Slate's Culture Blog

Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM

The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season

Irreverent, crass, and capable of turning a conversation about arson and foot fetishism into the believable foundation of a burgeoning relationship, the first season of You’re the Worst was the most enjoyable TV show of the summer. The FX comedy from Stephen Falk was relegated to a 10:30 p.m. slot on Thursday nights, and featured a largely unknown cast and a well-worn premise. It did not, at first glance, look like a show I’d consistently watch, let alone love. But watch I did, and from the moment Gretchen (Aya Cash) willingly played along with the mild podophilia of Jimmy (Chris Geere) over the phone—shortly after stealing cocaine from the bathroom of an on-again-off-again fling—I was all in. Which makes this week’s news that FX has renewed You’re the Worst for a 13-episode season 2, despite middling ratings, equal parts pleasant surprise and oh-thank-god relief.

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Oct. 1 2014 2:24 PM

The New Interstellar Trailer Is the Most Exciting Yet

The trailers for Interstellar thus far have done a remarkably good job of tantalizing fans without spoiling too many of the movie’s biggest set pieces. That is, perhaps, until now. The first half of the new trailer focuses on what appears to be the movie’s environmental message: Matthew McConaughey talks about the importance of adapting on the movie’s climate-change-wrecked Earth. But the second half takes us deep into the movie’s space travel sequences, and shows us a number of striking new images.

Some fans, if they’ve already committed to seeing the movie as fresh as possible, may prefer not to watch. But for the rest the new footage shows a mysterious walking hunk of metal that resembles the hammers from The Wall and a “mountain” that turns out to be, well, something else. The closing sequence is pretty intense, and suggests that Christopher Nolan should once again be able to deliver the thrills promised by all this teasing.

Oct. 1 2014 2:15 PM

Gateway Episodes: Gilmore Girls

It’s nearly summer, the perfect time to catch up with a few of those shows everyone is always saying you should watch. But there are so many! How can you decide which to try? Pilot episodes have so much introductory work to do; they’re usually subpar compared with the great stuff to come. And the very best episodes of a series often demand too much knowledge of what came before.

You need to find the gateway episode, one you can watch without any background knowledge and which will give you a real sense of the show—and whether you’ll like it. In this weekly Brow Beat series, we direct you to the best gateway episodes for great series you should watch this summer.



The title of the show Gilmore Girls is a little misleading. Yes, the show centers around Lorelai Gilmore—who left the home of her wealthy parents after getting pregnant at 16—and her daughter, Rory, who Lorelai raised on her own while working at an inn. But the show isn’t just about the mother-daughter duo. The strength of the show very much comes from its ensemble—and the way the series depicts with wit and candor a whole host of middle-class American lives.


Oct. 1 2014 1:13 PM

The Essence of Gender Roles in Action Movies, in One Supercut

It’s been more than a century since movie bad guys first started tying ladies to railroad tracks, but the damsel in distress is still a movie mainstay. And who can save them but a big, strong man and his big, pointy gun?

As chronicled at length by this supercut, this is still what so many action movies come down to—the woman in danger and the hero who demands that the villain “Let her go.” You’d think we’d have gotten over this by 2014—certainly we see the occasional female action star or man in distress—but with the blockbuster Taken franchise now entering its third chapter, I wouldn’t expect it to go away anytime soon. 

Oct. 1 2014 12:26 PM

Where Do I Start With Leonard Cohen?

Leonard Cohen is an iconic pop figure, music’s unofficial poet laureate, a Zen monk, and a dirty old man rolled into one. The month he turned 80 and released his 13th studio album since 1967 (and his best since 1992), Popular Problems. Yet many people likely know him only as the composer of the ubiquitous “Hallelujah,” that complex bundle of theological irony and sex that’s become a lazy go-to for cover singers and media music supervisors. For those uninitiated, it must seem confusing how this wizened Jewish doom-meister attained such mystique. There are too many high marks, low blows, and tall tales in Cohen’s eight decades to capture in a short list, but these should flesh out his dapper shroud.

Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM

Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to

Bob’s Burgers is replete with wonderful characters, but it’s pretty clear that the awkward, yet confident Tina Belcher is the show’s breakout star. Now Eclectic Method has made a great EDM remix and accompanying video out of some of her greatest tics and catchphrases (“Uhhh …”; “Butts”), so you can dance along to this “feminist icon,” too.

As in the Tina-centric Beyoncé mashup from a few months ago, there’s a lot to enjoy here—so just stand back for the explosion of this charm bomb.

(Via Uproxx.)

Oct. 1 2014 8:46 AM

The Vintage eBay Find I Wore to My Sentencing

I have loved vintage clothing since I was in high school, thrifting the racks or raiding my grandparents’ attics and closets. I attended a lot of morning college classes clad in old men’s pajamas. Skinny-lapelled men’s suit jackets over miniskirts were a favorite in my 20s. I’ve worn crepe dresses from the ’30s and ’40s to friends’ weddings, and when I was getting married, I found my fiancé the white silk suit of a dead Chinese diplomat to wear on the big day. (I got one of the diplomat’s wife’s cheongsams for me.)

In some instances I’m less inclined to wear vintage. During my late 20s, when I was caught in a criminal case, I wore my most sober gray and brown pantsuits to the federal court arraignments and plea negotiations in Chicago. When you’re appearing on the docket, believe me, you wish you could disappear into the woodwork of the courtroom.

However, when I went to what I thought was my final court appearance, my sentencing, camouflage was not an option.

Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM

Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963

The latest installment of PBS’s excellent Blank on Blank series features the late, great Bette Davis, who’s at her deadpan best while discussing gender roles, male dominance in the work world, and being an outspoken woman in Hollywood.

Sept. 30 2014 4:45 PM

Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate what we’re watching when we watch The Knick: the greatest sustained display of directorial virtuosity in the history of American TV, courtesy of the show’s primary and thus far only director, Steven Soderbergh.

The seventh episode of this Cinemax drama, which aired on Friday, is one of the most exciting, horrifying, beautiful, and clever hours of filmmaking I’ve seen this year—and that’s saying a lot, considering how great the year has been. The show is created and written by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, and set in and around the titular hospital circa 1900. This episode, “Get a Rope,” shows what happens when an incident of racial violence touches off a wave of vigilantism, pitting African-Americans against Irish-Americans and plunging the neighborhood into chaos.  

“Get a Rope” contains many harrowing setpieces, starting with the inciting incident (an off-duty Irish cop mistakes a black woman for a prostitute, scuffles with her boyfriend, then gets stabbed and taken to Knickerbocker Hospital) and continuing through the inevitable escalation. When I watched “Get a Rope” the first time, it seemed almost unbearably brutal, but on second viewing, I was struck by how Soderbergh had pulled a Hitchcock or Spielberg, never showing us as much as we think he’s showing us. The initial stabbing and a subsequent scene of a white mob dragging a black man off a bicycle are filmed from a distance (which makes them more horrifying even though, or perhaps because, the direction isn’t rubbing your face in gore).

Sept. 30 2014 3:59 PM

The Trailer for Taken 3 Is Here, and Guess Who’s on His Phone Again

By now the formula for the Taken franchise is pretty well established: Time and again ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills, played by Liam Neeson, applies his “very particular set of skills” in order to save himself and his family from various harrowing situations. In Taken, he used those skills to rescue his teenage daughter Kim from a human trafficking ring. In Taken 2, he used them to free both himself and his ex-wife Lenore from captivity. In both of them, he spent lots of time making threats over the phone.