- Making sense of the Game of Thrones trailer.
- Bowing down to Julianne Moore (per usual).
- Remembering Luke Perry.
- Hunkering down for Real Housewives.
- Applauding Gayle King’s handling of her R. Kelly interview.
- Reba McEntire saving our lives.
Everyone Is Freaking Out Over Game of Thrones
If you couldn’t already tell when the 20-degree wind bludgeoned you like a wrecking ball every time you stepped outside, WINTER! IS! HERE! The Game of Thrones final season trailer arrived this week, which explains the collective scream you heard on Tuesday morning. (In Game of Thrones speak, “collective scream” translates to “the loud clacking of keyboard keys as millions of people simultaneously screenshot moments from the trailer and post them on social media with contextless all-capital captions.)
In an admirable effort to keep spoilers to an absolute minimum, the majority of the trailer takes place completely in the dark. Apparently a major twist for these new episodes is that Arya Stark developed night-vision powers. I’m as surprised as you!
Game of Thrones sits in an interesting place in pop culture for me. I enjoy quietly watching the series on Sunday nights, perfectly at peace not knowing who is on screen at any given moment, but happy to be wowed by the ace production values and epic storytelling. This is, of course, an unusual way of watching a series in which there are as many podcasts devoted to dissecting episodes as there are actual characters on the show—and there are so many characters!
The series hasn’t aired since August 2017, which, by my math, means I have watched about 17,000 episodes of television since then. So, no, I do not remember that Jorah went to Winterfell and betrayed Lord Muttonpence during their secret conversation at the dragon brothel in season three. And yet every time I think I’d be uninterested, a shot like the one with Jon Snow and Daenerys walking between the dragons in the trailer is teased and I can’t wait to tune in again. I’m like Antoni in this picture. Kate Beckinsale and Pete Davidson are you all and your Game of Thrones obsession. I’m off to the side pretending to be blocking it out but secretly liking it and considering joining in.
In any case, the trailer is out and hints that the series will conclude the way we suspected all along: Everyone realizing that, in the end, it’s not about who winds up on the Iron Throne, but the memories that were made along the way.
Julianne Moore Gives Her Next Tour de Force Performance
There is a film called Gloria Bell out this weekend, in which Julianne Moore stars as a woman named Gloria who, at the film’s emotional climax, sings and dances to the 1982 song “Gloria.” Turns out I was green-lighting film scripts in my dreams again.
Saying Goodbye to Luke Perry
There was no point trying to be as cool as Luke Perry. Of course, the reason he was so cool is because it was so effortless. It may even be unfathomable to fully grasp the hold that Perry as Dylan McKay had on the zeitgeist during the prime of Beverly Hills: 90210. Even with all the ways to artificially amplify celebrity, pop culture, and fandom today, there’s nothing that compares to the seismic effect Perry, his performance as Dylan, that ’90s styling, and that heart-stopping, seductive squint of his had on an entire generation.
This is not an original thought. When news broke this week that Perry had tragically passed away from a stroke, loving remembrances saying as much flooded the internet. “Luke Perry Made It Cool to Be Kind.” “Luke Perry Defined Cool and Slayed My Heart.” “Luke Perry: Forever the Thrillingly Cool Cool Teen Pinup.” “Luke Perry Defined Coolness for a Generation of TV Watchers.” “Dylan McKay Was the Perfect Teen Idol For the ’90s.” Then there’s my colleague Tim Teeman’s essay for The Daily Beast: “The phenomenon of stardom is a fluke; but then you look at Luke Perry, and you think: Of course it had to happen. He was the right guy in the right TV show at the right cultural moment.”
It’s rare to have such consensus on a person’s impact, but it’s even rarer for a performer to have made as profound a mark—and then also back it up with a slyly underrated performance, celebrated kindness, and sense of humor, and, in the last decade, remarkable transformation into a grizzled character actor. It’s common for heartthrobs to appear on magazine covers or posters that hang on bedroom walls, but it’s rare for them to also be seen as a person, which Perry managed to get us to do.
Like so many people, I wanted to be that person. I wore the flannel and made it a point to faux-casually lean against walls everywhere I went, going too long before realizing what I thought was my perfect mimicry of the Dylan squint had people worried that I was either staring directly into the sun or suffering from a painful migraine. I learned what may have been obvious to everyone else: Then and now, no one could do Luke Perry like Luke Perry.
It Is High Holy Season
Both Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Real Housewives of New York City are airing new episodes at the same time. Praise be.
Gayle King Is a Hero
Before airing her interview with R. Kelly, Gayle King sent out a dramatic photo taken during their explosive conversation. Kelly appears to be unhinged, out of his seat, menacingly hovering over King, hand raised and tears in his eyes as someone restrains him from behind. What makes the photo so powerful, though, is not Kelly’s juvenile histrionics. It is King, the epitome of composure, refusing to be rattled by the accused man’s fireworks and posturing.
Stunned reactions to the photo spread online “This is is a Renaissance painting” was one popular caption—as it became clear that the interview, which aired Wednesday, would transcend Kelly’s hysterics defending himself against the accusations he’s facing. The photo so perfectly encapsulates a cultural moment. “As video clips of Gayle King’s sit down with R. Kelly spread across social media Wednesday, it was this still photo of a professional woman remaining calm in the face of a man losing control that became the most indelible image from the interview,” tweeted Washington Post reporter Kayla Epstein.
At at time when powerful men forfeiting all sense of decorum in order to distract from the matter at hand has become a monthly dispatch from news feeds airing congressional hearings, it’s refreshing and rare to see the bluster met with the kind of direct, no-nonsense clarity with which King confronts Kelly. (“What makes you so special?” is a favorite quote from the interview.) Kelly reportedly monologued so erratically and for so long that the news team had to break from the interview for him to regroup. But that photo speaks far more meaningfully than anything he could possibly have said.
Reba McEntire Does Cardi B
After that R. Kelly detour, a palate cleanser. Click on this link, with the sound on, for a delightful surprise.
What to watch this week:
Gloria Bell: A refreshingly tender, unfussy character study of a free-spirited divorcee yearning for connection, most importantly, STARRING JULIANNE MOORE.
Aretha! A Grammy Celebration For the Queen of Soul: Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Kelly Clarkson, Celine Dion, Yolanda Adams, Andra Day, and so many more sing their faces off in tribute to the greatest voice there was.
Now Apocalypse: It’s a mess, but an interesting, original mess, for once.
Captain Marvel: It’s a long-awaited triumph!
What to skip this week:
American Gods: Enough behind-the-scenes drama to think the devil was truly at play with this disappointing second season.
Captain Marvel: It’s a jumbled disappointment! (Sorry, so many split opinions on this one.)