The ever-growing glut of great new TV, movies, books, music, comics, and podcasts can be a lot to keep up with. So we here at Vox Culture — where our current obsessions include the excellent soundtrack to Baby Driver, a ridiculous Taylor Swift conspiracy theory, and a Thing-esque horror short film you can stream on YouTube — 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 checking out.
The Bold Type is a refreshing shot of rom-com fun for summer TV
If you’re in need of a glossy piece of entertainment — or just a TV show to throw on as you pant in front of your air conditioner — Freeform’s new series The Bold Type is about the best you’re gonna do. It follows the misadventures of three young women trying to make their mark on Scarlet, a teen magazine with grander ambitions than the lip gloss tutorials most people assume are the publication’s bread and butter. I keep describing it as “what would happen if a 2000s-era rom-com discovered Tumblr and realized it was kinda gay,” and it is a joy to watch. The first three episodes are currently available to stream on Freeform’s website and Hulu. —Caroline Framke
Taylor Swift probably isn’t hiding in a box, but shush, let’s pretend
This week’s pop culture discourse got pretty dark, what with legendary musicians allegedly forming abusive cults and all, so when rumors began to spread across the internet that Taylor Swift had been carried out of her apartment in an enormous suitcase, they were a proverbial gift from the heavens.
The story also seemed a little bit plausible if you squint: Swift has to get in and out of her apartment without being seen somehow, so why not use a giant suitcase? And if magicians’ assistants throughout history have been able to contort themselves into boxes to make the magic happen, why couldn’t Swift do it to make the magic that is her own life happen?
Sadly, the photo service that put out the story has since retracted the statement — but maybe that’s just because Swift’s camp leaned on them to hide the truth! (Unlikely, but it’s fun to pretend.) In the meantime, please enjoy the New Statesman’s list of 17 reasons why Taylor Swift might have herself smuggled out of her apartment in a giant suitcase (including: “The suitcase would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that it has never asked to be part of, since 2009”). —Constance Grady
There’s no better soundtrack for your commute than the soundtrack to Baby Driver
Maybe you’ve heard of Baby Driver, Edgar Wright’s latest film that takes the heist movie format and remixes it into something a little sleeker. I didn’t fall for the movie itself quite as hard as some others have, but I’m still finding its soundtrack almost impossible to turn away from. Wright deliberately calibrated his movie so it’s timed impeccably to music ranging from girl-group bops to electric guitar rips echoing the squealing of a smoking wheel, and the resulting album is wall-to-wall fantastic. —CF
Risk, the documentary about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, premieres on Showtime
Risk is a frustrating and complicated film about a frustrating and complicated subject: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. That’s exactly the film it needs to be — and exactly what makes director Laura Poitras a perfect fit for her subject. As with Poitras’s Oscar-winning Citizenfour, Risk plays more as a character study of Assange than a straightforward, informative look at WikiLeaks. Instead of shaping the story into any familiar political narrative about WikiLeaks, Poitras presents an uncomfortable look at the complicated interplay of Assange’s personal goals, the goals of his organization, his ego, and the then-outstanding sexual assault allegations against him in Sweden — all of which contribute to a sometimes admiring, sometimes infuriating portrait. Catch it on Showtime this Saturday, July 22, at 9 pm. —Alissa Wilkinson
Exo’s “KoKo Bop” is a delightfully summery earworm
K-pop giants Exo just dropped their fourth album, The War, along with the infectious, rainbow-hued first single from that album, “KoKo Bop.” The video is tinged with the requisite boy band homoeroticism and a lot of Instagram-y filtering — making it a perfect match for the song’s relaxed, reggae-influenced vibe. This song both sounds and feels like late summer. —Aja Romano
Director Neill Blomkamp’s latest work, Zygote, is a brilliant horror short film you can watch on YouTube
YouTube is rife with experimental short horror films, but it’s not often one comes along made by the director of District 9 and starring Dakota Fanning. Cult fave Neill Blomkamp has given us several shorts recently through his new studio Oats: the Sigourney Weaver-helmed alien sci-fi Rakka, a twisted infomercial, and a paranormal Vietnam film, Firebase.
The latest of the lot is Zygote, a sci-fi/horror creature feature full of homages to Alien and The Thing. Fanning is trapped on a desolate corporate outpost that’s been wiped out by a terrifying creature, making a last stand with a superior officer whose sanity is rapidly dwindling. It’s the best 20 minutes of horror we’ve seen in ages. You can also find extra content for Zygote and Blomkamp’s other recent short films on Steam. —AR
Now is the perfect time to revisit David Foster Wallace’s 2006 essay on Wimbledon winner Roger Federer
Last weekend, Swiss tennis player Roger Federer became the first man in history to win eight Wimbledon championships, beating Croatia’s Marin Cilic and reestablishing himself at the top of the tennis food chain. A Federer win is always satisfying to watch, but it’s still a great excuse to revisit “Roger Federer as Religious Experience,” David Foster Wallace’s New York Times essay from 2006 — itself a marvel of craft and skill.
Wallace, a former teenage tennis champ, isn’t as interested in describing Federer as he is in describing what it’s like to watch Federer play, to witness the athlete’s “liquid whip” and “certain eel-like all-body snap.” And in his conclusion, Wallace observes that watching Federer, or any great athlete, is an experience much bigger than tennis: “Genius is not replicable,” he writes. “Inspiration, though, is contagious, and multiform — and even just to see, close up, power and aggression made vulnerable to beauty is to feel inspired and (in a fleeting, mortal way) reconciled.” —AW
This Wings fan Twitter is everything good and pure about the internet
Probably you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the sitcom Wings, which ran on NBC from 1990 to 1997. But that is because you haven’t transcended your own limited human form to become a being as pure as whoever runs the Twitter account @Winger9097. This is passion and fandom at its most unfiltered, and for seemingly the most random of things — a pretty good but somewhat forgettable ’90s sitcom. Here are five perfect tweets from the world’s top Wings superfan.
I'm a Wings sitcom fans finder on twitter WINGERS come out there's no shame in liking the show!— Airport90 (@winger9097) April 11, 2017
Which character u want to seat w/ in an airplane? Joe so good looking i might be tongue tied but be thrilled to be Joe&Brian sandwich lol— Airport90 (@winger9097) July 15, 2017
It was refreshing to see new faces on Wings like Casey & Alex but some fans have issues esp Alex they did their part so thnx to them pic.twitter.com/ke1UPFuQXu— Airport90 (@winger9097) July 11, 2017
If you are a Wings fan you know how a Big Sandwich looks like— Airport90 (@winger9097) January 30, 2017
Wings fashion still in to this day right? pic.twitter.com/GhHHOD3SHb— Airport90 (@winger9097) July 7, 2017
Sure, there’s a 2 percent chance that the account is all elaborate parody, but we choose to believe in the power of fandom and the power of Wings. —Todd VanDerWerff