No Escape From Reality Edition

Featuring: Wild transformations and doomed expeditions

In the beginning, God gave us light (and lots of other cool stuff). We have strayed ever since. Well, until this week, when we yanked the throttle and Ford v. Ferrari’d toward the darkness. Let me ask this. WHO made a pact with Beezlebub and signed off on Sexy Beasts, the unhinged zenith of reality dating TV. The bizarre stepchild of The Masked Singer and Love is Blind, Sexy Beasts will feature 48 “lucky” singles in animal makeup and prosthetics looking for someone with a “great personality” alongside horns, fur, tentacles, and God knows what else. Look, let’s not kid ourselves. I’m going to watch it and you will, too. No way this doesn’t hit #1 on the Netflix chart. Deep down, we all really wanna know if the baboon and devil couple can make it work, those crazy kids. Love is a wild thing, and really, who are we to judge? Tbh we deserve this show. The Sexy Beasts Cinematic Universe is bound to follow. Resistance is futile. The furries have won. May God have mercy on us all.

Haha, anyway…here’s what’s new and noteworthy this week!

Movies: Luca

After tackling life’s biggest questions in the surreal (in a good way) Soul, the much more modest and straightforward Luca may seem like just a pleasant diversion from Pixar’s best work. It’s anything but. The gently paced yet still plenty inventive coming-of-age story set on the Italian Riviera follows two teenage sea monsters as they become summer besties while secretly exploring the human world. Sound like another recent movie set in the Italian countryside about two boys sharing a secret? Just call it “Calamari By Your Name.” Luca definitely doesn't reach the heights of Pixar’s greatest like “Up” and “Toy Story,” but this gorgeous and heartwarming fish-out-of-water (literally) tale is a welcome addition to their already elite catalog. [Available on Disney+]

Other Notable Releases: The increasingly preposterous but always a blast Fast and Furious franchise takes the chase to space (you read that right) in F9 (in theaters), with the final two installments Fast 10 and Furious 11 set for next year. In the Rosemary’s Bay-inspired horror False Positive (Hulu), Ilana Glazer from Broad City begins to suspect that her fertility doctor (Pierce Brosnan) may have sinister plans for her baby girl.

TV: Kevin Can F*** Himself

Schitt’s Creek fans, rejoice! Alexis Rose (aka Annie Murphy) is back and isn’t gonna take it anymore. The aggressively titled meta-series starts as a traditional sitcom set in Worcester, Mass. where Murphy plays the prototypical working-class wife to a schlubby husband whose juvenile jokes have lots of laugh track support. That is until she breaks free of the formula and the show pivots to a multi-camera dark drama that skewers and satirizes sexist sitcom tropes. Critics say this high-concept series can sometimes be jarring tonally, but its ambitious and experimental format (along with Murphy’s performance) make it an effective and entertaining sitcom send-up. Ew, Kevin! [Available on AMC]

Other Notable Releases: In season two of the supernatural series Evil (Paramount+, first season available on Netflix), called the “best show you might not be watching” by Vanity Fair, science and religion clash as a skeptical psychologist and Catholic priest push further into the dark recesses of the church’s unexplained mysteries. For something a bit lighter, try The Mysterious Benedict Society (Disney+) about four orphans, each possessing a unique skill, who are summoned to a boarding school by an eccentric benefactor who wants them to stop a plot that could have consequences on a global level.

Books: Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton

In August of 1897, the Belgica set sail on a three-year expedition to the uncharted end of the Earth: Antarctica. Even as the ice grew thicker and the nights grew darker, the ship sailed on until it was stuck, surrounded on all sides by the unforgiving polar landscape and an endless night that stretched on for months. Things, as you might expect, went horribly awry as a mysterious illness spread and the crew descended into...MADNESS. This maritime thriller and gothic horror draws entirely from the actual diaries and journals of the Belgica crew and the incredible tale is still studied today by NASA for research on isolation. So, the perfect beach read amiright??

Other Notable Releases: In the “hugely satisfying romance” (Kirkus) Seven Days In June by Tia Williams, two Black writers reunite in Brooklyn 15 years after a weeklong high-school affair and try to rekindle that passion as adults. In the witch hunt satire Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch by Rivka Galchen, a small 17th-century German town comes undone once an old woman is accused of witchcraft and the moral panic escalates to darkly funny extremes.

Music: Lucy Dacus - Home Video

Every home has that cabinet full of dusty VHS tapes documenting old birthday parties, performances, family vacations, etc. For indie darling Lucy Dacus, one-third of supergroup boygenius (alongside Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers) and a “favorite” of former VP candidate Tim Kaine, those tapes and childhood journals from her childhood provided the inspiration for the confessional Home Video. The album’s 11 tracks dive deep into adolescence as Dacus traverses breakups, Bible camp, and self-discovery with her signature, evocative songwriting. She’s also a cover extraordinaire, most recently of Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.” Feeling nostalgic yet?

Other Notable Releases: Indie rock meets country blues in Amythyst Kiah’s sophomore album Wary & Strange, full of defiant anthems and astute examinations of the realities of being a Southern Black queer woman. In his tenth LP Quietly Blowing It, M.C. Taylor (under the moniker Hiss Golden Messenger) delivers restorative and cathartic country-soul “Americana '' tunes written in quarantine yet bursting with hope and light. 

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.

Until next time,