Pop culture can range from thrilling to frustrating, escapist to educational. And between books, movies, music, podcasts, and the ever-growing glut of TV, there’s a lot of it to keep up with, especially if you’re interested in ever going outside or just, you know, being a part of the world.
So we here at Vox Culture — who consume a truly mind-boggling amount and array of pop culture every day — have some suggestions for how to make the best use of your time if you get a spare hour or two to sample the variety of pop culture on offer at any time. Whether you’re looking for a new book, a Broadway show, or an unexpected movie to stream, we’ve got you covered.
Here, in no particular order, are some items you should really consider adding to your pop culture diet this week.
Helen Oyeyemi’s What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
Helen Oyeyemi’s short story collection was published last year, but it just came out in paperback this month, so now you can immerse yourself in Oyeyemi’s vivid stained-glass prose without breaking the bank. Her sentences veer from funny to shiveringly lovely and back again with no discernible effort. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is a singularly well-made book, with stories that feel simultaneously new and familiar, like half-forgotten fairy tales. —Constance Grady
Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
For the past few years, Amazon has test-driven many of its shows by releasing their first episodes to the Amazon Prime–subscribing masses to see how they respond. This year, there’s a new one from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino about a 1950s housewife (House of Cards’ Rachel Brosnahan) who gets involved in the Greenwich Village standup comedy scene, and it’s worth your while. The hour-long episode is smart and fun, thanks especially to Brosnahan and some gorgeous costuming. With any luck, we’ll be getting a series from it soon. Until then, enjoy the comedy stylings of the Upper West Side’s marvelous Mrs. Maisel while we’ve got ’em. —Caroline Framke
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Hari Kondabolu’s New Material Volume 1
Standup comic Hari Kondabolu’s “new” self-released album actually dates back to December 2013, a few months before the release of his debut album, Waiting for 2042, and well before last year’s excellent Mainstream American Comic. It was recorded (on an iPhone) at one of Kondabolu’s “New Material Nights,” where he tested out in-progress material in San Francisco (one of the eight cities, Kondabolu jokes, that welcomes his occasionally confrontational progressive comedy). New Material isn’t the polished, expertly constructed comedy Kondabolu has delivered on his official albums, but it’s loose, exciting, and occasionally fascinating, particularly as the comic self-critiques and edits his own work onstage, and is hilariously thrown off by the surprise appearance in the audience of his then-girlfriend. —Genevieve Koski
New Material Volume 1 is available for $5 via Bandcamp.
The original Broadway cast recording for Come From Away
Come From Away, a new musical about the stranding of 7,000 passengers in a tiny Newfoundland town after 9/11, was unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight last week after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took Ivanka Trump to see the show. With its warm message of open borders and welcome to all, Come From Away offers a surprisingly robust counterpoint to President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies via one of the heartiest scores to hit Broadway in ages. The music draws on Newfoundland's Irish immigrant roots, while the narrative uses fast pacing, multiplicity, and a surprising amount of humor to capture an unforgettable September. —Aja Romano
The score hits stores on March 24, but it’s already available digitally, and you can preview it on NPR here.
FX’s Legion, “Chapter 7”
For the past six weeks, Legion creator Noah Hawley has taken viewers on a challenging journey into the brain of David Haller (Dan Stevens), one of the most powerful mutants on earth. Legion’s nonlinear style makes it impossible to tell what’s real, what’s fake, what decade the events of the show are taking place in, and, sometimes, whether we’re even watching things in the right order. But the complex story Hawley has been weaving finally comes together in “Chapter 7,” when everything starts to make sense. As the payoff for sticking with the challenge of the first six episodes, it’s a tremendously satisfying hour of television. —Alex Abad-Santos
Legion is currently available on demand and to stream on Hulu and FXNow.
The Lovers and the Despot
The Lovers and the Despot tells a story that's so strange, it has to be true: In 1978, the South Korean movie star Choi Eun-hee and her ex-husband, the film director Shin Sang-ok, were kidnapped by Kim Jong Il of North Korea and held against their will. To do what? That's what the documentary explores, in a cross between a real-life mystery and a desperate, head-scratching Stockholm syndrome tale. Kim, it turns out, was quite the cinephile. —Alissa Wilkinson
The Lovers and the Despot is currently available to stream on Netflix.
Spoon’s Hot Thoughts
I’ve been a fan of Spoon for well over a decade, but I was still surprised by March 17’s Hot Thoughts, the band’s first new album since 2014’s They Want My Soul. Spoon has always careened from rock to electronica and back again, and Hot Thoughts follows that habit with a series of piano-driven beats that make for a pretty fantastic commuting soundtrack. So far, my favorites are the lower-key “Pink Up,” which somehow makes a xylophone sexy, and “Hot Thoughts,” the title track that opens the album with crunching chords and irresistible guitar licks that build and build and build until suddenly, they don’t. (Missed you, Spoon.) —Caroline Framke
Hot Thoughts is available to buy on iTunes and to stream on Spotify.
New York magazine on Jenny Slate’s “Year of Living Publicly”
Great celebrity profiles require at least two crucial things: a willing subject, and a canny writer who can tell which details will paint the most representative — and entertaining — picture. Jada Yuan’s new profile of Jenny Slate has both. On the one hand, there’s the fact that Slate recently went through a very public breakup with Chris Evans (a.k.a. Captain America), a fact she’s open about in this piece. On the other, there’s the fact that the comedian and actress is a very funny and empathetic person who says some ridiculously delightful things. So even if you come for the gossip, you’ll stay for Slate’s charm, and for her dog who watches Frasier. —Caroline Framke