again by two players heading off on a secret adventure following the immunity challenge. Yase and Luvu came in first and second at the immunity challenge — a classic Survivor net-rope knot-coconut toss course. Naseer is a hard worker and a positive light on the show. Her Ua tribe is dwindling with only three tribemates left: herself, Genie, and Ricard. Of all the secret adventure pairings this season, this one was the most emotional. I’m excited to see more from him — and the Luvu team at large who still haven’t made it to tribal council. We cut to earlier footage of Naseer finding the “Beware Advantage” in a tree on the Luvu beach, and suddenly the three-way immunity idol is activated (It took long enough). It’s a tense scene of two deeply close allies seeing their trust tested. She received an episodic holy trinity: An emotional backstory, a smart strategic maneuver, and near-constant screen time. It’s an emotional scene and proof the show can succeed in its new era with positivity and heart. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. Water. It’s a safe move, but Shan isn’t a safe player. At the challenge, Shan and Xander say their immunity idol phrases only for Naseer to jump out of nowhere with his own oddball phrase at the last minute. He wisely won’t return the Extra Vote advantage she snagged from JD last week because this is the exact move they made on JD last week before voting him out. Neither has the Shot-in-the-Dark at the tribal booth. At the start of the episode, Genie quickly finds the “Beware Advantage” rehidden after its previous owner Brad was voted out two episodes ago. It’s still early enough that I remain hopeful anything is a possibility.

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Categories: Entertainment News

Amazon’s Passing Out Old Fire TV Stuff at 30 Percent Off

Fancy! Amazon’s also come with more or less the same popular apps available for download, and the devices are powered by Alexa, who is clearly the Splinter of this lineup — heard from often, available at a moment’s notice, and suffused with an almost creepy extrasensory perception. Meet the Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael of Amazon devices currently on sale well ahead of Black Friday:

• Fire TV Stick Lite With Alexa Voice Remote Lite• Fire TV Stick With Alexa Voice Remote• Fire TV Stick 4K• Fire TV Recast

Having spent time trying a few of these models in the past, Vulture knows Amazon’s streaming devices and voice remotes are comparable to other models from its main streaming rivals at Roku, Apple, and Google. Tags: These are all at least a year or two old, but they’ll all still play your latest episodes of Succession or You. They’ll find that next billion somehow. $170

at Amazon


If you subscribe to a service through our links, Vulture may earn an affiliate commission. It may have faster Wi-Fi and 4K support, but unless you have a 4K television or plan on getting one, your wallet will thank you for saving the money. Stacked against the comparable Roku Express, the Fire TV Stick Lite ships with a voice remote and is eight bucks cheaper. $28

at Amazon


Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K


$50 now 30% off


This one has Dolby Vision! And Amazon’s latest streaming gadget, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, goes for $55 right now. Fire TV Stick Lite with Alexa Voice Remote Lite


$30 now 27% off


Not 4K, but a steal at the price. Not one but four Amazon Fire TV units are going for between 26–30 percent off their usual rates. Photo: Patrick Sison/AP/Shutterstock

Last year’s $386 billion in revenue clearly wasn’t enough, because one of the world’s biggest retailers wants more more more more more, and is happy to slash prices on streaming devices to get exactly that. Streamliner

At your service. Don’t worry about Amazon. $35

at Amazon



at Bed Bath & Beyond


Fire TV Recast


$230 now 26% off


If you really need a DVR solution and your Netflix in one box. $22

at Amazon


Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote


$40 now 30% off


Just upgraded (4K Max!), but this older one still does nearly everything. These are pretty solid pre–Black Friday deals on all of these devices.

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Categories: Entertainment News

I Can Confirm Megan Thee Stallion’s Popeyes Hottie Sauce Is Elite Brand Synergy

I’ll be filing my application to work the drive-through at Megan’s own Popeyes shortly wherever that may be (probably Texas), but first, I had to get my claws on this Hottie Sauce. There are two items on the menu, a.k.a. Ordering these nuggets — eight with the sauces for $4.49 — was like putting on the glasses from They Live and realizing that all other nuggets were lying to you. I hope one day to make a pilgrimage to a Stallion-owned Popeyes location. Photo: Rebecca Alter

Popping the top of the Hottie Sauce, you see pleasing deep-red dotted with little chili flecks, thankfully not showing up quite as neon as it looked in the advertising materials. It’s all just so fun. I appreciated that the Hottie sandwich wasn’t slathered with the sauce, which would have made it too sweet to eat; it was a nice amount, especially if you like the honey and fried-chicken combo. I ate it over the course of three meals. The manager and staff seemed to get along even though their kitchen AC was down, they were really nice to all of the senior citizen customers who came in, and they threw in a free pie for my wait. (Something something smart-sounding joke about supply chain, am I right?) This stuff was exclusive. This is impressive. The Hottie Sauce settles into all the grooves and crannies. That’s commitment. The manager told her no because she didn’t order a Hottie Meal sandwich and limited quantities mean they can only give out Hottie Sauces with Hottie Meals. Overall, this collaboration feels more thought-out and deliberate than most others we’ve seen, combining the merch and branding of the BTS meal with the actual relationship between artist and company that we’ve seen with Lil Nas X and Taco Bell … with a video campaign that was made with intention, style, and a voice. When Popeyes announced that they were collaborating with Megan Thee Stallion on a new Hottie Sauce and Hottie Meals, it made perfect sense and the hotties rejoiced. It takes them off the pedestal to that normal human level. Popeyes says this new sauce blends Aleppo pepper and Crystal Hot Sauce (a cayenne-based classic), and you definitely get that peppery hit when you smell it. I Ate Like Saweetie for a Week to Prep for Her McDonald’s Meal

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Tags: There better be a gift shop full of this stuff, and even-hotter sauces. Megan also sidled up to the famed Hot Ones table, and never has there been a cleaner promotional concept: Megan’s entering the hot-sauce market, and the Complex show’s host Sean Evans is the arbiter of all things spicy celebby. The seasoning works. Very few real celebrities (sorry Trisha) have dared venture into the mukbang space, but it’s the perfect showcase for Megan’s humor, personality, and ultimately her product. Hottie Meals, that currently come with the Hottie Sauce: the chicken sandwich and the brand’s new nuggets. I put the leftover nuggs out in the office and about two-thirds of them got eaten even though they were cold. Meanwhile, the Hottie Sauce packaging called to mind the curly bubble font of the McDonald’s Saweetie sauce. I say this with great admiration, not as a dig. It’s also like 50 percent of the nugget, a creature of its own. Two heavyweights of the American South, beloved in their respective domains, combining forces. Photo: Rebecca Alter

Popeyes was smart to use Hottie Sauce as an excuse to push their new nuggets, which they launched in July. On Thursday, Popeyes released a trailer that finds Megan dressed as a Popeyes orange-rhinestone cowgirl who goes on a mission because — gasp! .@TheeStallion heating things up 🔥 Secure your #MegsHottieSauce today pic.twitter.com/Y0Wmu54bwa— Popeyes (@Popeyes) October 19, 2021

Meg and Popeyes also dropped a line of merch yesterday, including a crop top and a hoodie that both say “saucy,” a T-shirt with a flaming Popeyes receipt graphic, a bikini, and a dog toy shaped like a Popeyes chicken three-piece. Collector’s item. The eight-piece comes with three Hottie Sauces, enough to save two for later (or to sell on eBay). I also dipped one in the gravy and mashed potatoes side I got in lieu of fries out of some misguided idea of fake restraint. Photo: Rebecca Alter

First off, the packaging on the Hottie sandwich is instantly iconic: A tongue sticking out of lips in classic Megan fashion, all in pop-art style purple, red, and orange. With hits like “Savage,” “WAP,” and “Body,” she is a young sensation who does not miss. Maybe this is what I had been trying to achieve with all this celebrity meal chasing: “What’s it like to eat mozz sticks in Lil Huddy’s lap?” “What would it be like if Shawn Mendes threw his low-carb Chipotle bowl at me?” And now, “What would it be like for Megan Thee Stallion to choke me out with hot sauce?”

