Let’s deal with the one-third first. An, I guess, Irish fortune-seeker (the accent, whatever it’s meant to be, comes and goes) who’s come to medieval China in search of “black powder” (i.e. Even after six writers, including The Last Samurai’s Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, finished with the script, there’s no compelling reason for William to be at the center of this story, and Damon acts like he doesn’t know why he’s there, either. gunpowder), he and comrade Pedro Pascal stumble upon the Great Wall by accident—you might think it’d be hard to miss, but, at least in this universe, you’d be wrong—and discover its true purpose: protecting China from the hordes of monsters known as the Tao Tei. box office on its opening weekend, it’s not clear that’s even true in a pragmatic sense—it opened bigger in China, although it dwindled quickly thereafter—but that argument also ignores the political ramifications of casting a white European man as the salvation of not only the Chinese characters around him but, in this case, China itself. It’s true that we enter The Great Wall’s story through the eyes of Damon’s William, but he’s almost immediately sidelined once we meet the Nameless Order, the Chinese forces under the command of Jing Tian’s Commander Lin. (For an epic fantasy, The Great Wall is startlingly short, barely over 90 minutes without the closing credits.) There either needed to more scenes centering on William or, better yet, none. You can make a movie about Native Americans or Japanese samurai, but you’d better find a way to center it on Kevin Costner or Tom Cruise. Amid Damon’s tone-deaf public response to the issue and the controversy around his treatment of black producer Effie Brown on Project Greenlight, the fact that The Great Wall was also a film by one of the greatest of China’s Fifth Generation directors was reduced to a virtual footnote. Given The Great Wall’s narrative semi-coherence, it’s hard to tell how much of this is in the script and how much is Zhang working against it, but it’s a movie that fights its own contradictions as fiercely as any of its characters do the monsters within it. The lines of extras costumed in radiant primary-color outfits seem to stretch for miles; when they run across the wall’s battlements, it’s like watching surging rivers of paint. But its politics aren’t so easily nailed down; they’re slippery, verging on incoherent. I can’t claim to be a Matt Damon completist, but this is at the very least one of the worst performances of his career. From the moment it was announced that Damon would be playing the lead in a fantasy story centered on the Great Wall of China, the movie was accused, incorrectly as it turns out, of whitewashing, and, more plausibly, of being a white-savior movie in which Damon’s character teaches Chinese troops how to repel the monsters the wall was built to keep out. Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall is roughly two-thirds great movie, one-third terrible one. Female warriors in flowing blue uniforms leap from the wall and plunge hundreds of feet to stab at hellish monsters before being pulled back up by the cables around their waists. Given that The Great Wall is predicted to come in behind The Lego Batman Movie at the U.S. Although they managed to talk their way out of being promptly executed, William and Pascal’s Tovar spend most of the Nameless Order’s first battle against the Tao Tei tied up on a parapet, looking on in silent awe as the order’s color-coded troops deploy a dazzling array of combat strategies against their mythological foe. It is, indisputably, a movie that inserts white characters into the story to relieve U.S. But the white characters other than Damon’s are unreconstructed scoundrels, and although William initially stuns the Nameless Order with a display of his unparalleled archery skills, he’s often just along for the ride, outclassed by the Chinese characters in terms of both military strategy and moral fortitude. Flaming cannonballs trace plumes of smoke through the air before exploding in a 3-D cascade. It’s not hard to see what drew Zhang to this story, nor is it hard to see where most of its reported $150 million budget went. None of this is to ignore The Great Wall’s politics by taking refuge in aestheticism. Zhang called it a movie with four Chinese heroes, but with the exception of Commander Lin, their stories seem to have been gutted even more thoroughly than William’s. (I haven’t even talked about the movie’s climax, which features a flotilla of diaphanous hot-air balloons and a chase through a stained-glass tower.) In terms of spectacle, The Great Wall may not measure up to Zhang’s early-aughts trilogy of Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Curse of the Golden Flower, but a decade after he closed that book, even an appendix is welcome. The pre-release criticism of The Great Wall, most forcefully raised by Fresh Off the Boat actress Constance Wu, was that the insertion of white characters—Willem Dafoe also plays a prominent role—into a fundamentally Chinese story was an unacceptable concession to the conventional wisdom that big-budget international productions cannot succeed without a Hollywood star, who is almost always a white man. About those combat scenes, though. As a filmmaker who has been making movies in the government-controlled Chinese film industry for decades, however, Zhang Yimou is adept at the art of subversion, or at least of simultaneously serving multiple masters. Buried under a comically shaggy beard and wig for the first part of the movie, his character becomes no more distinct once the scruff is shorn away. I call it “Zhang Yimou’s” less out of auteurist principle than because it has up to this point been associated almost entirely with its star, Matt Damon. There are undoubtedly more scenes devoted to William than any other single character, but it still feels like the material pertaining to him has been cut in half. audiences of the burden of identifying with its Chinese protagonists. A hunk of magnetized rock that William brings with him does play a key role in attacking the Tao Tei, but it’s not him who figures out that it can be used that way.
And, more importantly, it’s about how her husband can’t really deal with the sudden shift in the status quo. Joel, meanwhile, is incarcerated for his pursuit of her cure. While Sheila finds power in her situation, Joel works to squash it. “I don’t feel dead or undead,” she tells her family and the neighbor boy who diagnoses her. A real-estate agent, wife, and mother, she’s long adhered to the whole suburban-mom thing: green smoothies for breakfast, a closet full of monochromatic business attire, SAT prep on weekends. This is the story of a family grappling with their matriarch’s newly discovered agency. “I feel the opposite: totally alive.”
Santa Clarita Diet wisely shrouds Sheila’s transformation in mystery. “It’s just not where I saw my life going.”
When Joel let’s the drug dealer go, an angry Sheila belittles his life trajectory, citing Joel’s pot smoking and gullibility as culprits for his poor judgment. Sheila Hammond, freshly zombified, seems like a brand-new woman. Though it goes unsaid, this conversation seems to spark something in Joel, who later embarks on the solo mission of finding a cure for his wife’s ailment. A horror-struck Sheila, expecting something “romantic” like a single gunshot to the head, points out the anger in Joel’s response. I wake up one day … and so am I,” he says despondently. “Where is that coming from?” she asks. Later, Sheila kills Gary in her garden and eats his stomach. She hasn’t just touched on something: She’s fully pinched a nerve. Drew Barrymore is Sheila, whose sunny, natural charm makes for a surprisingly compelling suburban “Mombie.” Timothy Olyphant plays her husband, Joel, and though he at first seems a little out of place, his manic, nervous outbursts eventually snap into focus. Something about a Serbian curse and earlier-reported cases lend a mythology to her condition, but don’t hamper its implications. “That’s how they kill the undead in movies,” he responds, trying to move on. They got married, he putzed around for a while—learned guitar, tried improv—but got serious with the arrival of their daughter. “I’d bash your brains in with a baseball bat,” he admits, as if he’s thought about it. Sexual jealousy, also a recurring theme, highlights Joel’s discomfort with Sheila’s newfound agency. In the pilot, a co-worker Gary (Nathan Fillion) attempts to both put the moves on Sheila and steal one of her clients. This article originally appeared in Vulture. Joel confronts him in a bar, but backs out before a fight breaks loose. Tensions between the couple climax when, in the season finale, Sheila asks Joel how he’d kill her if it ever came to that. She “dies,” then immediately wakes up. “My wife is a realtor. Her revived thirst for life is a threat to his apathy. The women behave badly—have affairs with hot oncologists, set off smoke bombs, make threats to rude teachers—while the men embroil themselves in unnecessary crime and chaos, and wind up dead. Sheila’s zombification is a confrontation for him. At what appears to be a psych ward, he babbles to his doctor about the ways Sheila’s transformation has pushed him to try new things. Joel and Sheila were high-school sweethearts, prom king and queen. Though Sheila ends the season in literal chains—she asks Abby to lock her in the basement in case her primal side takes over—she’s finally free of the rigor of a life that expected her to pipe down and take what comes. “It’s just hard to see you connecting with someone when you and I haven’t exactly been burning up the bed sheets,” Joel says, blaming her for both making a friend and shelving their sex life. But then she comes down with something. We see Joel for the insecure, at times downright-pathetic guy he’s become: the type who smokes weed in parking lots and dresses in cargo shorts. “When I look back at my life just three weeks ago, I think maybe I was the dead one,” he says with a laugh, before a look of dreadful realization takes hold of his face. She vomits buckets of green goo and coughs up what looks like a small organ. Joel, openly uncomfortable with her new cohort, demands to see Sheila’s texts. And more than just showing the dichotomy between suburban men and women, Diet works to subvert the idea that wives should be pretty, quiet things while the husbands win bread. The shift in the expected power play casts a shadow on their marriage, as evidenced later in the season when Sheila befriends a man she bit and transformed. Santa Clarita Diet continually returns to the idea of how suspiciously men regard positive female transformation. She’s renewed, rejuvenated, and hungry for the delicacies she’s long deprived herself of—not the human flesh she now needs to survive, but spontaneous sex, nights out, morning jogs, a Range Rover. She goes on with her life, reveling in her newfound popularity, outspokenness, and strengthened relationship with her daughter. See also: Santa Clarita Diet Tells the Same Joke, Over and Over Again After Joel befriends a drug dealer he meant to kill for Sheila’s supper, he opens up about how he got to where he is. But Sheila’s onto something—there is anger in their relationship, as well as resentment.
Colossal, the latest effort from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes), starts out not unlike a good chunk of broad American comedies: Gloria (Anne Hathaway), a washed-up party girl, loses her job and boyfriend and moves back home to pick up the pieces in her life. From there, however, the film proves to be anything but typical. This first trailer doesn’t give too much away, but it does shine a light on Hathaway thoroughly enjoying her monster-related character, and should hopefully serve as a reminder that in addition to being a great dramatic actress, she can be pretty funny too. Colossal hits theaters on April 7. Rather abruptly, Colossal unveils itself as a delightfully bizarre monster movie. In what can reasonably be described as her most interesting role in some time, Hathaway plays a woman who comes to a realization that her own mental breakdown is, in some way, connected to and responsible for a giant kaiju rampaging through Seoul, Korea. Along those lines, the movie balances laid-back humor with its extraordinary premise, and according to the reaction out of its well-received Toronto International Film Festival debut last year, it’s also full of surprises.
Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler have teamed up to run The House, a new studio comedy from first-time director Andrew J. Aboard The House as part of the impressive assembled ensemble are Jason Mantzoukas (Sleeping With Other People), Cedric Yarbrough (Speechless), Rob Huebel (Transparent), Allison Tolman (Fargo), Michaela Watkins (Casual), Lennon Parham (Playing House), Steve Zissis (Togetherness), and, perhaps most notably, Jeremy Renner. Even if Cohen’s transition to directing doesn’t exactly pan out, there might be enough talent here to make The House a worthwhile stopover anyway. The House hits theaters on June 30. The film centers on Will and Kate, parents of a college-bound high school graduate who start an underground casino in their basement to fund the tuition bill they secretly cannot afford. The pairing of Ferrell and Poehler, who outside of Tina Fey projects Baby Mama and Sisters has yet to lead a studio film, appears inspired here, as does the supporting cast. And, as these movies tend to go, things get a little wild. Cohen (best known for co-writing the Neighbors franchise).
