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 Real Housewives existential crisis.
- Death, taxes, and watching trash on Netflix.
- Cinema returns with Adam Driver’s musical cunnilingus.
- I think you should watch I Think You Should Leave.
- Pfizer, Moderna, and, now, AstraTubbica.
The shit you all watch. The complete and utter nonsense. The lumpy chemical water at the bottom of a Porta-Potty. The green fuzz on the loaf of bread that you only noticed after you made and ate a sandwich. It will never stop bothering me, a person whose job is to tell you what is good and what is not, so that you do not waste your time and brain cells. And then to find out what you’re watching instead. You might as well stab me in the heart.
This is all to say that the Netflix Top 10 is the bane of my existence, mostly because of what it says about you all. You, the people who, apparently, have spent this last week watching, en masse, the 2016 star-studded abomination Mother’s Day—a film that, beyond being borderline unwatchable, features a wig worn by Julia Roberts that has been flagged by international courts as a crime against humanity. It has been in the Top 10 all week.
Why? I want to type that question a million times. Why? WHY? Whyyyyyyy? Seriously, why!? Why are any of you, in this week in July of 2021, watching a film that, even forgiving how bad it is, is called Mother’s Day? Who is scrolling through Netflix, seeing the title card for this film—which is, again, about the holiday Mother’s Day, which famously took place two months ago—and thinking, “Now’s a good time to watch?”
Sure, it’s arguably hypocritical of me to drag the unseasonal nature of its popularity. I have been known to, on occasion, be on a summer jog when Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” comes on my shuffle playlist, become a little bashful because it’s seasonally inappropriate, and then realize no one can hear what’s blasting in my AirPods and go H.A.M. when the sleigh bells start. But that is pop excellence. Mother’s Day is cinematic doo-doo.
The amount of time I spend staring at the Netflix Top 10 in disbelief is unhealthy. It will likely be the reason I leave this career. I started this newsletter entry with the goal of making sense of it. But it’s impossible. You have all broken me. I am a broken man, and the reason, as was always inevitable, is Julia Roberts’ Mother’s Day wig.
It has been more than two years since the Cannes Film Festival took place. The red carpet on the Croisette is arguably the most envy-inducing, classiest entertainment-industry affair. The brand, if I could peg it as an armchair observer whom the French would spit on should I ever denigrate their cinema soirée by attending, is taste.
Is a movie spectacular? They discovered it and gave it a 10-minute standing ovation. Is it absolute, baffling, maybe even offensive trash? They saw it first and also gave it a 10-minute standing ovation. Being daring is as good as… being good.
Given all that, it absolutely fits that the film to herald the return of the Cannes Film Festival—of envy, of class, of cinema, of taste—was the Leos Carax head-scratcher Annette.
I say this fits not because I have ever been to Cannes (again: garbage human) and therefore know what makes a suitable entry to their program, and not because I have actually seen the aforementioned film. I say this because I have read no less than 100 articles about it—which you will, too, when you find out—and can’t stop laughing at a) its plot and b) critics so jazzed about being in France watching it that they’re waxing poetic on its ambition and audacity.
Anyway, here’s what I have learned about Annette: It is a musical (!) starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard (!!) during which at one point he belts out lyrics in between licks of a cunnilingus session (!!!). There is apparently a debate about how graphic and/or imperative that bit of information is, but I err on the side of: it can’t be stressed enough. This is, apparently, not even the tip of the bizarro iceberg. As an Indiewire review says: “Sure, there’s also a wooden baby that sings and the occasional cutaway to a melancholic gorilla, but they all exist to support the larger cause.” This was an endorsement.
Afterward, the film was, as you would expect for something so strange, championed and panned in equal measure. I suspect that not a soul in America will ever see it, save for the tribe known as “Film Twitter,” who will likely never stop talking about it. In any case, it received a five-minute standing ovation at Cannes, during which Adam Driver apparently lit a cigarette.
The Netflix sketch show I Think You Should Leave is so brilliant. For one, it is perfectly titled. It is a show about the jerks and the peculiars, the people who are so committed to their irritating, inappropriate nature—and so un-self-aware about it—that there is no other response than to say, “I think you should leave.” The episodes are also under 20 minutes each. An entire season that you can binge before Cruella even gets to its big plot twist.
That new season came out this week, and it’s cool to obsess about how much you love it on Twitter and even cooler to be insufferable about how you don’t think it’s that funny. To me, it’s not always that funny… and I think that’s the point?
For what it’s worth, there is a sketch about a person on a ghost tour who is just trying to play by the rules that I may think about for the rest of my life. And, on the topic of funny, there is a line reading of, “Is that a hot dog in your sleeve?” mixed with a physical-comedy sight gag (there is a hot dog in his sleeve) that made me laugh so hard I had to pause the episode. Enjoy.
The Teletubbies have been vaccinated. I just thought you should know that.
The White Lotus: This summer’s contender for my favorite show of the year. (Sun. on HBO)
Jackass Shark Week Special: Whatever chaos you’re imagining, it’s even more than that. (Sun. on Discovery)
Never Have I Ever: Teen comedies rarely feel this real and joyous. (Thurs. on Netflix)
Black Widow: Sure, why not? (Fri. in theaters and on Disney+)
Black Widow: But also, what if you don’t? (Fri. in theaters and on Disney+)
American Horror Stories: As a nation, we must rally against this franchise. (Thurs. on Hulu)
Television, In General: There is a day next week when 39 TV shows premiere. Make it stop. I’m tired.