So on October 19, when Megan’s Hottie Sauce dropped, I headed down the block to my nearest Popeyes. “Celebrity is that thing that, by definition, is this unobtainable lifestyle,” he said. The Rolling Stones could never. The marketing rollout for Megan’s Hottie Sauce has been a master class in hype and knowing your brand. Sheriff Hottie. The Popeye’s chicken sandwich, hottified or no, is the best deal on Earth. It’s giving sweet.” This is genius. Dunk dunk. Photo: Popeyes/YouTube

Megan Thee Stallion is elite. At 26, she’s had two Billboard 100 No. The next day, Megan released a Popeyes mukbang video where she showed off her hot sauce, saying, “It’s giving spicy. Despite putting my order in on the app, the location was fairly crunched, and they needed to prepare my Hottie Meals fresh, which took approximately 20 minutes. I wanted the Hottie Meals to slap my tongue and whole entire face into next century; mild is not a word I’d ever associate with Megan Thee Stallion … until this. These little fuckers rule. I made off with my loot and giddyupped back home to feast. For years, people have tried to make that ‘What’s it like to have a beer with this person?’ show, and I think through hot sauce, we accidentally invented it.” Evans was on to something. It’s super fun and camp and it’s giving Hamburglar. This still life?? Hot Ones or Cold Ones?” She proved she could get up to over 100,000 Scovilles without blinking. A road trip for next year’s Hot Nug Summer. When I showed up to the counter, a girl was asking if she could get a Hottie Sauce with her sandwich. “What is this called? Okay I’m literally Caravaggio. So not only is this collab serving cowgirl and businesswoman, it’s giving pillar of the community. This is what we love to see in our fast-food advertising: a narrative. The taste, however, is overwhelmingly dominated by the sauce’s other ingredients: cider vinegar and honey. (Although she did say at least one of the hot sauces beyond that point needed to be “illegal” and its creator “in prison,” she more than proved she could handle her heat.)

Back in August, I sat down with Evans at a spicy curry event sponsored, hilariously, by Tums. While some bites of this stuff finished with a hot note in the back of the throat, it was less of a kick and more of a suggestion of spicy, like how flavored seltzers carry the suggestion of fruit flavor. Every time I’ve ever had a Popeyes chicken sandwich, I’ve been impressed anew by the quality; it’s maybe the most substantial sandwich in all of fast food, burgers included. Photo: Rebecca Alter

Along with food, Popeyes x Megan Thee Stallion announced that Megan would be making a six-figure donation to Houston Random Acts of Kindness. Now she has vested interest, as a stakeholder, in ensuring that her Popeye’s tie-in is quality product. — “Someone stole your hottie sauce!” An anime Megan then hops on her bronco with her trusty Frenchie puppy 4oe at her side and gallops off into the night. The spice is definitely dominated by the sweet. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (@popeyes)

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Burger King’s Keep It Real Meals Feel Like a Glitch in the Fast-Food Simulation

Help! I recommend this. And unlike some celebrity fast-food collaborations that feel haphazard or tossed off, the announcement included an unprecedented detail: Meg would also become a franchise owner of five Popeyes establishments. Yes, Megan Thee Stallion is the Popeyes chicken sandwich of celebrities. Photo: Rebecca Alter

This letdown on the hotness front was really amplified by the strange decision to do the Hottie sandwich and Hottie nuggets in the Popeyes regular breading, rather than the genuinely best-in-class spicy breading. Lots of honey. This summer’s “Thot Shit” music video would make our year-end movies list if short filmés (and my opinion) qualified, and she’s started enough viral dance trends to single-handedly keep the lights on over at TikTok dot-biz. 1 singles, three Grammys, and knees deserving of their own insurance policy. “But then something everyone can relate to is dying on hot sauce. Looking back at this picture right now, I want to fish this bag out of my garbage, iron it, and frame it for a future Hottie Shrine. The full anime-inspired campaign video was released yesterday and features a full-on battle between Meg and her alter ego, Tina Snow. Unimpressed by the first handful of sauces, she wondered if Evans was tricking her. I figured I could pick his brain on the connection between celebrity, food, and media. The store gave me a 12-piece by mistake. It’s unfortunate, especially because the concept of hot is so central to Megan’s fandom. I spent it observing that the vibes in this particular Popeyes were honestly really cute. The breading is craggly and crispy, giving your mouth a lot of fun texture to play with.

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Categories: Entertainment News

Ruby Rose Alleges Dangerous Conditions, Injuries, ‘Bullying’ on Batwoman Set

I absolutely and completely refute the defamatory and damaging claims made against me by her; they are entirely made up and never happened.”

Dries has not responded to Vulture’s request for comment. I DO NOT QUIT,” and detailing the alleged unsafe conditions and “bullying tactics” she says she witnessed and was subjected to during the show’s production. The actor told Vulture:

“As Warner Bros. pic.twitter.com/CiiQe6EqZB— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) October 20, 2021

Rose alleges that she witnessed a crew member get third-degree burns on set, “and then we were told we had to do a sex scene without a minute to process.” She also recounts that another unspecified accident allegedly left a production assistant “quadriplegic and they tried to blame it on her being on her phone, so much so CW didn’t even help her to start with because they needed to ‘investigate’ so she had to do a go fund me.” Rose writes that this unidentified PA “will never walk again.”

Rose claims that Batwoman would not shut down production for COVID after fellow CW shows filming in Vancouver already had, and it took mandatory government closures for production to stop. Rose suggests that she fought with showrunner Caroline Dries over this by tagging her in the post. Television had decided not to exercise its option to engage Ruby for season two of Batwoman based on multiple complaints about workplace behavior that were extensively reviewed and handled privately out of respect for all concerned.”

Updated at 4:18 p.m.: Dougray Scott has also responded to Rose’s claims against him, denying them outright. Photo: The CW

In 2019, Ruby Rose underwent emergency surgery on two herniated discs after injuring herself doing stunts on the set of her CW series Batwoman. Earlier today, the actress posted a series of Instagram stories suggesting that her injury was not an isolated event on set and that she was made to return to work ten days after the surgery. Updated at 2:50 p.m.: In response to Vulture’s request for comment, a representative for Warner Bros. Television has stated, they decided not to exercise the option to engage Ruby for season two of Batwoman based on multiple complaints about her workplace behaviour. Now, Rose is definitively saying, “NOR DID I QUIT. Here is a breakdown of Rose’s allegations of misconduct by producers and an actor on the set of Batwoman:

Rose alleges that Peter Roth, who left his position as Warner Bros. Television Studios CEO in 2020, “couldn’t stop making young women steam your pants, around your crotch while you were still wearing set pants.”

Rose posted a video of what appears to be a doctor detailing the injuries in her X-rays and a video of her surgery and claims she was told that if she did not return to work ten days after the surgery, “the whole crew and cast would be fired and I’d let everyone down … and I just lost the studio millions (by getting injured on [Roth’s] set).”

