This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
Fear not, the celebs are ending the pandemic!
When was the last time you talked to Margaret Thatcher?
Wow, Nine Perfect Strangers was bad.
Nicole Richie’s birthday was lit.
Hollywood Has Saved Us From the Pandemic. Phew!
It’s about damn time someone said it. I don’t know why it took this long.
Here we’ve all been, frolicking through life and stopping to pick its proverbial daisies, not brave enough to acknowledge the truth. To say what’s needed to be said. But now someone has.
Eva Longoria, Alyssa Milano, Ciara, and, according to Deadline, dozens of other Hollywood patriots are valiantly calling on world leaders to end the COVID pandemic “now.”
To anyone who wasn’t sure about whether or not we should be trying to nip this whole coronavirus thing in the bud, the likes of Anne Hathaway, Idina Menzel, and Richard Gere, who also signed this letter, are unequivocal. Enough is enough, says Debra Messing. If no one else is going to put it out into the world then she is: Geez, can’t you just make this thing go away already?
To be fair, there are actual specifics to the letter that the luminous and lionhearted signed, which was headlined “an open letter to world leaders on ending the COVID-19 pandemic now.” (An open letter! If only we had thought of that solution sooner.) And to give credit where it’s due, the timing isn’t as absurd as we’re making it out to be. The letter coincides with the United Nations General Assembly Session. Their specific demand is to, by mid-2022, make 14 billion vaccine doses available and vaccinate 70 percent of the world’s population.
Look, let’s not crucify noble gestures. It’s not like if Malin Akerman, also a signee, texted me and said, “Hey, Kev! We’re all doing this open letter about wanting the pandemic to end. You in?” then I would be like, “Nah, I’m good.”
But there is something hilarious about the inherent narcissism of this particular type of celebrity activism, which is perhaps only the tiniest tiptoe forward in terms of value from the “Imagine” singalong of last year—as much progress as, say, a mouse makes when it sneezes and the force propels its little body forward a bit.
The celebrities want the pandemic to end? Well, alrighty then! Let’s do it!
There’s a gross hypocrisy to it that I think contributes to the mockery the letter is getting on social media, where it’s been viciously roasted this week.
These are the same celebrities who are gleefully walking the Met Gala red carpet, attending the Emmy Awards unmasked, gabbing about their lives on Ellen, traveling the world to film festivals without visa restrictions and quarantines, and doing flash mobs in the middle of the street for a bit on James Corden’s show.
Meanwhile, we peons are still wondering if we just risked our lives by going to Target—or, in the gilded cage that surrounds Hollywood, are the people you see running around wearing full PPE in the background of the Met Gala photos and Emmy Awards footage. The normies are being extra safe so that the famouses and the hotties can be extra glamorous.
Those photos are going to be insane time capsules to look back on in however many million years when this thing is over, a pretty damning indictment of our privilege and priorities.
Listen, I recognize and am among those who are GRATEFUL for the glamour to be back, for the distraction of J. Lo and Ben Affleck looking hot on red carpets across the world, and for being able to watch an award show that’s not awkwardly shot over Zoom. That escapism is what Hollywood is for, and that’s great!
But it’s also why, well-intentioned as it may be, ovations like this from Hollywood trigger such exasperation and cynicism. How cute for the celebrities to demand that the pandemic end “now” when it seems they’re the only ones for whom it’s already over.
Has Anyone Talked to Margaret Thatcher Lately?
I had a lot of thoughts about the Emmy Awards, which had some gorgeous speeches (except for that one Queen’s Gambit guy who wouldn’t shut up), ecstatic moments (except for literally everything host Cedric the Entertainer did), and wins to be happy about (except for all the ones we’re, you know, not happy about). Lucky you, I wrote all of those musings down in this piece you can read right now.
But there are two things that happened before and after the ceremony that I haven’t really stopped thinking about.
To start, there’s Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown’s work hosting E!’s red carpet coverage. Nothing says “nature is healing” like completely losing your mind at the inanity of E’s red carpet interviews. At one point, Kathryn Hahn had to explain to Brown that Daniel Craig was using an accent in the film Knives Out. I’m just grateful to be alive during the Golden Age of Television.
Then there was this moment that needs no commentary: After her Emmy win for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, Gillian Anderson was asked by a journalist in the press room if she had spoken with the former prime minister about playing her. Famously, of course, Margaret Thatcher is dead. (Watch here.)
Nine Perfect Strangers… Woof, Man.
It’s actually not fun to trash a TV show. When there are so many good series vying for attention among the, no exaggeration, over 400 options that air each year, it feels like more of a public service to champion and celebrate the things that are worth your time than use that space to talk about why something is bad.
That said, I watched the finale of Nine Perfect Strangers this week, and, my God, that show was bad. So bad that I can’t stop thinking about it.
It wasn’t a surprise that the finale was bad. Nine Perfect Strangers is a case where a series was arriving, sight unseen, with tons of buzz. Melissa McCarthy and Nicole Kidman were co-starring in a series based on a book by Liane Moriarty, who wrote Big Little Lies. People were excited! So I checked it out! It was bad!
In this case, I did write about it—in this very newsletter—because warning people off a show that big seemed like a valuable service, as did trying to understand what went so wrong.
I don’t necessarily understand my compulsion with wasting my own time, but there was something about Nine Perfect Strangers, as messy as I knew it was, that got me so invested in seeing it through.
I think it’s because the show wasn’t “bad” in the sense that it suffered the classic hallmarks of badness: terrible performances, nonsensical plot, or offensive material. The cast was fine, particularly McCarthy. And, hey, we got to see Manny Jacinto’s butt! But the wild thing about the story, week after week, is how predictable and, in essence, boring it was.
Aside from one twist involving Regina Hall’s character that was more “huh?” dumb than “WTF!” exhilarating, it’s a show in which nothing much happened, up to and including the final episode of the series, which featured a remarkable lack of intensity for a series that was ostensibly a thriller.
Listen, of course no TV is for everyone and it is possible that others enjoyed this. But at a time when I can find something redeemable in almost anything, I was shocked by what a flatline of nothingness a show that was supposed to be such a huge event turned out to be.
Help, I Can’t Stop Watching This
Nicole Richie’s hair caught on fire while she was blowing out the candles on her 40th birthday cake, and the Instagram video of the moment already ranks among the content I have watched the most times, on a loop, perhaps in my life. (She’s OK. I am not.)
What to watch this week:
The Great British Baking Show: My bottom is soggy with anticipation. It’s finally back! (Fri. on Netflix)
Midnight Mass: A little slow, but ultimately rewarding series about how nothing is creepier than church. (Fri. on Netflix)
Foundation: The adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi series is beautifully shot, with beautiful Lee Pace. (Fri. on Apple TV+)
What to skip this week:
Dear Evan Hansen: A heartwarming musical about a grown man playing a teenage sociopath. (Fri. in theaters)
The Starling: A classic case of, “So this is a real movie, huh?” (Fri. on Netflix)