This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
- The week’s best TV performance.
- The week’s most insufferable controversy.
- The week’s weirdest celeb quarantine trend.
- The week’s most brazen quarantine offense.
- The week’s best gold lamé harem pants.
Adele shocked the world when she posted a photo on her birthday thanking fans for their nice messages and also taking the opportunity to honor front-line workers. In the photo, she had lost a significant amount of weight, and looked great. As if it was going to be left at that.
In Internet Land, the photo was an inciting act of war. Battles waged over body image, fat-shaming, celebrity culture, thinkpiece culture, misogyny, the policing of women’s bodies, industry standards, health, and glamour.
The thing is: Every opinion on Adele’s weight loss is trash. Including, probably, this one.
Having a reaction to that Instagram photo is normal. Somebody very, very famous posted a picture in which she looks like an entirely different human than the last time we saw her. That merits a, “Whoa, look at Adele!” That’s not a judgment on how she looked before or now, or a treatise on what might have motivated the transformation from A to B. Just a baseline observation on a public photo from people with eyes.
Of course, it morphed beyond that baseline observation faster than the winds whipping around a gorgeous fur coat somewhere deep in the wood. It’s our worst instinct: to be invasive, crass, and perpetuate a toxic loop when it comes to celebrities and armchair critics.
The weight loss is both of public interest—it is a public photo posted by the celebrity herself—and nobody’s business. As writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner tweeted, “A reminder that Adele’s weight loss means nothing about you, about the culture, about anything (this coming from a celebrity profiler, mind you), and that thinking that it contains any significance at all is another way we seek to control women's bodies.”
You can look at a photo and just take in the information: Wow, look, Adele looks skinnier.
You can think Adele was beautiful before and also think she looks amazing and healthy now. Praising her new look doesn’t have to be a disparaging act. When I get up the nerve to post a photo of my massive quarantine weight loss, I hope you all aren’t like, “Thank god, you used to be such a cow.” Mostly because that photo will have been photoshopped and I, in fact, look exactly the same.
Anyway, like I said, this opinion is garbage. So is yours. The only one that isn’t: Adele’s. And I don’t think you have the number to her circa 2006 flip phone.
I am endlessly fascinated by the celebrities in quarantine. I can’t get over it, the ways in which they’ve fumbled through their privilege and purest, best intentions to harness their perceived “specialness” for good, for attention, for a sense of purpose at a time when whether there is one at all is the moment’s prime thinkpiece fodder.
This isn’t to dunk on any of them; many are just trying their best to do something with the attention they’re used to having. But it is to delight in the weirdness of it all as, incessantly over the past months, they have turned their cameras on themselves and beamed us into our lives.
Like seasonal fashion trends, we’ve moved with them through the handwashing tutorials, the clapping videos, the songs for charity, and tours of their basements. Now we’re at what I consider to be, at once, the cutest and strangest genre: Celebrities reading books to children.
The internet short-circuited from an overload of adorable this week when Meghan Markle read the children’s book Duck! Rabbit! To her son Archie on his first birthday—in partnership with Save the Children U.K.—and Daniel Radcliffe read the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, “The Boy Who Lived,” as part of the “Harry Potter at Home” project.
As an [age redacted]-year-old man obsessed with pop culture, I love this. So cute! It’s for the kids, it’s for charity, it’s for the parents who need a break from entertaining the wee ones. There’s nothing bad about this at all, nothing to really mock. It’s lovely and well-intentioned, but also intrinsically hilarious.
I love it because it supposes that little Fedora, Braydynn, and Ashleylynleigh knows who Jamie Lee Curtis is and are STOKED that she is online reading Today I Feel Silly. Or that Bowser, bless his heart, was in a mood, but then found out that Susan Lucci, his absolute favorite, was next up for storytime and the day really turned around.
Again, this is not meant to inject too much snark into a nice thing. But, like I said, this whole phenomenon of what celebrities are doing to feel useful, when charity and vanity are still inextricable, continues to fascinate me.
If you, like me, have been watching all these talk shows shot from home, seen the celebrity guests with fabulous blowouts and flawless makeup while you’re sitting at home with anxiety pimples and roughly 60 days out from your last haircut, and thought, “Hmm….” well now there’s an answer.
According to The New York Post, certain cast members of The Real Housewives of Atlanta skirted quarantine rules in order to get glam for the upcoming historic virtual reunion show on Bravo, shot remotely from isolation. The Post notes that Porsha Williams, Eva Marcille, and Cynthia Bailey credited hair and makeup teams when posting their looks on Instagram. (Co-star Kandi Buruss was open about doing her own primping, and NeNe Leakes reportedly did her own as well.)
This is, of course, absolutely infuriating and not surprising, if you’ve been watching these celebrities on talk shows and have any sense of a brain. Stars, even in quarantine they ain’t looking like us.
I understand we are a superficial society lying in the makeup-stained, extensions-riddled bed of our own making, but the extensive level of glam at this point has become almost farcical. What if one lovely little byproduct of all this was a dialing back of all that, buoyed by the fact that a reality star went on Andy Cohen’s show, looked perfectly fine after brushing her hair her own damn self, and the world didn’t end?
In any case, Naomi Campbell styled her own Essence cover this month and self-shot with her iPhone, in obedience of quarantine orders, and it was fantastic.
I don’t know how or why Channing Tatum taking out the trash barefoot while wearing gold lamé harem pants is my exact quarantine mood, but I just know that it is.
What to see this week:
Dead to Me: Your bingieist option. (We’re pretending that’s a word.)
I Know This Much Is True: It’s so, so, so depressing. Enjoy!
Disney Family Singalong: Volume 2: Volume 1 was so corny and pure. Loved it.
What to skip this week:
The Eddy: What did jazz ever do to Damien Chazelle?