Yes, I think of her as a victim of her time. You’re OK,” there’s a way in which I agree with you. As it was, she did become a teacher. I would say my daughter is complicated and moody, the word my mother used about me, but not particularly depressed, I’m happy to say. It isn’t easy to cover it up in the end. Daphne Merkin: I went through different stages writing it. I move in fairly, if you want to call them that, sophisticated circles. We do talk. I wouldn’t watch TV. The last time I was enormously depressed frankly wasn’t so, so long ago. When I was very, very depressed, it was referred to as a vegetative depression. Right. When she was very young, I would leave. She knows little bits and pieces of the book, but she hasn’t read the whole book at all. It will taper off and then recur when it recurs. Right. Writing the book, I became more aware that depressions don’t last. They stop, and they recur. I think the real issue for me is depression is unbelievably isolating. That was my hope. And writing not ingratiatingly but seductively, compellingly so that you’d want to read about it. I sensed that with your book, but you also talk about her drinking and things like that. She couldn’t finish school. Yes, I have. I know that I wanted to write a readable, hopefully not too depressing book about depression, and in that way make it a seductive book in spite of the subject. I’m going on about Trump because I’ve been thinking about him a lot today. The thing about candid autobiographical writing is you never know what the writer didn’t say. Certainly more up front. Have you ever talked to her up front recently about the mistakes that your mother made and whether she feels that you’re making them? One thing you can do is coax yourself along in a form of self-talk. They talk about AA, but depression has another connotation. With rare cases, it completely remits, and people are never depressed again. I mean, people’s experiences matter to them, and it doesn’t always help to say, “Think of the starving in India or China,” to a child who doesn’t want to finish her food. I mean, there are things I don’t write. I think about the experience that my parents went through, because my mother used it strangely. It’s hard to function, hard to focus. It’s not you fighting yourself. I go nuts when people say he’s narcissistic like that’s the whole answer. The opposite of depression is feeling moderately content. … I think she had a lot of ambition. I think the kind of severe depression I was trying to describe in the book comes with a lot of stuff. I think she takes all this with an enormous grain of salt. I don’t keep many secrets. The use of it is too out of whack. You don’t eat. Maybe that has its own drawbacks, to not spare her enough. I think the people who do best altogether in this whole period are people who take it in and then put it aside. Some people said to me they didn’t realize I was depressed, and I guess they read it with a degree of dismay that they didn’t realize this. There’s being made depressed by Donald Trump, as I expect many people are. However, I will say that I think the fact of leaving Germany, particularly for my mother, having very close relatives on both my parents’ sides who perished in the Holocaust, my mother was enormously marked by it. You can’t say about everything, “Well, it’s not Auschwitz,” and therefore it’s tolerable to a child. He seems unhappy but not depressed. That’s undoubtedly what leads to suicide: the idea that you’re going to be stuck in this painful, in a way noisily painful yet also silent, illness forever. There were periods where I was depressed and didn’t write. I don’t know that many people who are inclined to depression who don’t also have a certain empathic mode. The British mandate took over their house. This is again going to maybe sound reductive, but when you’re really, really depressed, you’re sort of embattled in yourself. I think most people who have been in one would say that. I think of writing as yet another way in which I threw my wits and my charm, ostensible charm, at this subject of depression. Even though I said you can’t say to a child, “You’re not dying. … “My mother was only nice to me when I was sick,” Merkin writes, in one of many passages that take on added meaning as the book unfolds. Another thing I’ve thought about is that depression, or a degree of it, is humanizing. I think one of the hardest things about being in a severe depression is that you don’t think it will end. Bringing up an extreme, drastic, historical event of genocide didn’t make me feel any better when I was homesick in sleepaway camp. There were times when I was significantly not depressed. I didn’t read. You have biological predisposition, but then you need triggers in your life. She probably would have pursued some form of fuller career. They had very little money. Isaac Chotiner: What, if anything, about the act of writing the book changed the way you think about either your own depression or depression more generally? My guess would be that you are also pretty upset about what’s happening in the world. I think one thing that helps even in these times is to try and focus on meaningful work—that it’s not all for naught because there’s a mad king in the White House. When I wrote this first piece about being hospitalized for depression when I was at the New Yorker, it wasn’t the kind of thing people talked about even if they were depressed. It happened to have been when I tried going off medication last summer. I suppose though one difference would be that you’re able to talk to her in a more up-front way than your mother was able to talk to you about certain things, right? People say, “Oh, I read the newspaper today, and I got depressed,” which makes it seem more ordinary. I was thinking to myself, “OK, Trump is here, but we’re not living in siege mentality in truth.”
Yet, Daphne, yet. With Donald Trump, it is disturbing and depressing, but not in so personal a way. I didn’t mean that she was a major alcoholic. It’s also, in milder forms, something that everyone goes through. It usually does come with a degree of empathy. Nothing adds up and all you can think about is the raw nerve of pain that your mind has become—and, once again, how merciful it would be to yourself and others to extinguish this pain.”
I spoke to Merkin, who has contributed to the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine for many years, last week. Cumulatively, it gave me some kind of perspective on depression and its landscape. You haven’t been bombed by napalm. You withdraw. Yeah. No, I do worry. How would you compare your moments of bad depression internally versus what you feel now about the world? It remains somewhat more stigmatized partly because it’s elusive. I am not asking you to quantify—
You can’t. It hasn’t stopped. It’s essentially enervating. I feel she was burdened with witnessing some of my depression at its most severe. Even in a sophisticated place of employment like the New Yorker, it wasn’t like people talked about this kind of thing. You don’t talk much. Last time I happened to watch The Deer Hunter, I was watching those horrendous Viet Cong scenes. I still don’t think functioning people talk about depression much. What does your daughter think of the book? If Donald Trump suffered from depression at all, as opposed to a variety of sociopathology including but certainly not limited to narcissism, he’d be a different man. It had horrendous results. Anyway, I couldn’t cover up when I was very depressed. In one passage, you write, “I have hurled all the charm and wits I have at my disposal against my proclivity to depression, such that it would be difficult for even close friends of mine to detect how low I am at any given time.” Was the act of writing the book, ironically, a conscious example of trying to throw your wits and charm at your depression? You can’t say these are its symptoms, this is what it looks like. Correct. You never worry that writing will make it difficult for her? I agree. I don’t want to sound too glib or self-helpy, but are there any coping mechanisms that you would recommend for people who are dealing with situational depression right now? (She also details the way in which her parents, who escaped Nazi Germany, ignored her and her siblings and allowed a nursemaid to abuse them.)
The book recounts her hospitalizations and the complex relationship she has with her own daughter, now 27. I wrote a piece some years ago for the Times called “Is Depression Inherited?” attempting to clear up that depression is at best 50 percent genetic. I think things would have gone very differently for her had that not happened. Yes, and that’s also what makes it problematic in its more severe forms. Her father was an upper-middle-class lawyer, and they went to what was then Palestine. Yes. That’s reactive depression, which the whole world suffers from, getting depressed in response to depressing circumstances, versus depression from within. She saw me very, very depressed. But usually it does have a life of its own, and it is not all that predictable. They talk about rehab. Do you know what I mean? During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed her attempts to parent differently than her own mother, how writing the book changed her outlook on her own life, and what lessons she has for those who feel despondent about Donald Trump. She also wrote. This is my last reference to Trump for this conversation. With or without medication, they have a lifespan. I read her that scene actually because I was worried she wouldn’t like it. Depression, she writes, causes someone to lose “the thread that pulled the circumstances of your life together. Daphne Merkin’s new book, This Close to Happy: A Reckoning With Depression, is at once an exploration of her own mental health and a memoir of her experiences growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family with a complicated, domineering mother. At 16, she had to leave Frankfurt, which she very much loved. My daughter is a deeply, deeply independent-minded soul. Her life dramatically changed. I don’t think they suddenly abate. I do feel I wish I could have protected her against that. What has been the response to the book from people you are close to? Let me hasten to say that my daughter makes it a habit to not read most of what I write, I think self-protectively. I think I quoted Diane Keaton saying, “Everyone’s a little depressed.” The word depressed is thrown around a lot, as you just said. I was going to add “yet” myself. It both partakes of a serious illness and doesn’t look like a serious illness. That part I read to her. You say very clearly that you don’t want to make the same mistakes with your daughter and that you hope that your daughter doesn’t struggle with depression. How did writing the book change the way you thought about your mother? I mean, there’s a much wider range, if you ask me. I think at the very end of the book I said the opposite of depression isn’t some state of great, extraordinary happiness. The one perverse thing that makes me feel weirdly better is that I sometimes say to myself, “ We could be living through the Khmer Rouge or the Holocaust or whatever.” And this in fact connects to your book. But I don’t act like she can’t know things. They don’t walk around with this pervasive “the world has become Trumpified.” I don’t know.
At last, Disney has put the galaxy’s largest “singular or plural?” question to rest. On Friday we got our answer, thanks to the official French Star Wars Twitter, which divulged the French title of the film:
Les Derniers Jedi uses the plural form of “Last,” making it indisputable: The Last Jedi definitely refers to multiple Jedi. In January, the studio revealed that the title of Star Wars: Episode VIII would be The Last Jedi, sparking a debate (à la The Last Samurai) about whether the word Jedi is meant to be singular or plural in this instance. We may have to wait until Dec. 15 to know for sure. Other offical foreign accounts soon also posted titles in their languages, all using plural pronouns, in case there was any remaining doubt. Will Kylo Ren, who once trained as a Jedi, return to the Light side? Just Luke, the only Jedi we know is left alive, and Rey, who we can assume will become his pupil? Now the question we’re left with is: Who are the last Jedi? Are there more? Does the title also refer to Finn, who showed some signs that he might be Force sensitive?
It literally just finished. And then, in the middle of the day, Hurricane Trump happened—again.”
Donald Trump’s bizarre, winding, frighteningly erratic press conference on Thursday had late-night comics scrambling as to adequately make sense of it. Very civil, very calm. Goody goo-goo. This my motherfucking house. It just happened, actually. And then Donald Trump held what can only be described as a batshit crazy press conference.”
Here’s Stephen Colbert making sense of Thursday’s horrifying events on the fly, to begin The Late Show: “I am your host Stephen Colbert, and wow. today, we had a draft about Republicans’ attempts to repeal Obamacare that we felt good about. It must be fresh because you can smell it.”
And here’s a very grim, troubled Trevor Noah, echoing Meyers’ claims of a rewrite: “We had a really nice show planned for you. Noah probably came closest to capturing the essence of what we all bore witness to on Thursday, in channeling Trump’s performance: “I’m not drunk. The amount of remarkable details—Trump’s “All Black People Must Be Friends” comment, his repeated lie about the size and historical significance of his victory, his stunning attacks on the media, his contradictory comments regarding “real leaks” and “fake news” and whether his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn did anything wrong, his demand that a Jewish reporter expressing concern about an uptick in anti-semitism “sit down” and “be quiet,” and on and on—rendered any cogent summation impossible. “Our show tapes at 6:30,” Seth Meyers explained as he began his “A Closer Look” segment on Thursday night. We’re recording this in the early afternoon. You’re all drunk. This my motherfucking house. “Words fail me,” as Colbert admitted. Goody goo-goo.”
