So, is it summer yet? Not until June 21, officially speaking, but don’t let this kill your vibe. It’s time to kick back with a cold brew, iced tea or lemonade, and soak up this week’s On the Beat.
1. WHAT TO WATCH FOR SOME HEALTHY POLITICAL ESCAPISM
Launching Tuesday, season five of Netflix’s hit political drama pivots on an intriguing premise: what if a married couple ran together as President and VP? Longtime fans will already know that Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) can scheme just as successfully as husband Frank (Kevin Spacey), so expect a generous helping of deceit and double-dealing across these 13 episodes. And as ever with House of Cards, remember to trust no one: Neve Campbell‘s role as the conniving political advisor Leann Harvey is definitely someone to keep a very close eye on.
2. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU’RE INTRIGUED BY THE HISTORY OF STAND-UP COMEDY
Premiering Sunday, Showtime’s latest original series seeks to recreate the ’70s golden age of L.A. stand-up. It’s a great setting for a spiky comedy-drama and this show has no excuse not to be evocative: it’s based on a bestselling book by L.A. Times writer William Knoedelseder, and counts Jim Carrey (who was a scene regular) among its exec producers. Factor in a capable cast led by Oscar winner Melissa Leo and this looks like a tart and tasty TV treat.
3. WHAT TO LISTEN TO IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THE NEXT SELENA OR MILEY
Raised in London by parents who’d emigrated from Kosovo, this husky-voiced 21-year-old is British pop’s brightest new star. Dropping Friday, her debut album offers a slick and infectious mix of contemporary dance-pop (“Hotter than Hell,” “Be the One”), classic balladry (“Thinking of You,” “Homesick”) and super-cute R&B (the U.S. hit single “Blow Your Mind (Mwah).” Dua Lipa is a pop star with world-class potential and this album gets her career off to a darn fine start.
4. WHAT TO WATCH FOR A BIG-BUDGET BLAST OF GLOSSY GIRL POWER
Even if you’re tiring of comic book adaptations, this one’s worth rooting for. After being stuck in development hell for nearly two decades, Wonder Woman finally flies into theaters this Friday with the talented Gal Gadot (The Fast and the Furious) in the title role. Superhero movies built around a female lead are few and far between, and this one also boasts a female director (Monster‘s Patty Jenkins), itself a rarity for a Hollywood blockbuster. Let’s hope it’s better than 2015’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the costly clunker in which Gadot’s Wonder Woman debuted.
5. WHAT TO LISTEN TO ON BRIGHT AND BREEZY JUNE MORNINGS
With 2015’s excellent Revival album, Selena Gomez shook off her Disney Channel shackles for good and established herself as a genuinely credible contemporary pop singer. Released right in time for summer, this new tune continues her musical maturation. Built around the catchy bass line from Talking Heads’ new wave classic “Psycho Killer,” “Bad Liar” is a hip, minimal pop jam that suits her understated vocal style. Gomez’s Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why was recently renewed for a second season, too, so the young star really is enjoying a purple patch.
6. WHICH COMEDY SHOW TO WATCH BECAUSE IT’S JUST AS FUNNY AS IT ALWAYS WAS
Though it looks a touch out of place on such a youthful, female-skewing network, Whose Line Is It Anyway? has actually flourished since being revived by The CW a few years ago. The improvisational skills of battle-hardened comedians Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady remain as sharp as ever, and The Talk‘s Aisha Tyler has proved herself a warm and witty host. When the new season debuts tonight, expect their off-the-cuff jokes to make you chuckle and blush in equal measure.
7. WHAT TO WATCH FOR AN INSIGHT INTO A FORGOTTEN HEROINE
Though less well-known than fellow 19th century explorer T.E. Lawrence, the subject of 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia, Gertrude Bell is just as remarkable. Born to a wealthy English family, she transcended the era’s gender barriers to become a leading archaeologist, adventurer, and diplomat who helped to shape the modern-day state of Iraq. Featuring a voiceover from Tilda Swinton, who recites Bell’s own vivid letters, this documentary tells her story brilliantly using a mix of grainy archive footage and careful historical recreations. Opening in select theaters Friday, it’s enlightening and often riveting viewing.
8. WHAT TO ADD TO THE PLAYLIST FOR YOUR NEXT ROAD TRIP
Bleachers sounds like a band, but it’s actually a solo project from Jack Antonoff, a member of rock band fun. In recent years his songwriting skills have been tapped by Taylor Swift, Sara Bareilles and Lorde, and this addictive album demonstrates why. Dropping Friday, it’s a collection of ’80s-influenced indie-pop tunes whose soaring choruses are pretty darn tricky to shake off. Just be careful listening to standout banger “Don’t Take the Money” on public transportation — because you could find yourself hollering along.
9. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU THINK EVERYTHING SHONDA RHIMES TOUCHES TURNS TO TV GOLD
Premiering tonight on ABC, this new period drama isn’t quite Shonda Rhimes does Shakespeare, but it’s not far off. Exec-produced by the Grey’s Anatomy/Scandal creator, and based on Melinda Taub‘s book of the same name, it’s a sort of unofficial sequel to Romeo and Juliet that follows the tangled lives of the Montague and Capulet clans after the young lovers’ tragic demise. If you can go all-in on the concept, this looks like a clever and visually impressive TV confection.
10. AND FINALLY, WHO TO FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM… SO YOU CAN TRY TO KEEP UP WITH HIM
Luther actor and Anglophenia favorite Idris Elba is a dizzyingly busy multi-hyphenate: he acts, directs, makes music, DJs, designs clothes, and even wins the odd kickboxing match. Because he’s so prolific, it can be difficult to follow what he’s actually up to at any given time. So it’s lucky that Elba posts regularly from his @7dub Instagram account, giving fans an insight into life as a modern-day renaissance man. Just be warned that his updates could make you feel, well, kinda lazy.
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