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.
- My favorite new reality show.
- The best TV opening scene I’ve seen...maybe ever?
- Justice for Tinsley Mortimer.
- A really pure, nice video to cleanse your life.
- And Harry Styles to cleanse your libido.
When Marvel’s WandaVision premiered on Disney+ this winter, I wouldn’t shut up about my surprise that, given how exhausted and bored I’ve generally become by the constant onslaught—and snoozy sameness—of the Marvel output, I freaking loved it. Add Kathryn Hahn to the mix as a nosy neighbor turned maniacal witch? Iconic! I wouldn’t shut up about it.
Yet especially as the last two WandaVision episodes reverted to the Marvel formula of naptime exposition breaks and endless sequences of cartoon blurs flying around the sky in battle, I wondered what this week’s next big Disney+ Marvel series would bring.
Having now seen the The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s premiere episode (and nothing more; in a rare, annoying move, critics were only given one episode to judge from), I can say that it does not tickle the same intriguing “what is this weird, stylish experiment I’m watching and, ahhh omg it’s Kathryn Hahn!” strings that swayed Marvel haters to become WandaVision fans.
There is far more “what you need to know before watching The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” research to be done before watching than there was for WandaVision. In some respects, that is perfectly fine! This is a story that is part of a long arc of interconnected narratives, and should serve its biggest fans. But at the same time, the (very slow) detours into the backstories of perennial second bananas Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), are more superficial than intriguing, making the episode’s leisurely plotting seem more lazy than ambitious.
The same cannot be said, however, for the spectacular opening scene, a thrilling sequence that offers enough dazzle to win over most viewers to a second episode. Whatever else there is to say about the premiere, it is one of the most exciting action sequences I’ve ever seen in a TV show.
I don’t know what the hell is going on or why he’s doing it (see above Marvel ignorance), but Falcon leaps out of a plane and zooms through the air to another one in order to rescue an American soldier from some bad guys. While the bad guys don’t have his falcon technology, they do have those flying squirrel outfits that those deranged base jumpers wear in those viral videos that horrify me. They lead Falcon on an intense cat-and-mouse chase through the sky (!!!), leaping from one exploding aircraft to another.
The thing about it is how realistic it looks, rare in the Marvel universe for resembling practical stunts and special effects more than bland CGI, which strips the stakes out of so many of the cinematic universe’s battle scenes. And again… in the sky! The real sky!
The show’s rumored $25 million an episode budget renders it among the most expensive TV series in history. I’d venture the highest compliment to pay the show is that, at least when it comes to that spectacular opening scene, it’s the rare case of money well spent.
So after we get it out of the way that I am a hypocrite who is delusional about his own taste level and sense of dignity, I can express my raw emotion over the recent break up of two people for whom the word “celebrity” may be too generous a term. Which is to say that, after scrolling past a People magazine tweet that former socialite and Real Housewives of New York City star Tinsley Mortimer was “blindsided” when fiancé Scott Whatshisname ended their engagement, I yelped into my silent apartment, “Tinsley! Oh no!!!”—likely startling my plants who haven’t heard a human sound in at least three days.
If you watched Mortimer’s farewell to Real Housewives, it was framed as Cinderella riding off to her happily ever after, the ultimate redemption after being treated so cruelly by her cast mates for her pursuit of love. Not this!!!
All I can say is that Bravo should bring Tinsley back to RHONY on a golden chariot, leading a triumphant parade so loud you can’t hear Ramona saying, “I told ya so.”
Tiffany Haddish was in the middle of taping a new episode of Kids Say the Darndest Things when, during the Grammys pre-show, it was announced that she won Best Comedy Album for Black Mitzvah, making her the first Black woman to win the category since Whoopi Goldberg in 1986.
A producer notified her that she had just won a Grammy through her earpiece, rattling her as she was overcome with emotion, but was also wrangling two young girls on set who had no idea what was going on. “I just wanted to cry but I knew it would have confused the babies,” she said in an Instagram post. “So I decided to use that moment to teach and share my feelings.”
In what’s been a horrifying and dark week, it’s such a pure, emotional, nice moment. I encourage you to watch the video here.
Harry Styles. I Don’t Know What to Say.
If I could properly put into words how and why this photo of Harry Styles at the Grammys is the most attractive thing I have ever seen in my life, I would. But when words fail, here is a photo of Harry Styles at the Grammys looking like the most attractive thing I have ever seen in my life.
What to watch this week:
Genius: Aretha: Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin is exactly as good as that sounds. (Sunday on National Geographic)
Pig Royalty: Who knew the new Kardashians were lurking in the world of pig showing? (Tuesday on Discovery+)
Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a celebrity be this frank about addiction. (Tuesday on YouTube)
What to skip this week:
City of Lies: Yes, apparently there is a new Johnny Depp movie. No, apparently it is not good. (Friday on VOD)
The Snyder Cut: Who is forcing you to watch this??? (Now on HBO Max)