Enough said. Noah and Meyers’ teams cut together highlight reels, making clear just how unsettling the whole charade was, while Colbert turned to news anchors’ bewildered, and in most cases disturbed, reactions. I am glad you could be here on this historic evening, because Donald Trump held his first solo press conference as president …. You’re all drunk. What I’m saying is this is fresh. “Usually, we start writing ‘A Closer Look’ the night before; by 1:00 p.m.
It’s also a new era for CBS, which is using the extension of its most acclaimed show—if far from its most popular—to break ground for original scripted programming on its subscription streaming service. In “Inauguration,” Diane defends the city of Chicago in a police brutality suit involving four white officers and a black victim; when Robert’s partner, played by Justified’s Erica Tazel, balks at bringing Diane on board, he quips that she’s a “diversity hire.” Tazel’s Barbara Kolstad takes an immediate dislike to Diane: It’s clear she sees her as a typical white liberal, a pre-intersectional feminist whose solidarity is only skin deep. But the two episodes available in advance of its February 19 premiere show the Kings and co-creator Phil Alden Robinson trying to balance the comforting familiarity of a broadcast show with the freedoms of nonlinear TV, and not immediately succeeding in either realm. (It was supposed to be joined by Star Trek Discovery, the franchise yang to The Good Wife’s yin, but that troubled production has already shed one showrunner and is now scheduled for later this year.) Although the original series was nominated for 42 Emmys and won five, including two for star Julianna Margulies and one for her (sometimes virtual) co-star Archie Panjabi, its frequent losses to shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones clearly stuck in the Kings’ craw. The pilot’s credit sequence, which features a succession of office furnishings exploding in slow motion to the Ren Faire strains of David Buckley’s theme song, reeks of a desperate attempt to seem “edgy,” like a recently divorced dad showing up with a fresh tattoo. Although The Good Fight’s images are letterboxed to give them an added veneer of class, it looks to be shot on a substantially smaller budget than its prestige predecessor. In the second episode, “The First Week,” Diane needs to hire a new assistant, and she bypasses the black candidates Barbara has lined up in favor of a familiar white face: Sarah Steele’s Marissa Gold. But they find a home at Lucca’s new firm, a largely black concern run by Delroy Lindo’s Robert Boseman. In The Good Fight, there’s a scene in the pilot where Diane explains to idealistic Maia that every client deserves vigorous representation, the kind of One-L civics lesson The Good Wife took for granted its viewers already understood. It’s a new day in America, if an exceptionally gloomy one, and it’s a new era for Diane, who quits the firm she co-founded with plans to retire to the south of France, only to lose her life’s savings in a Madoff-like investment scheme. One of The Good Wife’s most distinctive features was its brutal realism about the amoral workings of the legal system: Sometimes our heroes were on the right side, sometimes the wrong, but in either case who won was solely the function of who played the better game. It wasn’t meant to be that way: Robert and Michelle King had conceived their CBS All Access spinoff of The Good Wife beginning with a victory lap for liberal law partner Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), whose office décor prominently featured a grip-and-grin photo of her and Hillary Clinton. As the show’s most prominent new character, Maia ought to get the most real estate in its opening episodes, but there have been so many stories about naïve attorneys discovering what the law is really like, and Leslie’s wide-eyed anxiousness adds nothing new to the mxi. Diane and Maia’s attachment to that Ponzi scheme makes them both toxic, especially among Diane’s former allies; like Madoff’s fund, this one purported to do good as well as turn a profit, and Diane vouched for it with liberal friends and organizations, all of whom are similarly devastated by the loss. It’s not even as adventurous as The Good Wife, which regularly took advantage of its longer seasons to build episodes around innovative structural gimmicks. The episode’s title, “Inauguration,” does double, and maybe triple, duty. By the end of its run, The Good Wife was pretty well out of gas, and The Good Fight is still struggling to fill up the tank. That being the case, you might expect The Good Fight to run with the advantages of its tidy 10-episode first season. And though we’re naturally in Diane’s corner, the show gives us some reason to agree with that assessment. The Good Fight is timid in other ways, though. But instead, thanks to some close-to-the-wire reshoots, we open on Diane’s face frozen in shock as she sits in a darkened room watching Trump take the oath of office. Dealing with race was never The Good Wife’s strong suit, but the Kings seem intent on attacking the issue full-bore here. The Good Fight’s episodes are studded with f-bombs—FCC-safe alternate takes were shot for the pilot’s broadcast version—but the show thus far shows little inclination to run with the freedoms afforded by its medium. If this were a broadcast show, one could forgive the sluggish start, but The Good Fight does little to generate the kind of excitement necessary to get audiences to sign up for yet another paid service, and it’s doubtful those who already subscribe to All Access for a la carte NCIS episodes will find much added value in it, either. Towards the end of the show’s run, CBS took to running “For Your Consideration” ads highlighting the difference between The Good Wife’s 22-episode season and cable shows’ eight to 13, which is a little like an early primate complaining about the unfair advantage of opposable thumbs. In its first two episodes, The Good Fight has its hands full moving Cush Jumbo’s Lucca Quinn to center stage and introducing Diane’s goddaughter Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie), a novice lawyer whose fledgling career is almost immediately torpedoed by her involvement in the same financial scandal that wiped out Diane’s retirement savings. Even the show’s distribution feels caught between two stools. The first episode will premiere simultaneously on CBS and CBS All Access, while subsequent streaming-only installments will arrive at a weekly clip. Granted, Marissa’s also taken the initiative and provided critical assistance on a new case, but there’s still something slightly ugly about the way she uses her previous connections to jump the queue, and the show doesn’t shy away from it. The first voice you hear in The Good Fight belongs to Donald Trump. The staggered delivery of broadcast meets the additional cost of streaming: The worst of both worlds.
Since nothing is hotter than a little statistical analysis, we ran the numbers to compare the amount of sex, kink, and overall darkness in both films. Even so, the number of such scenes in each movie is about the same. Amazingly, even the precentage of time Christian is seen shirtless is so reliable across both films that we can only conclude this is the result of a carefully calibrated formula designed to maximize the impact of Jamie Dornan’s naked torso. Still, both movies are remarkably consistent when it comes to the amount of doin’ it. But in Fifty Shades Darker, they’re almost constantly in danger, whether Christian’s troubled ex is brandishing a weapon or Ana’s boss is being a world-class creep. This post contains spoilers for Fifty Shades Darker. In Fifty Shades of Grey, the greatest threats Ana and Christian faced were broken hearts, sore bottoms, and, in one instance, a speeding cyclist. But how about the amount of BDSM? Then again, for those characters who aren’t named Christian or Ana, it really doesn’t matter which movie you’re in—it’s just not safe to go near an elevator when those two are in it. Sex and Nudity
Since our main characters have already hooked up when Fifty Shades Darker begins (and because there’s not nearly as much paperwork this time around), there’s also a lot less time to wait before the first sex scene. The title may say Fifty Shades Darker, but is the new BDSM-flavored romance from James Foley actually any darker than its prequel, Fifty Shades of Grey? Throw in the revelations about Christian’s terrible childhood, and Darker’s title turns out to be wholly justified. And yet, when you run the numbers, there’s actually surprisingly less BDSM to be found throughout Fifty Shades Darker, which tends to favor some light exhibitionism over kinkier fare. For starters, there are fewer spankings—and only hand-administered blows in Darker, whereas Fifty Shades of Grey also makes use of the riding crop and a particuarly nasty belt. Surely to justify the sequel’s title, there should at least be some darker tastes in play. General Darkness
Fine, so Darker isn’t all that much darker when it comes to sex. BDSM
Okay, so we’ve established that there’s just about the same amount of sex in both movies. Note: We’ve stretched the definition of a sex scene here to include some erotic scenes that don’t technically include any intercourse, like Ana’s first spanking, or when Christian introduces her to the Ben Wa balls. … There are not only more than triple the number of threats to the main characters’ safety/well-being, those threats are also much more severe. and significantly less time spent in Christian’s carefully color-coordinated sex dungeon. There’s also less equipment being shown off, in general … Below, you’ll find our results, in chart form. But what about outside of the bedroom (or in this case, the red room)?
But the absence of a Padawan braid could also be a spoiler in and of itself. Because back in July, Rey actress Daisy Ridley posted a video of herself working out—and wearing a pillowcase on her head, “to protect my REY HAIRSTYLE from Instagram’s gaze,” she wrote at the time, following up with the hashtags #topemployee and #secrecyqueen, for good measure. Rey’s new longer, flowing hairdo might be concealing one. That suggested that Rey’s new look has some kind of spoiler-y significance, too important to the plot or the character’s development to let fans have a peek. Was she once one of his pupils, before she was abandoned on Jakku as a child? If you don’t think that a photo of an empty toy box is enough to send Star Wars fans into a tizzy, then you really don’t know Star Wars fans. Then again, not every Jedi-in-training has a Padawan braid—Luke, who trained while the Jedi were nearly extinct, never wore one. Rey’s hair is hiding a Padawan braid. Princess Leia, who switched between her famous cinnamon roll buns, crown braids, loose waves, and more. Why is this such a big deal? The mystery of Episode XIII’s title is who, exactly, is (or are) The Last Jedi? The big reveal here is the new hairstyle being worn by Rey, who has traded in her triple-bun ’do for what looks like a half-up, half-down hairstyle. Ridley is making a statement by creating a mystery where none exists, sending culture bloggers into furious fits of analysis over a toy box. You know who else had any number of prominent hairstyle changes? Ridley is just messing with us. Rey is a Skywalker, and her hair reflects her heritage. Might Rey’s new look be a nod to her ancestry? Her hair is hiding no Padawan braid. The Force Awakens leaves off with Rey offering a lightsaber to Luke Skywalker. Will Luke refuse to train Rey, even though she is Force-sensitive? Rey is somehow related to Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). And Leia’s mother, Padme Amidala, was the queen of the salon, changing hairstyles about as often as she changed outfits. So now that the style is out in the open, we took our best guesses at what it might mean. A lightsaber alone does not a Jedi make, so a good indicator of whether or not Rey is one of the last Jedi in question would be the presence of a Padawan braid, which indicates that the wearer is a Jedi-in-training. Controlled leak culture has run amok, with studios shrouding even the tiniest nuggets of information in secrecy and fans pouring over any insignificant detail. The community has been abuzz ahead of Force Friday II, a fan event celebrating the launch of products for the next Star Wars sequel, The Last Jedi, over a glimpse of the packaging for the new film’s merchandise. And hey, look, it worked! Will Luke train her in the ways of the Force?