Ruby Rose has came out with various statements exposing the terrible working conditions behind-the-scenes on The CW’s #Batwoman series. Related

Ruby Rose Reportedly Quit Batwoman Because It Was Too Much Work

Batwoman Avoids Recasting Ruby Rose by Inventing New Lead Character

Tags: TV group called Rose’s allegations “revisionist history” in the following statement:

“Despite the revisionist history that Ruby Rose is now sharing online aimed at the producers, the cast and crew, the network, and the Studio, the truth is that Warner Bros. Up until this point, the story of Rose’s departure after the show’s first season as reported by TVLine suggested that she left because of “the long hours demanded of a lead television role” and a dislike of living and working in Vancouver, the narrative framing her as a difficult actress. Rose alleges that actor Dougray Scott, who played Jacob Kane on the series, “abused women” by yelling at them and “hurt a female stunt double.”

pic.twitter.com/nLN5bdTpRh— DiscussingFilm (@DiscussingFilm) October 20, 2021

After Rose’s departure, Batwoman wrote a new character, Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie), to take the Batwoman cowl and began airing its second season in January 2021.

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Categories: Entertainment News

Everything We Know About the Netflix Employee Walkout

Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

After weeks of controversy over Dave Chappelle’s offensive Netflix stand-up special, in which the comedian rails against transgender identity, and the response from Netflix, employees at the streaming service are staging a walkout in Los Angeles today, October 20. An October 13 Bloomberg report revealed that employees spoke out about the special internally and that company leadership expressed support for the comedian. Outside the @netflix offices in Hollywood. The seven-minute PSA has since been posted to YouTube, also featuring an introduction from Preston, the organizer, and more appearances by Drag Race’s Peppermint and TV writer Our Lady J. Content demands include investing more in trans and nonbinary talent and content, along with involving more input from marginalized communities around “potential harmful (’sensitive’) content” on the streamer. Related

How Will Netflix Clean Up Its Latest Mess? “We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”

What happened at the walkout?Celebrities like Eureka O’Hara, who appears in the PSA video, spoke at the walkout rally alongside Preston, the organizer. Schitt’s Creek co-creator Dan Levy, who announced a Netflix deal last month, has also voiced support for the walkout, tweeting, “Transphobia is unacceptable and harmful. The apparent Chappelle fans carried signs bearing slogans like “Dave Is Funny” and “Jokes Are Funny” and chanted “We like jokes!” Netflix employees responded by chanting “Trans Lives Matter!” as seen in videos of the protest. However, in a statement, Netflix expressed support for employees walking out. What is the walkout?News of the walkout emerged last week, with outlets reporting that trans employees had planned the action via internal messaging. “We aim to use this moment to shift the social ecology around what Netflix leadership deems ethical entertainment, while establishing policies and guidelines that protect employees and consumers, alike,” Ashlee Marie Preston, an organizer, wrote on Instagram on October 18. @BNCNews pic.twitter.com/kqRR6ClgnI— Anita Bennett (@tvanita) October 20, 2021

The situation outside Netflix has grown quickly tense as Chapelle supporters have tried to take over the walkout and are being drowned out by chants of “trans lives matter!” pic.twitter.com/7i1D6vTPgO— Kate Sosin (@shoeleatherkate) October 20, 2021

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly. Elliot Page, who stars in Netflix’s Umbrella Academy and recently came out as a transgender man, tweeted the video with a message supporting the walkout. “I encourage us all to state clearly that we, as Netflix employees are stunning not simply when we are doing the work that our roles demand of us but also when we challenge the very principles of our company.” The event is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. “And so I want to make it very clear that this isn’t an instance of cancel culture because I’ve invited Dave Chappelle to have transformative dialogue with us on multiple occasions, and he has made it clear that it is not of interest to him.” She went on to criticize Netflix executives for promoting “the hate economy” and “a corporate culture that manipulates the algorithmic sciences to distort the way that we perceive ourselves and one another.”

"I've invited Dave Chappelle to have transformative dialogue with us…and he has made it clear that it is not of interest to him," says #NetflixWalkout organizer Ashlee Marie Preston. Trans Netflix Staff Plan a Walkout After Company Response to Chappelle Special

Netflix’s Ted Sarandos ‘Should’ve Led With Humanity’ in Latest Interview

Dave Chappelle’s Endless Feedback Loop

Tags: That isn’t a debate.”

What are employees’ demands?Netflix’s Trans* Employee Resource Group is releasing a list of demands in three areas: content investment, employee relations and safety, and harm reduction, per a press release obtained by the Verge. After Chappelle’s special The Closer came out on October 8, critics and employees alike took aim at Netflix and Chappelle for his transphobic rant while calling himself “team TERF,” or aligned with trans-exclusionary radical feminists who do not consider transgender women to be women. As employees hold a walkout over Dave Chappelle's #TheCloser, counter protesters try to drown them out. Netflix’s CEO, Ted Sarandos, has also defended the streamer’s partnership with Chappelle in multiple internal memos, statements, and interviews, chalking The Closer’s release up to “creative freedom.” Most recently, on October 19, Sarandos told multiple outlets he “screwed up” handling The Closer internally and should have “led with humanity.” As Netflix employees prepare to walk out, here’s what we know about the protest so far. ET at a Netflix office in Los Angeles, per organizers, and employees plan to present a list of demands to Sarandos. "This isn't cancel culture, but an avoidance of accountability." https://t.co/OsrDv4QD1O pic.twitter.com/RTxo2rHAc9— Variety (@Variety) October 20, 2021

Netflix employees were met with counterprotestors at the walkout, per multiple reporters on the scene. Organizers moved the location of the walkout rally, per social media, “due to the overwhelming response.” Additionally, the event will feature support from Netflix talent, who recorded a PSA. “We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused,” a spokesperson said. Stars including Pose’s Angelica Ross, Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil, Arrow’s Colton Haynes, and Drag Race’s Eureka O’Hara will appear in the PSA, Variety reported. Preston said the aim of the protest wasn’t about “cancel culture but an avoidance of accountability” from Chappelle, per video from Variety. “I think the message that many people expect for us to deliver today is one around why it’s important to cancel Dave Chappelle,” Preston said. “I encourage all [members of] Trans* and allies not to work for Netflix that day,” an employee wrote in a Netflix Slack channel for trans employees and allies on October 11, the Los Angeles Times reported. Also among the demands under harm reduction, the employees are asking the company to “acknowledge the harm and Netflix’s responsibility for this harm from transphobic content, and in particular harm to the Black trans community.”

What has Netflix said about the walkout?Netflix has not yet responded to the employee demands. The walkout is specifically organized by Netflix’s Trans* Employee Resource Group, comprising trans and nonbinary employees and allies. Who is participating?The walkout is centered around transgender and nonbinary Netflix employees, along with their allies. Pagels-Minor, for “sharing confidential information externally from their Netflix email on several occasions,” per a statement to the New York Times; Pagels-Minor denied the allegation through their lawyer. After the report, Netflix fired an employee, later identified as B. Other celebrities, including comedian Billy Eichner and Matrix co-creator Lilly Wachowski, have voiced their support on social media. The group is also asking the company to recruit more trans leadership, “especially BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and people of color].” While the employees are not demanding Netflix take down the Chappelle special, they are asking the company to take references to anti-trans content out of the office, add disclaimers to harmful content on the streaming service, and pair recommendations for “trans-affirming content” with anti-trans content on the service.

