What we'll be listening to, watching, and reading to sate our pop culture needs.
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Decidedly non-rom-commy rom-coms, a one-two literary punch from Lauren Groff and Elena Ferrante, and the sweet soulful stylings of singer-songwriter Lizz Wright all add up to one damn fine weekend.
Leslye Headland, who broke female-buddy-movie stereotypes with her uber bitchy Bachelorette, is applying her sense of fringe to the rom-com, and it’s a winner. Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis play Lainey and Jake, who lost their virginity to each other in college only to reconnect 12 years later at a meeting for sex and love addicts, determined to just be friends. A reworking of the eternal question that When Harry Met Sally posed 25 years ago, Sleeping With Other People is a completely contemporary take on the subject, and Brie and Sudeikis—along with their misadventures in sex, drugs, and kids’ birthday parties—are like extra-hilarious versions of real-life friends. Natasha Lyonne as Lainey’s smart-mouthed bestie is a bonus.
Marriage is at the heart of Lauren Groff’s lyrical third novel, specifically that of Lotto and Mathilde. The two Vassar seniors tie the knot in secret after a two-week courtship, and Fates and Furies follows the couple for more than the next two decades of life. But, as with all marriages, their relationship isn’t always as it seems, even to each other. Groff, who switches the novel’s structure halfway through, gives us a chance to see the union through both Lotto and Mathilde’s eyes, a beautifully nuanced retelling of the same relationship, one that reminds us that the monotonous can be magnificent.
It’s been five years since Lizz Wright released her gospel-themed album Fellowship, but her latest, Freedom and Surrender, casts a wider net with elements of jazz, blues, folk, and soul. Her graceful voice ties the disparate genres together and breathes new life into two fantastic covers: Nick Drake’s “River Man” and the BeeGees’ “To Love Somebody.”
The second season of the show featuring our favorite malcontents premiered on Wednesday, and now is the perfect time to catch up or re-watch (no judgment). When last we saw Gretchen and Jimmy, they had just embarked on a somewhat forced journey of cohabitation, one that will most certainly play out in a darkly funny You’re the Worst sort of way. Plus, now that we know how rad Aya Cash (Gretchen) is in real life, we’ve doubled down on our dedication to this critical darling from FX.
The fourth and final installment in Elena Ferrante’s epic tale of friendship and community might be the most poignant yet. Over the last three novels (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay), we’ve gotten to know Elena and Lila, two best friends who grew up in the wake of World War II, weathering the poverty and crime of their Naples neighborhood. The quartet follows the arc of their lives, through marriages, lovers, children, career successes, and deep, aching losses. In The Story of the Lost Child, Elena returns to the city she once tried so hard to escape, and she and Lila are entwined ever more deeply in one another’s lives and families, back together in the community where this intimate and complicated tale of friendship began.
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