It does not camouflage itself as a convincing thriller or a pop distraction or an attempt at anthropology. Jane soon becomes friends with Madeline’s best friend Celeste Wright (Nicole Kidman, also fantastic), a gorgeous mother of twins in what appears to be an idyllic and intensely passionate marriage to the younger Perry (Alexander Skarsgård), but that is much more twisted. The show cuts between scenes leading up to the event featuring the aforementioned women and to the present, where Monterey’s other residents, acting as the bitchy Greek chorus, sit in an interrogation room opining on those past events, to which they have been paying attention with the singlemindedness not of overinvested neighbors but a rapt TV audience. Ditto Madeline’s relationship with her husband Ed (Adam Scott), her ex-husband, to say nothing of Jane, Renata, and the director of the local community theater. She meets Madeline on the first day of school as Madeline screams at her 16-year-old daughter about texting and driving, and then sprains her ankle, her queen bee 6-year-old sitting in the car. The show is framed by a murder. The catty comments of the Monterey hoi polloi do give the series a gossipy gloss but as directed by Wild and Dallas Buyer’s Club’s Jean-Marc Vallee, Big Little Lies is an empathic drama, a remarkably astute and deep series of character and relationship studies. Remarkably, given the current moment, Big Little Lies is not embarrassed to be about exactly what it is about: the travails of immensely privileged people. In HBO’s Big Little Lies, an excellent seven-episode miniseries that gets away with being about the traumas of the obscenely wealthy by being just as rich in character development, Witherspoon has finally given in, donning her own personal Batman suit and playing gloriously to indomitable type. Rounding out the relevant mothers is Laura Dern’s Renata Klein, a hotshot CEO who is endlessly needled by Madeline, and Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz), the only underdeveloped character of the bunch, as the beatific, enlightened new yogi wife of Madeline’s ex-husband. Witherspoon waited all this time for the chance to take her archetype and make her human. And yet Tracy Flick hovers in the background of all Witherspoon’s choices, a superpower she refuses to deploy. It might have taken 18 years to find a part worth reviving her inner Flick for—but watching Big Little Lies, you can understand why Witherspoon waited so long. Flick is to Witherspoon as the North Pole is to a compass: always exerting an invisible pull even as Witherspoon navigates in every direction but toward it. Thanks largely to Madeline, the first-grade class is soon drawn into battle lines: decadent 6-year-old birthday parties, trips to see Frozen on ice, and the town production of the controversial Avenue Q all lead to an incredible ratcheting-up of tension between adults, 6-year-olds, and adults behaving worse than 6-year-olds. Her relative opacity stands out like a sore thumb—if it’s not a red herring or a major clue.)
Witherspoon’s Madeline is the showiest part, though Dern nearly keeps up with her, chewing scenery as a corporate executive completely undone by her inability to protect, or even communicate with, her daughter. There’s more psychological depth to Madeline, Jane, and Celeste’s relationship with their local barista than there is between the leads in most shows. Jane—younger, poorer, and more low-key—is wary but swiftly and irrevocably taken under Madeline’s surprisingly generous wing anyway. Madeline is seen by her neighbors as, basically, a stay-at-home Tracy Flick, a woman to be endured and feared, but the audience is invited to know her more intimately, not just her anxieties and flaws but her warmth, her loyalty, her humor, her charming too-muchness. Madeline is the kind of woman who says, only half-joking, that part of the reason she’s a stay-at-home mom is that she just enjoys pissing the working moms off, a bit of childishness copped to so knowingly that its endearing. (Renata, like the townsfolk, comes closest to being a kind suburban helicopter gorgon.) But Kidman is just as good as Witherspoon, in a quieter register: Celeste and Perry’s relationship is so twisted and psychosexual that everything about it is at once straightforward and impossibly complicated, a knot one can see how to untie but not without drawing it tighter. (Give the pacing of the first six episodes, it will almost certainly be wrapped up too quickly to be satisfying.) The real precipitating violence is more mundane: One of the first-graders is bullying Renata’s shy daughter Amabelle, who on the first day of school, fingers the sweet Iggy for unclear reasons. She won an Oscar as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, going grounded, sensible, and nurturing with occasional bursts of charming sass. Reese Witherspoon played Tracy Flick in Election 18 years ago, in a performance so towering it birthed an archetype and had the power to typecast Witherspoon forever—not in other movies but in our minds. This description may make Big Little Lies sound like an intentional satire of affluence and status parenting a la Desperate Housewives, or an unintentional parody of affluence and status parenting a la The Slap. The murder plot is a high-concept hook that the show almost could have done without. As the show begins, Woodley’s Jane Chapman has just moved to town with her son Iggy, chasing down secrets from her dark past. Witherspoon co-stars alongside Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley as Madeline Martha Mackenzie: a mother, community theater enthusiast, and moderately unbearable force of nature. Celeste’s dynamic with Perry, with her therapist, and with Madeline could all be series unto themselves. All of Witherspoon’s non–Tracy Flick roles have been in conversation with Tracy Flick, murmuring something like, “No, no, no, not you again, not yet”—until now. Someone—and through six of the seven episodes, even the victim’s identity is not revealed—has been killed at the swanky school fundraiser. In the years since Election, Witherspoon has appeared in and produced over 20 other films, assiduously avoiding playing anyone as distastefully Type-A (infamously the name of Witherspoon’s production company) as Flick, anyone as button-cute and implacably relentless, as simultaneously undeniable and detestable. In Wild, she played a woman who had lost herself, the very fact of said woman being played by Reese Witherspoon a kind of promise of her future sanity. (The exception here is the radical underdevelopment of Kravitz’s Bonnie, also the only major character of color. In Legally Blonde, Witherspoon dressed up her competence in pink, softening her formidable intelligence with a feather boa of ditziness. A certain steely competence is as much a part of Witherspoon as her defiant chin, but she has spent the years since Election exploring this quality indirectly. Madeline’s overinvolved and overinvested, but she’s not selfish or brittle. She has appeared in half-baked rom-coms and romances and buddy films (Sweet Home Alabama, Just Like Heaven, How Do You Know, This Means War, Water for Elephants, Hot Pursuit) but refrained from starring as Amy in David Fincher’s high-profile Gone Girl, a film that she produced, despite seeming to be the perfect choice to play a scheming, vengeful sociopath masquerading as an appealing everywoman. Underneath her bluster, she’s kind of a square who can’t help but act like she’s larger than life. Big Little Lies, based on the book by Liane Moriarty, is set in the impossibly wealthy beach town of Monterey, California, among a group of women whose children are all in first grade at the fantastic local public school.
Several current TV series featuring predominantly black casts or black lead storylines have demonstrated appeal beyond black audiences, pulling in sizeable numbers from other demographics. Black-ish, Insecure, Atlanta, and How to Get Away With Murder average more than 50 percent non-black viewership, and in the case of Black-ish, a surprising 79 percent of its audience is not black. Henson’s Golden Globe win, and a Cover Girl makeup line inspired by the show. The conversation about Atlanta’s nuances and its depiction of black life never got as deep as it has with other black people I’ve talked with, or even just people closer to my own age. But it was kind of cool to see that woman find something to love about a show that seemed about as far removed from her own experiences as possible. It says something that in 2017, shows like Atlanta, Black-ish, and Insecure—shows that wear their blackness proudly—are being made and embraced by those who don’t necessarily have those same experiences, or even fully understand all of the references and sensibilities. This show that featured a cameo from Migos before Migos had the number one song in the country, and inexplicably cast Justin Bieber with a black actor? Your Fresh Prince of Bel-Airs and Cosby Shows that rarely waded into sharp political territory (though the former did so more often than the latter) and featured benign, ostensibly family-friendly funnymen at their center. Perhaps sensing how this data could be twisted, Nielsen also points out in its report that Empire still commands a predominantly black audience (though their non-black viewership is still pretty high, at around 40 percent), and notes its Emmy nominations, star Taraji P. While chatting with a few of the guests, I caught a snippet of what was being discussed by a few of the women on the couch across from me, all of them white and probably in their late 40s or early 50s. I jumped in on the women’s conversation at the holiday party and seconded the recommendation that the others check it out. (I wonder how many people had to Google Juneteenth after an Atlanta episode last year, or had no clue what an AKA is until Insecure’s Molly was revealed to be one.) In a sense, it’s real progress. One of the women was gushing about Atlanta, Donald Glover’s idiosyncratic FX series, the show that he’s said he created to show white people that they “don’t know everything about black culture.” She loved it, and encouraged the others to check it out. A recent report from Nielsen backs up my inkling. It was then that I felt something about how black culture is being consumed on screen had fundamentally changed, perhaps for the better. But then, there’s a real fear that celebrating this demographic shift too much could reinforce the idea that black viewership isn’t as important or valuable as white viewership, even if black faces are at the forefront of future projects. Past series featuring predominantly black casts that had significant appeal outside of black viewers tended to be middle-of-the-road fare. The evening was winding down and there were several conversations going on in the cozy living room. Even when the news and the current presidential administration tell us otherwise, there’s a not insignificant amount of people who are willing to consider the perspectives of a culture other than their own, at least on screen, and in fiction. Last December, I found myself at a very small holiday gathering of about 10 urban professionals in the gorgeous townhouse of a prominent couple in Gramercy Park in Manhattan. That’s worth appreciating, at least. Black stories do sell, and we’re living in a moment when those stories don’t need to be diluted for non-black people to want to tune in. Shows that presented a more specific and targeted brand of black culture and humor, like Martin or Living Single, did not cross over to nearly the same extent.
They’re more relaxed than a Florentine, more lightweight than a brittle. “They’re an easy treat for anyone to share in an act of #cookiesandkindness. So bake and share them freely, with your Valentine, your office, your kids’ teachers, your mail carrier, your barista, your dentist. “I love them for a million reasons, but chiefly because they’re a simple pleasure that can be shared on the spur of the moment.”
Dorie learned the recipe from Martine Collet, one of her oldest friends in Paris, and couldn’t quite believe it. Beyond this come on over! scenario, Dorie also recommends these first for someone who’s never baked before. This post originally appeared in Genius Recipes from Food52. But first, turn on your oven and get out the almonds, eggs, and sugar. There’s a wild array of textures—the shattering, airy crunch of meringue at the edges, and the softer one of toasted almonds, with rolling bubbles and pockets skittering across the surface. Dorie Greenspan’s 3-Ingredient Almond Crackle Cookies Makes 20 cookies
6 tablespoons (75 grams) sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups (125 grams) sliced almonds (blanched or unblanched)
See the full recipe on Food52. When you call Dorie Greenspan to say you’re coming over, this is what she bakes. “It takes longer to preheat the oven than to put these cookies together,” she wrote to me. “It’s a miracle of a recipe in that it’s delicious, of course, beautiful, in a higgledy-piggledy never-perfect way, and a snap to make,” Dorie says. It’s not entirely clear how these three ingredients become a cookie, but between the handy glue of egg and sugar, the architectural advantages of sliced almonds, and the crispability of all of the above, they do. Oh and here’s a little tip, whether you’re an old fan of Dorie’s or a new one: If you want the next 34 minutes of your day to be immediately brighter, go watch Dorie talk cookies on our Facebook Live. But beyond the fact that this exercise in minimalism just happens to work, it tastes like so much more than just these three ingredients and this care-free technique—there are warm, toasty caramel notes, and a sweet vanilla-like scent. More from Food52: If What’s on TV Bores You, At Least You’ll Have These Cheese Dips 40 Bright Recipes for Purple Produce Season (What Beige?) The 1-Pot, 1-Blender, 1-Hour Vegan Comfort Food We’ve Made All Winter The Surprising, Unorthodox Ingredient for Loftier, Fluffier Biscuits Put a Cookie on Top of a Cream Puff And… How to Rid Your Stainless Steel of That Pesky Chalky Residue And who doesn’t love—and need—a lot of cookies and a little kindness now?”
