The ever-growing glut of great 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 a charming new movie starring Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney, a comic about an intergalactic reality cooking show, and Tyler, the Creator’s new album — have a few suggestions for how to make the best use of your pop culture–consuming time.
Here are eight items to consider for your pop culture queue.
Watch: this charming fan-made Archer/Bob’s Burgers crossover landed its creator a job offer at Bob’s Burgers
Animator Simon Chong had been working on his own Archer meets Bob’s Burgers crossover for seven months before he tweeted it on July 20, but it didn’t take long for the people who make those shows to notice. Fan videos can be hit or miss, but Chong’s four-minute clip (embedded above) is unusually slick; not only did he combine dialogue from both shows so that it flows in a believable way, but his original Bob’s Burgers-style animations of Archer’s acerbic characters look right at home in Bob’s restaurant. By the afternoon of July 21, Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard had straight up offered Chong a job, making for one of the better happily-ever-afters I’ve seen on the internet in a long while. —Caroline Framke
Watch: Brigsby Bear is a wonderful, weird movie about being obsessed with pop culture
Have you ever been so obsessed with some TV show or band that your friends and family started to worry about you? Then Brigsby Bear is the movie for you. The less I tell you about the film, the better; all you really need to know is that Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney co-wrote it and stars as a young man obsessed with a very, very niche TV show called Brigsby Bear. Mark Hamill, Greg Kinnear, Michaela Watkins, and Matt Walsh are also part of the cast, and the film is gentle, funny, and always surprising — a great weekend watch with a good heart at its core. —Alissa Wilkinson
Read: The Epiphany Machine will keep you guessing all the way through
In David Burr Gerrard’s new novel The Epiphany Machine, the device in the title tells people exactly what they need to hear but don’t want to listen to. It tattoos a phrase on each user’s wrist, something like “DEPENDENT ON THE OPINION OF OTHERS” or “PLAYS MARTYR TO EVADE RESPONSIBILITY,” and that phrase reveals what the person knew to be true about themselves but tried to avoid confronting.
For skeptics of the epiphany machine, it’s a cheap confidence trick that an unscrupulous fake guru is using to start a cult. For believers, it offers a way of confronting buried truths and becoming a better person. For Venter, the epiphany machine is just the thing that stole his mother (“ABANDONS WHAT MATTERS MOST”) and poisoned his relationship with his father (“SHOULD NEVER BECOME A FATHER”).
The Epiphany Machine is a thoughtful, philosophical novel about self-knowledge and friendship and the way the internet interacts with art. Its devotion to self-examination is occasionally clunky — it’s one of those books where the characters ceaselessly call themselves out on their own self-delusions, and that gets exhausting — but it’s also endearingly earnest, and as the book goes on, it leads to some dark and fascinating places. —Constance Grady
Listen: Tyler, the Creator’s Flower Boy is a musical and personal step forward for the controversial rapper
Tyler, the Creator’s 2015 album Cherry Bomb began to show that the rapper was moving beyond the shock value tactics of his teenage years, but his latest, Flower Boy, cements his status as a tremendously gifted producer and lyricist capable of helming a musically rich and thematically resonant record. Leaner and prettier than his previous projects (and with strong guest turns from the likes of Frank Ocean, Lil Wayne, and Rex Orange County), it’s so compelling because it contextualizes his past behavior instead of simply trying to apologize for it.
Much has been made of tracks like “Garden Shed” and “I Ain’t Got Time!” alluding to rumors about his sexuality, and while Flower Boy may not change Tyler’s perception in the eyes of people he’s targeted previously, it’s a fascinating example of personal and musical growth that we don’t see too often in rap music. —Grant Rindner
Read: the Hollywood Reporter’s profile of one of cinema’s most prolific monsters
You may not recognize Javier Botet when he’s out of makeup — but he might scare the hell out of you when he’s in it. As part of its Comic-Con coverage, the Hollywood Reporter published a fantastic little feature on Botet, who was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome as a child and now leverages his unusual build (he’s 6-foot-6 and weighs 120 pounds) to create some of Hollywood’s most memorable creatures. The Spanish actor has played ghouls and monsters in movies like Crimson Peak, The Conjuring 2, and The Mummy and is currently filming a role as The Slender Man’s titular creep.
"When I've been through a few days with hard makeup, sometimes I'm tired and I think, ‘I've got to stop,’” Botet told THR. "But then I see in the monitor this monster appearing — it's beautiful. And I think, 'Yes! I am that creature!’” Make sure to read the full profile for a look at a talented, chronically underappreciated actor. —CF
Watch: Menashe is a surprising and sensitive film set in one of Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities
Menashe, now out in some cities, is a rarity: a foreign-language film (it’s in Yiddish) set in New York City about an Orthodox Jewish community. The movie garnered raves at its Sundance debut earlier this year for its sensitive portrayal of a widower (played by Menashe Lustig) struggling to retain custody of his son in a community where single-parent homes are unheard of. Rather than challenge that norm from a more progressive outside perspective, the movie accepts the terms as it tells the story, using mostly non-actors. The result is respectful, surprising, and moving. —AW
Read: Space Battle Lunchtime wraps up the first season of the universe’s most delightful cosmic cooking competition
The newly released second volume of writer-artist Natalie Riess’s Space Battle Lunchtime wraps up the delightful cosmic culinary adventures of Peony, a human baker who finds herself competing in an intergalactic cooking competition where the ingredients are as alien as her fellow contestants. Subtitled “A Recipe for Disaster,” volume two centers on the show’s season finale, which is thrown into jeopardy when Peony is kidnapped and forced to compete in another, rougher space-food competition called Cannibal Coliseum (you can probably guess what happens to the losers on that show).
It also sees the full flowering of the touching queer romance that took root in the comic’s first volume, leading to a highly satisfying conclusion for this idiosyncratic middle-grade book. You can now read the whole first-season storyline in two volumes, in about the same amount of time as it would take to watch an episode of Iron Chef, and you absolutely should. —Genevieve Koski
Read: James Van Der Beek’s fake Diplo Twitter is scarily accurate
is Trance really a combo of the words Dance and Trash?— Diplo (@_diplo_) July 26, 2017
While Diplo has helped define the modern sound of EDM, there’s no denying that his smarmy personality — and accusations against his group Major Lazer of appropriating Caribbean dancehall culture — makes him pretty easy to hate. That’s why it’s unbelievably satisfying to watch James Van Der Beek and Viceland parody the producer’s grating Twitter presence as part of the promotional campaign for Viceland’s upcoming parody show What Would Diplo Do?, which premieres on August 3.
To his credit, Diplo seems to be taking the joke in stride. But it’s still a riot to double-take at @_Diplo_’s spot-on spoof tweets, like, “EDM used to stand for Essential Diplo Music back in 2002 when I was the only one doing it,” and, “Sometimes I like to take all my gold and platinum record plaques and build them into a little fort.” Now let’s hope the actual show nails the comedic tone just as perfectly. —GR