What we’ll be listening to, watching, and reading to sate our pop culture needs.
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From the final chapter of True Blood’s long good-bye to Monday night’s Emmys, which have us rooting for Orange Is the New Black, this weekend is jam-packed with good stuff.
We’ve spent seven years watching Sookie Stackhouse kill and canoodle with a number of vampires and other supernaturals on HBO’s True Blood—but this Sunday we must bid adieu to Bon Temps and its cast of characters. The Alan Ball–created drama, based on the books by Charlaine Harris, has led us through guts and gore and some of the steamiest sex on television, often touching upon issues of equality for vampires and werewolves that parallel real-life racial tensions and the fight for gay rights. And the cast’s diversity is just as varied as its supernatural proclivities. Will it be the true death for Bill Compton? Will Sookie ever be free? Will we get another full-frontal glimpse at Nordic Eric Northman? Whatever the outcome, we’ll be raising a glass of Tru Blood, ok, red wine, in memoriam.
We’ve missed the ethereal incantations of Orenda Fink, one half of dreamy folk duo Azure Ray, who hasn’t released a solo album since 2009. But Blue Dream gives us exactly what we’ve been waiting for plus a little bit more—it’s a collection of love songs filtered through undeniable modernity, taking Fink’s typically stripped-down croon and adding blips, synths, and electronic stutters. Ghostly vocals and lush sounds steer the album clear of traditional folk; Blue Dream is a darker exploration, finding hope in the marriage of music and machine.
Vanessa Manko’s debut novel The Invention of Exile spins a tale of multiple countries and the loss of identity as we follow Austin Voronkov, a Russian immigrant living in Connecticut, through a series of brutal bureaucratic injustices. Deported during the 1920s Red Scare for being suspected of anarchism, Austin and his American partner Julia leave for Russia, where Austin is accused of being an American spy. The couple, along with the three kids they now have, finds refuge in Mexico, but when Julia and the children return to the U.S., Austin is left without a home country and his family, a painful loss that takes its toll on his sanity.
Elisabeth Moss may have been snubbed by the Emmys for her exceptional work as Mad Men’s Peggy Olson, but she should get lots of attention for her starring turn as Sophie in this strange rom-com with a slight sci-fi edge. Produced by the Duplass brothers (Cyrus, Safety Not Guaranted) and starring Mark Duplass as Sophie’s unfaithful husband Ethan, the movie takes an honest look at a couple deciding whether or not they should stay together. When their therapist (Ted Danson) suggests a weekend away at a, um, special, house, they are forced to face the truth of their relationship, in mysterious ways that get curiouser and curiouser.
Last year’s VMAs gave us the new twerking, tongue-wagging Miley. So what do this Sunday’s awards have in store? At least a lot of lady-led performances: Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea, and Beyoncé are all scheduled to perform. And yes, the weekend technically ends on Sunday, but we just can’t wait for Monday night’s Emmys, especially since Orange Is the New Black, which got 12 nominations including a nod for Outstanding Comedy Series, is poised to sweep the show (hosted by Seth Meyers). We’ve loved this Jenji Kohan–penned Netflix series since episode one, with its smart look at women’s stories, its incredibly diverse cast—including America’s favorite trans person Laverne Cox—and its subtle criticisms of the U.S. prison system. Now, hopefully, it will reap the rewards it deserves.
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