Once cooled, I’ve found they also travel and store extremely well (if it’s not too humid, that is)—I’m still taste-testing the last of a big batch I baked three weeks ago, just to explore their magical powers further. Bookmark it. There are only three ingredients: egg, almond, and sugar, simply stirred together—and in very un-cookie-like fashion, no flour or butter. And call a friend. And they’re altogether really lovely over a cup of coffee with an old friend.
Samantha Bee dedicated a segment of Full Frontal to the Speaker of the House on Wednesday, tracking his path from a principled social and fiscal conservative to President Trump’s “faithful husky.”
Ryan was once considered the conscience of the Republican party—or to put it another way, he was at least willing to feebly denounce the racist things Trump said and did during the campaign, though without ever actually condemning Trump himself. Paul Ryan has big plans. “Paul Ryan would put Cthulhu in the White House if it would let him privatize Medicare,” said Bee. Speaker: Know when to dump the guy you’ve only been pretending to like to help your career.”
Now, though, Trump is president of the United States, and nothing, not even the blatantly unconstitutional and immoral Muslim ban, will make Ryan speak up and risk upsetting the president—because doing so would mean jeopardizing his own agenda. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, and cut taxes, and to do so, he’ll need to stay in the good graces of Donald Trump—whatever the cost to his integrity. “Sure, it’s an eldritch creature of infinite darkness, but it can sign 20 tax cut bills at once.”
Hey, there’s a reason Ryan was voted “Biggest Brown-Noser” in high school. “Take another cue from Taylor Swift, Mr. “Watching Ryan play moral watchdog was like watching Taylor Swift pretend to be surprised at awards shows. Bland and fake, but weirdly compelling,” noted Bee, playing side-by-side clips of the two.
Perhaps Murphy’s revelation was fueled by the news that there’s another miniseries about the election on the way, this one from Zero Dark Thirty writer Mark Boal and producer Megan Ellison. (Or maybe he was inspired by Slate’s suggestions for who should play the members of Donald Trump’s administration.)
Either way, we just lived through the 2016 election, people. Ryan Murphy was unusually forthcoming about the upcoming season of American Horror Story during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live on Wednesday, announcing that the theme of the new season will in fact be the most horrifying imaginable: the 2016 election. But American Horror Story usually plays more coy about the new season’s theme—just look at the many teasers released for season 6, Roanoke, which were a masterful exercise in misdirection. “Well, I don’t have a title,” Murphy began, “but the season that we begin shooting in June is going to be about the election that we just went through.” Andy Cohen, seeming a bit stunned, followed up to ask whether that means Donald Trump will be a character. Murphy is already getting political for season 4 of American Crime Story, which will focus on the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “Maybe,” said Murphy. It’s too soon.
Given that said clip shows a scowling Odenkirk-as-Colbert taking the Late Show stage and sneering “Clap, you pigs,” Colbert is understandably taken aback, but then he remembers: He’s also in Late Show: The Movie, playing… Bob Odenkirk. Fortunately, Odenkirk’s most recent project is the Netflix black comedy Girlfriend’s Day, which freed him up to engage in some classic Mr. The bit gets more complicated from there—like, “Pre-Taped Call-In Show” complicated—and while it would be unfair to spoil exactly how, trust us when we say you’ll want to keep watching until the kicker. Notwithstanding the greatness of Bob Odenkirk’s performance as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul’s Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill, it’s little alarming to consider that there may be prestige drama fans unaware of Odenkirk’s storied sketch comedy past. In the Late Show bit, Odenkirk informs Colbert that he’s starring in the forthcoming Late Show: The Movie, playing none other than Stephen Colbert. Show mindbending on Late Show With Stephen Colbert. And what do you know, he has a clip.
Yes, you can be shocked as hell, but to not understand why you may end up winning is to not understand this world you live in, and how your world differs. In 2014, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories beat Kendrick’s Good Kid, MAAD City. Similar to Stevie, Outkast made multiple classic albums that were ignored by the Grammys. Their fourth album, Stankonia, was nominated in 2002, but lost to the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. In order for Michael Jackson to win, he had to make the highest-selling album of all time. And that it wasn’t about her and that it wasn’t about Beyoncé, it was about the gatekeepers of the Grammys, using their power to keep people—and messages—in their place. If you like Beyoncé, you cry, you salute her with pleasantries, you talk about how you don’t deserve it and you break your statue in half out of tribute to her. When you look at those ten artists (who accounted for 12 wins in total; Stevie Wonder won three times in four years), and understand who they were and what their albums represented, it’s a sobering reminder that the Grammys are just a metaphor for this country, and that even the richest and most celebrated black people still are very much black. In 1994, The Bodyguard soundtrack won, featuring one half Whitney Houston songs (including Dolly Parton cover turned Whitney classic “I Will Always Love You”) and another half songs by other artists, from Kenny G to Lisa Stansfield to Joe Cocker. Be it something as trivial as the Grammys or as relatable as getting a job, the gatekeepers still thrive on maintaining imbalance. Finally, there’s Outkast. Oh, it does? Beyoncé lost. In 2016, Taylor Swift’s 1989 won AOTY over Kendrick’s To Pimp a Butterfly. In 2015, it was Beck’s Morning Phase over Beyoncé. Which is why, when those big moments happen, and you’re looking for that white person in your life that likes you so much to just stand up for you—just to once take the emotional load off of you—instead of fighting, they’ll so often break you off a little something, cheer you on, pat you on the back, and then turn around and walk away. In 2005, Ray Charles’s Genius Loves Company won, an album of duets with other popular singers (he won posthumously). He lost twice more for the award, in 1988 for Bad and 1996 for HIStory: Past, Present, Future. But this time, it seemed beyond disbelief, not because she happened to lose to Adele for 25, but because Beyoncé’s album Lemonade—the best and most important work of her career—still couldn’t find a way to win. The Grammys got it right once for Michael, but again, only after they missed a classic. For starters, of those 12 albums, five have an asterisk. The only reason the Grammys still matter is because they’re a reminder of surface-level progressions serving as a convenient smokescreen for one of the stories of America—the never-ending push to keep so many of us in our place. Those are all good albums. It feels like we might look back on this time as the beginning of Beyoncé’s classic period, something very few artists have. Adele’s win, which you can’t blame her for, is a Grammy issue, but Adele’s preparation for that moment is an indictment of the privilege of not understanding a world in which you, Adele, could probably beat Beyoncé. And that’s it. Most of them celebrate yesteryear, with the majority defined by the term “Various Artists.” And a decent amount of the music on these black albums are performed by white artists.They live in a completely different category from something like Lemonade, a singular piece of work by a black solo artist. What else do these albums have in common? By now, you know what happened. Yes, it was the Album of the Year, but it was also a landmark moment for an entire genre of music, which is what it took for them to win—changing music forever. His first two, Music of My Mind and Talking Book, were not nominated for Album of the Year. Innervisions, his first nomination and win, was Stevie Wonder’s 16th album. But then they finally—rightfully—won one, for Speakerboxxx/Love Below, an album that was too massive too ignore, even if it wasn’t their true masterwork as a duo. It was a landmark year for the Album of the Year category: all five nominees were women, including Madonna, Shania Twain, Sheryl Crow, Lauryn Hill, and Garbage (fronted by Shirley Manson). It was a true flex for Quincy, showing how he was undeniably the connective tissue for three (or four) generations of black music. The album is gorgeous, and it is also primarily a covers album of songs performed by her father, Nat King Cole. Beyoncé and Lemonade are great, important works of art. But that album, a double-album consisting of (basically) an André solo album and a Big Boi solo album, changed hip-hop forever. Lionel Richie’s win for Can’t Slow Down over Prince’s Purple Rain in 1985 was a glaringmistake. This article originally appeared in Vulture. In order to be celebrated as the artist that made the best album in one year, black artists have to make an album that stands up for 30 years. The Grammys eventually got it right with Stevie, but it wasn’t just that he made the best albums of those years that he won—he had to release “Best Albums of All Time”–level material to finally be recognized. Removing Lionel from the list and there were four artists—six albums total—that you can say were albums by black artists that deserved to win Album of the Year—and did. But if you love Beyoncé, you prepare yourself for a moment in which you could beat her, and if you do, you address the Grammys and tell them that they have been fucking up for a long time now. Of course it does. In the history of the Grammy Awards, only ten black artists have won Album of the Year. If we ignore those, the number of black artists that have won Album of the Year is cut in half to five: Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Lauryn Hill, and Outkast. It’s widely regarded as a classic, one of the great albums of the 1990s, finding the balance between R&B, hip-hop, and pop in a way very few have ever pulled off. I truly thought that moment was coming, when Adele—appreciated for her genuine lack of a filter—won for Album of the Year. And 2013, Mumford & Sons’ Babel beat Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. And this will never change, until someone at the table finally steps up to the gatekeepers, risking their own comfort for the sake of others. The next year, Natalie Cole won for Unforgettable … With Love. And their losses serve as a reminder that making “important” music—art that mirrors the discomfort of our times, art that disrupts the status quo—is not what these Grammy gatekeepers hold at a premium, or to some degree, even appreciate. What more is Beyoncé supposed to do? And that’s easier said than done, truly loving black people. It’s hard work, it’s uncomfortable, it’s challenging, it’s tiring. Lionel’s win is akin to 1989 beating To Pimp a Butterfly, or if Drake’s Views would have bested Lemonade for AOTY—both reminiscent of some of the mistakes of the past decade: a pop album with little weight triumphing over a classic album built to stand the test of time. Those three albums are part of what’s commonly known as his “classic period”—1972 to 1976—when he made five consecutive classic albums. It’s a pattern too blatant, too in your face to ignore. The unfair, fucked-up part of it all, however, is that it’s actually going to take Beyoncé making an album as earth-shattering as Innervisions or Songs in the Key of Life to beat the next collection of Taylor Swift songs about road trips for the Album of the Year Grammy. Do you see a trend? A recap: This year it was 25 over Lemonade. Three are basically lifetime achievement awards. This album, her solo debut, dominated the entire year leading up to the awards. Michael Jackson’s Thriller won in 1984, but his first classic, Off the Wall (a better album), wasn’t even nominated for Album of the Year. That’s a stat that has been cited many times over the past two days, but simply stopping there drastically oversimplifies what it actually means. Lauryn won, and she deserved to win, and again, another black artist won Album of the Year, with an Album of the Decade. Lauryn Hill won in 1999 for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. See also: The Grammys Got It Wrong, Again All of this is important to consider when attempting to answer the question of how Beyoncé could win. In 1991, Quincy Jones won for Back on the Block, an album featuring a who’s who in R&B and jazz, with some rap sprinkled in. But there’s more. But, even in a speech thanking Beyoncé—a woman she clearly is inspired by and strives to be like—it wasn’t. They are among the most classic albums in the history of recorded music. For the third time, Beyoncé Knowles lost the Grammy for Album of the Year. Again. Does this trend feel familiar in your own black life? Four of those five artists deserved to win Album of the Year. Stevie won in 1974, 1975 and, 1977 for Innvervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, and Songs in the Key of Life. But none of them are forward facing. And in 2007, Herbie Hancock won for River: The Joni Letters, a Joni Mitchell tribute album. It’s the plight of the nonwhite artist in the present day—responsible for critically carrying the load for an entire country while still not reaping the benefits of that hard work, of that self-induced trauma, beyond a pat on your sore, tired back. But loving Beyoncé is loving black people, because Beyoncé is black people. Beyoncé and Kendrick’s alternating losses for AOTY over the past four years stink of reminders of what happens when we don’t stay in our lane.
