Today's Liberal News

Megan Garber

Knocked Up and the American Impulse to Edit Out Abortion

Early in Knocked Up, Ben Stone (played by Seth Rogen) tells his friends that a one-night stand has ended in pregnancy. Ben’s friend Jonah (Jonah Hill) offers him advice on the matter. “It rhymes with shma-shmortion,” Jonah says. “I’m just saying … you should get a shma-shmortion at the shma-shmortion clinic.”Knocked Up is now 15 years old. It premiered in 2007, a product of raunch culture and one of its bards, the director Judd Apatow.

The Great Fracturing of American Attention

Last month, as Delta Flight 1580 made its way from Utah to Oregon, Michael Demarre approached one of the plane’s emergency-exit doors. He removed the door’s plastic covering, a federal report of the events alleges, and tugged at the handle that would release its hatch. A nearby flight attendant, realizing what he was doing, stopped him. Fellow passengers spent the rest of the flight watching him to ensure that he remained in his seat.

The TV Show for the Age of Conspiracism

This article contains spoilers through the ninth episode of Yellowjackets Season 1.The Ouija board brands itself as a “mystifying oracle,” an ornately silk-screened conduit to the past and the future. I know it mostly from childhood sleepovers.

The Sly Sunniness of Betty White

In 1973, before the series’ fourth season, the producers of The Mary Tyler Moore Show discussed the casting of a new character they were soon to introduce. Sue Ann Nivens, the host of the Happy Homemaker program on the fictional WJM-TV news station, would be cunning and cutting and a foil for her colleague Mary’s adamant optimism.

The Sly Sunniness of Betty White

In 1973, before the series’ fourth season, the producers of The Mary Tyler Moore Show discussed the casting of a new character they were soon to introduce. Sue Ann Nivens, the host of the Happy Homemaker program on the fictional WJM-TV news station, would be cunning and cutting and a foil for her colleague Mary’s adamant optimism.

Joan Didion Was Our Bard of Disenchantment

In 1988, Joan Didion joined a scrum of reporters on the tarmac of the San Diego airport to witness the writing of the first draft of history. The assembled journalists were trailing the Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. She was trailing the journalists. Didion watched as a baseball was procured, a staffer tossed the ball to the candidate, he tossed it back—and as the cameras dutifully captured the exchange.

The Holiday-Rom-Com Fantasy Has Nothing to Do With Romance

Phylis Mitchell is a woman who is transformed, through the magic of the holidays, into a drill sergeant. Early on in The Christmas House, an already classic Hallmark rom-com, she enlists her husband and two adult sons in her mission to revive an old family tradition: creating the aggressively festive home that gives the movie its title. Phylis (played by Sharon Lawrence) devotes herself to the cause with comic zeal.

Market-Speak Is the Love Language on Succession

This article contains spoilers through the eighth episode of Succession Season 3.Last month, as fears about inflation filled the American news, Elon Musk sent out a tweet. “Due to inflation,” his brief missive went, “420 has gone up by 69.”Musk being Musk, the note caused a flurry of speculation.

The Loss at the Heart of Guy Fieri’s Entertainment Empire

In 2007, in one of the first episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy Fieri visited Patrick’s Roadhouse, a railway-station-turned-restaurant in Santa Monica, California. The diner’s chef, Silvio Moreira, walked Fieri through the preparation of one of Patrick’s most notable dishes, the Rockefeller—a burger topped with mushrooms, sour cream, jack cheese, and … caviar.

You Can’t Make Succession Without Breaking a Few Gregs

This story contains spoilers through the fourth episode of Succession Season 3.It’s morning in New York, and Greg Hirsch has been summoned to the home of his great-uncle, Logan Roy. Greg, despite the hour, is having a drink. (Logan had insisted; flustered, Greg had asked for a rum and Coke.) He hadn’t expected the breakfast booze to be so potent. Greg deals with this situation as he deals with most situations: awkwardly. “Strong.

