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.
- Crying about horny teens on TV, again.
- The best sports take I have ever heard.
- Outwit, outplay, outlast, and Angelina Jolie.
- This week’s “Dolly Parton is perfect” update.
- On teens and space travel...
In the lead-up to this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, all so many of us want to do is rant.
Rant about the ridiculousness of having them during COVID, with dozens of athletes testing positive for the virus and unable to play while the rest of the competitors cower on their bizarre “anti-sex” beds just waiting to get it, like horny specimens sexually tortured in a petri dish. Rant about the fact that nothing will be done about the danger because the money from sponsorships outweighs logic and lives. Rant about this racist, sexist organization and their asinine, antiquated regulations, the collateral damage of which is the Olympic dreams of singular talent and icon Sha’carri Richardson.
But those things are all a giant bummer, and I am frankly tired of giant bummers. I’d give my left arm for a day that is not defined by a giant bummer—which I guess, when you think about it, would also be a giant bummer. I’m quite fond of my left arm.
Listen, ranting is a favorite pastime. It’s America’s pastime, really. So, theoretically, what would be more patriotic than ranting about the Olympics? For a less bummer-y screed, I turn to longtime sportscaster and Olympic commentator Mary Carillo.
The biggest thanks of my life to both Casey Morell, who posted the video, and Daniel Fienberg, who retweeted it onto my timeline, for bringing to my attention the greatest sports commentary I’ve seen in my entire life: Mary Carillo at the 2004 Athens Olympics ranting like hell about badminton. (Watch it here, and have your life changed.)
The crux is her explaining, to increasing frustration, the difference between the Olympic version of the badminton sport, and the backyard fiasco that has ruined entire weekends at her home with her family. The way her story escalates is comedy-writing gold, a perfect monologue piece.
She starts off by noting the distinction between the curated goosefeathers that line an Olympic-regulation shuttlecock and the plastic ones on hers at home: “Even though it doesn’t look sophisticated, it has a tree-seeking device implanted in it somewhere.”
What follows is a tale of a neighborhood-wide effort to hurl every piece of sports equipment in the garage up into the tree to try to knock the birdie down. “You got Colleen Clark up in the tree trying to get down a Spongebob Squarepants beach ball with a hockey stick! There’s pool sticks flying through the air like javelins, and you hear yourself saying, ‘Somebody’s gonna poke an eye out!’”
It is the hardest I’ve laughed all week (and I even screened Ted Lasso season two this week). Please enjoy.
Are you watching The White Lotus? My god, watch The White Lotus. It is strange and brilliant and my favorite TV series of the summer, a Sunday afternoon treat centered around Jennifer Coolidge’s brilliance, as the Lord’s intended for his holy day.
Anyway, writer-director-actor Mike White (Enlightened) is the creative mastermind behind the HBO series, and he was interviewed this week by The New Yorker, during which he discussed “money, status, and appearing on Survivor.” Yes, the key curious fact that makes Mike White’s sensibility make sense is that, in addition to his Hollywood success, he earnestly appeared as a contestant on both Survivor and The Amazing Race.
He was asked about what his high-brow Tinseltown friends think of the strange detour to reality TV. First he details being at a party thrown by Courteney Cox during which Jennifer Aniston reacted with seeming bafflement to the news that he’d be on The Amazing Race. But then came the anecdote to end all anecdotes: When his season of Survivor was airing, he threw a watch party for an episode that was attended by his fellow contestants...as well as Diane Keaton and Angelina Jolie.
As my friend Matt Jacobs demanded on Twitter: “An oral history of the party Mike White threw for the Survivor cast and Angelina Jolie.” But seriously, oral history of that night when?
Did you think that Dolly Parton was going to recreate the outfit she wore on a 1978 cover of Playboy for a photo shoot to surprise her husband of 57 years, Carl, on his birthday and that I wouldn’t spend every third second of this week thinking about it?
Especially after she shared the story in a video on social media, she captioned it with the hashtag #HotGirlSummer? Or when her monologue to the camera included the most scorching shade of the jarring decline of print media that I’ve heard this year? “Remember sometime back I said I was going to pose on the cover of Playboy magazine when I was 75? Well, I’m 75 and they don’t have a magazine anymore.”
Anyway, this has been your weekly Dolly Parton bulletin.
Look, we can all dunk on the 18-year-old who became the youngest person to go to space, an undeniable triumph of prodigy, the human spirit, and daddy’s money.
But as someone who moved to New York City at age 18 before there were smartphones or real-time Google Maps directions and managed to find his way around the subway, I know a little something about accomplishment in the field of science, mathematics, and the wild frontier of travel at a young age. Such prowess is a heavy cross to bear, so let’s show him a little grace.
What to watch this week:
Ted Lasso: We all deserve this. (Fri. on Apple TV+)
Old: I’m a M. Night Shyamalan apologist. (Fri. in theaters.)
Jolt: I’m also a Kate Beckinsale as a kickass action hero apologist. (Fri. on Amazon)
Behind the Music: As someone who can remember where he was when Left Eye talked about burning down the house, I’m excited for this reboot. (Thu. on Paramount+)
What to skip this week:
FBoy Island: I get the appeal of escapist TV, but I don’t get who watches these shows. (Thu. on HBO Max)
The Last Letter From Your Lover: Give Shailene Woodley a Good Movie Challenge! (Fri. on Netflix)