I really, really want to do this, just not yet; I want to show her everything. In a way, I wrote the book to answer that question. I’d do anything I could to change the subject: “Did you know that Austrians market a special kind of tampon meant JUST for use during sexual intercourse?” If all else failed, I’d leave the room. Just one so far, and he thinks it’s spot-on—but he’s very Americanized and has a great sense of humor about his mother culture. Germans don’t really believe in small talk and they don’t think that “certain subjects” are to be avoided in polite company, and they are pedantic as hell, but they don’t get offended easily. They find it SO annoying, and I actually think that particular arc—someone saying, “Oh, you’re German—I love Kafka!” and then the German getting an opportunity to be pedantic (Ektually, zet’s not right is the national phrase of Germany, and I say that with love)—is the single most German thing in the world. Last week saw the publication of Slate columnist Rebecca Schuman’s Schadenfreude, A Love Story, a funny and winning account of the writer’s not-entirely-requited crush on German culture. program without any particular intent to become a German professor, even though that’s the one thing a Ph.D. program, people would ask me why, and I’d just freeze up. The two most popular types of humor in German are slapstick and just bone-dry sarcasm. in German qualifies you for. Have you done that yet? You never became a German professor. Kafka is the muse of the book. For a culture that prizes order so much that the idiom for “everything OK?” is Alles in Ordnung? Given that hyperbole is my primary form of communication, I imagine many Germans will disagree with their culture’s portrayal. His work, though, definitely encapsulates the Austrian character (Prague, where he lived, was nominally Austrian for a lot of his life) with its endless bureaucratic entanglements. Since I can’t leave the room now, I’ll say that part of it was that German-language authors (mostly Austrians and Swiss!)—Kafka, Robert Walser—spoke to my own fears and insecurities in a primal way. A great German “joke” is to say the meanest and most tragic thing possible and then follow it with a slight grimace. Do you have German friends who’ve read the book? Maybe 27. You spend the book banging on doors trying to get in—to win over a Kafka-obsessed boy, to communicate with German-speakers, to find a spot in a university German department. But was it, in the end, a good idea to indulge and enable those insecurities? For years people at parties have asked me “Why German?” Especially when I was in a Ph.D. When I lived in Vienna for a year—a chapter, by the way, that got cut from the book—I had such a hard time getting registered for the university. Well, as soon as I got to the program and started it, like less than a month into it, I realized I did want to become a German professor. (That’s the nomme de guerre my daughter gave herself at 14 months, and it fits.) Maybe when she’s 7. Do Germans find it annoying that the German-language writer who’s most widely read in English wasn’t even German? I had to wait in line for 5 hours, and then when I finally got to the front, the worker was just like, Oh, I forgot to move you from one column to the other one, like it was the most normal thing in the world to require someone to come in for five hours to ask for a minor clerical task they didn’t know needed to be done. As far as the humor thing—well, the stereotypes are true and they aren’t. I got back to my desk at the research institute where I was doing my Fulbright and I said to my Austrian colleague: “I just realized that Kafka wrote nonfiction.”
You write about beginning a Ph.D. Maybe 17. Did you get it? Ask me again in 10 years. When I lived in Berlin I went to a Blur show in the dead of winter and had to check my coat. Oh, I will. That is the question I have had the hardest time answering. I still sort of wish I was a German professor—though only esoterically! I can’t wait to take her there—but I will wait. I want nothing to do with American academia, which our readers will be surprised to learn, I believe is a toxic morass of corporatization and poor social skills. Is there a humor mechanism that replaces comic exaggeration, for the Germans? Your book is in a way the story of a persistent crush on German culture. She already speaks a little German; she loves German kids’ songs, and she recognizes German when she hears it and answers in the few words and phrases she knows. Schuman’s bildungsroman channels the weltschmerz of a former wunderkind rejected by the professoriat and exiled to the creative lumpenproletariat. (I grew up in England where the trope about Germans is that they always barge to the front of queues. I often wonder, in Kafka-parable fashion, if my obsession with him made me prone to waiting outside doors meant not to let me in—or if I was drawn to him in the first place because I was already that way. However, the second-most-endearing thing about Germans is that a sign of true friendship with a German is that you stay up all night screaming at each other in disagreement but still remain best friends. (It was a great show, by the way; Damon Albarn did an A-level in German and addressed the audience in German!) Afterward, I spent no less than 45 minutes in an obscene grinding mosh pit of German bodies, when a proper queue would have taken 5 tops. After all those years, I found something I was actually really good at: reading the difficult texts, and also exposing students to them. What do they think of your portrait of their culture? What did you hope you’d get from the program? One of the most endearing things about Germans is that they neither understand nor enjoy exaggeration as humor. Does his work encapsulate the German character—even though, as you are reminded again and again in the book, he wasn’t German at all? the queuing habits are inexplicable. My mind was completely blown by all the difficult reading I was doing, and by the fact that I could actually work through that reading and come up with interesting insights. I’d start to cry sometimes! (Somehow it works.) Kafka, for example, was absolutely, rip-roaringly hilarious, obviously in a very dark way. At the end of the book you talk about looking forward to taking your newborn child to Germany, Austria, and Prague. Most people don’t know this about him, and early translations of his work (most of which are canonical) don’t play this up at all. Or are they as humorless as some stereotypes suggest? We spoke by email about Kafka, pretentiousness, and the Germans’ surprising inability to form an orderly line. It’s one of the best things about them. What was the romance of German culture for you? I think this mostly speaks to the profound respect the English have for the queuing process.)
Oh, the queue thing is true. Oh god no, she’s 2; I’d rather die than subject myself to an international flight with Fluffy Trouble. Why did you keep banging?
Ray answers, “That’s OK, I’ve got a bunch of reading for pleasure to do,” before pulling out a copy of A Little Life. I thought I wanted my mom to marry him, but I realize now I just wanted to fuck him.” Par for the course for this show and for Jessa in particular. 13. Millennial awkwardness: They decide they’re not gonna have sex, no way. 11. “Good, ’cause I haven’t done anything yet,” he answers. Holly finishes on her own and starts to cry/laugh, and Hannah looks on in horror. Season 1, Episode 4, Shoshanna and Matt Position or act: Cunnilingus Circumstances of sex: One of Shoshanna’s doomed attempts to lose her virginity in Season 1. There’s no need to terminate sex just ’cause we’re not meant for each other. After he picks her up and puts her on his bed, her distress is compounded; he starts going for her butt and doesn’t seem to care when she protests that she didn’t shower that day. She goes to start touching herself, and he stops her; it’s a pretty confusing situation. Millennial awkwardness: Marnie hastily tries to pull down his pants and asks, “How many pairs of underwear do you wear?” His shirt stays on, such is the rush they’re in. Millennial awkwardness: Elijah, musing on whether he might be bi, tells Marnie she’s hot. So to send off this show in the manner it so richly deserves, we’ve ranked every sex scene on the show, up to this season’s premiere, according to how Girls it was. Additional research by David Canfield. They have sex on Ray’s table. 33. Season 1, Episode 10, Shoshanna and Ray Position or act: Missionary Circumstances of sex: Shosh’s deflowering. 38. Hapless Hannah has trouble getting her tights off, and Adam isn’t super-responsive to her requests. 36. “No, I said it makes me look like a piggy bank,” she clarifies, annoyed. After Jessa’s wedding, Shosh is ready to lose it … she thinks. Millennial awkwardness: On Girls, where sex is usually full of noises and dialogue, quiet sex speaks volumes about the state of the relationship of the couple who’s having it. This means several makeouts, some of which included generous second-base action, did not make the cut. Millennial awkwardness: As she’s making plans for their relationship, he’s taking her from behind and asks if they can talk about it later. 3. She says she’s too hot (and has a serious case of bed head), and even though Holly begs her to keep going, she stops. “And now you’re getting it,” he says. From that cringingly unromantic encounter through the dozens of awkward hookups and one infamous rim job that followed, this show pioneered a certain kind of naturalistic, unsexy millennial sex scene. Millennial awkwardness: A hat trick of awkwardness: First she asks him what his favorite part of “fucking” her is, before they’ve even started; next she slips a finger in his butt (“What are you doing? Marnie is bored and repulsed and suggests doggy instead, which Charlie thought she hated because it makes her feel like a piggy bank. Matt pauses, remarking that virgins are “really not my thing.” Shosh protests, “I so don’t get attached when I bleed. Millennial awkwardness: The mid–sexual encounter breakup is a Girls specialty. Millennial awkwardness: More of Hannah’s boobs, of course. They can’t be together in public, but in private, anything goes. 26. Season 5, Episode 7, Elijah and Dill Position or act: Fellatio Circumstances of sex: Dill shows up drunk at Elijah’s place and starts to give him a blow job. This clearly isn’t the same Charlie Marnie broke up with last year for being a wuss. “How am I supposed to get hard if you’re rolling your eyes?” This was less a sex scene than two egomaniacs almost getting off on mutual flattery. Millennial awkwardness: In all the rush to get it done, Jessa fails to notice that Shoshanna is home, and though she calls her a “batshit little perv” for watching, she treats it as a teachable moment: “That was me showing that I cannot be smoted. Millennial awkwardness: Hannah goes down on the yoga instructor but gets uncomfortable midway through. Missionary? Millennial awkwardness: Adam keeps veering into overly aggressive territory, which is not what Natalia is looking for. She’s on top of him and their heads are close together, but when he says “I love you,” she pulls away and bumps her head on the top of the bed’s loft. Season 6, Episode 1, Hannah and Paul-Louis Position or act: Missionary; doggy Circumstances of sex: Hannah may have quit surf lessons after a dubious injury, but after a night of alcoholic slushie–fueled dancing at the bar with her surf instructor (Riz Ahmed), she winds up in his (bottom bunk) bed. Season 1, Episode 6, Hannah and Eric Position or act: Missionary Circumstances of sex: Hannah visits her hometown and goes out with a pharmacist she went to high school with. Millennial awkwardness: She won’t look at him, and he says, “I feel like you’re not really here right now.” She’s pissed that he keeps dirty pictures of his exes on his phone. Season 4, Episode 1, Hannah and Adam Position or act: Missionary Circumstances of sex: The two have quiet, passionless, routine sex on their last night together before Hannah goes off to graduate school and an unknown future. As Marnie stands against the kitchen sink, Desi mashes his face into her butt. “You know how hot you are, that’s why you’re such a little bitch.” He kisses her, she smacks him, then she reconsiders. Millennial awkwardness: The sex itself is tame for Girls—no nudity—and Marie climbs right out of bed and heads into her kitchen, which is approximately two feet away. A scene more notable for its context than for the specifics of the sex itself. “I love that,” Desi says. No sooner does than that he reveal to her that she’s bleeding—her period has arrived. 21. Marnie and Charlie Position or act: Missionary; doggy Circumstances of sex: Marnie and Charlie’s long-term–relationship sex life doesn’t seem much better than Hannah and Adam’s new thing, mostly owing to the fact that Marnie can’t stand Charlie. Season 2, Episode 10, Marnie and Charlie Position or act: Cunnilingus Circumstances of sex: After being broken up for the better part of a season, Marnie and Charlie are back together, and Charlie is going down on her in his apartment. The van then tips over. Bossy! Millennial awkwardness: “Are you 18?” Hannah asks Frank when he suddenly kisses her. Millennial awkwardness: The gag about Hannah having no idea how to put her bridesmaid dress halter top back on afterward is funny in a very Girls-ian way. “I wanted this so bad,” Hannah responds. He explains to her that she is a “big, fat fucking phony.” Marnie appreciates the candor. Season 1, Episode 5, Hannah and Adam Position or act: Masturbation Circumstances of sex: Adam is confused when Hannah shows up at his place, because he thought they broke up. They eventually settle into a pretty standard missionary. You know, for the story?” Millennial awkwardness: Hannah starts to neg Adam, insulting him for masturbating while she’s standing right there. Season 5, Episode 2, Jessa and Adam Position or act: Simultaneous masturbation Circumstances of sex: Jessa and Adam are trying really hard not to get involved with each other, on account of Hannah’s feelings. All he asks is that she not abandon him. Season 5, Episode 5, Hannah and a yoga instructor Position or act: Cunnilingus Circumstances of sex: Hannah is at a spa with her mother, in a terrible mood, and starts chatting with Holly, a yoga instructor, even though Hannah is still with Fran at this point. 18. Millennial awkwardness: Dill isn’t a millennial, and for Girls, speed instructions are not particularly awkward. Millennial awkwardness: Where would we be without this scene from the pilot, which set the template for all Girls sex scenes to follow? Season 1, Episode 2, Jessa and a guy she meets at a bar Position or act: Digital stimulation Circumstances of sex: Avoiding going to the clinic for an abortion, Jessa needs something to take her mind off of it and picks up a stranger. Millennial awkwardness: They make out, and she orders him, “put your hands down my pants.” “Is that OK?” he asks. Nothing we haven’t seen in a thousand other storylines about male musicians with Peter Pan complexes. 3), Natalia and Adam give it another go. Millennial awkwardness: How does sex between two nonmillennials end up being so millennially awkward? Circumstances of sex: After a painfully awkward first time together, Jessa and Adam start to find their groove. In this scene, we also get to see Adam rolling off her and ripping off the condom, something of an Adam Driver signature move, and we sense the trouble ahead when Hannah asks afterward, “Wait, so you’re just gonna leave?”