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Rhys Darby Just Made the Weirdest Trailer for a Comedy Special You’ll Ever See

Was his mumsy a bird? “I’m proud to be working with Comedy Dynamics as I release this, my most personal, yet possibly, most ridiculous special, which honours my dearest Mumsy,” said Darby in a statement. The trailer for Rhys Darby’s comedy special, Rhys Darby: Mystic Time Bird, is mostly just bird noises. Comedy Dynamics describes the special as “obscure observations, sound effects and silly banter, as he takes you on a fantastical journey into the world of mysticism, past lives … and birds.” And it looks to be a great leap forward for the hallowed tradition of Bird Comedy: Kids in the Hall’s Chicken Lady. Portlandia’s refrain of “Put a Bird on It!” And now, Rhys Darby: Mystic Time Bird on November 2, wherever you stream your comedy. The Flight of the Conchords alum squawks, struts, and flaps his arms in imitation of a variety of New Zealand’s lush and plentiful avian life. “Until, of course, it gets trapped in your house. Always Sunny’s Birds of War. Ca-caw! Related

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Tags: “There is no creature on Earth that is as free as the bird,” he marvels. And against all odds, it is … kind of a good thing! Ca-caw!” It is mesmerizing to behold.

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Dr. Dre’s Messy Divorce Followed Him to His Grandma’s Grave

On Monday, TMZ reported that Young’s process server tried to give Dre legal documents while he was standing at his grandmother’s burial site during her funeral. Vulture reached out to Dr. Dre and Nicole Young’s divorce. The papers were regarding payment of attorney fees for Young. Dre’s rep for comment but did not hear back at time of publishing. Young and Dre were married for 24 years. Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

Messy. The acrimonious split between the high-profile couple has been dragging on since the divorce was announced in June 2020 and is marked by abuse allegations and financial disputes. Dre, whose real name is Andre Romelle Young, believes he has paid the full amount of $325,433. Those close to Young say that Dre was served in the parking lot of the cemetery, while Dre sources said it happened right as he was standing next to his grandmother’s casket. There’s no other way to describe Dr. Dre Now Recovering From Brain Aneurysm

Dr. Dre Ordered to Cough Up Big Bucks in Spousal Support to Estranged Wife

Tags: However, the judge’s final order was $1,550,000, which means Dre still owes the difference. Sources connected to the former couple are giving conflicting reports, but all reports involve a cemetery. Related


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Lana Del Rey Paints Banisters Blue in Her ‘Blue Banisters’ Video

Last month, she released the Blue Banisters single “Arcadia,” along with its not-quite-as-literal video. Also true to the song lyrics, the video features Del Rey and her sisters baking birthday cake, one indeed with a baby on the way, and shows her broken weather vane atop her Oklahoma house. Related

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Tags: And the award for Most Literal Music Video goes to! She first teased “Blue Banisters” in April, posting a since-deleted clip of herself and then-fiancé Clayton Johnson; that clip is not part of the officially released music video. It’s Del Rey’s second album of 2021, on the heels of May’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club, and was originally set to be released on July 4 before its October delay. The video comes just days ahead of Blue Banisters release on October 22. Del Rey then released “Blue Banisters” in full alongside two other songs, “Text Book” and “Wildflower Wildfire,” in May. If you’re coming for the titular action, stay to watch Del Rey ride a John Deere tractor, which she also sings about. The only thing missing seems to be the chickens! Lana Del Rey released a visual for “Blue Banisters,” the title track from her upcoming album, and it indeed features her painting some banisters blue, alongside her “sisters,” presumably Jenny and Nikki Lane.

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Young Thug’s Punk Rebirth Isn’t Quite That

Rebirth was sunk by taste and timing. Punk isn’t punk. Cole reaching for high notes on the deceptively smooth-sounding “Stressed,” matches Doja Cat’s cooing romanticism on “Icy Hot,” croons alongside The Format and .fun alum Nate Ruess, and effects a singsong old-school flow on the Mac Miller collaboration “Day Before.”

The range is impressive, and rarer still is the star-studded rap album that doesn’t lose its character in a parade of high-profile guest spots. Thug — a restless talent who seems at ease in every setting, thanks in part to an unpredictable instrument, a voice capable of selling a smooth melody, a coarse rhyme, a high yelp, or a low growl — proved his mettle in a rock setting in 2017 on the Beautiful Thugger Girls jams “Me or Us” and “Family Don’t Matter,” acoustic campfire jams that bordered on country music, and in 2019 on So Much Fun’s Nav collab “Boy Back,” where Thug skates coolly across a twinkling electric-guitar loop. Split almost straight down the middle between rock-oriented cuts like the harrowing story song “Die Slow,” where a gently plucked electric guitar flanks the rapper as he blurts out a chilling history of family disputes and misfortunes, and trap bangers like “Bubbly,” co-starring Drake and Travis Scott, Punk isn’t cohesive. More From This Series

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Tags: These songs inform the new album’s approach to rock music. Iron is sharpening iron. 1 album. Photo: Young Thug/YouTube

