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.
- The new Kim Kardashian documentary is good!
- The best performance on TV.
- Remembering Adam Schlesinger.
- Ina Garten, love of my life.
- J. Lo, once again, coming to save us.
These past few weeks have been a hell of a time to discover that I never developed a hobby. I got so bored last weekend that I filled out my census. I wish it took longer.
There’s all this talk about how people are, or at least should be, taking advantage of this extra time trapped at home to tackle outstanding projects, finally write that Next Great American Novel, or hone that movie pitch that’s going to take Hollywood by storm, once storms are allowed within six feet of studio executives again. If I never hear that Shakespeare wrote King Lear while quarantined during the plague again, it will be too soon.
The opportunity to be productive is one way to look on the bright side of everything that’s going on, but we’re a culture far more likely to leave half-full glasses sitting out on the nightstand. Let’s be honest: We’re all just watching a lot of TV.
Now that everyone is starting to psychologically recover from whatever the hell it is that Tiger King was, it’s time to pay proper attention to the TV that deserves our attention. Move over Carole Baskin, it’s time for Rita Moreno to take the spotlight.
It shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise that the EGOT-winner is deserving of such a superlative, and maybe you’ve heard critics and ODAAT fans cooing her praises over the show’s previous three seasons. But the layers of joy she is bringing to the screen in the currently airing season on Pop is a miracle. Next Tuesday night’s episode may mark her best performance yet.
Moreno plays Lydia Riera, the matriarch of the Cuban-American Alvarez family. She’s vivacious—every movement is a dance—and stubborn, often the catalyst for the family sitcom’s exploration of generational discord on a slew of social issues. On Tuesday’s episode, that issue is the subject of female masturbation and sexual pleasure. Moreno is a laugh riot.
Her line readings are consistently surprising, her fiery, accented cadence finding its way from set-up to punchline like a merengue. The way she delivers dialogue ranks against Catherine O’Hara on Schitt’s Creek, to give a sense of how unexpected and utterly delightful her performance is. She’s a maestro. You don’t even know she’s conducting until you hear yourself uproariously laughing out loud.
The great news is that, in addition to the current episodes airing weekly, the first three seasons of One Day at a Time are available to binge on Netflix. That’s a lot of Moreno waiting to enter your life. And, like they keep saying, what better time to be productive?
It should have been an impossible assignment: Write the perfect pop song. A pop song so good it not only sounded like a Beatles hit, but would believably inspire the same “mania.” It had to sound of that time and of that genre, yet play pleasantly, addictingly, joyously, and relevantly to the ears of a movie audience in 1996. Again, it had to be perfect.
Thankfully, that was the thing that Adam Schlesinger does.
“That Thing You Do!,” the title song from the irresistibly charming Tom Hanks-directed film, scored Schlesinger an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. He’s also been nominated for Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Awards for his music, winning the latter two.
He has burrowed his way into your head and set up residence there for the last 17 years thanks to his hit “Stacy’s Mom” with his band Fountains of Wayne, a group responsible for, depending on your level of fandom, at least three top-tier rock albums. Over the past five years, he wrote or co-wrote 157 original songs for the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is arguably the greatest musical achievement in television history.
It’s extremely difficult to describe the elements of a song that turn it into an earworm. (Otherwise, I don’t know, there would be more perfect pop songs?) Except that it’s actually, perhaps, deceptively simple. It just sounds right.
It was announced this week that Schlesinger died of the novel coronavirus. It’s so heartbreaking. I mean, all of these deaths, they’re all so heartbreaking. It’s so sad. But in any case, this is an opportunity to praise and remember Schlesinger’s talent. He was, to bring it back to That Thing You Do!, a true Oneder.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been in desperate need of two things these past few weeks: a reason to smile, and alcohol. Ina Garten sees you.
The Barefoot Contessa—maven of Hamptons hosting, calming chamomile for the soul, hoarder of blue Oxford shirts, and protector of dear Jeffrey—posted a glorious video this week coaching fans on how to make her favorite Cosmopolitan recipe. “It’s always cocktail hour in a crisis!” the caption reads, and which I’ve slurred at my boyfriend at 11 am every Tuesday this last month.
Ms. Garten’s got jokes! You need a big pitcher to make a lot of cocktails, she says. “Because you never know who’s stopping by. Wait a minute! Nobody’s stopping by!” Ba-dum-ching!
You might suspect something’s up right away when she narrates that the recipe calls for two cups of vodka and she dumps the entire bottle in, but that’s part of the fun. The payoff comes when Garten surprises with her favorite martini glass, in essence a bucket larger than her head. It’s corny as hell, but damn it, an oversized cocktail glass sight gag always lands.
It’s an instant-classic clip, immediately inducted in the Hall of Fame alongside Semi-Homemade star, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ex, and nipple-piercing buzzkill Sandra Lee’s own prodigious pour.
Joining the onslaught of movies arriving not a moment too soon to save/entertain/distract us is Hustlers, a movie I have screamed at every human I know to watch and have cut people out of my life for disparaging. Jennifer Lopez didn’t get the Oscar nomination she deserved, but she is coming to Showtime two months earlier than planned.
The cable service announced this week that it’s moving up its premiere from June to April 25. Showtime also just announced that it is offering 30-day free trials as a quarantine mitzvah. It’s much appreciated. I’ve never needed to climb into Ramona’s fur more.
What to watch this week:
Home After Dark: A kiddie version of Veronica Mars. It’s cute enough!
The Good Fight: Taking on the Trump administration before it was cool.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always: A sensational Sundance film, now on-demand.
Quibi: Killing time, 10 minutes at a time.
What to skip this week:
Quibi: Do people even know what it is?