42. Meanwhile, he is so enjoying himself that he says “foak!” with a long o instead of fuck. They keep stopping each other and switching positions, and eventually Adam says, “Is this what bad sex is like?” Strangely enough, it doesn’t seem all that different from a lot of the sex on the show. Part of what tripped Hannah up during surf lessons—lack of athletic ability—once again stands in her way when Paul-Louis tries to position her limbs in ways she’s not used to, including bending her leg up to her chest while he’s on top of her. It’s the measure against which all future millennial sex scenes would be judged, and with each line of dialogue, a thousand think pieces bloomed. Also, both parties seemed to be enjoying the sex equally, which is also pretty un-Girls. But then he gets into it, closes his eyes … and promptly crashes the van he’s driving into a speed-limit sign. It lasted for like eight seconds.” For the rest of the episode, she struggles with a urinary tract infection. That part, at least, is very Girls. Millennial awkwardness: After a whirlwind adventure around the city, Charlie brings Marnie back to his scuzzy apartment (he doesn’t even have his own bathroom), and they do it in his bed. But this scene is less about the sex than about using sex as an engine to drive the plot, so Hannah can demonstrate how frustrated she is with Marnie’s bridezilla behavior and Fran can reveal that Desi has been engaged seven other times. 8. Apologies to the time Shoshanna made out with a doorman and Marnie, Jessa, and Thomas John’s almost-threesome. You know It’s like amazing, I’m like totally not an attached bleeder,” but the die is cast, and her hymen will remain intact for another few episodes. Millennial awkwardness: Despite Hannah’s invitation to relax, Ray is initially uncomfortable (“I don’t think this is good for our friendship”). 24. Her old camp friend Matt comes over and gets a boner on the couch (“you could touch it if you want”). Millennial awkwardness: How can such a comprehensively nude scene (Hannah chats with Adam for a while topless after they finish) be ranked so low here? God, you’re so dumb, Parker.”
14. “When did you get so good at this? He finishes and says, “shake my hand.” It feels like Hannah has made it to the freaky next level of whatever game Adam is playing. 17. She’s mad at him but trying not to acknowledge it. Afterward, Hannah tells Jessa, “I just had sex with Frank. For those counting, that’s three out of four Girls that Ray has hooked up with throughout the show. Season 5, Episode 6, Marnie and Charlie Position or act: Cowgirl Circumstances of sex: Marnie reunites with Charlie after running into him years after their breakup, even though she’s married now. 9. Season 3, Episode 5, Marnie and Ray Position or act: Missionary Circumstances of sex: Marnie visits Ray amid a moment of existential confusion and asks him to tell her what’s wrong with her. Season 2, Episode 1, Hannah and Sandy Position or act: Cowgirl/lotus Circumstances of sex: It’s a new season, and Hannah has a new boyfriend, Sandy, played by Donald Glover. 45. He also has some very specific instructions for how she should eat strawberries. 4. Millennial awkwardness: Hannah is at first surprised that a man like Joshua wants to be with her, even apologizing for kissing him, but she eventually gives in to her impulses. “No. 43. It gets flirty. “I wanna break up,” she says. Season 4, Episode 9, Jessa and Ace Position or act: Cowgirl/lotus Circumstances of sex: This is the only time we see Jessa have sex with Zachary Quinto’s Ace, the guy who used to date Mimi-Rose (Gillian Jacobs), who is now dating Adam. 40. What saves the encounter from total awkwardness is Paul-Louis’ relentless chill. He turns her affirmations that she likes what he’s doing into, “You like my cock? They have sex anyway. Then Shosh makes the fatal mistake of revealing her V-card status. I almost came,” Hannah says. As Marie’s leaving afterward, Ray suggests that maybe they should keep their hookup on the DL, to which Marnie responds, “Go fuck yourself. Theoretically the awkwardness level is high, but Jessa is so blazingly confident that it all feels smoothly executed anyway. Jessa confusingly requests, “After you come, pretend like you meant to pull out, and then you’re gonna freak out like you might have gotten me pregnant.” Adam does as directed, and Jessa play-acts, “What am I gonna tell my parents?” To which Adam one-ups her: “What the fuck am I gonna tell coach?”
29. Season 3, Episode 10, Hannah and Adam Position or act: Missionary Circumstances of sex: Worried that their sex life has grown stale, Hannah tries out role-play. Season 1, Episode 5, Marnie and Charlie Position or act: Cowgirl Circumstances of sex: After a fight, Marnie visits Charlie, intending to win him back. 15. 37. “It’s about fucking time,” he says. What would pass for scandalous on another show barely registers on Girls. Season 3, Episode 11, Marnie and Ray Position or act: Cowgirl Circumstances of sex: Hannah hears moans coming from Ray’s room, and despite Adam’s protests, opens the door and catches Marnie and Ray in flagrante, her boob only covered by his head. Millennial awkwardness: Dill falls asleep down there instead of finishing. Season 3, Episode 1, Jessa and Laura Position or act: Cunnilingus Circumstances of sex: After basically outing “fat, gay Laura” (Danielle Brooks) in group therapy at rehab, Jessa offers her an olive branch in the form of oral sex. But the mood in the room quickly shifts when Elijah has trouble sustaining his erection. Season 2, Episode 9, Natalia and Adam Position or act: Analingus; doggy; masturbation Circumstances of sex: After an unusually sweet first time together (most of which happens off screen), Natalia sees Adam’s apartment for the first time and calls it depressing. Millennial awkwardness: Awkward would be one word for it; semi-consensual might be another one. I can like your cock and not be a whore.”
10. In terms of awkwardness, Marnie and Desi seem fairly comfortable with each other, but you, the viewer, sure aren’t. “No, I’m 19,” he responds, and they have sex in some grass. She says he’s being weird, he says she’s being weird, and finally she says, “Will you get out of me?” He does. 20. Something’s gotten into Adam, maybe the alcohol he had that night, and he’s back to being the creepy guy we knew in Season 1. She announces that she’s leaving, at which point Adam asks, “You wanna stay till I finish? Before you know it: sex. We’re not gonna touch each other.” Cut to them sitting on opposite sides of a couch masturbating. Wearing a blond wig and using an old-timey accent, she brings Adam to Marnie’s apartment and declares, “This is where my husband puts me.” Millennial awkwardness: Adam plays along, and she undresses to reveal some very complicated lingerie. 19. Millennial awkwardness: This was the butt motorboat heard ‘round the world. Season 2, Episode 10, Shoshanna and Ray Position or act: Spooning Circumstances of sex: Not all is well in Ray and Shoshanna–land after a season of stops and starts, as she worries that he doesn’t have enough ambition. Millennial awkwardness: It’s their first time doing it after lots of buildup, and it doesn’t go well. 32. Wait until one of the people tells the other to pretend he’s a prostitute junkie and we’ll talk. Season 1, Episode 2. (“Will you get a condom?” “I’ll consider it.”) Hannah’s attempts to be both hot and conscientious at the same time result in a constant stream of chatter, which eventually leads Adam to say, “let’s play the quiet game.” This was the trailblazing scene that took two naked twentysomething bodies and dared to show us that they could have sex and it didn’t have to be sexy at all. Girls, the sixth and final season of which began Sunday night, arrived on the scene in 2012 with a bang—if you can use that word to describe what Adam and Hannah did together on that dingy Brooklyn couch. Season 2, Episode 10, Natalia and Adam Position or act: Missionary Circumstances of sex: After the last time didn’t go so well (see No. 16. Peak awkwardness is achieved when Ray says, “Marnie, I think I slipped out.”
27. Millennial awkwardness: Marnie worries that his co-workers will see them. Season 5, Episode 5, Jessa and Adam Position or act: Spooning? Millennial awkwardness: Hardly awkward at all. Millennial awkwardness: Booth is splayed out like a starfish on top of Marnie in his bed, and at one point he commands her to “look at the doll” in the room. (The two had up till then managed to keep their hate-sex alliance a secret.) Millennial awkwardness: We don’t know if the sex itself was awkward, but the fallout sure was. Season 5, Episode 1, Hannah and Fran Position or act: Cowgirl/lotus Circumstances of sex: Hannah, bare-chested as ever, is on top of Fran in the front seat of a car at Marnie’s wedding. 23. Season 3, Episode 11, Hannah and Adam Position or act: Missionary Circumstances of sex: Hannah and Adam are temporarily living apart so Adam can focus on a play he’s acting in, but he still makes time for booty calls. When this is all done, he offers her a Gatorade. 6. It’s no secret that Hannah is selfish, but this is profoundly uncomfortable. After a memorable performance of “Stronger” at his office party, Marnie remarks on their change of fortunes and how lost she feels, and before long they’re doing it on a desk. A little later, he starts to masturbate, and then Hannah is confused—she’s still there, what’s happening? Millennial awkwardness: She is shirtless as usual, and, in terms of Girls-ness, their dialogue feels like a message to the viewer and a provocation to critics as a new season of a much-discussed show was kicking off, now with a person of color finally on screen: “You wanted this,” Sandy says. 46. Season 3, Episode 1, Hannah and Adam Position or act: Cowgirl/lotus Circumstances of sex: After being broken up for most of Season 2, Hannah and Adam are back at it, complete with Adam’s grunts and Hannah’s flailing. Adam tells Natalia to get on all fours and crawl to his room, and she plays along despite being uncomfortable. And I’m a cheerleader, and you’ve thought so much about fucking me before.” Adam is thrown (“it doesn’t make any fuckin’ narrative sense”). He is a surfer, after all. I am unsmoteable.”