Hip-hop appreciates change … up to a point. Young Thug is attempting a different kind of reign than the hip-hop A-listers he counts among his friends and collaborators now. A decade later, listeners’ interests seem more varied, and mainstream music is warming up to guitar sounds that looked to be on the way out amid the big tent EDM movement of the early 2010s. Now, we’ve heard Lil Peep’s experimentation with midwest emo samples; Juice WRLD, Lil Uzi Vert, and Trippie Redd’s filtering of pop-punk melodies through trap beats; Justin Bieber and the Kid LAROI’s meld of pop, rock, and hip-hop aesthetics; Willow Smith’s indie-rock album; Olivia Rodrigo’s grunge song; and Machine Gun Kelly’s pop-punk caricature. Stir the pot too much and the dish gets a little tougher to sell. Punk is a movement about sticking out, breaking the rules, and bucking commercial trends; Punk is slick and cozy. Is the album’s title tongue-in-cheek, or is the popular understanding of the very concept of punk rock now watered down, misconstrued by commercial projects like Rebirth? The pace is relaxed. A certain subset of hip-hop head pawned this all off as “mumble rap,” a catchall term demeaning (mostly Southern) rappers for the clarity of their diction, but Thug persisted across releases like 2013’s 1017 Thug, 2015’s Barter 6, and 2016’s Jeffery, evolving his sound and inching a little closer to the top of the Billboard 200 album chart with each subsequent drop. Thirty-year-old sometime Atlanta rap iconoclast Young Thug began releasing mixtapes around the same time Tyler and Keef were experiencing their early hits and controversies. Consider Tyler, the Creator, who saw criticism for the abrasive lyrics and corrosive sonics of releases like 2009’s Bastard and 2011’s Goblin, then spent the better part of a decade fine-tuning his music as streams and accolades racked up; take Chief Keef, the Chicago rapper whose 2012 breakthrough was met with intense debates about morality in street rap closer in tone to the cultural mores of the late ’80s than the early ’10s. In the solo songs, Thug cycles through half a dozen personas — the lover, the family man, the pre-fame dreamer, the affluent rapper. Cole, thinkers who don’t much care for the spotlight if their long absences are to be believed. He’s also primed an audience that no longer finds his quirks forbiddingly quirky. The appeal, as was the case with So Much Fun, is hearing Thug tear through the strangest beats he can find (though this album’s trap jams seek to sooth, where Fun cuts like “Hot” or “Jumped Out the Window” aimed for bedlam). The arrangements are plush, soulful. He’s not like Drake or Future, whose consistencies warrant a guess at the sound of a new release if not the subject matter, or Kendrick Lamar and J. Thug is doing whatever he wants. Young Thug is a chameleon. (Destroying a spray-painted Rolls-Royce with baseball bats as a promotional stunt isn’t bucking any system. Thug’s I Came From Nothing mixtapes filtered sharp melodic sensibilities and a natural gift for rhyming through a playful, warbling tone that coolly undercut his formidable talents with an air of levity. Would Thug, an avid student of Lil Wayne (whose Barter 6 album title was a provocation to Wayne and his Carter album series), follow his elder into the morass of the awful 2010 butt-rock misfire Rebirth? A new Thug release could signal a quick detour into a new genre or introduce new bit players. Cuts like I Came From Nothing 3’s “I Know Ya” sounded like mutant descendants of the booming, triumphant beats of 2000s Jeezy tapes and the gymnastic lyrical flights of the music Lil Wayne was releasing at the same time. Working with Miami producers Cool and Dre on the cusp of an era that would yield some of the harshest reviews of his career, Lil Wayne set about making his idea of a rock album, dabbling in funk rock, nü metal, blues rock, and pop punk but largely failing to offer anything fresh or modern. This year, Thug has been teasing Punk, the sophomore album previewed at an NPR Tiny Desk Concert whose crunchy guitars and cameo from Blink-182 alumnus Travis Barker appeared to convey a renewed interest in the guitar. There’s nothing abrasive in its aesthetic. He traces the lilting melodic lines Post Malone puts down on “Living It Up” with ease and meets Future on even ground as the duo reminisces on past hardships on “Peeping Out the Window.” He gets J. Hard to say.) The guitars are soft. Everyone else is meeting the challenge. This isn’t a new direction for Thug — or anyone else in a decade where everyone from Alabama’s NoCap to New York’s Sheff G and Sleepy Hallow to Chicago’s Polo G is reaching for beats built around emotional guitar loops — so much as a sampling and a refinement of several ideas that are explored in the rapper’s interim projects. The writing’s pliable. Would Punk follow the re-influx of pop-punk aesthetics in mainstream music? Let’s hope he doesn’t fuck this up. Young Thug is attempting a different kind of reign than the hip-hop A-listers he counts among his friends and collaborators now. Cohesion has never been the goal. By the time he dropped a debut studio album — 2019’s So Much Fun, discounting many retail mixtapes, EPs, and compilations — he’d amassed the necessary chops, connections, and name recognition to score his first No. Last spring’s Slime & B, in collaboration with Chris Brown, saw Thug gracing the slickest production he touched since his chart-topping Camila Cabello collaboration “Havana.” This spring’s Slime Language 2 gave the members of the rapper’s Young Stoner Life collective ample room to shine, ceding some of the spotlight to Dolly White, HiDoraah, and Unfoonk, Thug’s real-life siblings. Owning all that he is and ever was, Young Thug rewards longtime listeners with a celebration of every rung of his patient ascent.

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8 Travel-Horror Movies That Will Make You Want to Stay Home

Photo: Hostel Llc/Lions Gate/Kobal/Shutterstock

As the world slowly reopens, restrictions loosen, and gas tanks miraculously empty or tires unexpectedly blow out, ask yourself, “Should I heed the disheveled filling-station clerk’s warning? Peacock


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Tags: Shudder


Motel Hell (1980)

“It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent Fritters.”

Farmer Vincent is a renaissance man: He’s a farmer, butcher, motel manager, and connoisseur of meat. Shudder

The Evil Dead (1981)

The flick that made the “cabin in the woods” trope a mainstay, The Evil Dead is what happens when five college students decide to vacation at a rural cabin in Tennessee only to end up as minced meat. If it’s any indicator, torture-porn auteur Eli Roth cites this as a formative film. Hostel follows three buddies traveling to Slovakia after hearing about its “beautiful and desperate women” from a stranger. If you’ve ever listened to an Eagles song opining about the beauty of the Southwest and thought to yourself, “I want to sleep in the desert night with a billion stars all around!,” this movie is here to say, “Are you sure?”

Available to stream on Tubi and Shudder. No unplanned diversions. Things take a turn when they decide to pick up a hitchhiker who turns violent, slashing the brother after describing his family tradition of working at the old slaughterhouse. Of course, two members of the group stumble upon a house and viewers learn the varied uses of human carcasses. Tubi


Tourist Trap (1979)

Ah, to be young and meandering around the desert, locating hidden oases to skinny dip in, and trespassing in the buildings of a misanthrope’s roadside attraction full of waxwork figures who seem to move of their own accord. Available to stream on IMDb TV and Shudder. One part horror, one part hilarious, a stay at Motel Hell(o) will have you cured, one way or another. Available to stream on Shudder and Peacock. IMDb TV


The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Wes Craven’s sophomore foray into exploitation, The Hills Have Eyes tells a tale as old as time: family heads west on vacation, family is warned by a desert fuel station’s attendant to stay on the main road, family crashes off the main road, family is brutalized, graphically, by incestuous cannibals. Avoid becoming a cliché by checking out these movies full of every reason you probably should stay home instead of booking that off-the-grid Airbnb. And even though commercial space travel could be in our near future, we stopped short of going to space for this list. Amazon Prime


Mother’s Day (1980)

The best traditions involve kidnapping your close friends and taking them on a trip to rural New Jersey. Available to stream on Shudder and AMC+. If Cabin Fever was the prototype for torture porn, Hostel is the gold standard. Wait …

Like the other entries on this list, everything goes haywire after car troubles lead to a member of our cast seeking help at a gas station. The classic story of Ugly Americans™ getting their comeuppance, this flick embodies a backpacker’s greatest fears, regardless of locale and behavior. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The original road trip gone wrong, Tobe Hooper’s indie slasher follows a sister and her paraplegic brother who take their friends on an excursion to visit their grandfather’s grave and old family homestead. After this one, you’ll definitely be more particular about whom you take travel advice from and more cautious about your itinerary. As if this weren’t foreboding enough, the group realizes they’re running low on gas after expelling the hitchhiker and the nearest gas station has no fuel. After discovering the Sumerian Book of the Dead in the cabin’s basement, the Sumerian-ignorant college kids also serendipitously locate a handy tape recorder to read incantations on their behalf. And this season — the start of flu season during a global pandemic — requires the safest and most respectful travel of all. Warning: Mother’s Day is not for the faint of heart. Of course, everything goes awry when an overbearing mother and her two deranged sons happen upon the trio of women camping adjacent to their property. But when attempted coitus reveals a nasty nether-region infection, all hell breaks loose. Remember: At the end of the day, travel horror depicts what happens when you flaunt the conventions of safe and respectful travel. Shudder


Hostel (2005)

First an Eli Roth aspirational film and then two Eli Roth entries — is Eli Roth the master of travel horror? This doesn’t sound like a dangerous situation at all, right? It might be for the best to kick back with someone else’s horrors instead of risking your own. Available to stream on Shudder. Enter the invisible flesh-eating virus of Cabin Fever. Like many others on this list, The Evil Dead has no qualms delving into all sorts of violence. Once those guests are adequately stranded at the sibling’s motel, they’re treated to a firsthand, up-close look at Farmer Vincent’s secret garden — and await the harvest. Available to stream on Peacock. And oh boy, does it make an entrance. This fuel station’s accompanying tourist trap of too-real mannequins is enough to make anyone wary of road tripping through backroads — or at least it should be. Naturally, this awakens evil spirits to spice up what otherwise could have been a dull retreat in the country. Although you should most certainly give Cabin in the Woods a watch to see a glorious parody of travel-horror tropes, it’s not included here since a government agency controls the action to please elder gods, making it an interesting sci-fi/cosmic-horror mashup. Ever the entrepreneur, he and his sister, Ida, ensure their motel always has guests by setting traps on the nearby road. Whether you’re deciding between a rustic cabin in the country or a European vacation by rail, chances are there’s a horror-movie trope you’re in danger of enacting. There’s a reason Eli Roth is the father of “torture porn.”

