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.
- Everyone watching Netflix is horny.
- Floor Is Lava, a thing that exists.
- 30 years later, Splash Mountain is finally not racist!
- Hanging at the LGBTQ Community with Britney Spears.
- The Chicks making everyone angry again. Hell yeah.
In the show The Floor Is Lava, the floor is lava. That’s it. That’s the show.
It’s just like in the game so many of us played as kids without realizing that apparently everyone played that game as kids.
The premise of that game: The floor is lava. That’s it. That was the game.
The first instinct is to laugh. They made a TV show version of the floor is lava. That’s pretty funny! But then comes the information that kind of makes you want to cry. The Floor Is Lava is the most-watched TV series in the United States right now.
There are worse ways to pass the time than watching The Floor Is Lava on Netflix. The series is squarely of the Wipeout and Holey Moley “people epically fall off obstacle courses and we laugh at them” family. As far as these things go, it’s spectacularly done.
Production value is top-notch. Oversized furniture is scattered across a large room that, to escalate the hilarity, is filled with a pool of bubbling red liquid meant to look like lava. The gameplay is the same as it was for me as a kid [redacted] years ago: You gotta get from one side of the room to the other without touching the floor. Because the floor is lava.
If one player falls into the pool, the camera cuts away before they resurface for air in order to make it look like the lava really melted them, a pleasantly demented commitment to the craft. The host, Rutledge Wood, narrates everything with an appropriate deadpan perspective on the absurdity. It’s a silly, great show.
It’s also, once again, the most popular TV show in the country.
Of course, Netflix famously does not release ratings or viewership statistics. But considering that “popular” summer reality shows like America’s Got Talent and World of Dance are only getting 8 and 4 million viewers, respectively, and Netflix has roughly 70 million subscribers, it’s not a massive leap to presume the service’s no. 1 show is trumping those numbers. (If I’m wrong, throw me to the lava.)
Should we do that insufferable thing we always do and try to assign meaning to this?
Is the lava floor the unsettling trauma of the world around us right now, and the set pieces the contestants jump between tantamount to lily pads of sanctuary, to which we, like the players on the show, cling desperately? Are we retreating to the nostalgia of our youth, traumatized by the realities of the world we’ve aged into? Honestly, I think the floor’s just lava. That’s the show.
What we gather as a nation to watch can speak to who we are as a people at that time: The Andy Griffith Show in the ’60s, All in the Family in the ’70s, The Cosby Show in the ’80s, or the post-9/11 comfort laughs of Friends. So you know what? Maybe it does fit. What more accurately describes 2020 than “the floor is lava”?
As garish totems memorializing the country’s racist past are toppled across the country, it was a matter of time before Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox had their comeuppance.
But Trump can call off the National Guard. As Disney Parks announced this week, the Splash Mountain theme park ride featuring characters from the iconically racist 1946 film Song of the South is going away, but isn’t being lassoed through the streets. It’s getting a much overdue reimagination.
Rather than animatronic critters held over from a film so controversial and problematic that Disney has abolished it from its vault entirely, the popular log flume ride will now be themed to the film The Princess and the Frog, which in 2009 introduced the Mouse House’s first Black princess.
A fun exercise (as in absolutely heinous, soul-crushing, and blood-boiling) is to scroll through the replies to Disney Parks’ tweet announcing the upgrade. Karens saw the Bat Signal and arrived promptly with reactions like, “DISAPPOINTING!” “Why are you giving into a loud small group?” and, “This is ridiculous. Are we just gonna change everything and just rewrite history completely?!?!”
I’m excited for the sweet sounds of Princess Tiana voice actress Anika Noni Rose belting “Almost There” to drown out these asinine protests to a literal mountain of racism. Which, to drive the point home one more time, is themed to a movie so racist Disney will no longer allow people to see it and which got its name “from Michael Eisner wanting to plug the movie Splash,” as Tom Zohar pointed out on Twitter.
I only feel sad for those now deprived of the seminal rite of passage: Going to Disney World as a kid, loving that ride, and then the anvil dropping when you learn that the whole thing is racist AF.
Britney Spears filmed an enthusiastic and truly joyful video wishing her fans a happy Pride Month. However, in it she makes a crucial grammatical error, dedicating it to “all my friends at the LGBTQ community,” with the “at” making it seem like there’s some retirement home somewhere—or, you know, a YMCA—where all us gays hang out, gossip, and drink iced coffees.
Beyond the heartfelt, sweet message, Britney gave everyone at the LGBTQ community the greatest gift of all: Twitter comedy and endless memes.
There are people who reside in the fetid bowels of the universe (Twitter), where the rot has decayed to such levels that they have become noseblind to their own noxious lunacy.
It is here that people are reacting to the news that the Dixie Chicks have changed their name to, simply, The Chicks.
Evidently unaware of their own hypocrisy, they are exasperated that The Chicks are the latest in a line of entertainers who have rebranded in order to dissociate from racially charged terms. Everyone is caving to the cries of the cancel-culture mob! Enough is enough!
You have to laugh. Those insinuating that dropping “Dixie” from the name is kowtowing to cancel culture are the same ones who, checks notes, CANCELED THE DIXIE CHICKS.
Must we remind for the 400th time that there is precisely one (1) entertainer to have been canceled and it was the Dixie Chicks by conservatives following their (accurate) George Bush and Iraq War denouncement?
The anti-cancel contingent is on one lately with their “wake up, Sheeple!” warnings about cultural policing in recent weeks. The Sheeple are already awake, folks. That’s the point. Baa-baa, bitch.
What to watch this week:
Welcome to Chechnya: About the gay purge in Russia, it’s a brutal watch. Watch it anyway.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga: I dunno, it’s Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams being goofy. Fine enough.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: Your new true-crime obsession.
What to skip this week:
Irresistible: The buzz on Jon Stewart’s new movie is BLEAK.
My Spy: Shocked to learn that a Dave Bautista family comedy is not great.