What we’ll be listening to, watching, and reading to sate our pop culture needs.
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This weekend, we’re starting to predict how Mad Men ends after Sunday’s mid-series finale and revisiting the rage and terror of the AIDS crisis with Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart. It’s a good thing this is a long holiday weekend so we can pack it all in.
During the early ’80s, a deathly health crisis was steadily ravaging the gay male community—a fast-growing epidemic that was being deliberately and blatantly ignored by both federal and local governments. Activist and playwright Larry Kramer wrote The Normal Heart, a polemical drama fueled by his fury and terror about the early days of AIDS, as he watched his friends and peers getting sick and dying while President Reagan wouldn’t even say the word “AIDS” until 1985. Director Ryan Murphy, whose American Horror Story: Asylum demonstrated his fearlessness in taking down institutions and infuriating the enemy, has, 30 years later, worked with Kramer to adapt his incendiary, deeply moving play to the small screen for HBO, premiering Sunday at 9 p.m., which boasts an A-list cast: Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks—Kramer’s alter-ego, plus Julia Roberts, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, Jonathan Groff, and Taylor Kitsch.
The first half of Mad Men’s swan song may have been a slow burn, but with last week’s episode reigniting the fire of our interest, you can bet we’ll be riveted when the curtain drops on the seventh episode this weekend. Taking a cue from Breaking Bad, which split its final season into two parts, Mad Men won’t reveal the fate of Don, Peggy, Joan, Roger, and the gang, for ANOTHER WHOLE YEAR. Which means we’ll savor every moment of what’s coming to us Sunday night at 10 p.m.
Monica Byrne’s futuristic debut novel, The Girl in the Road, got the stamp of approval from Neil Gaiman, who’s hailed it as “glorious” and for good reason. The story follows two women in a world where power has shifted east and their safety has been pulled out from under them. Both women are trying to reach Ethiopia, where their fates mysteriously intertwine in this wildly imaginative tale, as gripping as it is moving.
As a singer and keyboardist in French indie band M83, Morgan Kibby contributed her considerable talents to some epic dream pop. With her solo debut as White Sea, we get to see Kibby dramatically spread her sonic wings with an album that features strings, delicate piano, crashing guitars, thundering drums, and, of course, her mercurial vocals, that dip and soar on a whim. Out this week, In Cold Blood slays us.
Lifetime had a hit on its hands with the remake of Flowers in the Attic (starring Heather Graham, Mad Men‘s Kiernan Shipka, and Ellen Burstyn), bringing to life V.C. Andrews’ scandalizing novel, the reading of which, nearly always surreptitiously, has been an adolescent girl’s rite of passage since it was published in 1979. So naturally they made the sequel as well. Petals on the Wind follows the formerly captive Dollenganger siblings 15 years after their escape, when they return to Foxworth Hall to exact revenge on their sociopathic mother. We’ll miss Shipka (older Cathy is played by Rose McIver), but with this soapy guilty pleasure airing Monday night at 9 p.m., it’s the perfect way to end a long holiday weekend.
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