Reader I will be real with you: my entertainment diet has been a constant back-and-forth between the brash reality-docu comfort food of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath and The Real Housewives of SLC “Reunion: Part One”. This newsletter (if anything) is a newsletter of honesty (and yes yes yes boredom and the longing for connection to people I both love and know and know and love from an Internet-distance). But honesty is… the first thing that I said. So let’s stick with that.
This reality show combo has left my mind rattled with “fuck you, I’m not your friend” clap-backs and “I’m gonna break David Miscavige’s frikkin’ LEGS!” East coast-y ire. I sit in every work Zoom waiting for the moment where I can demonstrate this new super-power and perform a chair-flipping of my own home destruction. Do I gravitate toward this facilitated, edited drama because so little drama exists in my current waking life? I know this is a question I’ve posed in this very newsletter previously, but it’s something constantly itching. And intoxicating. I’ve already burned through most of the first season of Remini and I’m ready to pitch my spin-off where she takes the throne Dog the County Hunter wrongly vacated. Or maybe the spin-off’s just her sticking to the cult beat and following up with every subject of an HBO doc like an expletive-laden “after show”? Maybe this is what my work Zooms should really be about.
I say all this to say — going back to honesty — that I tried really hard to search my recent memory of the moments where I consumed — how do you say? — “art”. Or I consumed the — how do you say? — anything but these two programs. I’m not even mentioning the fact that I started Are You the One? Season 2 this week and couldn’t be more thrilled to spend my nights relaxing to the glow of the HPV super-spreader event that is MTV’s programming of the last 5 years.
So, enjoy this week’s recs. I worked really hard to remember them. And if you wanna have a sidebar about the rise and fall of Brooks Marks on RHSLC or Jen Shaw on RHSLC or really anything about RHSLC, you know where to find me.
Movie to Watch
I loved this movie. It’s silly, spoof-y and sweet. It’s like an Elvis movie mashed up with Romi and Michelle. Just fucking weird for the sake of weird, but never at the expense of the relationship at its center. I wish we were able to bask in it within the walls of a 100-seat AMC, but instead take those dollaridoos and stream it in its opening weekend. At least before anyone else can ruin some of its richer, surprising jokes.
Series to Catch
Allow me to be the 2389239th person to recommend this series to you. And allow me to be the 23098230982390th person to say how fucking proud I am of Babs and Tess for diving into the world of #FreeBritney and fighting the good fight (which will continue!!!). And (lastly) allow me to state the obvious that the entire NY Times Presents series is a wall-to-wall jammer. I was drawn in for Britney, I stuck around to catch the story of Dominic Fike who was a stranger to me (because I am a — how do you say? — old millennial who doesn’t use a lot of the Internet) but am so glad that I did. I won’t say anymore but just simply encourage a stroll around the series’ block and a watch of the video below.
Drink to Drink
What the fuck is this. How the fuck is this. I— listen. I’ve been around this hard seltzer block a couple times. I was there when Truly was in BOTTLES. I was there when hard kombucha switched from glasses to CANS (that’s not the same as seltzer but you GET IT). I’ve also been an eager participant in the palette-punishing ruse that is novelty-flavored diet sodas. What I’m trying to tell you, is that I am an expert in fake flavors.
This not only hits notes of apple flavor but *perfectly captures* the touch of brown sugar crumble. In a liquid. That tastes good. Knowing this is only seasonal (and my heart’s been broken before — looking at you Sprite Zero Sugar Cranberry flavor), I naturally stocked up and now I have fake apple crisp for days (and their bizarro Peppermint flavor, too. Which is so reprehensible, I suggest you empty it in the dwindling LA River).
Someone must taste-test this so I’m not alone. Someone taste-test it (that doesn’t live in my own household) so I know I’m not crazy. DM me when I start posting non-stop cute photos of my cat Snoozy on Insta-stories, that’s when you know the “crisp” is in full effect.
Podcast to Download
Of course I’m fully devoted to The Bachelor franchise — did you read my novel’s length intro at the top of this thing?? For years, I’ve said Bach is the only sports I follow (well, that and the Oscars which is actually more of a one-off political event if you really think about it — and as you can tell, I really have).
This podcast treats the show like a sports game and breaks down every episode with phrases like, “Great tear play”, “PTC: personal tragedy card”, and “huju” (the hug and jump move every single girl competing for the lead’s heart tries at least once in their run). Skeptics of this “process” producing true love matches can rest easy in this style of talking about the show, especially when you add Instagram influencer fame to the equation.
That’s the normal state of the podcast — but this episode was a slightly different tone. Chris Harrison, long-time host of The Bachelor and its spin-offs made comments recently that perpetuated racism in defense of a contestant who is blatantly racist. To make matters worse, he made these comments to Rachel Lindsay, the first black lead of The Bachelorette franchise. This episode breaks down the gaff, doesn’t skimp on the deserved ire and exposes the belief that Bachelor is a mirror to our country in ways we both indulge and are complicit to. And though no “solutions” are posed in this episode or in this newsletter, it’s an important moment to mark — especially considering days after this podcast was posted Chris Harrison announced he would be “stepping away” from the show as a result. Holy shit.
Show to Stream
I was delighted when I heard about “Them BOP!” a Valentines Day heartthrob-themed virtual drag show by LA’s own Them Fatale Drag Kings. Where live performances have stuttered and stopped in the face of transitioning to digital, drag performances of all kinds have seemed to thrive. Is it because of the inherent intimacy of drag itself? Forcing audiences to lean closer to see every detail, celebrate with every lip sync and cheer when a performer is so obviously living their unencumbered self?
Adding the familiar zoom backdrop of a bed headboard or an IKEA curtain in a cramped living room, and it’s the opposite of your boring 3pm “All Hands” meeting. We get to see where the magic happens. The home of the transformation. And in the case of “Them BOP!” the movie magic of editing a performance to land more jokes in your Multiplicity-style Backstreet Boys performance or serenading yourself as both butch and femme on the same damn bed.
Them Fatale Drag Kings is an LA-based group with shared members of the LA Lady Arm Wrestlers (which is how I found out about them). Their drag performance, much like their arm wrestling is wild and energetic; creative and specific; kind and inclusive. It is this kindness that their show even exists — “Them BOP!” is performed to raise money for their home bar of the Redline in DTLA to survive Covid. Donate what you can and bookmark Them Fatale’s Twitch page for future shows.