Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Feb. 5 2016 3:32 PM

Halsey Covered “Love Yourself,” Swapped “Love” for the Word Bieber Actually Meant

Don't be deceived by the seemingly sweet and affirming title of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself”: the "love" has a very clear, not-so-sweet double entendre. Now Halsey, the artist who lent her vocal talents on another Purpose track, “The Feeling,” has covered the song, with a few virtuosic flourishes. Most notably, her chorus is a little more direct: She went with “Fuck yourself.”

The cover has a gentle, smoky timbre, which makes the lyric change stand out even more. Halsey's lyrics generally tend to be graphic and direct. (Sample: Her song “Strange Love” begins with a very blunt reference to sex on the bathroom sink.) And for those of us who have always thought “love yourself” sounds like a lame radio edit of what Bieber probably meant to say, this amendment was long overdue.

Feb. 5 2016 1:03 PM

In Netflix-iest Move Possible, Netflix Renews Orange Is the New Black for a Whopping Three More Seasons

Aside from Nate Parker’s enthusiastically received Nat Turner biopic The Birth of a Nation, the narrative dominating last month’s Sundance Film Festival was that of theoverzealous buying sprees of Netflix and Amazon. Each of them acquired six films—the most out of any other studio—further emphasizing their disruption of the old way of doing things in Hollywood. Just as Netflix pioneered the era of the “full-season dump,” so have Netflix and Amazon called into question the film industry’s business model for theatrical releases with recent films like Beasts of No Nation and Chi-Raq.

So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Netflix has done something practically unheard of: It’s renewed Orange Is the New Black for three more seasons, bringing the hit show’s current tally up to seven seasons. It’s very rare for a scripted show to receive such a long-term commitment in one fell swoop; Variety has deemed it “the longest commitment for any TV series in recent memory.”

For OITNB fans, the renewal probably feels at once exhilarating and daunting—plenty of room to explore some new creative directions, but also plenty of time to go off the rails with such a large episode order. For her part, at least, creator Jenji Kohan, is ready to accept the challenge, per the press release.

Feb. 5 2016 11:58 AM

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Is Actually a Great Jane Austen Adaptation—Except for One Crazy Twist

This post contains spoilers for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the new film directed by Burr Steers, is adapted from the 2009 novelty novel in which author Seth Grahame-Smith injected scenes of battle with the undead into passages lifted wholesale from Jane Austen’s novel. Such a fantastical take on the literary classic is as outrageous as it sounds: It’s a film that reimagines the Bennet sisters as accomplished zombie-fighting warriors and invents a geopolitical backstory about how the plague of zombie-ism came to afflict Regency-era England. Yet like Grahame-Smith’s clever revamping, the movie is remarkably faithful to Austen’s text. With the obvious exception of the scenes where Elizabeth (Lily James), Jane (Bella Heathcote), and Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) are beheading undead bodies—of which there are plenty—Steers mostly hews closely to the 1813 novel of manners.

Steers, who also wrote the screenplay, takes many lines directly from Austen. Bingley and Darcy’s first exchange—in which Darcy dismisses Elizabeth as “tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me”—comes almost verbatim from the book, as do many other pivotal scenes, including Elizabeth’s rejection of Mr. Collins (the crowd-pleasing Matt Smith) and Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth (which involves some hand-to-hand combat in the film). Although Steers omits many minor characters and combines secondary scenes to make time for zombie fights, he takes great pains to paint the major characters accurately in the limited time he has: Elizabeth is recognizably headstrong, Darcy standoffish, Jane trusting, Bingley suggestible, Collins oblivious, Charlotte pragmatic, and Mrs. Bennet frivolous.

And most of the instances in which the script does alter Austen’s text are smart, subtle, and faithful to the spirit of the novel. 

Feb. 5 2016 11:25 AM

The Return of the Repressed: We Discuss the Latest Episodes of Serial

This week, Gabe and Katy are once again joined by Afghanistan veteran Adrian Bonenberger to discuss counterinsurgency, the realities of military life, and what we learned in Episode 6, “5 O’Clock Shadow,” about Bowe Bergdahl’s experiences in Paktika Province. Plus: the surprising return of Adnan Syed and Asia McClain, in the first of a series of mini-episodes updating us on Syed’s hearing in Baltimore this week.

