Slate's Culture Blog

Dec. 22 2014 1:03 AM

Homeland Really Did Get Good Again. But Let’s Hope It’s Always a Little Bit Crazy.

This season of Homeland was a reconstruction project. After the sins of the last season and a half—which, if you need refreshing, involved one outlandish plot after another revolving around the overblown true love story of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis)—the new season began with a sick wink. Corey Stoll, who joined the show as a CIA agent—seemingly taking over Lewis’ spot—was murdered in the very first episode. We will not make the mistake of holding onto a leading man for too long ever again, the show seemed to be promising. With tonight’s extremely anti-climatic finale, Homeland was making another promise: We will never be too ludicrous again. But what if a little bit of ludicrous, just not too much, is Homeland’s essential ingredient?

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Dec. 21 2014 11:43 PM

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter: See Four Seasonal Google Doodle GIFs from Eleanor Davis

If you saw Sunday's adorable Google Doodle GIF celebrating the first day of winter, you might have thought the Doodle's colorful, playful style seemed familiar. That's because this is the fourth of cartoonist Eleanor Davis' series of Doodles celebrating the four seasons, which ran throughout 2014. (The summer Doodle didn't run in the Northern Hemisphere.) Davis shared all four with us:

davissummer
davisfall
daviswinter_1

Davis sent us a bunch of her sketches for the Doodle. "Google I had so many good ideas for you," she tweeted. "They did not go for any of my ideas where the OOs were tits."

davis_google_doodle_sketch_set_7

Courtesy of Eleanor Davis

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It really seems like the process was completely fun:

davis_google_doodle_sketch_set_2

Courtesy of Eleanor Davis

davis_google_doodle_sketch_set_5

Courtesy of Eleanor Davis

...despite the fact that Google wasn't as into facial hair as she was:

davis_google_doodle_sketch_set_17

Courtesy of Eleanor Davis

davis_google_doodle_sketch_set_19

Courtesy of Eleanor Davis

davis_google_doodle_sketch_set_11

Courtesy of Eleanor Davis

"Haha how about a bunch of straitlaced people get hot & get naked & are secretly covered in tattoos spelling GOOGLE?"

davis_google_doodle_sketch_set_13

Courtesy of Eleanor Davis

Thanks to Eleanor Davis for letting us reprint these. For goodness' sake, order her fantastic book, How to Be Happy!

Dec. 21 2014 11:42 PM

Did the Finale of The Affair Save the Series or Ruin It for Good? Two Perspectives.

 

Part 1: Sharan

 

I like to think of The Affair, Showtime’s he-said-she-said whodunit set in Montauk and Brooklyn, as the guilty pleasure of prestige television—except that the show seems to try as hard as it can to avoid being pleasurable. The pacing can be ponderous, the writing can be self-serious, and the Rashomon-like storytelling often serves no other purpose than to double an episode’s running time. But Sunday’s season finale was invigorating television, and its first five or so minutes marked a series-saving shift in tone.

Dec. 21 2014 1:11 PM

Mike Myers Returns as Dr. Evil to Mock North Korea and the Sony Hacks

SNL’s last episode of 2014, hosted by Amy Adams, yielded plenty of comic delights, but perhaps its best moment was the very first sketch.

In the episode’s cold open, Mike Myers reprised his beloved Dr. Evil character, the finger-gnawing, kitten-petting villain from the Austin Powers movies. The occasion? North Korea’s alleged hack of Sony, which is giving “evil organizations a bad name.” Myers also works in some funny self-deprecation, noting that if North Korea really wants “to put a bomb in a theater, do what I did—put in The Love Guru.”

Dec. 21 2014 12:42 PM

Watch SNL’s Brilliant, Christmas-Themed Parody of Serial

Serial, the historically popular true crime podcast, ended its first season earlier this week. Now we have the inevitable SNL parody, in which Cecily Strong impeccably plays host Sarah Koenig.

The parody investigates the story of Kris Kringle, an elf who allegedly leaves presents in peoples’ homes, and we get smart riffs on all of Serial’s signature traits: Sarah Koenig’s “introspective, chatty, sometimes brazenly naïve” manner; Adnan’s endearing, constantly equivocating phone calls; and, most importantly, Nick Thorburn’s catchy soundtrack.

Dec. 20 2014 6:45 PM

Craig Ferguson Left the Late Late Show With a Quirky, Deeply Referential Farewell Video

Craig Ferguson left the Late Late Show on Friday, marking the end of a 10-year tenure. Ferguson was late night’s best host, and one who routinely inched the genre toward improvised and experimental territory, so it’s only proper that he bid farewell with a bizarre video that eschewed nostalgia and instead referenced the endings of several other TV shows.

Dec. 20 2014 5:47 PM

Nicki Minaj Dropped a Three-Act, Unusually Candid Short Film for The Pinkprint

The Pinkprint, Nicki Minaj’s much-delayed new album, was finally released earlier this week. It was worth the wait: track by track, the record is a stellar, “unexpectedly moody” triumph, with Minaj threading her usual bluster with moving strands of confessional storytelling. In keeping with this newfound candor, she’s released a short film that uses four Pinkprint songs—“All Things Go,” “The Crying Game,” “I Lied,” and “Grand Piano”—to render some of the record’s main themes.

Dec. 20 2014 1:00 PM

Madonna Releases Six Songs From New, Leaked Album Rebel Heart

Earlier this week, 13 demos, all supposedly for Madonna’s forthcoming album, found their way online. The new record had yet to be given a title or release date, spurring the singer to denounce the leaks as “a form of terrorism” and “artistic rape.” She’s now taken matters into her own hands, revealing the album’s title—Rebel Heart—and releasing for download six brand-new, completed songs as an “early Christmas gift” to fans.

Dec. 19 2014 5:10 PM

Watch an Annotated Version of Colbert’s Farewell Song and See Who All Those People Were

 

Thursday night’s finale of The Colbert Report practically begged for it, so here it is: the definitive video annotation of everyone who appeared during the final sing-along to “We’ll Meet Again.”

 

Well, almost everyone.

Dec. 19 2014 4:08 PM

Watch These Chefs Make the World’s Most Beautiful, Complex Gingerbread House

Modernist Cuisine, a collective of chefs, scientists, and writers led by Nathan Myhrvold, is best known for its six-volume, $500 encyclopedia of innovative cooking techniques. Even if you haven’t dropped half a grand on the books, you might have seen some of Myhrvold’s stunning food photography, which prove that food can be a medium for visual art as much as culinary art. Incidentally, an exhibit of fifty Modernist Cuisine photographs is currently on museum tour.

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