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.
- Dancing our way out of the pandemic.
- An ode to Younger, the best silly show on TV.
- Our two best bingeing recommendations.
- Sebastian Stan’s butt.
Have we maybe, finally, reached a time when our favorite TV series don’t feel the social responsibility to awkwardly shoehorn the pandemic into their plot lines? If the new—and final—season of Younger is any indication, the fantasy is here. As it should be. For six seasons, the show has been my favorite TV fantasy.
The most gratifying thing about any “guilty pleasure” series—especially one that embraces soapy romance, indulgent and aspirational fashion and lifestyle, and is so female-centric that the perfume practically wafts off the screen—is when the sheer quality of its delights become well-known enough to erase the “guilty” from the pleasure label.
That’s been the case with Younger, the TV Land series about a 40-something divorcee who lied about being in her 20s to combat sexism in the workplace (and, eventually, her steamy love triangle). Season 7 premiered this week with four episodes on Paramount+ and Hulu, picking up exactly where Season 6 left off: Does Liza (Sutton Foster) say yes to Charles’ (Peter Hermann) marriage proposal? When she delivers the answer, no one is wearing masks.
I can’t tell you what a relief it was to see these characters navigating their incestuous mix of work and love in the publishing world of a slightly more glamorous New York City without social distancing and Zoom calls. (How very un-chic.)
Younger has been such a success because of its ability to beat with the pulse of the zeitgeist, but then also inject it with an IV of a trendy $25 cocktail that makes the reality just heightened enough to be funny—black-and-white issues about sexism, ageism, generation gaps, and love playing out in bold, saturated color. It’s a relatable show that is ultimately escapism, which makes it the perfect series to usher us into a post-pandemic world of pop culture.
For as resonant as the show’s themes were when it premiered, it caught on because it debuted during a perfect storm of nostalgia.
The millennial generation who had maybe been too young when it first aired had become devout appreciators of Sex and the City. Having blessedly escaped the litany of horrific copycats that followed, they were in the market for a series that revived the series’ depiction of strong, fiercely independent women navigating dating in a way that is both brutally blunt and hopelessly romantic—but this time in a modern age where work life and, certainly, the world of dating has fundamentally evolved.
Essentially the original Big Little Lies, the central conceit of Liza’s fib about her age and how long she could keep the ruse going added dramatic intrigue and also social resonance to sustain the show, which is, to use the word again, as wonderfully escapist now in its seventh season as when it premiered. This time the fantasy includes watching Liza and her friends at a bar without COVID restrictions and the employees at the publishing house they all work at never once worry about pandemic-related layoffs.
But more than that, the show still manages to balance its sweeping fairy-tale romance with its shrewd, outrageous humor. There is a scene in the premiere in which Liza and Charles debate the carousel of love and relationships while on an actual carousel. It’s sad that the Younger carousel will stop spinning this season, but we’re grateful for the dizzying ride.
I keep a running list of shows that I screen throughout the year that I think could merit consideration for my year-end Best of TV list, to make sure that I don’t forget anything. Let’s just say that, thus far in 2021, that list is sparse. (Don’t be surprised if the list ends up being nine moments from Oprah’s interview with Meghan and Harry, plus It’s a Sin from HBO Max.)
In any case, that’s how I’ve found myself finally enjoying some of the 425 streaming services I subscribe to’s libraries of old shows, which this week became an almost overwhelming pile-up of goodness.
I’ve had to pause my rewatch of The Nanny (HBO Max) to revisit The Other Two (HBO Max), which I then paused to revisit Happy Endings (Hulu)—three underrated comedies from different eras of the last 25 years that are all, thanks to streaming binges, getting a little bit of the accolades and appreciation they were owed when they debuted.
We’ve already written about the comedic glory of the lady in red while everybody else was wearing tan. So let me instead fervently recommend checking out The Other Two, the Comedy Central show from early 2019 about two millennial siblings struggling to reconcile their stagnant lives with their 13-year-old brother’s overnight fame as a YouTube star.
It features, as an added bonus, Molly Shannon in a momager performance that should have won her an Emmy and the best use of “faggot” in a joke that there has ever been on television (not to mention one of the best Very Special Gay Episodes I’ve seen). Its joke-per-scene ratio rivals 30 Rock and, while we wait for a COVID- and streaming-delayed season two, revisiting the underheralded first season is a welcome treat—especially in this climate.
Then there’s Happy Endings, which celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its pilot this week. It’s perhaps the best “friends hanging out” series since Friends, and maybe even the only truly great one. I believe that the world will be a better, more peaceful place if they would just revive it, but until then, revisit Casey Wilson’s all-time-great “whore’s bath” monologue as a balm for the soul. (Watch it here.)
To promote his new movie Monday, out Friday, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier star Sebastian Stan posted a photo on his Instagram of himself flashing an empty street, his bare bum—or whatever the butt equivalent of underboob is—gloriously peeking out from under his coat. “When I say we gave it our ‘all,’ we literally did,” he captioned, teasing the film’s nudity.
Monday premiered at this year’s virtual Toronto International Film Festival, which allowed critics to screen films online. Did I hear a rumor that Stan appears fully naked in the film and fast forward through it to see? Yes. I am a journalist. It’s called an investigation.
I need everyone to know that, just hours before J. Lo and Alex Rodriguez’s breakup was officially announced, Rodriguez posted a video on his Instagram Stories in which he pans through a shrine to his relationship with Lopez set to “Fix You” by Coldplay, perhaps the most outlandish use of that song since that one episode of The Newsroom.
It’s since expired on his Instagram, but here is a screenshot. Imagine Chris Martin singing over the world’s most dramatic orchestral swell while you stare at it. Bless.
Mare of Easttown: Everyone loves murder shows! This one, starring Kate Winslet, is actually good. (Sunday on HBO)
Cher & the Loneliest Elephant: This is a documentary about Cher and a lonely elephant. Need I say more? (Thursday on Paramount+)
Couples Therapy: A voyeur's dream. (Sunday on Showtime)
Wahl Street: Honestly I was barely interested enough to Google what this was about: Mark Wahlberg in a reality show about his businesses. (Thursday on HBO Max)