Culture Klatch

Watch/Listen/Love: Our June Pop Culture Obsessions

Zombies, "Happy Valley" and O.J.--here's what our editors are totally into this month.

By Staff June 22, 2016

Sarah lancashire 2013 mla0ak

Sarah Lancashire stars in Happy Valley.

I’m watching Happy Valley on Netflix…it’s a mystery featuring a pretty tough female cop as the main character, but it’s also about the West Yorkshire town where she lives, which is suffering from hard economic times and related crime. It stars Sarah Lancashire, whose work I’ve admired before in another British show I saw on PBS, Last Tango in Halifax. That one, like Happy Valley, was written by Sally Wainwright, who won the BAFTA (the British Oscars) for both series and also as best writer. Happy Valley is intense, suspenseful, and also true to the characters’ backgrounds and plights. --Kay Kipling, executive editor

I’m always excited when I open my mailbox and see the latest issue of the New Yorker. From politics and the arts to foreign affairs and medicine, the magazine delivers an absorbing, mind-expanding experience, and the brilliant writers (and editors) pull me into stories on topics I never dreamed could be so mesmerizing. I read one issue cover-to-cover on a recent flight to the West Coast; the mix of subjects and styles kept me glued to the pages the entire way. No matter which story I was reading, I kept looking up and saying to my companion, “You’ve got to read this one!” --Pam Daniel, editorial director

I’m re-reading Moby-Dick, because I read a recent interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the Broadway smash hit Hamilton, and he said that was the last book that made him cry. Go ahead--ask me anything about whaling! --Ilene Denton, senior editor

Room on fire cover cuwlmh

Thanks to their new four-track Future Present Past EP, The Strokes have popped back into pop music headlines for the first time in years. But rather than crow about the band's latest release, which is solid enough, I have to admit the new songs have only made me dig farther back into their discography. Is This It, of course, remains the band's most enduring work, but I'd argue the group's less-heralded followup, Room on Fire, from 2003, is just as solid. Instantly hummable melodies (e.g. "12:51") collide with grooved-out breakbeats (e.g. "Between Love & Hate") and non-rock flourishes (e.g. the reggae of "Under Control") as the band offers a master class in how to craft sleek, concise rock that still sounds contemporary. I'm waiting feverishly for them to play a gig in Tampa. --Cooper Levey-Baker, associate editor

I’ve been pairing my jogs with the recently released fifth season of the Zombies, Run! fitness app—a sort of post-apocalyptic podcast in which “you” are a character, Runner 5, charged with helping your friends in Abel Township survive in an England overrun with the undead. (Come for the apocalypse; stay for the catalog of British accents.) It’s like Saturday morning cartoons for your workout—not just zombies, but heavy artillery, mind control and all sorts of overly earnest personal traumas. Plus, Runner 5’s (as in, your…er…my?) mental state is pretty shaky these days, so everything’s an adventure. As Runner 4 says, “It wouldn’t be Abel if the world wasn’t ending every other week.” --Hannah Wallace, associate editor

Oj simpson l17gis

After binging on FX's excellent The People vs. O.J. Simpson, I was excited to find out that ESPN would be running a five-part, seven-plus-hour series about Simpson called O.J. Simpson: Made in America. The film--part of ESPN's excellent 30 for 30 collection--not only covers the Simpson trial, but also his career as a college and pro football star, his rise to fame as an actor, broadcaster and celebrity spokesman, and his ability to overlook and overcome the limitations race can impose in our society. It also takes a hard look at what was happening in the black community in Los Angeles during Simpson's rise to fame, specifically the Rodney King riots, and how it all--in combination with Simpson's abusive relationship with Nicole Brown Simpson--combined to create the trial of the century. It's an addictive, thought-provoking must-watch. --Megan McDonald, web editor

Although I was born and raised in the South, I wouldn’t particularly say I'm a fan of Southern music. However, I make an exception for the  Alabama Shakes. Their recent album Sound & Color has not left my headphones for the past few weeks. The sound of this album is in a league of its own, and honestly can't be compared to any other modern bands that are out there right now. A soulful, retro, '60s vibe comes through in both the heavier and lighter songs on the album, and every track leaves me feeling intense emotion--whether it's joy, relaxation or even anger. I'm pondering buying concert tickets for their upcoming (and might I add highly anticipated) world tour. --Felicity Warner, editorial intern

Beautifulruins2 fzsjzl


During this past spring semester as a junior at the University of Alabama, I skipped the country and went to Italy to study for four months. While I was there, I immersed myself in Italian books. (Well, Italian books written in English.) Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter was first; Walter includes incredibly descriptive details about the characters and each city in Italy. Once I was finished with Beautiful Ruins, I went into an English bookstore in Florence and picked up Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler. Adler describes Italian scenes and cities perfectly--and I can say that truthfully because I was there. I highly suggest these two books--they're perfect summer reads. Plus, they'll surely spark your travel bug and next thing you know, you may be on a plane to Italy! --Alaina Upman, editorial intern

Filed under
Show Comments