35. 41. 22. Millennial awkwardness: “It doesn’t hurt,” she says, Ray on top of her in bed. That was so good. All we can say is you get used to the sight of Lena Dunham’s breasts. 34. Millennial awkwardness: As a candle burns on the nightstand, Charlie tells Marnie he wants them to look at each other when they come. Millennial awkwardness: “You have no idea how good this feels,” Marnie says. You’re never more of an awkward millennial than when you’re engaging in cross-generational sex with a storybook-handsome nonmillennial. Like I’d advertise this.” A hate-sex coupling for the ages is born. Hannah screams, and Ray says, “What the fuck are you doing?” Hannah commands him to “Put your dick away.” From the other side of Ray, Marnie half-heartedly yelps, “He made me.”
25. How many people have you slept with since we broke up?” Not the most comfortable discussion, nor the ideal time to raise it. Millennial awkwardness: We don’t see much, but we do see rehab administrators walk in on them and pledge to write Jessa up. “That was really good. Season 2, Episode 9, Marnie and Charlie Position or act: Standing Circumstances of sex: In the time since they broke up and now, Charlie has become a hot rich tech douche. Marnie asks him if he’s ever seen reality TV, to which he responds that he’s seen the Ken Burns jazz documentary about 17 times—a fitting metaphor for how different these two are. 31. “Now I’m finally getting it,” she agrees. One thing leads to another and … When did you get so good at this. … You’re dirty little whore, and you love my cock.” She stops and says, “No. Long Island girls, and starts to go down on her. Millennial awkwardness: In bed, the two are shown from above, Ray’s bare butt exposed to the camera, and Marnie can barely look at him. Season 5, Episode 8, Hannah and Ray Position or act: Fellatio Circumstances of sex: Hannah is so thankful that Ray has come to save her when she’s stranded in the middle of nowhere after breaking up with Fran that she decides to reward him with some road head. When they’re actually having intercourse, Hannah changes course and says, “I usually fuck football players, but now I’m fucking the school weirdo. Things start off well enough—“Fuck, that feels good! Season 5, Episode 3, Hannah and Fran Position or act: Cowgirl/lotus Circumstances of sex: Fran is sitting on the couch with Hannah on top of him, you guessed it, shirtless. 12. Season 3, Episode 6, Marnie and Ray Position or act: Missionary Circumstances of sex: Marnie and Ray have more hate sex. Season 2, Episode 5, Hannah and Joshua Position or act: Missionary; digital stimulation Circumstances of sex: After Joshua (Patrick Wilson) comes into the coffee shop where Hannah works to complain that Grumpy’s garbage is ending up in his trash cans, Hannah goes to his house to ’fess up to being the one who put it there. After some doggy-style sex, he pulls out and starts masturbating, and she cries out, “No, no, not on my dress!” He comes on her chest and takes off his shirt to wipe it up, completely silent. Seriously. Millennial awkwardness: They’re both lying on their sides in bed so he can’t see how uncomfortable she looks as he gropes one of her boobs over her zip-up sweatshirt. “Describe her.” This is what happens when you sleep with an artist, Marnie. It is classic Girls: outrageous, explicit, at once cringey and riveting, and also a great vehicle for character development. “My aunt says it kinda feels like scratching a sunburn,” she offers, pretty nervous. “I love you, too,” Marnie answers. She refuses to kiss him afterward. Millennial awkwardness: Matt remarks on how chill it is that their hangout has taken a turn for the sexy, compliments Shosh’s “hot rod little bod,” muses on city girls vs. Season 2, Episode 7, Hannah and Frank Position: Missionary Circumstances of sex: Hannah is visiting Jessa’s family in the country, where she meets her strange stepbrother, Frank. She tells him he can finish, and he’s says he won’t finish unless she does. She calls Adam to tell him she is in his neighborhood coincidentally, a bald-faced lie. “Don’t look,” Jessa says. She spends a whole day with him, living a life of leisure and luxury, including the famous topless ping-pong game, and it all feels like a weird dream. It’s a little hard to tell what’s going on here. 5. It was necessary to draw up some parameters to make this highly intensive, very scientific project feasible, so before we begin, a few notes on methodology: This list is limited to acts or attempted acts of manual stimulation and vaginal, oral, and anal sex. You’re welcome. Ray considers stopping because he’s not sure he deserves to have this much power. He’s a black Republican and a breath of fresh air from a convalescing Adam. That’s the whole point. She says quietly, “I don’t think I liked that.”
2. 30. Season 5, Episode 4, Elijah and Dill Position or act: Missionary anal Circumstances of sex: Elijah and Dill’s first time together—Elijah’s on top of him, and they face each other on a bed—comes with a lot of instructions from hunky Dill Harcourt (Corey Stoll), who has very specific thoughts on how fast Elijah should be going. Bent over a couch, she says, “Honest and open communication about mutual needs is like the cornerstone to any healthy relationship.” “Do you want me to stop?” he asks. Season 1, Episode 2, Hannah and Adam Position or act: Missionary; masturbation Circumstances of sex: Hannah and Adam’s second on-screen sexual encounter in the series. She and her mom help him up. A guy like Joshua is a lot to take in when one is used to the vicissitudes of twentysomething Brooklyn boys. Season 4, Episode 1, Marnie and Desi Position or act: Analingus, otherwise known as butt-motorboating Circumstances of sex: As Season 4 begins, Desi and Marnie are trying to make it as a singing duo now; also, unbeknownst to Desi’s girlfriend, Desi is seeing Marnie on the side. Season 4, Episode 6, Marnie and Desi Position or act: Standing against a wall Circumstances of sex: Marnie and Desi, who are trying to make it as a singing duo together while being together-together, have sex in the narrow hallway of Marnie’s apartment, with her up against the wall. Millennial awkwardness: Interestingly, we haven’t seen a lot of drunk sex on this show, and drunk Hannah is even more rambly than usual. Season 1, Episode 6, Loreen and Tad Position or act: Doggy Circumstances of sex: While Hannah is out on a date, her parents take part in the ageless pastime of shower sex. Season 1, Episode 5, Jessa and her ex-boyfriend Position or act: Doggy Circumstances of sex: Jessa bursts into her apartment and has sex with her ex against a window, even though her ex was just telling her about his new partner. “Can we be together but not touch each other?” “Yeah. Season 6, Episode 1, Marnie and Ray Position or act: Missionary Circumstances of sex: Marnie is divorcing Desi and back with Ray, officially this time. 1. Wet and wild!,” Hannah’s dad Tad says. 7. Season 3, Episode 6, Shoshanna and Parker Position or act: Standing; doggy Circumstances of sex: After fellow NYU student and potential boyfriend Parker passes Shosh’s vetting process at the library, they have sex while standing up in her apartment. Season 5, Episode 10, Desi and a groupie Position or act: Fellatio Circumstances of sex: Desi gets a blow job from a very young-looking groupie in his dressing room while Marnie and Ray angrily beg him to open the door. Millennial awkwardness: Oddly specific dirty talk: Adam tells Hannah he knew she wanted it like this when he found her as an 11-year-old junkie in the street with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox. Millennial awkwardness: They’re in bed, Jessa is wearing a netted bra you can see her nipples through, and she tells him, “You look like a teacher I had in the fourth grade. Season 5, Episode 4, Jessa and Adam Position or act: Cowgirl; missionary Circumstances of sex: Jessa and Adam have been trying really hard not to become a couple, but they finally give in. Season 1, Episode 1, Hannah and Adam Position or act: Anal, briefly; doggy Circumstances of sex: We’ve just met Hannah, an aimless twentysomething who’s about to be cut off financially by her parents. “Who gives a fuck?” he answers. 28. 44. It doesn’t go well. “Sorry, I just have a million things going on,” she says. “But I probably do,” he decides. A good lesson on the perils of drunk sex. Season 2, Episode 3, Marnie and Booth Jonathan Position or act: Doggy, or “prone bone,” which is when a woman is lying flat on her belly Circumstances of sex: Marnie’s had a crush on Booth since she first met him in Season 1. Millennial awkwardness: This of course includes lots of smacking noises and dirty talk. Please don’t put your finger in my asshole”); and then she whispers to him, “I’m tight like a baby, right?” This Midwestern boy is just not prepared for Hannah’s big-city ways. Millennial awkwardness: The most awkward part is that they’re playing one of their own songs while they do it, which is surely the right backdrop for Marnie’s performative moans. After she runs into him at work, he brings her back to his place, where he locks her inside one of his art installations for a while. 39. But he soon falls (showers being slippery places), and Hannah comes into the house while he’s still naked on the floor. “Don’t ask me that ever again in my life,” she answers. “You’re a dirty little whore, and I’m going to send you home to your parents covered in cum,” he continues, before telling her from then on she needs to ask his permission whenever she wants to come. He is beautiful and has a beautiful home, and Hannah kisses him. Season 2, Episode 1, Marnie and Elijah Position or act: Missionary Circumstances of sex: Hannah and Elijah, now roommates, just had a party at their place, and Elijah and Marnie are reconnecting afterward once everyone’s gone home.
He’ll never get to greenlight things like Monster Trucks at a real Hollywood studio if he keeps pulling that kind of stunt! There’s not too much he can do when he has to include German spies, high school dances, and robot monster pigs, though. You can tell it’s not a real movie, though: one of the kids suggests the villain could be gender-swapped, and Colbert takes her advice, reimagining the villain as a dual role so he can cast a woman. Taking the mad ravings of children literally is a gag that never fails, especially if those children happen to be adorable. Actually, Colbert has a notably good rapport with the kids; if he ever loses Late Night, he’s got a bright future in elementary schools. The trailer for the kid-written film, starring Andrew Garfield and Idina Menzel (plus some celebrity cameos best left unspoiled) is pretty funny, but honestly way less cute than the kids who wrote it. The kids are ultra-cute and their movie ideas are, as you’d expect, adorable nonsense, though Colbert does his best to shape the rambling into a narrative. (Note that rule this doesn’t apply if you’re the head of a studio greenlighting your four-year-old’s movie idea, the way Paramount did with Monster Trucks.) Stephen Colbert is not the head of a studio, so this Late Show with Stephen Colbert clip, in which he has a group of kids pitch him a movie idea and then shoots a trailer for it, can be watched with no fears about CBS’s share price.