17 episodes

Don’t just watch a movie; understand it. Don’t just hear a song; consider what it has to say. On The Review, writers and guests discuss how we entertain ourselves, and how that defines the way we see the world. Join The Atlantic’s writers as they break down a work of pop culture each week, exploring the big questions that great art can provoke, making some recommendations for you, and having a little fun along the way.

The Review The Atlantic

    • TV & Film

Don’t just watch a movie; understand it. Don’t just hear a song; consider what it has to say. On The Review, writers and guests discuss how we entertain ourselves, and how that defines the way we see the world. Join The Atlantic’s writers as they break down a work of pop culture each week, exploring the big questions that great art can provoke, making some recommendations for you, and having a little fun along the way.

    The Lost Daughter

    The Lost Daughter

    “I’m an unnatural mother.” It was this one line that drew first-time director Maggie Gyllenhaal to adapt the 2006 Elena Ferrante novel The Lost Daughter. Her new Netflix film of the same name examines motherhood and its secret shames. 
    Starring Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley, the movie portrays a woman at two different points in her life: Colman as a present-day professor on holiday in Greece, and Buckley as a mother with two young daughters decades earlier. Arriving two years into a pandemic whose burden has fallen especially hard on parents, the movie received a fiercely polarized reaction.
    David Sims, Sophie Gilbert, and Shirley Li analyze The Lost Daughter and the questions it raises. Is anyone a “natural mother”? How far does society expect women to sacrifice for their children? And how did they react to the film as parents?
    Further reading:

    Shirley’s interview with director Maggie Gyllenhaal: The Lost Daughter Understands the Secret Shame of Motherhood


    Sophie on a trend: The Redemption of the Bad Mother


    David ranked it #9 in his list: Best Movies of 2021



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    • 46 min
    Frasier

    Frasier

    Comfort watches are a mainstay of the pandemic—old television and movies one can revisit over and over again. And for a few writers on The Atlantic’s culture team, that go-to watch has been the 1990s sitcom Frasier.
    Megan Garber, Sophie Gilbert, and Spencer Kornhaber debate why, despite its problems, Frasier holds up remarkably well (especially compared to more cringe-inducing contemporary shows like Friends and Seinfeld). What exactly explains its enduring appeal?
    Frasier is a show whose tastes are very much of its time. (See: Niles Crane’s lapels.) But in a uniquely ‘90s end-of-history kind of way, the sitcom wrings its comedy from class tension while also existing in a strangely post-partisan world. 
    That lack of politics can seem like fantasy to a viewer in 2022, but its treatment of identity is fantastical as well. Frasier is a comedy about class that elides race and, often, sexuality. (Is this a show for—or even about—gay men?) The trio breaks down the legacy of the sitcom today, shares favorite moments, and debates whether Frasier is the worst or best character on his own show.
    Further reading:
    Megan Garber: Frasier Has Always Had a Maris Problem


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    • 45 min
    Don't Look Up

    Don't Look Up

    Adam McKay’s disaster satire is many things at once: a parable of our distracted society, a primal scream of a warning, and a broad comedy from the writer/director of Anchorman. Such a delicate balance has made the star-studded Netflix film a polarizing movie. 
    Critics, audiences, and activists have both savaged and praised the movie, with cycles of backlash highlighting the difficulty of sending a funny yet urgent message. But of course, isn’t that what political satires have done for decades? Or has reality become so absurd that it’s now beyond parody?
    As McKay told David Sims, he wrote the story about a planet-killing comet (and our society’s inability to act collectively to stop it) as a climate change metaphor. But after the script was done, production shut down for the pandemic and he watched the follies of a real disaster surpass his fictional one. Sophie Gilbert, Spencer Kornhaber, and David Sims unpack Don’t Look Up and whether modern satire can make a difference.
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    • 47 min
    Emily in Paris

    Emily in Paris

    When the first season of Netflix’s Emily in Paris debuted in October 2020, it was met with both delight and ridicule: Delight at its escapism into sunny France from the election and pandemic. But also ridicule at Lilly Collins’ bubbly American abroad blithely Instagramming her croissants by the Seine. (“The whole city looks like Ratatouille!”)
    Ridicule and delight are not mutually exclusive though, as Emily in Paris’ many hate-watchers can attest. So with the arrival of a second season, three writers with three very different opinions of the series sit down to laugh both at and with the show. They also attempt to process its exact appeal: Guilty pleasure? Hate-watch? Self-aware commentary on luxury?

    Voices:

    Sophie Gilbert

    Spencer Kornhaber

    Megan Garber


    Further reading:


    Netflix's Emily in Paris Is the Last Guilty Pleasure (The Atlantic)


    The New Comedy of American Decline (The Atlantic)


    Emily in Paris Is an Irresistible Fantasy (The Atlantic)


    And Just Like That Is a Far Cry From 'Sex and the City' (The Atlantic)


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    • 45 min
    Spider-Man: No Way Home

    Spider-Man: No Way Home

    After its record-setting opening weekend, the third Tom Holland Spider-Man is already the most successful movie of 2021. David Sims, Shirley Li, and Spencer Kornhaber debate Marvel’s continued dominance of moviegoing — Will it continue? Do we want it to? For a film that navel-gazes about the various Spider-mans (Spider-men?) of the past two decades, what is No Way Home telling audiences about how comic-book movies have evolved? (And, of course, who is the best Spider-Man?)

    David’s review: The Joyful Pandering of 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' - The Atlantic
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    • 51 min
    Succession (Season 3 Finale)

    Succession (Season 3 Finale)

    Succession’s Season 3 finale opens with a family session of Monopoly, a game that offers the perfect summary of the show: Players fight to be the last one standing—trading advantages and risking jail—going around the board over and over without a clear end in sight. But with the season’s exhilarating ending, has the game of Succession finally changed?
    So far, each season has followed a different Roy sibling as likely successor: first Kendall, then Shiv, and now Roman. With that third season now over, how does Roman’s time as the Number One Boy stack up? And with Kendall as the show’s bloody beating heart, is every season fundamentally about him? 
    Sophie Gilbert, Hannah Giorgis, and Megan Garber discuss Tom, Shiv, and all the players in the Game of Roys. They also answer which Succession character they’d want to be stuck on a desert island with. (Note: the correct answer is Greg, the only one tall enough to reach the coconuts.)
    Further reading: 

    Megan on The Bodily Horrors of Succession


    Sophie’s finale review: A Perfect—And Cyclical—Succession Finale


    Sophie’s season 3 preview: The Best Show on TV Is Stuck


    The New Yorker profile: On “Succession,” Jeremy Strong Doesn’t Get the Joke



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    • 48 min

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