Saturday Night Live Turns the Big Lie Into a Big Farce

In late October 2020, just before the election that would remove Donald Trump from office and install his Big Lie, Saturday Night Live aired a fake public-service announcement. “Do we want four more years of Donald Trump, or a fresh start with Joe Biden?” the show’s cast members asked. “Can we survive four more years of scandal, name-calling, and racial division?” But then the ad took a turn.

How Gunther Broke the Fourth Wall

In a Season 4 episode of Friends, Ross is about to get married (again). At his bachelor party, Joey and Chandler argue over who will serve as his best man. Their bickering devolves into pettiness, until a fed-up Chandler makes an announcement about one of their guests, the barista at their favorite coffee shop: When he gets married, Chandler says, he’ll just ask Gunther to be his best man.

The Great Novel of the Internet Was Published in 1925

Adam Maida / The Atlantic
In September, The Wall Street Journal published a report, based on leaked documents, describing Facebook’s awareness of the harmful effects one of its platforms was having on young people. “Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the company’s internal research revealed. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.

Jeopardy, a Place Where Facts Used to Matter

Every once in a while, after a commercial break on Jeopardy, Alex Trebek would make an announcement: The judges, he’d say, had done more research. Having consulted an atlas, an encyclopedia, or Google, they’d realized that their initial assessment of a contestant’s answer had been wrong. They would now make things right. In an instant, the dollar-based score on the affected contestant’s podium would change. And then the show, its error thus corrected, would go on.

The Leisure Class Always Wins

This article contains spoilers through the Season 1 finale of The White Lotus. “This is a lot of pineapple. Not subtle with the theme.”Midway through The White Lotus, Mike White’s acerbic satire on HBO, the socialite mother of a guy on his honeymoon pays her son and new daughter-in-law a surprise visit. The drop-in is partly the result of her inability to stop meddling in her son’s life.

The Sad Irony of Andrew Cuomo’s ‘Love Gov’ Persona

On Etsy and similar sites, you can purchase a mug bearing the smiling face of Andrew Cuomo and the coinage that summarized his fandom: Cuomosexual. You can buy a prayer candle featuring the New York governor in a beatific pose. Or a throw pillow. Or one of many T-shirts, some bearing images of him, one featuring a list:
☐ Single.
☐ Taken.
☑️  Mentally Dating Andrew Cuomo.
The objects read as relics of a time both recent and removed. They also read as mistaken.

The Marriage Plot for the Age of Workism

A scene midway through Hacks finds the show’s protagonists, Deborah and Ava, in bed together—but not in bed together. The two comedians, one in her 70s and the other in her 20s, are chatting on the phone late one evening, Ava from her Las Vegas hotel room and Deborah from her Vegas mansion. Both are watching Law & Order: Criminal Intent. “I think I could play a dead body,” Ava muses. “Well, you certainly have the complexion,” Deborah murmurs in reply.

Tucker Carlson’s Manufactured America

First comes the piece of timber. Then the strip of leather. Then the fence, the mountain, the trees, the river. The pictures whirl, like icons in a Western-themed slot machine, until they land on their final image: the smiling face of Tucker Carlson.This spring, Carlson began hosting a new show on Fox Nation, the network’s digital streaming service.

Slouching Towards Gilead

In June 2019, Kylie Jenner shared with the world some pictures of a birthday party she’d thrown for a friend. The event had a theme: The Handmaid’s Tale. It featured guests garbed in blood-red gowns; servers dressed as “Marthas,” or women enslaved for household labor; and drinks with such names as “Under His Eye tequila” and “Praise Be vodka.” The whole thing was cringey and absurd.

The Cowardice of Cruella

This article contains mild spoilers for Cruella. “It’s time to make some trouble. You in?” reads one of the posts promoting Cruella, Disney’s prequel-meets-reconsideration of the classic One Hundred and One Dalmatians villain. The line is in keeping with the film: It’s slick and witty and teasingly imprecise about what “trouble,” in this context, might entail.

