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.
- Thanking God/Oprah that Hacks is back.
- Reeling possibly forever over this Dolly Parton/Taco Bell news.
- Some important movies to watch.
- Some important Netflix info to ponder.
- Thanking God/Oprah for Christine Baranski.
Hollywood Mad Libs Lost Its Mind Again
There are times when you wonder if you’re just online too much. (Those times include: the moment I wake up until the moment I pass out phone-in-hand still autoplaying Instagram Stories, the three-minute exception each day being the sacred time watching Kelly Clarkson’s new “Kellyoke” drop from her talk show.)
The endless scroll and flickering digest of information can dizzy you into a bleary-eyed and nonsensical fog of buzzwords, headlines, and viral phrases, to the point that you can’t steady yourself enough to determine if what you’re reading could possibly be real. Welcome to 2022. It’s all insane, yet it’s all real.
This is all a lead-up to my astonishment, my bafflement, my utter refusal to take the news story that I had just seen at face value. Every few hours since I first read it, my body will suddenly spasm, like when you’re having one of those dreams where you’re falling. The memory of what I read manifests itself viscerally, a reaction that can only be physical because the words that are presented in the order they were are that preposterous—and therefore that activating.
Here they are: Dolly Parton will star in a TikTok musical alongside Doja Cat about Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza.
This is actually happening. The newly voted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee confirmed the news with the most batshit sentence I’ve ever seen. On her Instagram, Dolly Parton posted, “I’m making #MexicanPizzaTheMusical with @TacoBell.”
The quick background is that Taco Bell had removed the Mexican Pizza from its menu a few years ago. Singer Doja Cat was instrumental in the public service of making people like my friend Maddie feel whole again, like everything was finally right with the world, by pressuring the chain to bring it back. Sometimes, creatives stage musicals on TikTok. And then some cosmic force put all those facts in a blender and added the words “Dolly Parton,” and—boom, crash—here we are.
The musical will premiere on May 26. More importantly, the pizza will return on May 19.
Just Some Movies You Definitely Need to Watch
Apropos of absolutely nothing horrifying and shameful and, socially and humanly speaking, apocalyptic that is going on right now—we’d never bring up politics—here are three movies that I insist every American watch right now.
The first is a new one. It’s called Happening. It is, as my colleague Nick Schager wrote, a “period piece as timely as they come.” Set in 1960s France, it chronicles the lonely, desperate journey a young university student must go on in order to obtain a legal abortion.
Another came out in 2020. Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a horror movie, in that it is not fantastical or exaggerated, but upsettingly rooted in reality. It’s about a teenage girl who lives in a rural area where it is not possible for her to attain an abortion, so she and her cousin set out on a harrowing and dangerous journey to New York. It’s absolutely brutal.
The other is the film Dirty Dancing. Remember that film, the swoon-inducing crowd pleaser with the fun songs, Patrick Swayze’s abs, and the cool lift? The entire plot, that iconic romance, exists because of a cautionary tale about what can happen if a woman doesn’t have access to a safe and legal abortion.
Anyway, I don’t know why these films are on my mind or why you should possibly watch them right now. Who could say?
I’m Sorry…Netflix Is Doing What Now?
Not too long ago, Dave Chappelle released a Netflix special that was criticized because the transphobic rhetoric, especially coming from a platform as huge as his and the streaming service’s, posed real danger to the lives of trans people.
To my recollection, no major LGBT organization called for the special’s censoring or for it to be removed, but they did rightfully call out the potential for harm and ask questions about what responsibility Netflix might have as the host of that content that paid Chappelle tens of millions of dollars to make it. Netflix’s own employees staged a walkout in response to how the company handled the concerns.
Anyway, I thought you should know that this is now the company’s next step: an update to its company culture memo that states the company will never censor artists and, if there is content that “you perceive to be harmful,” then, basically, tough noogies. “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”
That’s not a joke, that’s really what the memo says. Just something to think about while you stream The Ultimatum.
Christine Baranski Saved Us, Once Again
I’ve had to look at this photo collage of Christine Baranski reacting to a picture of herself giving Elon Musk a death glare at least three times daily this last week in order to summon the will to keep going.
What to watch this week:
Hacks: A dip from perfection is still very high quality. (Now on HBO Max)
Love on the Spectrum: The best—and maybe only good?—relationship show. (Thurs. on Netflix)
Conversations With Friends: Or, the answer to the question: What has Taylor Swift’s actor boyfriend actually been in? (Sun. on Hulu)
What to skip this week:
The Lincoln Lawyer: Matthew McConaughey isn’t even in it! (Fri. on Netflix)
Firestarter: I am begging: Someone save Zac Efron’s career! (Fri. in theaters and on Peacock)
The Daily Beast’s Obsessed
Everything we can’t stop loving, hating, and thinking about this week in pop culture.