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 new DuckTales reboot, Kesha’s first album in five years, and the end of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy — have a few suggestions for how to make the best use of your pop culture–consuming time.
Here are eight items to consider adding to your pop culture queue.
Watch: Crown Heights, a new film based on a This American Life episode about a man wrongfully accused of murder
A 2005 This American Life episode told the story of Collin Warner — a young man who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing a man he’d never met — and his friend, Carl King, who spent more than two decades trying to solve the case and free his pal. This weekend, a film adaptation of the story opens in theaters, starring Lakeith Stanfield as Warner and former NFL player Nnamdi Asomugha as King. The film struggles a bit to keep its story moving, but it’s both inspiring and infuriating, as the faultlines in the justice system — especially when the accused is simply assumed to be a criminal due to the color of his skin — are exposed and dramatized. —Alissa Wilkinson
Listen: Kesha’s first album in years is a wrenching, glorious comeback
Rainbow, Kesha’s first album in five years, isn’t just a sharp “fuck you” to those who have kept her down — it’s a fantastic reminder of just how good Kesha can be as a songwriter and performer. She’s near unstoppable when all the gears are in place, and on Rainbow, she wields her brassy caterwaul with a grateful grin. The album is far more country-inflected than her previous albums, with honky tonk, twanging guitars, and Dolly Parton herself tapping in as backup. She’s still got some of her old school dive bar spark, ripping into party jams like “Woman” and “Boots,” but there’s a new urgency to it all that makes Rainbow impossible to ignore. — Caroline Framke
Watch: Whose Streets? is a powerful inside look at the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Mike Brown
The co-directors of Whose Streets? are Damon Davis and Sabaah Folayan, who were on the inside of the protests following the 2014 killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown and the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s a raw, potent film pieced together from footage and interviews, and it’s unabashed about its perspective and connection to the activists. The film premiered at Sundance in January, and opened in theaters last weekend as a white supremacist march began to unfold in Charlottesville. It’s an essential piece of historical documentation that cries out to be seen, and heeded. —AW
Read: Fetch is a great memoir about a bad dog
With the annual Clear the Shelters animal-adoption drive happening this Saturday, August 19, now’s a great time to check out a recent graphic novel that beautifully illustrates — quite literally — the big challenges and even bigger rewards of rescuing a pet. Released in July, Nicole Georges’s Fetch is a personal memoir situated within the framework of her relationship with her dog, a rescued shar pei/corgi mix she names Beija. Subtitled How A Bad Dog Brought Me Home, the book makes no bones (sorry) about Beija’s behavioral issues, thoughtfully using them as context for Georges’s own emotional scars and struggles.
It’s a sometimes-funny, often heartbreaking account of the joys and frustrations of pet ownership that will ring familiar to dog lovers everywhere (who should brace themselves for the book’s inevitable, sob-inducing coda), but it’s also hyper-specific to Beija and Georges’s unique story, and offers much more to readers than mere commiseration. Even those who’ve never owned a dog can find something to love. —Genevieve Koski
Watch: solve a mystery or rewrite history with Disney XD’s DuckTales reboot (a-woo-oo!)
Just the title of DuckTales is enough to cause shivers of nostalgia in a nation of ‘80s and ‘90s kids. But Disney XD’s new take on the adventures of Scrooge McDuck and his exhaustive list of friends, family members, and rivals (including, yes, Donald Duck himself) is also just whole lot of fun.
The reboot boats great jokes, some solid action sequences, and a winning voice cast that’s led by David Tennant, in full Scottish dudgeon, as the lead character. And it never forgets the most important part of its premise: This is a show about the world’s richest duck doing anything he can to avoid becoming the second richest duck. —Todd VanDerWerff
Listen: Lorde breaks down her latest album in her new, intimate acoustic sessions
Lorde’s latest album Melodrama, which came out in June, is a deeply personal work that bleeds sincerity from every track. Her new acoustic performances of tracks from the album, released this week in partnership with the music video hosting service Vevo, are doubly so, spotlighting Lorde’s snarling rasp and sly vulnerability. For most of them, she performs in a candlelit room, wearing an oversized nightgown and singing to a bare beat.
But on “Hard Feelings/Loveless” — a particularly weird and great interlude on Melodrama — she stands on a rooftop with a group of young women and sings a cappella harmonies with a smile. And the highlight is a new performance of “Supercut,” her anthem to living out the perfect romance in your head even as things fall apart in real life. —CF
Read: it’s a great time to discover the rich fantasy worlds of N.K. Jemisin
It’s a good week to be N.K. Jemisin and a great week to be a fan of her Broken Earth trilogy. Last year, Jemisin became the first black fantasy author to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel for the first book in the series, The Fifth Kingdom. Last weekend, she won the Hugo once again for the book’s sequel, Obelisk Gate. And just days later, TNT announced it had snagged the rights to The Fifth Kingdom and will be developing it as a drama series with Heroes’ Tim Kring attached as a producer.
Amid all this hubbub, Jemisin published the conclusion to the trilogy, The Stone Sky, complete with a swanky Housing Works book release party and tons of buzz. The author is known for her rich worldbuilding, her complex female characters, and her use of fantasy to tell deeply political stories about broken worlds and dysfunctional societies; Stone Sky takes you inside such a world, where humans have been battling for survival against apocalyptic climate “seasons,” and the fraying or rebuilding of certain character relationships could mean the perpetuation or end of humanity. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak has called Stone Sky “a phenomenal end to one of the greatest works of fantasy literature ever put to page.” — Aja Romano
Read: in Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands, war, diplomacy, and courtship at a wizarding school make for a delightful new YA fantasy
Sarah Rees Brennan’s brand-new novel, In Other Lands, was first published in serial installments on the author’s blog, where the story became so popular she decided to make a book out of it. It’s easy to see why: The young adult fantasy author is known for her delightful characters, and In Other Lands’ hero, Elliott, is a precocious, snarky wunderkind who’s whisked away to wizarding school, where he’s given his choice of becoming a warrior or a diplomat. But Elliott has his two best friends at his side — one a matriarchal elf princess, the other a quiet jock with a secret — and he isn’t about to play by the rules. If you enjoy stories about magical boarding schools, In Other Lands is a treat. It’s full of romance in all directions, plenty of fantasy trope subversions, Brennan’s typical insouciant wit. —AR