- Taylor Swift talks politics.
- I discover I’m Sorry.
- Monica Lewinsky heads to TV.
- Babs and Ari make sweet, sweet music.
- Losing my mind over Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
I’m not exactly, like, happy with how much I think about Taylor Swift. I don’t love that about myself. About me. I mean ME!.
Sometimes I think this woman is a polarizing genius whose impact on our entire generation we’re not even close to understanding yet. Other times, she’s the human personification of the mouthfeel of a paper straw.
Anyway, Swift sat down for a lengthy Vogue cover story—and, genuinely, bless her for doing that—about sexism, the media’s scrutiny of her (wow, drag me, Taylor)‚ and politics. So here we are again.
There was a lot of ink spilled during the 2016 election on Taylor Swift’s deafening silence. It was considered a crisis for the country, particularly women, and as such those with massive public platforms abandoned whatever “Shut Up and Sing” qualms they may have had to talk about the severity of the issues and throw their support to Hillary Clinton while condemning, unequivocally, Donald Trump.
Many people grew aggravated that Swift, with her massive fan base of younger people of voting age across many swing states, never spoke up—something that seemed at odds with her consistent outspokenness on female solidarity and the social politics of shaming. Some suspected she didn’t want to alienate fans who were Trump supporters. Others speculated she may have been one herself.
She’s since started discussing politics, but not until well after Trump won the election. Rehashing all of this is not the point, and I already regret the cyber assault I’m setting myself up for from Swift’s fans just for recapping it. (Even 32-year-old men collapse at the cruelty of teen mean girls.) The point is that Swift finally explained why she didn’t speak out against Trump in 2016 in a cover story interview with Vogue.
Here it is without commentary. I think it’s pretty interesting, though it will surely dissatisfy many. Take it for what you will:
I recently spent what I estimate to be an entire lunar cycle and minor evolutionary stage of my life—in actuality, 10-ish days—at what’s called the Television Critics Association press tour, where networks come in and pitch their most exciting new shows to TV journalists and critics. Things I’m most excited about and you should look out for this fall: Showtime’s On Becoming a God in Central Florida and Back to Life, Amazon’s Modern Love, Hulu’s Dollface, and CBS/CBS All Access’ The Unicorn and Women Who Kill.
In any case, the best way to describe the tour is a thrilling slog, which ended for me triumphantly presenting a TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sketch/Variety Show to John Oliver. He was not there. Phoebe Waller-Bridge was, however, and sat right next to me, so I got to watch her watch critics tell her why her show is so good, and she was so thrilled and touched and hung on every word in a way that seemed like a very special experience.
Afterwards, I took three quick days off, which apparently meant missing about 40 news cycles and 400 TV premieres and screeners. (That means no thoughts on Succession, GLOW, and BH90210 this week.) But after my three days hanging out with a bunch of feral hogs at Equinox, I was excited to fly back to New York. I was not excited for my three-and-a-half hours of layovers, but it turns out one unexpected perk of spending 95 minutes just sitting on the tarmac is that you have a lot of time to watch in-flight TV. During that time, I disco vered a new show. It’s called I’m Sorry. It’s so good!
If the point of this newsletter is to recommend very good things, then I do not feel bad recommending I’m Sorry to you now, even though it is not new and, in fact, has aired two full seasons, the last episode of which was in March. Upon Googling, though, I learned that there will be a season 3 next year! I don’t know when anyone has time to catch up on shows they missed. But should you know the whereabouts of any wormholes, man, is I’m Sorry the show for you.
It’s created by and starring Andrea Savage, who you might know for playing President Laura Montez in Veep. In the semi-autobiographical comedy, she plays a comedy writer juggling her career with her marriage and the unexpected hilarity and hiccups of raising a young daughter. It is ribald and giddy with filthy humor, but there’s a sunniness to it that is as unexpected as it is addicting. There are so many butt sex jokes, yet the show seems just so... nice.
I’m Sorry reminds me in some ways of Better Things and in other ways of Playing House—two shows that make my heart burst just from typing their titles—but, thanks to Savage’s unique sense of humor, is entirely its own. It airs on TruTV, a channel that I for sure have on my cable package and maybe you do, too? Or maybe you’ve cut the cord. I don’t know your life.
If you were feeling a little light-headed and struggling for oxygen at around 7:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday, it is because of the largest collective Gay Gasp recorded in recent history. It was announced then that the new season of FX’s American Crime Story series from Ryan Murphy would be titled Impeachment and tackle the Monica Lewinsky saga.
Sarah Paulson will play Linda Tripp (!), Broadway Tony-winner Analeigh Ashford will play Paula Jones (!!), and breakout star of the year, Booksmart’s Beanie Feldstein will play Lewinsky (!!!). When God grants you the prayers you didn’t even know to make.
It’s a juicy story (groundbreaking assessment, I know) right in line with the cultural dissection Murphy applied to two previous American Crime Story subjects—the case of O.J. Simpson and the assassination of Gianni Versace—with illuminating insight and respect. Murphy had originally planned a take on the Lewinsky scandal in 2017, but scrapped it after meeting Lewinsky and realizing that nobody should be telling her story but her. To that end, Lewinsky is on board with Impeachment as a producer.
The series is set to premiere in September 2020, in the heat of the presidential election. That programming decision is, frankly, exhausting. Not because I think it isn’t shrewd—oh, but it is—or because I think an FX miniseries revisiting the Lewinsky circus will have any effect on the election—it won’t. It’s because of the echo chamber of pundits who will bellow that it will, and, in fact, are already doing as much.
This series is thrilling, everyone is exasperating, and that is all.
Barbra Streisand brought out Ariana Grande for a surprise duet of her 1979 bop with Donna Summer, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” during a concert in Chicago this week, if you want to learn more about gay gasps. (Watch some of it here.)
Grande said she left the stage sobbing afterwards, which, I mean, it’s literally in the song title, Ari.
Hang them in the Louvre! Put them in the Smithsonian! Give them a Pulitzer! Make them a billboard in Times Square! Teach me how to make them the background of my phone! Please, I don’t know how!
What to watch this week:
Succession: The show that everyone said got good at episode six is now the show that everyone is saying is good from the start.
GLOW: Who doesn’t love GLOW? (Me, actually. I’ve always been lukewarm on it, but the new season is getting great reviews.)
One Child Nation: A painful, exquisitely done documentary on China’s one-child policy.
What to skip this week:
The Kitchen: A revenge caper starring Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss flopping like this should be a felony offense.
The Art of Racing in the Rain: Still gonna watch this one on a plane and cry, though.