Maria Bamford in Lady Dynamite (Photo: Beth Dubber/Netflix)

The show to watch

Lady Dynamite

“At a time when anxiety is running especially high across the country, the return of Lady Dynamite’s mix of surreal comedy and groundbreaking exploration of mental illness couldn’t be more welcome. The first season was a doozy, and a similar sense of accomplishment is woven into the narrative of season two, which is even more meta, off-the-wall, and joyous than its predecessor. This new eight-episode run finds actor-comedian Maria Bamford (playing herself) living mostly happily with boyfriend Scott (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson); Lady Dynamite mines this classic TV setup for humor both dark and whimsical—the first half-hour alone touches on body positivity and emotional repression, while also featuring a plump raccoon chowing down on some made-to-order fajitas.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The podcast to listen to

Song Exploder, “Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein—Stranger Things (Main Title Theme)

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“This week on Song Exploder, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the synthwave outfit Survive look back on composing the theme for Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things. While clocking in at only 13 minutes, the laser focus on the now iconic opening track covers lots of ground and is absolutely compelling. The composers explain how they came into contact with the show’s creators, the Duffer brothers, and while they were signed on to score the show, Dixon and Stein weren’t even sure if they would end up handling the main theme.”
Read about the rest of the week’s best podcasts here.


The album to listen to

Angel Olsen, Phases

“[Phases’] first two tracks alone are worth the price of admission: ‘Fly On Your Wall’ is a slow-marching heartbreaker that makes meaning from unrequited love, while ‘Special,’ like My Woman’s ‘Sister,’ stretches out slowly before building to a rich climax of reverbed guitar. [Angel] Olsen throws her voice around on ‘Sweet Dreams,’ its jangly guitars and dirty bass bringing sultry drama to these otherwise intimate, folk-inflected songs. The back half delivers more of what one might expect from a rarities compilation: spare sketches and stripped-down covers (Springsteen’s ‘Tougher Than The Rest’ is especially affecting) that fit into an artist’s catalog yet can’t find a home on a full-length.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The movie to watch

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

“Grimacing with granite conviction, her hair pulled back by a bandana that makes her look vaguely like a heartland samurai, [Frances] McDormand is righteous fury personified, and her performance—the best she’s delivered since Fargo, maybe—is heartbreaking, but also wildly, profanely entertaining. You want to follow her into battle. Yet Three Billboards isn’t as cut-and-dry as it first appears; it doesn’t take long to realize that [Martin] McDonagh, savvy dramatist that he is, has set out to do more than rally his audience around an underdog. […] Three Billboards does more than muddy audience allegiance. It blows empathy in all directions, even toward characters who seem to exist as punchlines or villains.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The book to read

Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, Otherworld

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“Jason Segel and novelist Kirsten Miller have already created a middle-grade series called Nightmares! And now, for the slightly older set, they’ve crafted a series based on an immersive, all-encompassing virtual reality game called Otherworld. Segel was inspired by a VR demonstration at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival so shockingly lifelike that he wondered, ‘If we can be anything we want here, why would we ever leave?’ This first volume in a scheduled trilogy does a decent job of setting up that conundrum.”
Read the rest of our review here.