Adrian Bonenberger is the author of Afghan Post. You can find more of his work at Wrath-Bearing Tree.

As always with Slate’s Spoiler Specials, this is meant to be heard after you’ve caught up with the work under discussion. We’ll be discussing new episodes of Serial each week, and we hope you’ll join us. After you’ve listened, let us know what you think about this season of Serial by emailing serialspoilerspecial@gmail.com

You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and find previous episodes in our archive. You’ll also find them—along with additional writing and commentary about the show—at www.slate.com/serial.

Feb. 5 2016 11:10 AM

Samantha Bee and Colbert Brainstormed Some Very Creative Euphemisms for Female Anatomy

Samantha Bee appeared on Colbert's Late Show Thursday to promote her upcoming late-night show Full Frontal, which, as Colbert noted, will make her the only woman hosting a late-night show. On the subject of how male and female late-night hosts differ, Bee offered an observation about The Late Show: “You do reference your own man parts with pretty astonishing frequency.”

Obviously, there’s nothing stopping Bee from doing the same on her own show, but Colbert pointed out that she, like him, will need to brainstorm some euphemisms to avoid censorship. From there they launched into a list that attempts to pinpoint the perfect female equivalent to “huevos rancheros.” “Department of the Interior” and “The Chamber of Secrets” seem like the front-runners so far.

Feb. 5 2016 8:33 AM

The Story Behind Larry David Playing Bernie Sanders on Saturday Night Live

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

As Bernie Sanders’s profile grew over the past couple years, so, too, did the number of people saying he reminded them of Larry David. It makes sense, considering the hair, the glasses, the volume, and the, well, Jewishness. That’s why, when David first appeared as Sanders onSaturday Night Liveduring the Tracy Morgan–hosted October 17 episode, the response was rapturous. Everyone agreed David was perfect, if not pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Last week, after talking about the recent “Screen Guild Awards” sketchSNL co–head writer Rob Klein answered a few questions about how Larry as Bernie came to be, and what it was like in the room where it happened.

Larry David playing Bernie Sanders seems so obvious that it almost feels destined. How did it actually come together?
We knew Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider were going to write the debate sketch. They write the Hillary pieces, which they do so well, and while we were watching the real debate, Sarah said, “Larry David should really play Bernie Sanders.”

At the same time, Lorne was at dinner with Tracy [Morgan], who was hosting that week. While the debate was happening, someone at dinner said to Lorne, “Hey, you should really get Larry David to play Bernie Sanders. It’s like the same guy.” 

Then Lorne came back from dinner and got a phone call from Larry’s agent saying that Larry David wanted to play Bernie Sanders.

Wow.
It was a case of massive parallel thinking, including the thinking of Larry David himself. 

That’s crazy.
I was really surprised. It was awesome. We were all there in a late-night meeting, and within, like, ten minutes, it went from “Oh, that would be so funny if it were Larry David” to “Larry David is on the phone with Lorne making a hotel reservation.” It was pretty great.

Feb. 5 2016 8:02 AM

Outsiders Could Have Been the Next Great Prestige Drama. Here’s Why It’s Not.

What’s a TV critic’s worst nightmare? A hard-drive failure deleting the cache of old shows lovingly preserved on her DVR? The thought that IMDB might go out of business just as her last brain cell capable of remembering what the hell that actor was in flickers and dies? Mine is the cognitive dissonance that emerges from being repulsed by some parts of a show and absolutely enchanted by others; being left cold by what’s on screen but excited by its potential.

That’s how I feel about Outsiders, the new WGN America series that debuted last Tuesday. It’s set in Blackburg, an Appalachian community that’s divided between the regular citizens, who live and work—or mostly don’t, in the current economy—in town, and the Farrell clan, who’ve maintained a separate existence atop the local mountain for 200 years. The Farrells are hard-core isolationists: They don’t register births, deaths, and marriages; go to school; or have any use for money. They follow customs brought from the old country—an unspecified, vaguely Celtic, European land—and obey the directives of the bren’in, their leader.

