Today's Liberal News

Hannah Giorgis

The Missing Piece of the Bob Marley Biopic

Nearly 20 years ago, during one of many family trips back to Ethiopia, I spent months wandering through the sprawling capital city. All summer, it seemed, the drivers and cyclists of Addis Ababa were blasting the Ethiopian pop star Teddy Afro’s “Promise,” an infectious, reggae-inflected ode more often referred to by the name of the musician it lionizes: “Bob Marley.

The Raw Talent in Usher’s Halftime Show

Designing a Super Bowl halftime performance is, in many ways, an exercise in sacrificial concision: Artists must whittle decades of songs into a crowd-friendly, roughly 13-minute reprieve from athletics and multimillion-dollar commercials. It’s no wonder that many sets end up feeling like lackluster interruptions of the main events.
But during tonight’s Super Bowl LVIII halftime show, the veteran R&B singer Usher breathed life into the annual musical diversion.

The Most Truthful Moment of the Emmys

One of the first presenters of Monday’s 75th Emmy Awards responded to a standing ovation by gently mocking the audience. As the crowd cheered, the actor Christina Applegate added some wry humor to her expression of gratitude. “Thank you so much. Oh my god, you’re totally shaming me with disability by standing up,” she said. Applegate, who has multiple sclerosis and walked onto the stage with a cane, continued: “It’s fine. Body not by Ozempic. Okay, let’s go!”
But the audience continued to clap.

Norman Lear’s Many American Families

The renowned television producer Norman Lear, who died yesterday at 101, pursued his craft with an assiduous fervor throughout his seven decades in the entertainment industry. But when I interviewed him back in 2020, for a story that focused in part on his role in ushering in prominent Black television shows of the 1970s, Lear characterized himself as an enthusiastic viewer above all. “My primary role has been to have a great time!” he said, with a laugh.

A Poet Reckons With Her Past

“Out here I spent my early childhood in a wild state of happiness,” the Jamaican poet Safiya Sinclair writes of growing up by the water, “stretched out under the almond trees fed by brine, relishing every fish eye like precious candy, my toes dipped in the sea’s milky lapping.”Born, in her words, “just beyond the margins of the postcard idea of Jamaica,” Sinclair has been publishing poetry about her island since she was 16.

The Horror Stories of Black Hair

In the 1989 surrealist satire Chameleon Street, two Black men bicker after one says that he prefers women with light skin and “good hair.” After being criticized for the comment, the man makes a self-deprecating joke: “I’m a victim, brotha. I’m a victim of 400 years of conditioning. The Man has programmed my conditioning. Even my conditioning has been conditioned.

The Indignity and Joy of Starting Over After a Breakup

If you’ve watched a Netflix original in the past few years, you might recognize the comedian Michelle Buteau as the platform’s punchiest voice of reason. At the beginning of the 2019 breakup comedy Someone Great, Buteau’s character delivers a brisk self-esteem boost to the film’s protagonist, whom she encounters as a crying stranger on a subway platform: “Why he won’t try? Look at you with your pretty teeth and shit.

To Grandmother’s TikTok We Go

Nothing about Barbara Costello’s favorite Christmas recipe is all that fancy. The overnight breakfast casserole she makes every year doesn’t call for much more than eggs, milk, sausage, cheese, and bread thrown into a baking dish—a recipe she clipped from a local newspaper nearly 50 years ago.

Barry Isn’t a Comedy Anymore. But It’s Become an Even Better Show.

This article contains spoilers through the finale of Barry, Season 3.The first murder on Sunday night’s devastating Season 3 finale of Barry, the HBO series about a listless hitman, happens silently. Barry (played by Bill Hader) watches in horror from outside a makeshift sound stage as Sally (Sarah Goldberg), his former acting classmate and ex-girlfriend, bludgeons a man who tries to choke her after she gets in the way of his attempt to kill Barry.

Eight Books That Reevaluate American History

Zora Neale Hurston once observed that America’s most prominent historical narratives prioritize “all these words from the seller, but not one word from the sold.” Much of American life is built on the knowledge and labor of Black people, especially those who were once enslaved.

Insecure Was So Much More Than a TV Show

Sitting in a New York City hotel room with a plastic flute full of prosecco and strappy black Manolo Blahnik heels resting near her bare feet, Issa Rae looks like the kind of woman who would have petrified an earlier avatar of herself.

How the Characters of Pose Built Their Own Church

This article contains spoilers through the series finale of Pose.In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor Billy Porter explained the monumental meaning of his role in the FX drama Pose, which aired its series finale tonight. Yes, he won his first Emmy in 2019 for portraying Pray Tell, the cantankerous fashion designer who moonlights as an emcee in New York City’s underground ball scene.

Why We Watch Relationships Fall Apart

This article contains spoilers through the third season of Master of None.Of all the unnerving things I’ve witnessed in the anxiety cauldron that is New York’s Penn Station, one stands out. Back in 2019, I noticed a couple arguing in the middle of the squalid Amtrak waiting area. There was something transfixing about their escalating row—even before one of them stormed off, presumably leaving the other to board a train alone or cancel their trip altogether.

What Sets Amazon’s The Underground Railroad Apart From Other Slavery Stories

Atsushi Nishijima / Amazon Studios
What does freedom sound like? For Barry Jenkins, the answer started with the Earth. While filming The Underground Railroad, the new limited series adapted from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, the director was caught off guard by a rumbling beneath his feet. The source was a nearby construction site, but to Jenkins, the vibration felt like a train was passing under him.

