I’m a pretty awful cook, but that doesn’t stop me from obsessing over cooking competition shows to the point where I’m screaming at the screen if someone forgets to salt their dish (it’s always the salt!). Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off…you name it, I’ve probably been wayyy too emotionally invested in it. Don’t even get me started on Masterchef: Junior, which is the purest thing on television and must be protected at all costs. The GOAT though, the love of my TV life, the crème de la crème, if you will, is TOP CHEF. This show never misses. Sure, it’s got DISHES and KNIFE TECHNIQUE, but pairs it perfectly with plenty of DRAMA and METAPHORICAL KNIVES IN THE BACK. What more could you want? The new season, which premiered this past week, takes the show on the road to Portland, a place I’ve never been to except vicariously through the TV documentary Portlandia. Everyone also seems to quite like those Voodoo Donuts they have over there. Anyway, there’s gonna be lots of Top Chef content in this newsletter in the next couple of months, so you’ve been warned. If you’re not into it, well, YOU CAN PACK YOUR KNIVES AND GO (please come back though).
In other news, here’s what’s new and noteworthy this week!
MOVIES: Godzilla vs. Kong
It’s the ultimate question, debated on elementary school playgrounds by lil nerds everywhere, WHO WOULD WIN IN A FIGHT BRO, KONG OR ‘ZILLA? Look, you can try to deny it all you want, but you want to know the answer. And none of this participation trophy crap. The director has confirmed there will be a victor between “the king of the monsters” and the “ruler of Skull Island,” wherever that is. There are a few movies leading up to this one, but tbh don’t think prep will be necessary to understand what’s going on here. Reviews are solid, praising the sheer spectacle of the thing and pure monster movie fun. My money is on the one who breathes fire. Available on HBO Max.
Other Notable Releases: Tina (HBO Max), “a revealing and intimate” look at musical icon Tina Turner’s rise to fame and the ups and downs of her expansive career. In the hidden-camera prank comedy Bad Trip (Netflix), improv legends Eric Andre and Tiffany Haddish pull some hilarious hijinks on an unsuspecting public on their way from Florida to NYC.
TV: The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers
Critics did Mighty Ducks DIRTY back in the 90s (23% RT??) despite it being in the pantheon of kids sports movies, which, do they even make those anymore? That’s for another newsletter. I get nervous about any revival after how they effed up Gilmore Girls with that A Year in the Life nonsense, the Mighty Ducks no exception. Here’s the “game-changing” part of it though. This time the Ducks are the BAD GUYS. They’re a powerhouse team now, leaving 12-year-old Evan to form a new ragtag team with the help of the OG coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez). Critics are calling this new take “a feel-good story” with a “sharp critique” of modern kids’ sports. Sounds worth a trip back to the ice. Available on Disney+.
Other Notable Releases: Steven Yuen (Minari, The Walking Dead) voices the son of the most powerful superhero on the planet in the “tender yet shocking” adult animated series Invincible (Amazon Prime). In The Irregulars, the newest entry in Netflix’ Sherlock Holmes expanded universe, a band of teen misfits in Victorian London helps Holmes investigate a series of supernatural crimes.
BOOKS: There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura
Every time I think I’m getting tired of “millennial in the modern workplace” fic that’s currently taking over publishing, a book like Tsumura’s English-language debut comes along that sounds like an intriguing fresh take on the genre. In this story, a nameless young woman moves from odd job to odd job—writing trivia for rice cracker packages; punching entry tickets to a purportedly haunted public park, etc.—searching for a meaningful gig until she “discovers an alternative to the daily grind,” though “it comes with a price.” Sound a little too real for anyone?
Other Notable Releases: “From midcentury Paris to the moon, and back down again to a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio,” A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib explores the jubilation and pain within Black performance in America over the years. Amanda Gorman, the young poet who stole the show at Biden’s inauguration, has also released her breakout poem in a commemorative printed edition called The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country, with a foreword from Oprah.
MUSIC: serpentwithfeet - DEACON
Josiah Wise is a romantic, and though his first album soil focused on relational discord, the lush and lovely DEACON celebrates the bliss of Black gay love and forming a deep connection with someone who shares the “Same Shoe Size.” This is smooth, warm R&B with gospel flourishes—Wise weaves together sensuality and spirituality like no other—that should be played in the open air on a sunny day for maximum effect. “Living here [LA], laughing a lot—making time to laugh—all those things bled into this project,” he reflects in a Vulture interview. Now that’s a joy worth listening to.
Other Notable Releases: High-energy rhythms and funky, infectious melodies abound in sketchy., the latest experimental pop record from DIY indie duo Tune-Yards. Demi Lovato is also back with Dancing With The Devil…The Art Of Starting Over, a brutally honest album—and companion piece to the Youtube docuseries—about her harrowing struggles with addiction and her road to recovery.
That's it for this week. If you have a friend who might like this, please forward it along, and if you got this from a friend, you can subscribe below!
Have a safe and culture-filled weekend,