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.
- Getting really into sperm.
- Appreciating Christopher Meloni’s, um, gifts.
- As always, giving praise to Dolly Parton.
- In awe at Chloe Fineman’s Britney Spears impression.
- The photo of Snooki I can’t stop thinking about.
This week, everyone kept talking about The New York Times report that a new subatomic form of matter and energy was discovered that may “affect the nature and evolution of the universe.” Imagine my surprise to discover, after looking further into this phenomenon, that it was not in reference to Christopher Meloni’s ass.
Real ones have known about this physics-defying phenomenon for decades now. (Behold, as MEL Magazine dubbed it, “The Cult of Christopher Meloni’s Butt.”) But it is my professional obligation to report on the biggest and most influential news in entertainment, and this week that news is undeniably Christopher Meloni’s sweet, sweet double-wide dumpster.
A picture of Meloni on the set of Law & Order: Organized Crime stowing away two family-sized honeybaked hams in his slacks was posted on Twitter this week, turning everyone on the social media site into a cartoon rabbit with eyes bulging out of their heads as they screamed, “A-oooga!” It also prompted a walk down memory lane, an intimate nostalgia journey revisiting our nationwide relationship with Christoper Meloni’s prodigious twin peaks.
In any case, just when I was starting to feel like I was being gross and objectifying about all this, Meloni himself signed onto Twitter to effectively endorse our impulse to scale this majestic Redwood.
Responding to a .GIF of Patrick the Starfish from SpongeBob SquarePants making his ass clap (???) that was captioned, “@Chris_Meloni you wanna explain why you have so much cake???,” Meloni responded, “Sure - big birthday(60), big boy(200 lbs), big cake.” Dun-dun, indeed.
It’s a surreal transition time, in which each day brings news of more friends and family receiving their vaccines—a new, uplifting side to our current reality that continues to otherwise be terrifying. And it couldn’t be more fitting to celebrate the occasion by giving thanks to our Vaccine Angel and forever queen, Dolly Parton, and, even better, have her sing us to the other side.
Dolly Parton: A MusicCares Tribute just debuted on Netflix, and it was the most pleasant hour I spent watching television this week.
Filmed just before the pandemic, it featured the likes of Miley Cyrus, Kacey Musgraves, Mavis Staples, Brandi Carlile, Willie Nelson, and Katy Perry paying homage to the legend, all leading up to Parton delivering her trademark Borscht-Belt-by-way-of-the-Smokeys comedy bit in a speech thanking everyone for their tributes (“watching them is sort of like watching porn: you’re not personally involved but you still get off on it”) and then performing herself.
The performances themselves were great, especially Mavis Staples dueting with Leon Bridges on a barn-burning rendition of “Not Enough,” Yolanda Adams doing “I Will Always Love You” with such perfection you’ll obviously cry, and Katy Perry showing up with a pastel-pink cowboy hat and fringe jacket to sing “Here We Go Again” alongside Kacey Musgraves with all the manic energy of a whirling dervish next to a sentient cup of chamomile tea.
But the overall vibe was poignant on its own, this idea of live music once again being a vessel for love, appreciation, and connection. Parton recently got the second dose of “her own medicine”—the Moderna vaccine she’d helped fund. Knowing that and then watching her perform a beautiful rendition of “Coat of Many Colors,” about the sacrifices and gestures big and beyond their means that families make to do anything they can to love and support each other… I don’t know. It just hit differently.
I’m not sure how long we’ll view things like this through the prism of what we’ve all experienced this past year. But with Dolly, and at this moment, it felt right.
Chloe Fineman’s Perfect Britney Spears Impression
I don’t know the last time Saturday Night Live had an impressionist as skilled as Chloe Fineman. (Maybe Darrell Hammond?) Too often on the show, the impressions amount to little more than prosthetics or, at best, a passable accent to match, with the sketches having to announce through dialogue what the joke is. And just as often that joke is simply mean.
As she’s shown with her Reese Witherspoon and Drew Barrymore impersonations, Fineman finds a way to channel the quirks and behavioral patterns about a celebrity that makes them ripe for skewering, but celebrates them in a way that makes it easy to laugh at without feeling cruel.
That’s what’s struck me the most about her Britney Spears impression, which made another appearance on last week’s episode. It’s not just spot-on, but at a time when it would be so easy to win big laughs with crass, demeaning digs at the troubled star, Fineman has managed to find the humor in lending support and sending positivity to Spears.
Anyway, this is an ode to Chloe Fineman, and you can watch the Spears sketch here.
All Hail Snooki, the Pickle Princess
This week, Nicole Polizzi, aka Snooki, asked her Twitter followers to post photos of her from the past and she would reply with an explanation of her outfit. And that is how I stumbled upon this explanation as to why she once went to a club dressed as a pickle princess. It’s both inarguable logic, and a preview of my first post-vaccinate going-out outfit.
Them: Y’all are obsessed with horror shows. Finally, here’s a good one. (Friday on Amazon)
Younger: Will everyone discover that Liza is really in her 40s? Or that I am, too? (Thursday on Paramount+ and Hulu)
Rebel: “Inspired by Erin Brockovich” and “starring Katey Sagal” are two phrases most pleasing to me. (Thursday on ABC)
The Circle: I find this show incredibly annoying. (Friday on Netflix)
The Nevers: No thank you, Joss Whedon! (Sunday on HBO)