- All your favorite characters are gonna die.
- Elizabeth Berkley’s moment.
- My favorite new comedy.
- Bow down to Amy Poehler. (Always.)
- Sophie Turner’s jaw-dropping Thrones review.
The Biggest Pop Culture Weekend Ever?
It’s nice to learn a new phrase that will make you cry every time you hear for it. Take, for example, “Arise, Ser Brienne of Tarth, Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.”
Sunday night’s episode was, beyond a doubt, the most emotional Game of Thrones I had ever seen—and therefore also this big ole softie’s favorite. (Less fighting! More existential bonding!)
The entire episode was the Westeros equivalent of that scene at the end of Toy Story 3 where all the toys are heading towards the incinerator, and so they link hands and find comfort and strength in being together with the ones they love as they face certain death and I weep uncontrollably through it all.
The surprisingly tender Sansa-Theon reunion; the Sam, Jon, and Edd pow-wow; Podrick singing that gorgeous song as everyone drank around the fire and contemplated the battle ahead. It was a trip watching these characters we’ve known and loved and sometimes forgotten the names of because, hey, there’s so many of them, seize life, maybe for the last time, in their own peculiar ways. But nothing holds a candle to that beautiful, magnificently acted knighting of Brienne.
Making the whole thing even more monumental is knowing that, yep, Brienne’s definitely going to die this week. I have no inside TV reporter intel on that. That scene just felt like such a swan song and the trailer for Sunday night does not look good for our beloved badass. In fact, it’s not looking good for a lot of fan-favorite characters, both in GoT and in the other big nerd-out event happening this weekend.
A special prayer goes out to spoiler-phobes, who could be facing the most traumatizing Monday morning of their lives this week, what with a surefire body count set for Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones and whatever Top Secret nonsense is unfurling in Avengers: Endgame.
Consider it the pop culture apocalypse—the Apopculturelypse?—for those who don’t want to know what happened in TV shows and movies they haven’t had a chance to see yet and which will 100 percent be spoiled for them at work this week.
I mean, a reported 8,000 screenings of Endgame have already sold out this weekend. That number is absurd. It truly speaks to the fact that The Avengers may be the most popular franchise ever and also that this weekend would be a great time to go to the laundromat or try to get a reservation at a crowded restaurant.
As for me? Spoil away! Please, someone tell me who dies in Endgame and save me three hours and $19. (But don’t you dare breathe a word of Thrones secrets.)
Justice for Showgirls?
Every once in a while, it’s nice to be reminded that your favorite stars of yesteryear are doing OK! That they seem nice and normal and are going through life just fine. A sigh of relief on that topic came this week when an Instagram surfaced of Saved By the Bell stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani Thiessen, Mario Lopez, and Elizabeth Berkley having dinner together. (Lisa Turtle and Screech were not there, and I do not want to know why because the answer is probably too dark.)
We all like to live in a fantasy world where TV friends we grew up with are still adult friends years later—I believe that freezing time is the one superpower we would all agree is useful—so it’s a special joy when we see that they actually are. The four have somehow weathered decades of career ups and downs and scrutiny and come out alive (no small feat!) with a healthy perspective on those “downs” along the way.
To that point, one of the buzziest and most interesting entries in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival (happening right now in New York) litigates once again perhaps the defining moment in Berkley’s career—caffeine-pill addicted Tina Turner covers notwithstanding. You Don’t Nomi (best name ever?) is a documentary that revisits the notorious flop-turned-cult-classic Showgirls.
This isn’t the first time there has been an attempt to understand how a prestigious director (Paul Verhoeven), a promising cast (Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, Gina Gershon), and a sexy premise combined into a final product as reviled as this was, but which then grew to become cherished and maybe even appreciated on its own merits.
Is Showgirls more than a “masterpiece of shit,” or a “type of comedy you can’t make on purpose,” the film wonders? Is it actually a stealth masterpiece, bar none? The film revisitis Verhoeven’s other, more celebrated works, and juxtaposes scenes, specific shots, and themes against those routinely mocked from Showgirls to make its argument. Am I ridiculous for being convinced?
Whether you saw Showgirls when it first came out and were offended, watch it every Friday night while it plays on mute at a gay bar in Hell’s Kitchen, or are only familiar with it because of the image results of an Alta Vista search for “sexy nude celebrity” you did with the family filter off on the desktop in the basement 20 years ago, it’s a very worthwhile dissection of a wild movie that became a pop culture phenomenon. Justice for Elizabeth Berkley! We love her!
Ramy Should Be Your Next Comedy Binge
As more and more TV options emerge and threaten to suffocate us all, it’s harder to do something that genuinely feels fresh, special, or, perhaps the biggest barrier, actually necessary. That’s what makes Ramy so remarkable.
The comedy series is on Hulu, and does that very rare, admirable thing of telling a story that is deeply personal and specific—something that makes an underseen demographic feel validated and valued—while at the same time being universal, producing something both relatable and illuminating.
Ramy is an occasionally hilarious and routinely fascinating look at a millennial Muslim-American, whose second-generation status introduces a host of impossible-to-navigate tensions and contradictions in his life.
His pursuits—love, sex, friendship, a rewarding job, a good relationship with his parents—are recognizable to the point of exhaustiveness when it comes to auteur, “meaningful” comedies. But Ramy’s identity is inextricable from the experiences he’s going through, and the show isn’t shy about being honest about religion, while at the same time not politicizing it.
The show makes for a great watch. I endorse! (For more on Ramy, listen to Matt Wilstein’s interview with star Ramy Youssef in his The Last Laugh podcast.)
Amy Poehler’s Description of Twitter Deserves a Pulitzer
Sometimes when I just think of Amy Poehler, my heart fills with the kind of warm feelings I imagine the rest of you get when you see newborn puppies (ew, they’re loud and they smell). She’s an unrivaled comedic performer, confident in her talent, and candid about how she engages with the world—a manner which, it just so happens, we should all maybe emulate.
In any case, Poehler gave a great interview to The Hollywood Reporter in advance of her new movie Wine Country, which she directed; which co-stars Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch, and Tina Fey; and which will henceforth be referred to as The Avengers: Wine Country. (These are my heroes.)
In the interview, she described Twitter in her own words. I may never recover:
Sophie Turner Has the Arya Sex Take That Matters
It is very important to me that everyone watch this video of Sophie Turner (who plays Sansa Stark), recorded while wine drunk with red-stained lips, in reaction to Arya Stark’s sex scene that happened to air on Easter.
What to see this week:
Not the White House Correspondents Dinner: I firmly believe the world would be infinitely better if everyone watched Samantha Bee.
The Red Line: A new series boasting the most important four words in television: “Produced by Ava DuVernay.”
Avengers: Endgame: Even the most cynical of my critic friends liked this. Fine, go see it.
What to skip this week:
Chambers: What will it take to get Uma Thurman a worthy project these days?
The White Crow: A remarkable subject in an unremarkable biopic.