Does Masters of Sex Offer More Than Prurient Intrigue? The Culture Gabfest Discusses.

Slate's weekly roundtable.
Oct. 9 2013 10:37 AM

The Culture Gabfest “Watch Out for the Dildo” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on Alfonso Cuarón’s new film Gravity, Masters of Sex, and “coolness” in 2013.

Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 264 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner with the audio player below.

And join the lively conversation on the Culturefest Facebook page here:


The sponsors of this week’s show are and Go to for your $99 personal genetic profile. Go to and use the promo code “CULTUREFEST” for your no-risk free trial and bonus offer.

Culturefest is on the radio! “Gabfest Radio” combines Slate’s Culture and Political Gabfests in one show—listen on Saturdays at 7 a.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m. on WNYC’s AM820.

Check out the new Culturefest T-shirt, designed by listener Trevor Baum.

On this week’s show, the critics discuss Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón’s new 3-D film, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as astronauts adrift in space. Visually dazzling, the film’s cinematography uncannily captures the experience of weightlessness. Next, the critics turn to the new Showtime drama Masters of Sex about William Masters and Virginia Johnson, two pioneering researchers in the field of human sexuality in the 1950s. And finally, with the help of Carl Wilson, Slate’s music critic, the gabbers discuss the concept of “coolness,” posing the question that befuddles middle schoolers and pop stars alike: What does it mean to be “cool” in 2013?

Links to some of the things we discussed this week follow:


Dana: Alfonso Cuarón’s 1995 film adaptation of A Little Princess.

Julia: Planet Money’s episode 489 on the nonsensical difficulty of wiring money.

Carl: Daniel Mendelsohn’s essay on, “ ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’ and the Government Shutdown.”

Steve: Portuguese singer Amália Rodrigues.

Outro: “Cool” from the musical West Side Story, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

You can email us at

This podcast was produced by Sally Herships and engineered by Chris Wade. Our intern is Anna Shechtman.

Follow us on Twitter. And please Like the Culture Gabfest on Facebook.

Stephen Metcalf is Slate's critic at large. He is working on a book about the 1980s.

Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic.

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

Even by Russian Standards, Moscow’s  Anti-War March Was Surprisingly Grim

I Wrote a Novel Envisioning a Nigerian Space Program. Then I Learned Nigeria Actually Has One.

The Best Thing About the People’s Climate March in NYC

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 11:13 AM Your Own Personal Rand Paul How the libertarian hero makes his foreign policy contradictions disappear.
Sept. 22 2014 12:07 PM Divestment Isn’t the Answer To destroy demand for fossil fuels, universities can do a lot better than just selling some stocks.
Dear Prudence
Sept. 22 2014 12:00 PM Dear Prudence Live Chat For September 22, 2014.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:21 PM Watch John Oliver Take on Miss America
  Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 12:22 PM The Age of the Streaming TV Auteur
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.