Between movies, music, podcast, books, comics, and the ever-growing glut of TV, there’s a ton of pop culture out there.
It can be a lot to keep up with. So we here at Vox Culture — where we’re currently into Wonder Woman, rewatching Band of Brothers, and a very solid sitcom about a dog — have a few suggestions for how to make the best use of your pop culture–consuming time.
Here are some items you should really consider adding to your culture diet this weekend.
ABC’s new comedy Downward Dog is so much more than a show about a talking dog
It’s tempting to think of Downward Dog as “that talking dog sitcom” — it is, after all, a sitcom in which a dog tells us his innermost thoughts. But the show isn’t nearly as wacky as its premise makes it sound; Martin the Mutt is a lonely weirdo fretting through his neuroses while his owner Nan (the wonderful Allison Tolman, who you may remember from the first season of Fargo) does the same. It’s intimate and strange, funny and surprisingly touching. Check out the first couple of episodes on Hulu or ABC.com. —Caroline Framke
Selena Gomez’s new single “Bad Liar” samples the Talking Heads/is great
“Pop star Selena Gomez puts her own twist on the Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’” might not seem like a winning combo at first glance, but at first listen? Whew, is “Bad Liar” fun. The Talking Heads’ pulsing backbeat is a weirdly perfect fit for Gomez’s breathy pop, making for one of the catchiest songs I’ve commuted to in months. And I’m not alone: David Byrne recently tweeted his approval for the song, “and her performance, too.” Get this one on your morning wake-up playlist and thank me later. —CF
Rumaan Alam’s Rich and Pretty is probably the best exploration of what it means to be a woman that is also written by a man
Rich and Pretty is one of those women’s novels like Sense and Sensibility where each character stands for one of the titular attributes: Sarah is rich but not pretty; Laura is pretty but not rich. Despite this disparity, they are best friends. Rumaan Alam explores the intimacies and insecurities of their friendship in one of last summer’s most engrossing and absorbing novels — and now it’s out in paperback, so you can catch up even if you’re more a Laura than a Sarah, bank account-wise. —Constance Grady
The Legend of Wonder Woman is the Wonder Woman origin story you should read ahead of the new movie
With Wonder Woman, Warner Bros.’ highly anticipated superhero flick starring Gal Gadot, hitting theaters next Friday, there is no better time to get acquainted with the lasso-wielding Amazon and first lady of DC Comics. While Wonder Woman might be one of the most famous superheroes ever created, her origin story is still a bit esoteric to a general audience (the numerous times it’s been rewritten don’t help). One of my favorite interpretations of the character’s story is The Legend of Wonder Woman, by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon. They lean into the Greek mythology aspects of Wonder Woman’s beginnings, but also find a way to explore her journey to our world, our customs, and our way of life without abandoning what makes Wonder Woman so special: her unyielding belief in the good of people. —Alex Abad-Santos
You can now learn the history of the entire world in just under 20 minutes
Last year, Bill Wurtz’s well-researched yet deeply internetty “History of Japan” video went massively viral. It spawned memes and internet lingo and in-jokes and made non-rhyming jingles into a thing. Now Wurtz is back with a sequel video that leaves “History of Japan” in the dust — an exhaustive but not exhausting attempt to briefly sum up the main points in the history of the world and human civilization as we know it. The internet has already amplified its meme-making around “History of Japan” tenfold for “History of the Entire World, I Guess,” and Wurtz has basically ascended to the top of the YouTube pecking order. Dare we say it? You could make a religion out of this. —Aja Romano
Code Switch unpacks the most talked-about article on the internet
When the Atlantic magazine published its eye-opening June cover story, “My Family’s Slave,” online last week, the response was immediate and visceral. Seemingly everyone who read Alex Tizon’s piece about Eudocia Tomas Pulido, the unpaid woman who worked for his family and raised him, had a take on what the article said about slavery, immigration, domestic labor, Filipino culture, and pretty much everything else it touched on, however lightly (to the point where the Atlantic has also published a series of follow-up articles.)
The ongoing discussion prompted NPR’s excellent race-and-identity podcast Code Switch to devote an episode to why “We’re Still Talking About ‘My Family’s Slave,’” which digs into a few of the issues raised — and talks to Tizon’s widow, one of the few remaining people who actually knew the woman Tizon’s family called “Lola” — but, more interestingly, looks at why the story has struck such a nerve. It’s a fascinating discussion that offers both depth and clarity, and is a must-listen for anyone still haunted by Lola’s story. —Genevieve Koski
Celebrate the late Chris Cornell by watching his flawless cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”
Since Chris Cornell’s death last Wednesday, the former Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman has been heaped with posthumous praise for his vocal chops — and rightfully so. A pillar of the ’90s grunge movement, Cornell’s voice rang out clearly in his rock tracks, breaking through throbbing guitars and drums with a powerful and distinctive sound. But his vocal range and talent are even more unmistakable in this stripped-down acoustic session he recorded for SiriusXM in 2015. Cornell covers Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” made popular in 1990 by Sinéad O'Connor. If you weren’t already sad about Cornell’s passing, watching him cover this Prince (RIP) hit might get you there. —Bridgett Henwood
Band of Brothers is TV’s best tribute to the American military
Based on the Stephen Ambrose book of the same name, HBO’s 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers is the true story of Easy Company, a group of men who fought their way through World War II, from the beaches of Normandy to the fall of Germany. It’s one of the rare TV projects about the military that neither undercuts nor sanitizes the sacrifices and experiences of those fighting, perhaps because it was produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, fresh off the success of Saving Private Ryan. The 10-episode series has some gut-wrenching and beautiful episodes, especially in the second half of its run, and if you’re someone who likes to watch actors before they were famous, seemingly every famous actor of the past 15 years has a small part in Band of Brothers. It’s a perfect Memorial Day watch. —Todd VanDerWerff
Read the New York Times’s Pete Wells on why he’s not reviewing a sold-out pop-up restaurant
Pete Wells, a food critic at the New York Times, is also one of my favorite critics to read. And while his Guy Fieri takedown and love letter to (the now defunct) Times Square Señor Frog’s are the stuff of legends, his recent article about why he’s not reviewing the expensive and exclusive pop-up restaurant Noma Mexico contains enough musing on the ethics and pitfalls of any critic’s job — especially those who deal with expensive, exclusive cultural goods — that I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I read it. There’s a lot to chew on (forgive me) even if you’re not a food critic. —Alissa Wilkinson