The Dark Side of the Houseplant Boom

It started, as so many of life’s journeys do, at IKEA. We went one day a few years ago to get bookshelves. We left with some Hemnes and a leafy impulse buy: a giant Dracaena fragrans. A couple of months later, delighted that we had managed to keep it alive, we brought in a spritely little ponytail palm. And then an ivy. A visiting friend brought us a gorgeous snake plant. I bought a Monstera online because it was cheap and I was curious.

Hormone Monsters

Illustration by Oliver Munday; Christine Schneider / Brigitte Sporrer / Getty
This article was published online on April 14, 2021.Embarrassment makes for rich literature, but few fictions I can think of capture humiliation with the brute efficiency of “Traumarama.” The series, which ran for a time in Seventeen magazine, offered true stories written by, and for, teenagers—three or so lines, poetic in their brevity, about unruly bodies and unforgiving worlds.

Portrait of a Leader Humblebragging

Some books age poorly; others are poorly aged from the moment they’re published. American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic, Andrew Cuomo’s recent memoir, manages to fall into both categories. The New York governor’s paean to his handling of the COVID-19 crisis is in some ways a classic political chronicle: a hero’s journey, through the ordeal to the victory, told by the hero himself.

2020 Changed What TV Is For

“When television is good, nothing—not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers—nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse.”Nearly 60 years ago, the FCC chair Newton Minow delivered an excoriation of television that was officially titled “Television and the Public Interest” but would be remembered, among the broader American public, as the “vast wasteland” speech.

I’m Really Sorry, but Let’s Talk About That Chicken Movie

Late last month, the crew of a helicopter surveying a desolate stretch of the Utah desert came across an unexpected finding: a metal structure, tall and thin, gleaming among the matte-red rocks. Soon after, the object vanished. But people began finding similar ones, in California and Romania and the Netherlands—elongated prisms studding the earth, their provenance, for the most part, unknown.

The New Comedy of American Decline

Last month, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia published its , right down to the clear-eyes/full-hearts–style BELIEVE poster he tapes above his new team’s locker-room door). The quality that most defines Ted, however, is his curiosity. That is how Ted Lasso, a show so similar in structure to Emily in Paris, can read so differently from it. Emily’s ignorance is existential; Ted’s is conditional.

Fox News Hits a Dangerous New Low

Here are some of the things that happened yesterday evening on the most-watched news network in America: The minority leader of the House of Representatives announced, absolutely falsely and with no pushback, that “President Trump won this election.” A former speaker of the House argued that, in the name of democracy, the U.S. federal government should “lock up” state election workers.

Beware False Endings

Earlier this week, a striking thing happened at the Supreme Court: A justice inserted several errors into the record. The mistakes came as the Court was making last-minute decisions about the precise time span of an election that has been taking place for weeks. The errors were products, as The New York Times put it, of “the court’s fast pace in handling recent challenges to voting rules.

The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Fandom Was Never Frivolous

In 2014, Kate Livingston created a quirky Halloween costume for her 12-week-old son. It featured a black, sleeved onesie. And a white silken collar. And a pair of large, plastic-rimmed glasses. Livingston snapped a picture of the cosplaying infant—he provided the cool scowl—and then added a caption, in blunt all-caps, to the photo she took: “I DISSENT.” Ruth Baby Ginsburg was born.Justices of the Supreme Court have traditionally existed above the fray.

Before the Media Treated Him as a Threat, They Treated Him as a Joke

In March 2011, The Colbert Report aired an installment of “Difference Makers,” the segment in which Stephen Colbert, through the character he played on the show, satirized American “heroes” in the guise of celebrating them. Its subject this time was a lawyer who had been making headlines for his efforts to challenge the constitutionality of “ladies’ nights” at bars.