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.
- Marvel fatigue is real, and it’s here.
- You should all be watching Queens.
- Your weekly Gaga-Gucci update.
- All hail K-Stew!
- I think Adele is trolling me.
Did you know there is a TV show airing right now in which Eve and Brandy have multiple rap battles? Or that the icons of definitive Y2K-era music are, on a weekly basis, performing at the top of their game to new music? And that, in between, they are blessing us with top-tier acting in one of TV’s most underappreciated genres, the nighttime soap opera?
Queens, which so far has aired three episodes on ABC and is available on Hulu, is one of my favorite new shows of what’s considered the traditional “fall TV season.” (Climate change has affected TV as well; generally speaking, the seasons are barely recognizable anymore.) What I don’t know is why everyone isn’t talking about it.
I’m loath to use any word once it’s been bastardized by Mark Zuckerberg’s tiny mouth, but there is something deliciously “meta” about this series.
The general conceit is that a four-woman group called the Nasty Bitches that had chart-topping, MTV-minted success in the late ’90s and early ’00s is back in the headlines 20 years later when a hot new artist samples one of their big tracks. Each of the foursome is unfulfilled with how their lives ended up since—an overextended mom/housewife, a struggling has-been artist, a closeted churchgoer, and a flailing C-list celebrity—and agrees to forgive the past that led to their initial breakup and ride the wave of buzz into a career resurgence.
Yes, this is exactly the plot of Girls5eva. That is a satirical comedy. This is a nighttime soap opera. Either way, who cares. There’s millennium nostalgia and fun music. Why is this not the plot of all TV series? If we can have three “Chicago” universe series and 75 Law & Orders, we should have at least half a dozen shows paying tribute to the greatest era of modern pop music while simultaneously giving juicy starring roles to iconic female entertainers in their 40s.
Beyond the whole “getting the gang back together” framework of the early episodes, Queens tracks what happens to celebrities of the magnitude that Nasty Bitches reached. (Think some semblance of TLC in the early aughts. Or, well, Eve and Brandy.) It’s a spectrum of settling back into civilian life and perpetually chasing the high of that stardom, at least as portrayed on the show. At a time when we’re obsessed with “where are they now,” that’s surface-level intriguing content—even more so when you cast the series with performers who were at the height of their careers at that time.
Listen, in 1998, you couldn’t tell me I didn’t understand all the complexities of romance and heartbreak. Sure, I was in seventh grade. But I had Brandy’s Never Say Never in the “1” position of my multi-disc boombox, and was capable of working myself into a heavy sob while lip-synching along to “Have You Ever?” or “Almost Doesn’t Count” on a particularly emotional day. And Eve? Let’s just say I missed school one day after oversleeping because I was up all night attempting to download “Who’s That Girl?” on Napster using the landline AOL connection we were only allowed to dial into when everyone was in bed.
The series also stars Naturi Naughton, who was a member of the Destiny’s Child-striving girl group 3LW, and Nadine Velazquez, who… starred in the NBC comedy My Name Is Earl. (OK, not all of the casting is meta.) Queens is by no means a masterpiece, and definitely falls short in comparison to the last great nighttime soap set against the music industry, Empire. But it’s such an easy, engaging watch. The cast is legitimately great, and the way the series tackles the nuanced idiocy of nostalgia is really smart.
Plus, the songs are bops. I’ve been listening to “Nasty Girl” on repeat ever since I started watching. (Watch the music video here.)
Welcome to your weekly update of “All The Things I Can’t Stop Thinking About When It Comes to Lady Gaga in House of Gucci, a Movie That I Still Have Not Seen.”
The images? Stunning. The quotes? I will be contemplating every word of each one until my death bed. My final words: “I have loved you all. Also, Lady Gaga would have been a combat journalist if she wasn’t a pop star, and the day before the inauguration walked around the Capitol looking for evidence of the insurrection.”
Outside of that surreal tidbit, Gaga stated that she stayed in character while filming House of Gucci, which included speaking exclusively in her character’s Italian accent, even while not on set. I love this because Lady Gaga’s Italian accent in the trailer for House of Gucci is unequivocally absurd—in a way that is very fun!—and I delight in the idea of anyone in her life having to converse with it on a daily basis for months.
It’s less an authentic accent and more that thing when a friend of yours who has distant Italian relatives talks normally, until you’re at the deli ordering a sandwich and suddenly makes this whole big thing of saying the word “mozzarella.” “Prosciutto?” For them, the “o” doesn’t exist. They have also probably corrected you once for ordering a “panini” instead of a “panino,” because “panini” is plural.
Someone let me see House of Gucci!
I can also warn that people are going to be very pissed off by this movie, which, again, is very good, but is being marketed in a way that Diana fans and looky-loos will have no idea that they are not signing up for a traditional Lady Di biopic and instead are about to watch an auteur’s interpretation of a weekend in an icon’s life as a ghost-story thriller.
That is to say, it is weird! Brace for that (or prep by watching director Pablo Larraín’s Jackie, which applied a similar treatment to the story of Jackie Kennedy Onassis). But also get excited. The movie features what might be my favorite acting scene of the year, a stand-off between Diana and Charles that takes place on opposite sides of a billiards table. It’s so good!
Adele released the tracklist for her upcoming album this week, which apparently includes a three-song section transcribed directly from my texts at 1 am on Saturday nights.
Passing: The great thing about Netflix snapping up small indie movies is that now so many people can watch really good, small indie movies. (Wed. on Netflix)
Dickinson: A lot of people I respect greatly LOVE this series that I truly do not get. (Fri. on Apple TV+)
Attica: It’s a phenomenal documentary about the infamous prison rebellion. (Sat. on Showtime)
Eternals: Guys, it’s 156 minutes. (Fri. in theaters)