Whether you’re feeling serious or a little bit silly right now, this week’s pop culture essentials have you covered. In fact, we’ve included everything from a self-help manual to a Snapchat.
1. WHAT TO SIT DOWN AND WATCH WITH A DONUT (BECAUSE IT’LL MAKE YOU WANT ONE)
CBS has high hopes for this new sitcom based on a Tracy Letts stage play. It premieres Thursday (February 2) night, right after ratings juggernaut The Big Bang Theory. Judd Hirsch stars as an old-fashioned Chicago donut store owner who’s dragged into the 21st century by an enthusiastic new employee played by rising star Jemaine Fowler. Superior Donuts won’t be 2017’s hippest new comedy, but an experienced supporting cast led by Katey Sagal should help sell it.
2. WHAT TO SIT DOWN AND WATCH WITH A VEGETARIAN SNACK
Launching Friday (February 3), Netflix’s latest original series is more enticing than its somewhat dry title suggests. Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant play California realtors whose lives are turned upside down when she undergoes an unexpected transformation, namely, turning into a flesh-eating zombie. The trailer makes clear that Santa Clarita Diet is aiming for comedy-horror, a tricky tonal balance that even Ryan Murphy‘s Scream Queens sometimes struggles with. But if anyone can make a cannibal into a relatable character, it’s got to be Drew Barrymore.
3. WHAT TO LISTEN TO NEXT TIME YOU’RE ON A BORING JOURNEY
This all-female trio from L.A. makes sparkling guitar-pop with soaring choruses and vivid lyrics that run the gamut of emotions. “I Know a Place” is a life-affirming celebration of LGBT safe spaces, while “Crying on the Bathroom Floor” is a heartbreaking insight into a dysfunctional relationship. Dropping this Friday, their debut album isn’t just serious ear candy; it’s also a proper, layered pop album with heart, soul and guts.
4. WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU’RE FEELING A LITTLE MORE CONTEMPLATIVE
When he died in 1987, revered writer James Baldwin was working on Remember this House, an exploration of race relations in America told through through his own encounters with civil rights leaders including Malcolm X. This exceptional documentary from Haitian director Raoul Peck brings Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript to life. As narrator Samuel L. Jackson recites Baldwin’s words beautifully, Peck illuminates his insights using archive footage spanning the decades. Opening in select theaters Friday, I Am Not Your Negro is one of the year’s most compelling and intelligent films.
5. WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR WORKOUT PLAYLIST
U.K. duo Goldfrapp have been difficult to pin down since they emerged in 2000. Though their best-known songs are the electro-pop stompers “Ooh La La” and duo “Strict Machine,” they’ve also impressed with folkier offerings and lush, cinematic music. “Anymore,” their first new track in four years, finds Goldfrapp at their most direct and hypnotic. “Give me your love, make me a freak,” singer Alison Goldfrapp purrs over crisp beats and whirring synths. It’s a fine and feisty comeback from an underrated act.
6. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU DON’T TAKE COMIC BOOK SHOWS TOO SERIOUSLY
Fans of the DC Universe have been spoiled in recent years with hit TV shows including Arrow and The Flash. But Powerless, which premieres Thursday on NBC, is the comic book giant’s first ever sitcom. Vanessa Hudgens stars as a superhero safety-product developer at Wayne Security, a company fronted by Bruce Wayne’s rather less cool cousin, Van Wayne (played by the always amusing Alan Tudyk). Preview clips suggest the writers will have fun mining humor from this increasingly clichéd genre, so Powerless is definitely worth a try.
7. WHO TO FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM AS SHE SINKS HER TEETH INTO A MEATY NEW ROLE
The actress/activist gets pretty political on Twitter, but her Instagram is generally more lighthearted. Lately she’s been teasing her upcoming TV series, Feud, in which she and Jessica Lange play screen legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford squabbling on the set of 1961’s camp classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. It’s becoming one of spring’s buzziest shows, so now is a fine time to catch up with this super-classy actress.
8. WHAT TO READ IF YOU WANT A MORE MODERN KIND OF MOTIVATIONAL GUIDE
You can tell from this book’s title that Scream Queens actress Keke Palmer means business. Billed as an “inspiring guide that encourages young women to live a life full of ownership, confidence, and freedom,” this isn’t a typical self-help book, but a kind of ‘patchwork quilt’ of inspiration featuring quotes, texts, song lyrics and amusing memes. It won’t be for everyone, but there’s something refreshing about Palmer’s willingness to quote Diddy one minute, then Martin Luther King, Jr. the next.
9. WHAT TO WATCH ON VIMEO… YES, VIMEO!
Though Vimeo is often thought of as a fancy alternative to YouTube, it’s recently started investing in original programming too. This anthology series from highly-rated alternative comics Kate Berlant and John Early promises to take a surreal and scathing look at Hollywood ambition over five standalone episodes. Debuting tomorrow (January 31), it’s an ambitious and quirky-looking show which has all the makings of a cult hit.
10. AND FINALLY, WHO TO FOLLOW ON SNAPCHAT BECAUSE, WELL, SHE’S BRITNEY SPEARS
Because the pop icon’s social media accounts used to be dull and eternally on-brand, most fans assumed they were run by her record label. But a couple of years ago, Spears seemed to take control of her Instagram and Twitter, and now uses them to showcase her personality. Last week she finally joined Snapchat too and so far she’s being adorably daffy. Would it surprise you to learn that Britney likes an animal filter? Because she really, really does.
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