Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

April 28 2017 5:59 PM

Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, and Laura Dern Reflect on that Famous Coming Out Episode, 20 Years Later

Ellen DeGeneres opened her talk show on Thursday by announcing, “I’m Ellen and I’m gay,” echoing the moment two decades ago when she came out as a lesbian on her sitcom Ellen in an episode called “The Puppy Episode” (so named because executives wanted Ellen’s character to get a puppy instead of a girlfriend). Thursday’s episode was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of that episode, including a reunion with Ellen cast members and two special guests from “The Puppy Episode”: Oprah Winfrey, who played Ellen’s therapist and then hosted her on The Oprah Winfrey Show as a followup, and Laura Dern, who played her potential love interest.

The entire reunion show was an important reminder of how radical DeGeneres’ coming out really was at the time. Winfrey and Dern both recalled the backlash over their participation, with The Oprah Winfrey Showreceiving racist phone calls and Dern having difficulty finding work. DeGeneres explained that in the aftermath of the announcement, not only was her show cancelled just a year later, but she was the butt of late night jokes, had passersby scream at her, and was on the receiving end of death threats and even a bomb scare on set.


With her usual good humor, however, DeGeneres ended the segment on a positive note. “I always encourage people, because it really did teach me that no matter what the cost is at the time […] as long as you stay true to who you are, you will be rewarded in ways that you can’t even imagine.”

DeGeneres was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November, with President Obama noting, ““It’s easy to forget, now, when we’ve come so far … just how important it was, not just to the LGBT community, but for all of us, to see somebody so full of kindness and light—somebody we liked so much, somebody who could be our neighbor, or our colleague, or our sister—challenge our own assumptions, remind us that we have more in common than we realize, push our country in the direction of justice.”

April 28 2017 4:00 PM

Lest You Think the TV Reboot Craze Was Over, Roseanne Is Getting a Revival

Another classic is getting in on the TV reboot craze. Deadline is reporting that Roseanne, the acclaimed ’90s sitcom from Roseanne Barr and co-starring John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, is being primed for a return as an eight-episode limited series. Barr, Goodman, and Sara Gilbert are all signed on, Metcalf and others are expected to join them, and multiple outlets—including original home ABC and reboot lover Netflix—have already started bidding on the project.

Roseanne ran from 1988 to 1997 and was centered on the Conners, a working-class family in the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois. The series was noted for its realistic, sympathetic portrait of lower-income people, with both parents Roseanne (Barr) and Dan (Goodman) working outside the home and many episodes revolving around money problems. It also gradually tackled a range of social issues—one main character was notably revealed as a lesbian in the finale—and very unusually ended on the revelation that the entire original run was a lightly fictionalized, first-person account of Roseanne Conner’s life.


According to Deadline, ABC is particularly motivated to jump on the return of Roseanne in its ongoing effort to “better reflect” the lives of everyday Americans. That’s one effective way to spin the latest in a long line of buzzy sitcom reboots; indeed, Roseanne’s class-conscious portrayal of family life would still stick out as rare in today’s landscape. (It should also, as a clear depiction of Trump country, have a unique perspective to bring to the current political climate.) But it’s hard not to have some fatigue over this seemingly endless reboot trend, and the fact that nothing in TV can really stay dead anymore.

That last point is especially true in Roseanne’s case, anyway. Will Dan be coming back from the dead? Assuming he does, there’s certainly a meta joke for the show to make there.

April 28 2017 2:56 PM

Luxury Fyre Festival With $12,000 Tickets Postponed After Reports of Chaos, Theft, Ham Sandwiches

The supposedly luxurious Fyre Festival, an event promising “the best in food, art, music, and adventure” on a private island in the Bahamas, has been “postponed” after festivalgoers reported conditions that more closely evoke Lord of the Flies than Coachella. Tickets for the event, which promised performances by Tyga, Desiigner, Major Lazer, Pusha T, and Blink-182, sold for anyhere between $1,500 and $12,000 (though some reports have that number as high as $250,000 for a private villa stay). But accounts from the island itself suggest that the festival was immediately plagued by a total lack of organization, shoddy accommodations, and luggage mishaps, in addition to unconfirmed reports of violence, theft, and feral dogs.

