Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

July 28 2016 10:28 AM

John Oliver Offered Some of His Own Dad Jokes in Honor of America’s Step Dad Tim Kaine

Tim Kaine charmed the internet on Wednesday night by giving a very dad-like speech at the Democratic National Convention, complete with terrible impressions and cheesy jokes. Now, “America’s step dad” can count John Oliver among his fans: On The Late Show, Oliver told Stephen Colbert that Kaine is just what the doctor ordered after a difficult campaign season, calling the VP candidate “a tall glass of Lactaid” and admiring his break-into-a-harmonica-solo-at-any-moment demeanor, along with all the "jokes and impressions that came out of that man's soft face."

The two former Daily Show correspondents also chatted about RNC, Oliver’s Instagram feud with a Chechen warlord who lost his cat, and his shout-out in the new Gilmore Girls trailer. (Yes, Lorelai, John Oliver does think you’re hot.)

July 28 2016 8:02 AM

Deep Down, BoJack Horseman Is a Hopeful Show

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Very sad and serious things happen on BoJack Horseman. The third season alone, which recently dropped another motherlode of Hollywood satire and unrelenting bleakness onto Netflix, features story lines involving tragic drug overdoses, abortion, pop songs about abortion, alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, and potentially terminal cancer diagnoses. Everyone on this show is miserable, self-involved, and either in the middle of an existential crisis or merely taking a brief break before the next round of soul-crushing “Why am I here and what’s the meaning of life?” questions start again.

July 28 2016 7:32 AM

The New MadTV Is Not Nearly As Offensive as the Original. Or as Interesting.

Like practically every cultural property made within the last 25 years or so, MadTV has risen from the dead: On Tuesday night, the long-running sketch comedy show returned to kick off a limited 8-episode primetime run, nearly a decade after it first went off the air. A new crop of relative comic unknowns are leading the pack, with original cast members, including Nicole Sullivan and Will Sasso, returning to make cameos as their signature characters. Instead of airing on its original network, Fox, its revival is on the CW.

Aside from giving birth to the far superior Key & Peele (Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key both started as MadTV cast members), the show is probably best remembered as a scrappy, less sophisticated cousin of SNL. Like its predecessor In Living Color, which ran from 1990 to 1994, MadTV specialized in boisterously broad and scathing humor, trafficking unabashedly in racial, gendered, and sexual stereotypes. This identity didn’t make it a critics’ darling, but it was popular with audiences for some time. (Yes, the show was nominated for 35 Emmys, but almost all of them were for technical awards, like hair and makeup.) In 2016, many—most?—of these caricatures don’t hold up well, if they ever did to begin with. And so the biggest question surrounding this resurrection—besides “Why?” and “Wait, did this show really stay on the air for 14 seasons?”—was this: Will the new MadTV adjust to the current cultural climate and be a little less … politically incorrect in its new incarnation?

July 28 2016 12:06 AM

Netflix Flack: Black Mirror Back!

Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker’s anthology series about the unintended consequences of technology, will return with a new six-episode season, Netflix announced Wednesday. As with earlier seasons, each episode will stand alone and feature its own cast, including Bryce Dallas Howard, Jerome Flynn, and Mackenzie Davis. Directors will include Atonement’s Joe Wright and 10 Cloverfield Lane’s Dan Trachtenberg. All six episodes will be released at 12:01 A.M. Pacific time on October 21. Here’s the full episode list:

  • “San Junipero,” directed by Owen Harris, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis.
  • “Shut Up And Dance,” directed by James Watkins, starring Jerome Flynn and Alex Lawther.
  • “Nosedive,” directed by Joe Wright, starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Alice Eve, and James Norton.
  • “Men Against Fire,” directed by Jakob Verbruggen, starring Michael Kelly, Malachi Kirby and Madeline Brewer.
  • “Hated in the Nation,” directed by James Hawes, starring Kelly MacDonald.
  • “Playtest,” directed by Dan Trachtenberg, starring Wyatt Russell and Hannah John-Kamen.

It’s unclear yet what the individual episodes will be about, but we can only hope Brooker, who wrote them all, has finally tackled Mallory Ortberg’s famous Black Mirror pitch: “what if phones, but too much.”

July 27 2016 9:35 PM

PSA, Y’all: “Y’all” is Second Person Plural

Headlander, the newest game from Double Fine and Adult Swim Games, is a charming mix of ’70s sci-fi themes, Metroid-style gameplay, and the kind of weirdness that has always characterized games from both companies. It also has a character named Earl who completely kills any suspension of disbelief in the very first seconds of the game, which you can watch above. Here’s his dialogue:

And I’m through. Y’all should be hearing my on your helmet radio now. I know y’all got a lot of questions, but there ain’t no point in trying to talk, because you ain’t got no lungs. Y’all just come out of stasis, so you don’t likely remember much. This is gonna be a hard pill to swallow, but—hells bells! Shepherds again! Y’all gonna need yourself a body.  Welcome to the future! Ain’t much sure why, but Methuselah wants a hold of you. We gotta get y’all off this ship.

For a large proportion of Headlander’s audience—and Double Fine’s entire staff, apparently—there’s nothing about that dialogue that sounds wrong. But for anyone who’s spent any time in the South, it’s nails on a blackboard. In five out of ten sentences, Earl uses “y’all” to address a single person. Not even a person, actually, but a severed head, making it even less likely Earl is somehow referring to the main character and her family or some other implied collective group: she’s literally just a head. This is more wrong than waking up as a lungless head in a space helmet, more terrifying than rogue artificial intelligences or killer robots or any futuristic horrors Double Fine could ever dream up. Maybe it’s part of the game—maybe Earl is a bad simulation of a Southerner. Or maybe the simplest rule in southern dialect has somehow been botched once again. I’ll never know, because I couldn’t get past the beginning out of fear of how Earl might mangle the language next.