After the past year-plus, you may not be in the mood to see an isolation-turned-quarantine story, but it may be a good reminder we’re not out of the woods yet. At the beginning of this vacation in the woods, Cabin Fever leads you to believe we’re going the route of accidental-murder-plus-revenge à la I Know What You Did Last Summer. Can’t say you weren’t warned. Available to rent on Amazon Prime and iTunes. Proceed with caution. In Mother’s Day, three college coeds surprise each other with “mystery weekends” in which one blindfolds the other two and takes them to a remote camping spot. Available to stream on HBO Max. HBO Max

Cabin Fever (2002)

Leaving behind The Evil Dead’s supernatural cabin horrors, director Eli Roth asks, “What if the danger was … grounded in science?” After all, reality is often scarier than fiction. Or should I get drunk and have sex in the spooky, foreboding woods off the main road?”

Before planning your apple-picking or leaf-peeping excursion, make sure you brush up on the rules of the road.

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Only Murders in the Building and Twee-Crime Podcasting

Like millions of others on this planet, I consume a substantial amount of true-crime media, often compulsively. (Also, Gomez’s character, Mabel, turns out to be directly connected to the murder in the question, which adds a further layer of justification for the group’s decision to keep the amateur investigation going even as things get dicey.)

In this manner, Only Murders in the Building serves as a curious marker for the contemporary state of true crime, post-Serial, post-Wild Wild Country, post-Tiger King, post-Saturday Night Live’s “Murder Show,” post-countless other true-crime this or that. Is it turning me into a true-crime convert? Either way, you’re creating a separation away from the subterranean pleasures of true crime. There are the lies I tell myself, of course. This is a fascinating vision of true crime. If Steve Martin and Martin Short’s characters can find joy running around trying to solve murders on their own, who am I to feel contempt for those in the real world who do the same? These days, you can find a different murder pod for every flavor from any number of subgenres, voices, formats, and levels of quality. But these end up simply being the basis of individual arcs for each character, and by the end of the show, the characters are portrayed as having been made whole by their participation in the amateur sleuthing process, which is frankly kind of a wild notion to extend at a moment when the Gabby Petito case, the latest in a long line of instances in which a real-life death attracted intense attention and participation from ordinary strangers to at least some amount of harm, is playing itself out in parallel. Serial is also referenced in the Hulu series in similarly overt fashion, chiefly in the form of All Is Not Okay in Oklahoma — an all-timer of a fake true-crime podcast name, by the way — and Tina Fey-as-Cinda Canning, obviously a stand-in for Sarah Koenig. Email

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Terms of Service apply. It’s amateur sleuthing presented not as a guilty pleasure, but as pleasure, straight up, one that can stand tastefully alongside a night out at the Public Theater. At the time, the current genre boom sparked by the wildfire success of Serial, explicitly cited as one of the show’s main influences (alongside docs like Making a Murderer and The Jinx), was only still beginning to shape. Only Murders in the Building does seem to have one plausible line of criticism for its genre inspiration. This is why I had such fondness for American Vandal, Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda’s Netflix mockumentary series whose debut season earned critical acclaim (and a Peabody!) for its vivid depiction of high school and satirical commentary on true crime. 1.5x Speed: A Weekly Newsletter of Podcast Recommendations and Reviews
Listening notes for the top shows, from Vulture’s critic Nick Quah. That I only seek out the good ones, the “prestige” ones, the artfully done ones that aspire to some larger idea about society, justice, and the world, that kind of thing. It says something that a Hulu show is able to so effectively capture its presumed upper-class viewership’s growing participation in true-crime fandom, complete with a title sequence stylistically inspired by The New Yorker. But while the show is often described as a parody of true crime, that doesn’t quite seem to be true. The show made its debut in 2017, and its treatment of true-crime tropes effectively renders the production as a time capsule of a certain moment in the genre, specifically as it relates to true-crime podcasts. It is perhaps more precise to describe Only Murders in the Building not as a true-crime parody, but as a show that puts a spin on the true-crime aesthetic — in the sense that it imagines true crime as something stylish and fashionable. Only Murders is fun fiction, of course, but it presents a vision of the genre that collapses that separation. The show isn’t making fun of the genre’s tropes and trappings so much as having fun with them, wearing them as twee decoration. It should come as no surprise that American Vandal loomed large over my viewing of Only Murders in the Building, Hulu’s mystery-comedy series starring the unlikely trio of Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez as apartment neighbors-turned-amateur true-crime podcasters trying to solve, well, a murder in the building. Only Murders illustrates the way in which the genre has graduated from the tawdry to the twee, a shift in how certain genteel slices of media-consuming culture — one which I count my pearl-clutching self to be a part of — has come to embrace its affinity for the genre. While I, a man of culture, also share those highbrow reasons, I was mostly smitten by its ability to extract genuine pathos from a conceit that’s basically one giant dick joke. I’ll keep trying to morally balance ideas of widespread interest in the genre as being both perfectly human and a quandary yet to be fully reckoned with, two things that will probably be held in tension forever. Now, I don’t intend to use this opportunity to slink away from my uneasiness with true crime. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. Tags: But American Vandal also stuck with me for another reason. Oh, you like podcasts? Let me just say: Only Murders in the Building is a marvelous show. But I really loved Only Murders in the Building. The charts are so thick with people running around recounting murders that a common refrain these days goes something along the lines of, “If I ever get mysteriously and brutally murdered, please don’t let me become the subject of a true-crime podcast.”

This was not so when American Vandal debuted in the latter days of 2017. Popular and expansive as the genre might be, true crime still generally exists within a presentation that communicates its inherent moral complication, whether it’s in the sordid (and occasionally campy) style of a DiscoveryID joint, in which case you can comfortably identify the show as a “guilty pleasure,” or in the form of something more prestigious, like a documentary series that bills itself as being about the justice system, in which case you can take in the grisly details under the guise of being socially engaged. Wondery’s Dirty John, which would later kick the podcast-to-television adaptation gold rush into high gear, had just come out. Historically speaking, the genre has never sat well with me, and I have spent a good amount of emotional energy lamenting what it says about us that the brutal end of a human being’s life so often becomes the basis of so much entertainment for others. It’s also vaguely distressing. In the pilot, all three main characters appear to be drawn to solving the murder in their building because each longed to fill a gaping hole in their lives, an idea expressed through brief, lovely, surrealistic vignettes scattered throughout the episode. Then again, I’d be dead. This is a distinction with a difference, I think, because unlike American Vandal, Only Murders in the Building doesn’t actually critique the genre so much as gleefully floats it. No, I wouldn’t go that far (and yes, obviously, I know these are fictional characters), but the show’s coziness does lull me dangerously close to a point where, if I ever got mysteriously and brutally murdered, I think I’d be okay if someone made a podcast about it. I felt safe in its parody. The show provided a comfortable space for a hypocritical snob like me to come to terms with a world where true crime continues its march forward as an ever-powerful cultural concern. But on most days, I tend to be the kind of person who would militantly argue that the many moral quandaries of true crime in its entirety — its tendency to suffer from missing-white-woman syndrome, how it can perpetuate the myth of effective policing, how “true-crime brain” can lead to a distinctly harmful, conspiratorial way of thinking — are so insurmountable as to render the genre irredeemable. The two shows remind me of each other for obvious reasons, though Only Murders in the Building is a lot more upfront in its true-crime podcast influence seeing as how the medium is literally woven into its narrative as a tangible plot device. It’s the ultimate comfort food, powered by what my colleague Kathryn VanArendonk regarded as a raucous “wouldn’t it be fun?” philosophy that’s rounded out by exceptional costume design, apartments to die for, Big Autumn Energy, and a sizzling Amy Ryan, with bassoon. To be fair, this partly has to do with the simple ubiquity of true crime, but the fact remains that I routinely take pleasure in listening to murder podcasts, reading magazine features about murders, and watching any number of the many, many fine (and not-so-fine) murder docs on various streaming services, even as I occasionally slip into wondering how horrible my family would feel if I was ever to be brutally murdered and made the subject of a grimdark HBO docuseries. Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/ HULU