Eyewitnesses told Billboard that the festival grounds in the Exumas appeared half-finished when guests arrived, with shelters comparable to disaster relief tents. What's more, festival attendees have shared photos of “gourmet cuisine” that was supposedly included ticket price amounted to ham and cheese sandwiches served with salad.


A piece in the Wall Street Journal foresaw the festival's woes almost a month ago, noting that organizers were delayed in paying performers and confirming flight. For now, remaining scheduled flights from Miami to the island have been cancelled, with attendees who had already arrived being evacuated—though even that seems to be going disastrously, with reports that passengers have been locked into the airport without food or water, allegedly for their own safety.

Fyre Festival was created by rapper Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland and promoted by the likes of Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski. Given the exorbitant ticket prices and the high-profile celebrities involved, it’s no surprise that Twitter was quick to mock the less-than-luxurious outcome.

On its website, Fyre Festival posted a statement: “Fyre Festival set out to provide a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience on the Islands of the Exumas. Due to circumstances out of our control, the physical infrastructure was not in place on time and we are unable to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests. At this time, we are working tirelessly to get flights scheduled and get everyone off of Great Exuma and home safely as quickly as we can.” The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism issued its own statement apologizing for the disorganization and promising to assist in getting attendees off the island.

Update, April 28: Ja Rule has issued a statement via Twitter.

April 28 2017 11:57 AM

Watch a Hilarious Sneak Peek of Carrie Fisher’s Finale Performance in Catastrophe Season 3

The last performance Carrie Fisher filmed was for the third season of Catastrophe, the excellent Amazon comedy in which she played Rob Delaney’s mother, Mia. Though Fisher’s appearances in the first two seasons mostly amounted to extended cameos, co-creators and stars Delaney and Sharon Horgan had planned to give her meatier material later on. “We wanted to do a lot more with Carrie—I was only just beginning to be invited to her house!” Horgan recently told Page Six. “We wanted to flesh her out more and give her a story and a reason for her behavior. And the only reason why we did that is because Carrie made us want to do that.”

Fisher does get a bit of a showcase, at least, in the third season finale, as Mia comes into town for another character’s funeral. (The episode’s circumstances are less than ideal in that regard.) She ends up residing with Rob and Sharon temporarily, eventually driving both of them up the wall. Amazon released a tease of the episode, featuring Mia on the couch with Sharon nearby as she goes on a biting rant about schizophrenia, and it’s a small but potent reminder of just how funny Fisher could be.


Better yet, Horgan told People that Fisher mostly ad-libbed the scene. “She and I are together in the sitting room, and she starts talking about a TV show that she’s watching called My Children Are Schizophrenic,” Horgan recalled. “That whole little ramble about the show was off the top of her head. And every time she did it, we’d call cut and the whole place would crack up laughing.”

The third season of Catastrophe is now streaming on Amazon Prime. Fisher appears in the season finale, “Episode 6.”

April 28 2017 9:46 AM

Donald Trump Draws Up a “Nice! Not Nice!” List on The President Show

Comedy Central’s The President Show aired its first full episode last night, and in a clip that could easily have been based on actual events, Donald Trump (Anthony Atamanuik) decided to draw up a most important governmental document: a Nice! or Not Nice! list. For the most part, his choices aren’t too surprising. Marine Le Pen? Nice: “She’s French, she’s blonde, and she hates Muslims—she’s a triple threat!” Those Ivanka-booing germans? Not so much: “Disgusting. This is the worst thing that Germans have ever done. Ever. Ever done. Ever.”

The only topic that gave the (fake) president some trouble was his oft-mocked and rarely effective press secretary, Sean Spicer. “He’s a muttering slobber-mouth with a taste for his own foot,” Trump admits. “Why don’t I fire this guy?” Then onto the nice part, the thing that Trump has proven to value more than competence, loyalty, maybe even money: TV ratings. “Sean Spicer’s TV ratings: I can’t fire this guy,” the president quickly realizes. “His ratings are tremendous. We love ratings and Spicer brings them in.” He’s not wrong about that.