Feb. 4 2016 4:15 PM

Watch Channing Tatum Seduce a Random Woman With His Dance Moves (and Candy)

It's a modern fairy tale: Jennifer was just walking home, minding her own business, when suddenly she got whisked onto a TV set and romanced by Channing Tatum. On Jimmy Kimmel Live, Tatum whispered sweet nothings in Jennifer's ear (e.g., “Sup, babe?”) and fed her Valentine’s Day candy.

Oh, and then he danced for her for a second, leaving Jennifer breathless and probably kind of stressed. Props to Guillermo, who was responsible for selecting the random woman on the street; in choosing Jennifer—who burst into girlish, bewildered giggles but was still pretty cool about everything, considering—he found the perfect stand-in for us all.

Feb. 4 2016 1:51 PM

Here’s What We Know So Far About Samantha Bee’s New Show

We’re T-minus four days from the debut of the much-anticipated Full Frontal With Samantha Bee. But while much of the pre-show buzz has reasonably centered upon the Bee’s gender—she’ll be the only female host currently on late night, and the first woman ever to helm a late-night satire program—Full Frontal promises to stand out for reasons other than how Bee isn’t a man. Yesterday, TBS dropped a new teaser for the show. One thing we can definitely anticipate: some of the more graphic Donald Trump jokes to date, delivered with Bee’s razor-sharp blend of cheerful incredulity and simmering rage.

Based on what we know so far, Full Frontal also plans to make some tweaks to the standard late-night formula. For one thing, there won’t be a desk. “As a viewer, I am sort of sick of seeing someone sit behind a desk,” Bee told the Guardian. “I actually like using my body a little bit more. I find if I’m really stationary, sometimes all the comedy goes into my face and then it’s a really weird performance of me just pulling crazy faces.” Splitsider’s pictures of the set confirm that the space is indeed starkly deskless, instead featuring a large empty space and a wall of enormous TV screens.

Rather than focusing on interviews with guests—the show won’t have any (and where would they sit?)—Bee will anchor Full Frontal around field segments. Surreal field segments were the bread and butter of Bee’s days at The Daily Show, and the weekly (rather than daily) schedule will allow her to spend more time outside the studio. So far, we can anticipate a piece filmed on location in Jordan about the experiences of Syrian refugees, and a segment investigating how the VA is preparing (or not) for the needs of female combat veterans.

In general, new late night shows take a while—often a long while—to hit their stride, so whatever premieres on Feb. 8 will necessarily be a work in progress. But if the trailers are any indication, Bee’s already well-honed comedic voice is coming through loud and clear, and Full Frontal looks like it’s going to be a lot more than an overdue addition to the late-night landscape.

Besides, Bee already corrected that back in September:

Feb. 4 2016 12:24 PM

Sarah Koenig Will Dive Back Into Adnan’s Case, Start Releasing Updates to Serial Season 1

This week, Sarah Koenig and the producers of Serial surprised listeners with a mini-episode that seems designed to reengage anyone who fell off the Serial bandwagon when Koenig began reporting on Bowe Bergdahl for Season 2. “This week, I’m going to do something I haven’t done before, which is duck back into Adnan Syed’s case for a few days to report on a court proceeding that’s happening in Baltimore,” says Koenig at the beginning of the 15-minute episode. The Baltimore City Circuit Court, she explains, is finally considering Syed’s petition for postconviction relief, which he initially filed in 2010. Syed’s attorneys are arguing that Syed’s defense attorney in his 2000 murder trial, Cristina Gutierrez, was incompetent, and that his conviction in the death of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, should be overturned.

Koenig recaps the first day of the hearing, which was yesterday, from her hotel closet. The hearing included evidence that Gutierrez’s lawyerly “powers were definitely waning” at the time she defended Syed, and testimony from Asia McClain, a potential alibi whom Gutierrez for some reason declined to interview. Nothing shocking happened during the hearing, but the mini-episode made my heart thump anyway—especially the intro, which featured the old theme music and choice soundbites from Koenig’s conversations with Syed. Serial will continue to release updates from the Syed hearing “not week by week, but day by day,” so stay tuned for more information tomorrow.

Serial also released a new episode about the Bergdahl case today. I haven’t listened to it yet.

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