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.
- Mrs. America is here, and it’s good.
- Reality TV steeping to new lows.
- Daryl Hannah’s butt hair!
- The best singing I’ve heard in a long time.
- New Kelly Clarkson!
Is anyone else using their pandemic paranoia-induced insomnia time to watch YouTube videos of old American Idol contestants absolutely killing it until the wee hours of the morning?
Carly Smithson hive, where you at? How about the Haley Reinhardt contingent? Is there anybody else who can’t stop watching videos of Syesha Mercado nailing the high-belt climax? Vonzell Solomon? Melinda Doolittle? Hollie Cavanagh’s Celine Dion cover, positively unmatched? How about Diana DeGarmo? I mean, remember Diana DeGarmo?
Or what about that very specific moment when David Cook sang “Always Be My Baby?” Or Constantine Maroulis, that whole thing? Or when Jason Whatshisface burped out “Hallelujah” and the nation reacted as if he had just invented music? Or the 400 “Alones.” Does David Archuleta have an OnlyFans yet? Or the best singing there’s ever been: Jennifer Hudson doing “Circle of Life”?
It’s somewhat interesting to be craving the halcyon days of reality TV, when American Idol was a juggernaut and the genre hadn’t spread like weeds across the entire entertainment landscape.
When this whole quarantine thing started, we were grateful that reality TV was stepping up its game to provide much-needed distraction, and it’s still true that Real Housewives of New York and Beverly Hills, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Making the Cut have been unspeakable sources of joy. Hell, we’ll even be generous and throw Love Is Blind into the mix. Patently awful as that show was, it was at least fun to talk about.
But our graciousness has expired. The reality TV folk have started to lose their damn minds.
First, it has been brought to my attention that there is a singing competition spin-off of The Bachelor, titled Listen to Your Heart, in which past contestants live in a mansion and croon love songs to each other. Who asked for this?
On Friday, Netflix launches Too Hot to Handle, a dating series in which the contestants live in a mansion and win $100,000 if they do not have sex with each other. What the actual hell? (My colleague Laura Bradley watched it, bless her heart, and reported back, “It’s so fucking bad it’s not even worth thinking about.”)
Then it was also announced that, next month, Fox will air Labor of Love, in which an ex-Bachelor contestant who wants to have a baby meets 15 men who compete to be the father, all hosted by the woman who played Charlotte on Sex and the City.
And as if everything didn’t already seem like every new reality TV show is a parody from an episode of 30 Rock come to life, a mobile-only app called Quibi meant for you to watch bite-sized content while you poop launched last week with a program in which Tituss Burgess blasts food out of a cannon onto contestants who taste the ensuing mess on their clothes and then cook what they think the dish was.
Don’t watch these shows, people. Respect yourselves.
The tyranny of digital fur technology knows no bounds, charging forth in its post-Cats reign of terror, this time on Disney Plus.
The family-friendly streaming service was the source of mockery this week for its decision to censor Daryl Hannah’s butt in the 1984 classic Splash not with a blur, a black bar, or a cut of the scene completely, but by adding nightmare-inducing CGI hair to her ass, like a VFX merkin from hell. (You must watch the video of it in this tweet.)
The lunacy of the prudishness and the hideousness of the censoring tactic is, of course, very funny. But it also speaks to a broader, concerning issue. Yes, Daryl Hannah’s butt matters!
Disney has been making snips and cuts here and there on several titles that are on Disney Plus—curse words, racial slurs, problematic material—which seems innocuous enough when it’s just in the pursuit of making content more kid-friendly.
But a monolith organization like Disney retroactively editing content to fit its own vision and moral standards is overlord-y, potentially oppressive, and generally Not Great—especially in the wake of decisions like moving the planned Love, Simon TV show to Hulu over content concerns (is gay teen romance not kid-friendly?) and whatever Hilary Duff is alluding to here.
So, yeah, raise an eyebrow over that. But also, god, that Daryl Hannah butt hair is just really funny.
Since this whole shelter-in-place thing started, there have been, by a rough count, 473 versions of TV specials and live streams of famous people singing and making content from their houses.
The fundraiser return of The Rosie O’Donnell Show was a highlight. Last week’s Saturday Night Live episode, typically imperfect as always, was somewhat stirring in the sheer gumption it took to pull it off. (Kate McKinnon’s RBG workout is one of the funniest things the show has produced this year.) John Oliver and Samantha Bee’s self-taped weekly shows are preserving my sanity.
But nothing yet has topped, or frankly may ever top, the biggest treat of the new celebs-from-their-homes trend: Powerhouse vocalists Cynthia Erivo and Shoshana Bean performing the Mariah Carey-Whitney Houston duet “When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt during the Saturday Night Seder fundraiser while composer Stephen Schwartz accompanied on piano.
The extent to which I will watch the video of this over and over again, force anyone who enters my home to watch, will cast onto screens in friends' homes immediately upon entering...
Kelly Clarkson released a new song that has her singing in like a million different languages and she recorded the music video from her bathroom in Montana. We have no choice but to stan.
What to watch this week:
Circus of Books: The most heartwarming documentary about a gay porn shop you’ll ever see.
Jane Goodall: The Hope: Gonna go out on a limb and assume hope is something you need right now!
The Last Dance: The ’97 Bulls, y’all!
We’re Here: Drag queens, y’all!
What to skip this week:
Too Hot to Handle: Just because something is on Netflix doesn’t mean you have to watch it.