April 28 2017 7:32 AM

Alexis Bledel As Ofglen in The Handmaid’s Tale Is the Role She Was Born to Play

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Spoilers ahead for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

A few minutes into her first scene in The Handmaid’s Tale, Alexis Bledel holds an orange. It’s a relatively insignificant moment, but it struck me, since, in her years of playing Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, Bledel always seemed visibly uncomfortable with props. This hit a flash point when, in the awkwardly Photoshopped posters for Netflix’s Gilmore revival, it appeared that she had no idea how to hold everyday objects (I snidely tweeted about this, and Bledel later defended herself on national television). Bledel’s an easy target. She never quite shed her Rory persona, nor the sense you got in Gilmore Girls’s Stars Hollow that she was always in a daze watching the show’s Mach-five dialogue whiz by her. But in The Handmaid’s Tale’s oppressive, anxiety-inducing dystopia, Bledel is somehow right at home. You can see the fear in her eyes, the flickering resolve in her nervous composure, and a kind of punctured sadness in her posture. She even holds oranges the right way.

April 28 2017 5:52 AM

The Best Movies and TV Shows Coming to Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and Hulu in May

Every month, tons of new movies and TV shows become available to stream for free for subscribers to Netflix Instant, Hulu, HBO NOW, and Amazon Prime. With so many different streaming services, it can be hard to keep track of them all—especially if you belong to more than one service. Below, we present to you the ultimate streaming guide. We’ll let you decide which service has the best new titles. (All titles arrive May 1 unless otherwise specified.)

April 27 2017 2:51 PM

Damien Chazelle Has a Mysterious New "Project" Coming to Television, and It’s a Musical, Of Course

Damien Chazelle, the Oscar-winning director of La La Land, has a new project on the horizon—but we don’t quite know what exactly it will be just yet. The Hollywood Reporter reports that Chazelle is set to direct ... something ... for television, but whether it’s a TV movie, a miniseries, or a television show, is still unclear.

Here’s what we do know: The so-called “project” (seriously, THR uses that word five times) is a musical drama titled The Eddy and follows the exploits of the owner of a club and its house band in “contemporary multicultural Paris.” Jack Thorne, who wrote the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will pen The Eddy, which is currently being shopped to both cable and streaming outlets.

April 27 2017 12:23 PM

Tilda Swinton Introduces the Super Pig Project in This Eerie Teaser for Okja

In Okja, Netflix’s upcoming monster movie centered on a young Korean girl, her massive genetically modified pet pig, and the powerful corporation seeking to break them up, actress Tilda Swinton is returning to the world of director Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer)—this time playing two characters. One of her roles in the film is Lucy Mirando, the CEO of said villainous corporation and the antagonist of the film. In a new clip released by Netflix, Swinton provides a most eerie, uncomfortable, and cryptic introduction to the world of Okja in character, as Lucy teases her “Super Pig Project.”

Titled “A Message From Lucy Mirando,” the video serves as a “relaunch” announcement of the corporation, in which the new mission can best be described via the line “Pigs deserve happy dreams, just like the rest of us.” With Okja, Bong appears to be returning to themes of animal welfare and the dangers of capitalism, and judging by this short tease, he may once again prove why he is one of the more stylistically innovative filmmakers around.

April 27 2017 11:17 AM

Following the Pope’s Lead, Jesus Christ Gives a TED Talk on The Late Show


After more than a year of persistent requests, Pope Francis surprised the world on Tuesday evening by making a Skype appearance at TED’s annual international conference in Vancouver. He spoke of technology, innovation, and unity, and criticized “techno-economic” systems that value product over technology. He called for a “revolution of tenderness.”


Still riding the high of nabbing the leader of the Catholic Church for a TED talk, the organizers could now only go bigger—at least, according to Stephen Colbert. On Wednesday night’s Late Show, the host unveiled a new TED talk from the son of God himself: Jesus Christ. “We’ve all been there, right? All you’ve got is a few loaves and a couple of fishes,” Jesus said to his (likely perplexed) audience. “And you have to feed a crowd of thousands. But what if I told you that you could do it? I know what you’re thinking: Jeez, me? No: Jeez-us.”