From the nostalgic to the super-modern, with a dash of global travel thrown it for good measure, this week’s On the Beat doesn’t stay in one place for long — a bit like the Doctor’s TARDIS.
1. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU ENJOY BRITISH COMEDY THAT’S NOT TOO PRIM AND PROPER
It’s difficult not to compare this new British comedy series to cult favorite The Inbetweeners. White Gold doesn’t just share a creator, Damon Beesley, with the salty high school sitcom; it also stars Inbetweeners actors Joe Thomas and James Buckley. Thankfully, it has plenty of distinguishing features, too: the plot follows an ambitious posse of ’80s window salesmen, and former Gossip Girl actor Ed Westwick is perfectly cast as a smarmy self-starter with a potty mouth. Debuting Friday on Netflix, White Gold is a rude, crude, retro treat.
2. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU RELISH A BATTLE OF WITS
British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have already explored Northern England and Italy together for (very) talkative travelogs; now they’re sampling the paella and sunshine of Spain. If you haven’t seen their previous The Trip movies, which you can view over at Amazon, you will still be able to appreciate this one plenty. Playing exaggerated versions of themselves, the pair bicker, trade celebrity impersonations, and generally try to outdo each other every step of the way. Opening in select theaters Friday, The Trip to Spain is probably their funniest expedition-cum-banter contest yet.
3. WHAT TO LISTEN TO, PREFERABLY BY CANDLELIGHT
Since she emerged in 2009, Jessie Ware has earned a reputation for making grown-up pop music with a soulful heart. This new single, a teaser for an album coming in the fall, is a typically rich and romantic offering which shows off the Londoner’s yearning vocals. But it also points to a new, slightly more direct approach — Ware says it’s “the song I’ve always wanted to be able to sing, but perhaps didn’t have the confidence until now.” And this confidence really suits her.
4. WHOSE POWERFUL VOICE TO ADD TO YOUR INSTAGRAM FEED
Britain’s Adwoa Aboah is one of 2017’s most in-demand models: she’s fronted campaigns by Gap and Versace, and recently graced the cover of Vogue magazine. But this inspiring 25-year-old is also rapidly establishing herself as a role model; having spoken candidly about her battles with depression, Aboah founded Gurls Talk, an online community where young women can discuss issues surrounding health, sexuality, and social media. Her voice is increasingly relevant, and Instagram offers a regular insight into how she’s expressing it.
5. WHAT TO TRY WHEN YOU FANCY A SOMEWHAT CALMER DRAMA
A huge hit in the U.K. — where it regularly attracts eight million viewers — this detective drama has also built a loyal U.S following on streaming service Acorn TV. Two-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn stars as DCI Vera Stanhope, a scruffy looking but sharp-witted English detective who’s more compassionate than she initially seems. Season seven launches Monday and features another four feature-length episodes. Vera may be less grand and gritty than many of today’s crime shows, but that’s part of its charm, and Blethyn’s performance remains a multi-faceted delight.
6. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU’RE STILL A LITTLE SUSPICIOUS OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Parks and Recreation fans know Aubrey Plaza can mine comedy gold with a single nonchalant facial expression. But some of her film appearances haven’t capitalized on her talents. Thankfully, this comedy-drama opening in theaters Friday gives her a fully-realized role to tackle. Plaza plays the title character, an unstable young woman who moves from Pennsylvania to L.A. so she can befriend a glamorous Instagram “influencer” (Elizabeth Olsen) with a seemingly perfect life. Some of the plot developments could prove polarizing, but this film definitely makes some sharp points about the way we allow social media to shape our actions.
7. WHAT TO STREAM IF YOU CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF CARPOOL KARAOKE
The Late Late Show‘s Carpool Karaoke bit is a genuine pop culture phenomenon: the one featuring Adele has now racked up 164m YouTube views. Although James Corden will only appear in a few of the spinoff’s 16 episodes — most will be devoted to celebrity team-ups like Shakira and Trevor Noah, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Miley, Billy Ray and the entire Cyrus family — we’re excited to see how Carpool Karaoke will fare as its own show. Beginning this week, a new episode will be added every Tuesday to the Apple Music streaming service. If you’re not a subscriber, expect to be tempted by GIFs and clips popping up all over your social feeds.
8. WHAT TO PLAY AT THE END OF A LONG, STRESSFUL DAY
In September, Tori Amos will release Native Invader, an album she hopes people will draw “strength and resilience” from in the face of personal and political conflicts. This lead single certainly sounds soothing. Driven by chiming guitars instead of her usual strident piano sounds, it’s a balmy ballad with an empowering message: “Riding out this storm, We’ll be riding out this storm,” Amos sings on the chorus. Put it on and let the healing begin.
9. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU HAVE A FEW SPARE HOURS OVER THE WEEKEND
Netflix’s latest original series is a coming-of-age story with a difference: our 18-year-old hero, Sam, is on the autism spectrum. Former United States of Tara actor Keir Gilchrist plays him with compelling sensitivity, adding depth to a show that’s already droll and endearing. The excellent Jennifer Jason Leigh co-stars as Sam’s mom, who’s understandably anxious about her son’s first forays into dating. All eight 30-minute episodes premiere Friday, making Atypical a very manageable weekend binge-watch.
10. AND FINALLY, WHICH RETRO POP STAR TO CHECK OUT ON INSTAGRAM
Last year, former Go-Go’s singer Belinda Carlisle enjoyed a surprise revival when her song “Heaven is a Place on Earth” was used beautifully in an episode of Black Mirror. She’s now preparing to release her first album in a decade, Wilder Shores, which is due in September. It’s a fine time to look at her Instagram, which offers a charmingly idiosyncratic mix of ’80s pop nostalgia and global travel inspo. With recent posts showcasing Bangkok, Prague, and London, it’s safe to presume Mrs. Mason — that’s her married name, FYI — is really racking up those air miles.
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