The first line of Jonah Lehrer’s Wikipedia page says nothing of his best-selling books, his Rhodes scholarship, his myriad contributions to Wired and The New Yorker or the fact that he has spent most of his adult years as a pop science wunderkind. What it mentions, first and foremost, is Lehrer’s plagiarism scandal, which precipitated his fall from grace four years ago this summer. Lehrer himself acknowledges this fact early on in the author’s note to his latest book, A Book About Love: “I broke the most basic rules of my profession. I am ashamed of what I’ve done. I will regret it for the rest of my life.”
It’s hard to say exactly what the title of Maria Bamford’s new Netflix series is meant to signify. It could be Bamford’s manic depression—her sense that, at any moment, everything in her life could explode. It could be her fear, common among introverts, that if she doesn’t please everyone around her, her fragile relationships might come crashing down like a demolished building. Or it could be the fact that Bamford, who has toiled in C-list obscurity for years, is finally, at long last, blowing up.
When looking back upon the Manson Family murder spree of 1969, one question continually mystifies us: How did one man persuade a bunch of peace-loving hippies to kill in cold blood? This is the question at the center of Emma Cline’s debut novel, The Girls, a fictional account of life at a Manson-like ranch in the late 1960s, as told by a young cult girl.
Satire has long provided relief from the turbulent waters of politics (at least in countries where satire is legal). This is why The Onion has dominated print humor for almost three decades, and why Jon Stewart achieved so much success during those eight long years of President George W. Bush. On HBO’s Veep, Selina Meyer serves as an especially welcome ambassador of this brand of comedy, now that Stewart is in New Jersey rescuing dogs, and the American presidential election fills newsfeeds with satire-ready fodder on the daily.
There are certainly plenty of things to admire, and many funny moments, in the first season of The Skinny—the new web series about, among other things, bulimia—from women’s lifestyle site Refinery29 and writer-director-star Jessie Kahnweiler. But after bingeing on the show, I have to say it left a bad taste in my mouth.
In her new movie, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (i.e., WTF), Tina Fey stars as Kim Baker, a television news writer who, as one of only a handful of unmarried, childless employees at her network, is offered the “opportunity” to report from war-torn Afghanistan. Based on real-life reporter Kim Barker’s 2011 memoir, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the film follows a woman’s transition from dull, depressing life in New York to exciting, depressing life in South Asia.
Have you been watching Black-ish? If you’re like most people I’ve talked to, there’s a good chance you haven’t—in that case, I’m here to tell you that you’re missing out.