A confession: When it comes to true crime, I’m prone to pearl-clutching. Up and Vanished, arguably the first breakout of the “oops, we solved the murder” amateur podcast-sleuthing phenomenon, was only about a year old, as was My Favorite Murder, the crown jewel of podcasts that firmly fit into what the writer Alice Bolin calls “post-true crime” — i.e., media that is either “explicitly or implicitly about the popularity of the new true-crime wave, questioning its place in our culture, and resisting or responding to its conventions.” It was a stretch of time that, in hindsight, laid the foundation for the more robust and routinized world of true-crime podcasts today. And yet I am also a big, stinking hypocrite. Sure, I’m cognizant of the arguments in favor: how there exists some forms of true crime that have led to breakthroughs in wrongful conviction cases and increased awareness of ineffective policing, how in recent years the genre has been reclaimed by some enthusiasts as a source of strength and empowerment, and so on. Sign up for Vulture’s new recommendation newsletter 1.5x Speed here.

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Writing Through the Moment

The plotline tries to skewer white feminism, but never fully implicates its lead; instead, it suggests, she’s an underdog again. We also stay away from immigration stories because they tend to be earnest and earnest is not our sweet spot.” An episode they could never wrangle into the proper shape involved Israel and the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement to end the occupation of Palestine. Over time, the central premise of the show becomes harder to thread without stronger Black characters and story lines. In “C Is for Cop,” when Detective Mira Byrd decides to let Kristen go instead of bringing her in for the murder of LeRoux, she tells her, “You’re a good person. In the third-season opener, Trump appeared in the form of a bruise on Diane’s husband’s shoulder. She’s able to escape repercussions — despite being found in her backyard holding the murder weapon after calling her cop buddy Detective Mira Byrd (Kristen Connolly) — for a single reason: She’s a white woman. Consider the season-four opening of The Good Fight: Diane imagines a world in which Hillary Clinton won the election. At the center of Evil is Dr. “The writer of record does a polish of that, then it goes to us, and typically, it’s drastically rewritten,” Robert adds. “I think I need to prove myself,” she tells Liz in the closing moments of the finale. A sleep demon, with gnarled skin cast in inky blue shadow, taking out her retainer before going down on a man. Michelle is the peacemaker, the one who raises questions about their most audacious decisions. The season was also hobbled by the loss of its two most prominent Black actors, Delroy Lindo’s Adrian Boseman and Jumbo, who get a truncated send-off in the premiere of the fifth season. She is the show’s engine and guiding principle, and she is written as an essentially good person fighting the good fight from the inside. “Every day in the room on The Good Fight, we spend between 30 and 60 minutes just talking about what we’ve been reading in the news the night before,” Michelle explains. It’s the kind of gamble showrunners Michelle and Robert King, who have been married since 1987, have grown increasingly adept at over their tenure as producers and writers of television — particularly since The Good Wife began in 2009, and its 2017 spinoff, The Good Fight, starring Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, a white lawyer who lands at a Chicago-based, Black law firm after losing her life savings, launched. He believes he was momentarily possessed by a demonic influence that warped his vision, making him see a gun where there was a cell phone. She’s dead before a word can escape her lips. Related

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Tags: But then there are moments like the one in this season’s “C Is for Cop,” in which an officer shoots a Black mother in her car when she reaches for her cell phone. “The only way to attack your understanding of the news cycle is to use the surreal because that’s now the world we’re in.” The Kings nudged the storytelling into frequently experimental areas. “It started with this idea that the news was becoming so absurd because of all the traditions broken in the White House,” Robert said. Robert subscribes to the National Review in order to “get a sense of where things are headed.” He thrives when he’s thinking through tangled ideas — the more polarizing, the better. “I don’t like rape stories because they’re binary,” Michelle says. The finale ends before we’re able to witness how far they go. As a result, Me Too never happened; progress, it was assumed, had already arrived for women. Showrunners Michelle and Robert King. Robert says their attraction to the procedural was at first a matter of circumstance. Baranski isn’t just close to the Kings as collaborators; she counts them as friends: She often sees Robert at Catholic mass on Sunday afternoons, and they walk back to their nearby homes together. Something about this image got under my skin. “That isn’t the case on every show.”

Sometimes their writers and actors push back. Season five takes things further. Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers), a forensic psychologist who is hired by David Acosta (Mike Colter), a former journalist studying to be a priest, to help him distinguish between actual instances of demonic possession and insanity. “Our writers’ room was ready to rip each other’s throats out over this subject.”

“People were just screaming at each other,” Michelle says. I said, ‘That’s kind of simple, isn’t it? The Kings’ approach feels so novel because no one else on television has the gumption to so forcefully lean into the granular textures of the Zeitgeist. When I ask about their approach to race, the Kings defer. I did not want to lose that marriage. “I don’t think of the show so much as interrogating whiteness as interrogating liberalism,” Michelle says. There are limits to their approach. When I would ask questions, they would look at one another, holding each other’s gaze for several seconds, as if silently communicating before shaping an answer. Even then, there are stories they won’t touch. Panicked, Officer Jim Turley (Corey Cott) turns to the Catholic church for help — he wants to plead temporary insanity before the grand jury. The Kristen and officer story lines play off one another, gesturing at the ways in which white identity protects itself. If you’re going to tell a purely serialized story, it’s hard to do it over that many episodes and not become melodrama.” She points to Scandal, a series that frequently left reality behind. Photo: Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

It’s interesting to look at Evil and The Good Fight side by side. She works alongside Ben (Aasif Mandvi) — a lapsed Muslim tech contractor who shares Kristen’s cynicism — to investigate supernatural occurrences for the Catholic church. Behind the scenes, Michelle is the structuralist, while Robert homes in on the visuals and dialogue. The reason? “It’s typically, ‘She was raped or she was lying,’ and I’m not interested in telling stories about women that lie about rape. During the latest, fifth season of The Good Fight, they weren’t always able to find the right balance. “One of the ways that expresses itself on the page is in the power of two people with opposite points of view expressing them, and the audience hopefully coming out of it not knowing which one necessarily is true,” Robert says. “I was shocked by that,” she tells me. While Evil has the same limitations when it comes to race, it has become the stronger show of the two. Cops know that better than anyone.” Kristen doesn’t face external repercussions beyond her own self-destructive impulses. We aren’t wholly privy to the interior lives of the Black people who critique her position. “God forgives,” he advises. In the closing scene of the finale, David, now officially ordained a priest, listens as Kristen tearily confesses that she murdered LeRoux. After the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, Diane’s place as a leader of a Black firm is called into question. It would have seen a clash between the Jewish and Black lawyers at Reddick, Boseman, & Lockhart, while also involving a famous singer character trying to back out of her contract to perform in Israel. Photo: Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

