I can't really remember not being famous.
Trump vs. Truth - The Return of John Oliver
Like most other devotees to HBO’s wildly successful Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, I was cautiously waiting to see how Oliver’s team would handle their first week back on the air since November. So! Much! Has! Happened! What the heck could the show contribute to my already roiling echo chamber? However, I was pleasantly surprised that Oliver’s main discussion for the night—a segment timidly titled “Trump vs Truth”—didn’t try to simply criticize what Trump has been saying, but aimed to understand why he’s saying it and more importantly, where Trump hears it first (It turns out, a lot of his intel comes from cable television. Go figure.). It’s a refreshing and much-needed voice in the circus of politics right now, and Oliver’s team is firm in saying that they will “cover Trump’s Impact, not Trump.” I sincerely welcome the distinction.
You Should Still Be Watching – HBO’s Girls
Yes, I get it, Hannah is mostly insufferable, but the Girls season six premiere was a true return to form. Hannah spends most of the episode at a surfing camp out in Montauk (she’s covering it for a freelance article), and it would have been the perfect bottle episode if it weren’t for the pesky check-ins on the other girls back in Brooklyn: Jessa and Adam are still sleeping together, Shosh is full of energy, Marnie is jealous of everything, and Ray feels uncomfortable. While I think these check-ins could have worked really well in the next episode, and left us more time to slide back into Hannah’s slightly improved station in life, Ray and Shoshanna’s brief scene together (and the return of Elijah!) make the straying worthwhile.
The episode really finds its feet when Hannah sort of gives up on the surfing camp and takes interest in one of the surfing instructors, Paul-Louis, played wonderfully by Riz Ahmed. While watching Paul-Louis perfectly rap the Twista verse from “Slow Jams” while out at a karaoke night, Hannah yells out, “I’m going to fuck him later,” which I found delightfully charming. Of course, in the end, there’s a nice lingering moment where Hannah realizes that she can’t have this life—surfer guy has a girlfriend, she has a life in Brooklyn, and you are left rooting for her, wanting her to find whatever it is she’s chasing so desperately. We’ve got nine more episodes left to see if Hannah et al. will find what they’re looking for before the show calls it quits.
Plz Advise Goes to the Women’s March
If you haven’t been following Molly McAleer’s podcast Plz Advise, this is your nudge to do so. The pod, which is usually a sassy advice show, deviates from the norm to deliver an intimate look at the DC Women’s March. The episode features interviews with a variety of women and captures how raw millions of people felt after the election. Listening to it, I was filled with a real sense of camaraderie with these women.
After listening to Molly’s Women’s March episode, check out one of the other 100 episodes for some real talk on how you should be living your life.
I Like My Games Done Quick - Twitch
Late at night, if I can’t sleep, I usually throw on a Twitch stream. Twitch, a live-streaming website, is primarily known for video games, hosting gaming tournaments, and “speedrunning,” which means beating a game as fast as humanly possible. Speedrunning has become a kind of sport—with leaderboards, world records, tournament brackets—and it’s fascinating. There are a plethora of runners and games to watch, but there’s nothing like watching world records being beat, and no one is better at beating a record than Darbian, whose claim to fame is beating Super Mario Bros. faster than anyone in the world. If you catch his stream, you can hear him talking about strategies that help him break records—frame rules, flagpole glitches, bullet bill clips, all that—and, if you’re lucky enough, you just might catch him setting a new world record live.
Ain’t Nobody Love You Like I Love You – Justin Timberlake
I am all in for Timberlake. The fact that most of pop culture has embraced Justin Timberlake makes the thirteen-year-old me quite smug, as if I knew something that y’all were sleeping on. This month, The Hollywood Reporter features Timberlake on the cover, now 36 (36!), a father, a 10-time Grammy award winner, and about to star in a Woody Allen film. At one point in the interview he says, “I can't really remember not being famous,” which in turn makes me realize that more of my life has been marked by being a Timberlake fan than not. THR treats Timberlake’s early successes, even his first solo album, as a distant memory—a perspective I didn’t know we’d arrive at until precisely this moment. Just like that, my own ennui and mortality come zooming into focus. Well done, THR, for reminding us all that time is inescapable.