How does Jessie Ware get so many A-listers on her podcast?
Plus, network TV can’t figure out how to address 2020
Pop Cult on a Saturday? We’re planning for this to be an exception but sometimes life happens. We hope you have a relaxing Saturday scroll through this week’s issue.
This week, Daysia shares her newfound love for Jessie Ware’s Table Manners podcast and Hannah discusses how Prodigal Son and 9-1-1 are dealing with addressing all the events of last year—spoiler alert: in a very weird way. Plus, there are a ton of reads to keep you occupied this weekend.
Days and Hannah
This Week’s Fixations
What’s taking up our brain space this week?
Daysia: I was listening to a Patreon episode of the Who? Weekly podcast and a couple of people called into the show asking about pop singer Jessie Ware. The callers had started listening to Ware’s food podcast with her mother Lennie, Table Manners and had no idea Ware was a musician! I know Ware is undoubtedly a “who” as fans of the Who? Weekly pod would say (meaning most people probably wouldn’t know who she is), but please put some respect on the best disco record of 2020!
All this hype around Table Manners convinced me to give it a listen. The verdict? It’s so delightful. Ware does really great celebrity interviews and she and her mom have great banter. Plus, it’s really wholesome to hear people talk about their fondest food memories and favorite dishes. Typically, she and her mother will cook a meal for their guest, but it’s been mostly Zoom calls over quarantine. She actually gets a lot of great guests and I’ve learned some celeb fun facts that I love:
The HAIM sisters used to play at Elizabeth Olsen’s best friend’s annual pool parties which is how Olsen knows the band.
Carly Rae Jepsen used to be a cheesecake pastry chef’s assistant. She also likes to make quiche!
Florence Pugh named her quarantine sourdough starter Maggie. She also LOVES cheese boards and keeps at least 15 cheeses on deck at all times (her favorite is manchego).
If you want to take a listen yourself, here are some episodes to start:
Hannah: I think a lot of people have been wondering how pop culture/media is going to reflect the extremely wild year that was 2020 and I have purposely not been engaging with any content that addresses it because despite it being a new year a lot of what was happening in 2020 is still happening. I finally decided to give it a chance with two of my (problematic) favorite shows—Prodigal Son and 9-1-1—since they have reached a point where I can binge several episodes (I am not used to waiting weekly for any content now and I am fine with that). And, oh boy, I just had to laugh. The shows take two very different approaches but ultimately left me feeling very weird and thinking that network procedural dramas are not set up to deal with issues in a nuanced way. Obviously, there are exceptions to this and to be clear I’m fine with the no nuance thing: I watch these shows to escape and have 42-minutes where I can experience a range of emotions but know that at the end there will (likely) be a satisfying ending. However, I recognize how effective it can be to try to work through issues in this medium but if you’re going to try to tackle things like a global pandemic, systemic racism, and police brutality you have to bring your A-game.
Prodigal Son— a show that falls under the genre of “emotionally traumatized white man with daddy issues which makes him ideal at solving crimes”— takes an interesting approach in that it leaves the pandemic behind and tries to focus on systemic racism and the police (while, you know, being a cop show). The first episode basically has a line of dialogue that is like “a global pandemic, systemic racism, oh my!” and briefly touches on how COVID affects the prison population and then I guess we’re supposed to assume this is a post-pandemic timeline? (There’s not a mask in sight in any of the episodes.) The show attempts to weave in a storyline about tackling racism within the police force (a Black detective is mistaken for a suspect) and the grappling of how to deal with the issue—something I feel that Brooklyn Nine-Nine pulled off a lot better. Of course, I wasn’t expecting anything to really come of this: the premise of Prodigal Son—and any show like it—banks on the cops being the good guys with only a few bad apples instead of a systemic issue. This wasn’t enough to get me to stop watching as there are other plot lines that I’m interested in seeing develop (that provide the right amount of escapism).
On the flip side, fire rescue/police drama, 9-1-1, has its characters actively living through a pandemic (masks and hand sanitizers everywhere). It also doesn’t let you forget that there’s a pandemic happening within the first six minutes of the first episode of season four the phrase “global pandemic” is said at least 10 times—as if we could forget! 9-1-1 seems more focused on how the pandemic affects the lives of first responders, which makes sense, and briefly alludes to systemic racism and protests. I mostly just have a problem with the fact that a lot of the characters take off their masks once they are inside a building. Similar to Prodigal Son, I’m sticking with it to see how certain character’s storylines develop and the incredibly unhinged disasters that the characters have to deal with (until you realize Ryan Murphy is one of the show’s creators).
On a tangent, the trailer for the upcoming series Shadow and Bone dropped this week and I’m incredibly hyped. The show is Netflix’s adaptation of the incredible fantasy series by Leigh Bardugo and there’s still time to read all the books so you too can be properly hyped before the show drops on April 23.
Has Lorde dropped a new album?
No, but someone on her social media team reuploaded her Facebook page’s profile and cover photos. Some fans thought it could be a sign of an impending new era, but considering the photos were the reuploads of the same old pictures, we think it must’ve been a resolution issue or something. Nothing else from our elusive songstress 😔
Too Many Tabs
Our fav reads of the week
For the New Yorker, Hilton Als discusses “race as performance” in his review of the films Passing and The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Steve Way, who stars in Ramy and is creating a show for Apple TV+, talks with Yang-Yi Goh in GQ about what it’s like dating with a disability, including the injustices people face when it comes to things like marriage.