Slate’s Culture Gabfest on HBO’s True Detective, Will Ferrell’s The Spoils of Babylon, and the absence of African-American artists at the top of Billboard charts.
Why Weren’t There Any No. 1 Hits by African-Americans in 2013?
Slate's weekly roundtable.
Jan. 15 2014 10:42 AM

The Culture Gabfest “From Now on This Gabfest Is a Space for Silent Reflection” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on True Detective, The Spoils of Babylon, and the absence of African-American artists at the top of Billboard charts.

Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 278 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner with the audio player below.

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


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On this week’s episode, the critics discuss True Detective, an HBO crime drama starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as odd-couple detectives hunting for a serial killer in southern Louisiana. Next the gabbers turn to The Spoils of Babylon, a star-studded series on IFC that parodies the sort of miniseries-melodrama that was popular in the early 1980s. Is it hilariously absurd or too rarified to make for meaningful satire? Finally, the critics welcome Chris Molanphy, Slate contributor and music critic, to discuss the absence of African-American recording artists at the top of last year’s Billboard charts. What changed in the pop music landscape to account for the dearth of No. 1 hits from black artists?

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


Dana: Stephen Kuusisto’s poetic blog recording his life as a blind writer.

Julia: The beautiful letterpress calendars on Etsy, especially those sold by the vendor 1Canoe2.

Chris: Night Time, My Time, Sky Ferreira’s moody debut album with NSFW cover art.

Steve: Spiral (Engrenages), a French police drama that supposedly gets better in the second season.

Outro:  “Love in Stereo” by Sky Ferreira

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This podcast was produced by Ann Heppermann. Our intern is Anna Shechtman.

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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.