At first blush, Evil is a sort of Catholic-inflected X-Files. Their topicality works best when they’re able to balance their tonal high-wire act with a gimlet-eyed perspective on the interior lives of their characters. (The Kings returned to New York this year, where their writers’ rooms are based.) Michelle adds, “Television just lends itself to procedural storytelling. Kristen is skeptical, but finds herself in situations that science cannot explain. At their best, they fold topical discussions into propulsively structured, highly entertaining episodes that play with expectations in form, style, and narrative. Robert directed the show’s mostly silent episode this season, which takes place in a monastery. It doesn’t mean we won’t tell that story eventually, but we didn’t find the nuanced version.”

“I was probably the most pro-Israel,” Robert adds. “When the writers’ strike happened, going way back then to 2008, we were force-majeured at the studio we were at and CBS was interested,” he said from their home in California last year. The blisteringly entertaining supernatural drama, which concluded its second season this month, is filled with imagery and moments that pierce the imagination: Brains splattered on a gilded pop-up book. On the show, the Kings had planned to sever the marriage between liberal feminist Diane and her intensely conservative but loving husband Kurt (Gary Cole). During the first season, they planned to do an episode inspired by Nate Parker, the embattled director of 2016’s Birth of Nation; a rape accusation from his college years resurfaced and derailed what seemed to be a sure critical hit. He discusses the choice to pay attention to vertical space in the frame, a way for the show to always be considering and pointing toward the heavens. A decaying body, split at the center, pulling herself along the floor by scraping fingernails. Cush Jumbo’s Lucca Quinn is harassed by a white woman who doesn’t believe her light-skinned baby is actually hers, and she ends up becoming a meme about mothering while Black. Michelle comes from a Jewish background and is further to the left. When I spoke with Nialla LeBouef, the youngest writer in Evil’s room who is credited with this season’s “U Is for UFO” episode, she described the writers’ room as a classroom of sorts, with Robert at the head; writers raise their hands and are called on to throw out story ideas. After two seasons of teasing their desires for one another, they finally act upon their attraction with a full-bodied kiss. Robert name-checks David Lynch and the visuals of the Charles Laughton–directed 1955 noir masterpiece The Night of the Hunter as influences on Evil. “Every draft is group-written,” Robert explains. And while Evil has touched on topical issues, it’s not restricted by them. The plot would see Diane deem the political differences with Kurt too glaring to bridge, leading her to also leave the firm and start a new one with Julius (Michael Boatman), a Black conservative. On Evil last season, Michael Emerson, who plays the conniving and demonically aligned antagonist Leland Townsend, wanted to downplay the extremities of an incel story line, which originally contained a high body count, worrying about what it might inspire. By the end of the season, Diane realizes the errors in her thinking and chooses to let go of her name-partner status and corner office, while remaining at the firm. I couldn’t help but gasp. You’re a nice suburban mom. Robert points me to the show’s Black writers. “I would basically throw to Davita Scarlett and Aurin Squire, our African American writers in the room, who really grab hold of this,” Robert says. (The RBG scene was less revealing than it was ridiculous and arch.) And in many ways, a show like The Good Fight was easier to make in the Trump era because the political figures were so outsize in their villainy. There’s a lot about having white showrunners run a show that deals with African American issues that is complex and troubling.”

Like Diane is to The Good Fight, Kristen is Evil’s engine. “Imagine if I could talk to the person I most admire,” Baranski says, “what would she say?”

The Good Fight premiered at the start of the Trump era, and in its early seasons, it felt like a direct reflection of the surreality of the moment. I killed him and I got away with it,” she chokes out between sobs before they go through the acts of contrition. She’s the more exacting of the two. What happened to LeRoux was justice. (The Good Fight writers’ room has two Black writers; the Evil room has four.) He admits that he struggles with the question. The sharpness of their intellect and curiosity comes through clearly in conversation. “And because I’m so close to the character, it hit me emotionally. Associates openly wonder why this white woman is a name partner, while Diane believes she worked hard to earn her spot. The show makes her atonement an interior process: Her guilt manifests physically, through self-flagellation; she burns her torso with a rosary cross repeatedly. If The Good Fight has occasionally been hamstrung by its commitment to exploring the events of present American life, Evil is more free to wander, to probe revealing, primal questions about human nature, sin, and desire. She hesitates. Just know the show is struggling with it because the more things we experience in real life is all brought into the show kicking and screaming. The Kings absorb the news voraciously through written outlets like the Washington Post and the New York Times, but they don’t typically watch it. “I don’t know what to do about it. The cop scene is nestled in the more pivotal plot of the episode: Kristen is freed from her own, season-long struggle to evade the police after killing a serial killer named LeRoux (Darren Pettie). Diane is the kind of liberal white woman who praised Hillary Clinton and is assured of her own place in the halls of power. “We’ll throw up our hands and say, you’re right,” he says. And then where do we go?’” The Kings listened and rewrote the episode, leading to a scene where Diane goes to an imaginary Ruth Bader Ginsburg for advice on Kurt and her position at the firm. It simultaneously harkened toward the apocalyptically biased systems in effect in this country and handily let its lead off the hook for her transgression. “Delroy was worried that kind of plot hurts Black men, especially Black young men,” Robert recalls. In recent years, both series have taken a thematic interest in interrogating whiteness, primarily through their female leads, to varying degrees of success. After all, Diane isn’t a Trojan horse character, a means to explore the interior lives of the Black people she’s surrounded by in the firm. Characters broke into song. Lead actor Delroy Lindo (who has since left the series) voiced his concerns. “I killed a man — I did — LeRoux. The episode leaves her crying in her backyard, looking diminished and small. Characters contended with a possibly fake Melania Trump as she mulled a divorce. “We like to live in the gray, and it didn’t feel like we were living in the gray. Photo: ELIZABETH FISHER/ Paramount+

This past season of The Good Fight, Baranski didn’t agree with a major plot turn for her character. Like Diane, Kristen isn’t framed as an anti-hero, but a flawed hero we’re meant to care for. Some people deserve to die. Then the scene turns from weepy fearfulness to lustful. The Kings use the procedural form to tell urgent stories about the structures of power that shape our lives. “He was showing that there was another implication of it that I think was us going maybe a little too far out on the limb.” Michelle adds, “It’s one of the few times we’ve had to junk an episode written.”

L-R: Robert King, Christine Baranski (Diane Lockhart), and Gary Cole (Kurt McVeigh) on the set of The Good Fight. “We have been unwilling to leave reality behind.”

Robert has the rumpled mien of a passionate but kindly college professor; he is a staunch Catholic and to the center politically. Memory and dream sequences unfurled, becoming tools to explore the dark recesses of the characters’ psyches. The writers never lose sight of the foibles that make the characters human. “It was a very interesting story and here’s the problem,” Robert says. L-R: Aasif Mandvi (Ben Shakir), Katja Herbers (Kristen Bouchard), Robert King, and Mike Colter (David Acosta) on the set of Evil.

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