The Fleeting Promise of a Peaceful Ethiopia

The morning after the 2020 presidential election, as ballots were still being counted in several battleground states and then-President Donald Trump drummed up dangerous conspiracy theories about the impending results, many Ethiopians in the U.S. woke up to distressing political news from back home, too. The Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, had announced a military offensive in Tigray, the northernmost region of the East African country.

Youn Yuh-jung Knows How to Win

When she took the stage to accept the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress last night, Youn Yuh-jung claimed something else, too: her name. The South Korean actor said it clearly for everyone watching and then noted how often it is mispronounced. “Tonight, you are all forgiven,” Youn said cheekily—effectively pardoning Brad Pitt, who had made such a mistake when he announced her victory.

Who Wants to Watch Black Pain?

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET on April 17, 2021.In the trailer for Amazon’s new horror series, Them, Diana Ross’s “Home” soundtracks a tender scene: A Black husband and wife in the 1950s survey their new house in wonder and dance in the living room with their two daughters. “When I think of home / I think of a place where there’s love overflowing,” Ross sings. But, as in the song, the tenor of the trailer changes.

Who Wants to Watch Black Pain?

Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET on April 17, 2021.In the trailer for Amazon’s new horror series, Them, Diana Ross’s “Home” soundtracks a tender scene: A Black husband and wife in the 1950s survey their new house in wonder and dance in the living room with their two daughters. “When I think of home / I think of a place where there’s love overflowing,” Ross sings. But, as in the song, the tenor of the trailer changes.

The Surprising Comedic Genius of Daniel Kaluuya

Who’s afraid of Daniel Kaluuya? According to the actor, that would be the British monarchy. “I’m Black and I’m British,” he explained in his opening monologue during last night’s Saturday Night Live. “Basically I’m what the Royal Family was worried the baby would look like.

The Final Word on Tina Turner

Before “What’s Love Got to Do With It” was a Grammy Hall of Fame record, the title of an Angela Bassett–fronted biopic, or a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, it was a breathy little ditty sung by the British pop group Bucks Fizz. After the ABBA-reminiscent band recorded its rendition, the songwriter Terry Britten took his track to a very different artist who initially disliked it, before she brought it to life with a new vigor.

The Many Cruelties of I Care A Lot

Psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term-care facilities have served as chilling backdrops to some of film’s most arresting psychological thrillers. But the foreboding lighthouse of Shutter Island and the macabre, labyrinthine hospital of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest pale in comparison with both movies’ animating horrors: the wretched treatment of the people trapped within.

A Novel That Captures the Allure of the Scam

MICHELLE MISHINA KUNZ / New York Times / ReduxIf you’ve ever been lured into a mediocre dining establishment by the promise of unlimited food, you’re not alone. In 2017, TGI Fridays made endless appetizers a permanent part of its menu because they had, in the words of the chain’s CEO, become such a “pop-culture phenomenon, as evidenced by the outcry we heard every time the limited-time offer expired.

When the FBI Spied on MLK

The Martin Luther King Jr. who is introduced to most American schoolchildren is a tragic hero—not just in a colloquial sense, but also in a mythological one. Greek tragedy is driven by characters just like the King described in textbooks. They’re brilliant and virtuous, yet doomed by a small error in judgment. King’s flaw, we are taught, was his idealism, which both made him a civil-rights hero and brought about his downfall.

D.C. Statehood Is More Urgent Than Ever

Less than six months before a mob of the sitting president’s supporters would descend upon the United States Capitol, a more solemn crowd gathered at its steps. Among those who arrived to pay their final respects to the late Representative John Lewis were Washington, D.C., residents who appreciated his unwavering support of statehood for the district.

The Atlantic Daily: 9 Recipes That Brought Us Comfort in 2020

Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.Even when you love to cook, being responsible for feeding yourself—and others, especially children—is never a simple duty.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and the Liberating Power of Music

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom begins with what seems at first like a harrowing journey. Netflix’s new adaptation of the late August Wilson’s play opens with a foreboding shot of the woods; the only noises are of crickets chirping, dogs barking, and young Black men gasping for air as they sprint through the trees. But then, we hear the music.

The Year of Ambitious TV Watching

My biggest accomplishment of the year was a bloody mess. The project started simply enough, but within weeks, I found myself regularly staring at contorted limbs and gaping wounds. Soon few things marked the end of my workday more clearly than a grisly episode of Dexter, the mid-aughts Showtime series about a forensic analyst who moonlights as a serial killer.

When Your Hometown Team Gets a New Identity

Three years ago, the Washington Football Team hosted its first-ever Thanksgiving Day game. The franchise had played—and lost—on the holiday many times before. But the 2017 game wasn’t notable just because the team, then known as the Redskins, actually won. That afternoon, a small group of Native American activists gathered outside FedEx Field, the Maryland arena where Washington plays, to educate D.C.

The Atlantic Daily: Our Guide to Cooking in Isolation

Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.By now it’s a well-worn cliché to say that 2020 has been rough, and that the holiday season will be no different. Indeed, many Americans will likely (and should certainly) not be celebrating this Thanksgiving, that fraught annual feast, in the traditional manner.