In fairness to video game writers, it’s not always a hard-and-fast rule. Arika Okrent took a look at the issue for Slate back in 2014, and concluded that the singular “y’all” was occasionally used, in a few special situations: particularly when Southerners exaggerated their speech to get better customer service from Northerners. (I’ve never heard that, but I’ve heard the possessive use, as in her example of “How’re y’all’s grits?”) But even in those rare cases, no one uses “y’all” exclusively instead of “you,” the way Earl does, even in the far distant future. And the one thing everyone agrees on is that Southerners, who actually use the word, are the ones who are most likely to insist it’s plural only. So if your character’s from the South, odds are he or she is not going to use it as a singular. (If your character’s a Northerner who is misusing the word out of ignorance or spite, you’re probably doing something too complicated for a video game.) So a good rule of thumb for non-Southerners: just use it as the plural. They still teach Latin at Andover or wherever, right? Or Spanish, at least? Would you use vosotros or ustedes or voi or whatever second person plural you’re familiar with? Use “y’all.” Otherwise, just play it safe and stick to “you.” If foreign languages make you uneasy, memorize this handy mnemonic:

If you’re speaking to one person,
Using “y’all” will make things worsen.
But if “all of you” would work,
Then it’s time for “y’all,” you jerk!

Don’t get fancy and don’t showboat. You’re probably already naming a character “Earl” or something, so you’re on thin ice to begin with. So let me address all of you, as in more than one of you, as in plural: Y’all have made sure that anyone who’s ever had the slightest hint of a southern accent is an expert in what it’s like to have people think you’re dumb because of the way you talk, so trust us on this one: Y’all have gotta stop screwing this up, ’cause it’s making y’all sound stupid.

July 27 2016 3:52 PM

The Gilmore Girls Revival Trailer Proves Some Things Never Change in Stars Hollow (and Sets a Release Date)


Oy with the poodles, already! It’s a good day to be a Gilmore Girls fan. The hotly anticipated four-part Netflix revival of the show, called A Year in the Life, has finally set a premiere date: Nov. 25. (That’s plenty of time to binge-watch all seven existing seasons, so get going.)


The announcement came with a trailer that highlights the revival’s seasonal theme, with each part focusing on a different time of year—spring, summer, fall, and winter—in Stars Hollow. But the real takeaway of the trailer is a scene with the show’s mother-daughter team, played by Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. A lot has changed in the almost 10 years since the original Gilmore Girls went off the air, but some things never do, the trailer assures us, and sure enough, Lorelai and Rory, sitting at the kitchen table, eating Pop Tarts, and talking a mile a minute, seem much the same as they did when we last left them.

July 27 2016 2:53 PM

The Pokémon Go Honest Trailer Proves the Game Is Way More Horrifying Than You Think

It was only a matter of time before Pokémon Go got the Honest Trailer treatment, and Smosh Games came through. This breakdown for the app that changed everything points out that the game is not quite as exciting as the hype would have you believe—it’s really just a combination of “mild cardio, Google Maps, and Paper Toss.

July 27 2016 1:17 PM

M. Night Shyamalan Is Back with Split, Another Creepy, Cryptic Psychological Thriller

Twist aficionado M. Night Shyamalan smartly scaled back with last year’s The Visit, a found-footage horror film that earned reviews far more positive than anything the director had produced in the decade preceding it. Now, he’s looking to build on that relative success with Split, a psychological thriller that appears very much in the spirit of what has rendered Shyamalan so distinct—and so divisive—over his entire, bumpy career.

July 27 2016 11:35 AM

Oprah Winfey Will Star in Ava DuVernay’s Upcoming Adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time

Oprah Winfrey is reportedly in final negotiations to star in Ava DuVernay’s upcoming film A Wrinkle in Time, the latest teaming in what’s emerged as one of Hollywood’s more dynamic creative partnerships.

Based on Madeleine L’Engle’s 1963 novel, A Wrinkle in Time centers on Margaret “Meg” Murry, a 13 year-old daughter of a government scientist who disappears under mysterious circumstances. As with the book, the film will contend with such themes as conformity, loss, and truth, as seen and confronted through the eyes of a curious young woman who takes part in a mystical search for her missing father.

July 27 2016 11:27 AM

Radiohead’s First Performance of “Let Down” in 10 Years Was Anything But

One of the strangest parts of seeing Radiohead live is how ecstatic fans get over songs about disappointment, despair, and hopelessness. Lead singer Thom Yorke will sing a lyric such as “There is no way out/ You can scream and you can shout/ It is too late now,” and the audience’s response is, without fail, “Woo!” Admittedly, at last night’s concert, I didn’t know a better way to react.

So it was that on Tuesday night a band kicked off their first, five-song encore at a sold-out Madison Square Garden by playing a song called “Let Down”—and people lost their minds. The group has been switching up their set list throughout the Moon Shaped Pool tour, frequently bringing in live rarities like “Creep,” but as Stereogum points out, this was their first performance of the OK Computer track (and serious contender for their prettiest song) since before 2007’s In Rainbows. In fact, they haven’t played it regularly since the ’90s.