This column from CNN Senior Entertainment Writer Lisa Respers France will become a weekly newsletter later this month. You can subscribe here. Tell us what you’d like to see more of in the newsletter at email@example.com.
Can we please go back in time before 2020?
Like, seriously, pick just about any other year from the past 40 or so.
The year 2020 has been a constant barrage of “a lotness.”
With a cultural reckoning with racism and a pandemic, “murder hornets” and even a coin shortage (seriously, how do we have a coin shortage when so many people have containers in their homes utterly filled with pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters?!?), it has been a very stressful year.
So, where do we go when 2020 feels like utter trash?
“Back to the Future.”
No, literally, as in the 1985 film starring Michael J. Fox.
Many of us are taking solace in old movies, television shows and music to try and keep ourselves from totally losing it.
Netflix’s list of the most popular films screened on the service in July, according to Forbes, was topped by the 2012 movie “The Lorax.”
That’s right, an animated film from eight years ago based on a beloved children’s book is what Netflix viewers were loving last month.
What’s old is new across the pop culture spectrum.
The Go-Go’s have us “Head Over Heels” again.
The all-girl band is the subject of a new Showtime documentary.
“The Go-Go’s have the distinction of being the first and last female rock group that played their own instruments and wrote their own songs to have the No. 1 album, ‘Beauty and the Beat.’ according to CNN critic Brian Lowry. “That milestone came while they were still opening for The Police, amid a stratospheric rise that saw them quickly go ‘from dive bars to Madison Square Garden.’”
The 1981 Phil Collins hit “In the Air Tonight” is no stranger to you and me, but twin brothers Tim and Fred Williams went viral with a video of them watching the music video for the first time.
That drum breakdown is bad – meaning the absolute best - and now the song is back on the charts.
Netflix is showing love by streaming some classic Black shows, including “Moesha,” “Girlfriends,” “The Game” and “Sister, Sister” to take us back to the 1990s and early 2000s.
Disney+ brought the Muppets back in a new setting with “Muppets Now.”
Drew Barrymore understands how we are feeling. The magic of television allowed 45-year-old Barrymore to “interview” her 7-year-old self in a promo for her new CBS daytime talk show.
So, apparently, when the future seems uncertain, we can turn to the past to help us feel a little better.
These days, pop culture is more than an escape or a guilty pleasure. It’s the thing that is helping many of us to stay connected to a shared past that contains a surety and comfort so welcome right now.
For your weekend
Three things to watch:
What happens when you mix history, horror and race?
You get the new HBO drama “Lovecraft Country,” starring Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett and Courtney B. Vance.
The series is based on Matt Ruff’s novel of the same name, and follows the characters on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America, according to a description of the series from HBO. (CNN and HBO share parent company WarnerMedia.)
Like “Watchmen” before it, this one looks like it’s going to stir plenty of conversation about America’s history with racism.
“Selena + Chef”
Celebs love food just as much as the rest of us, but most of us don’t have access to accomplished chefs (looking at you, Amy Schumer, who married one and scored a show on the Food Network).
Singer/actress/producer Selena Gomez has landed a cooking show on HBO Max.
“In the 10-episode series, premiering August 13,” our Sandra Gonzalez wrote, “the superstar performer puts her kitchen skills to the test as she tackles dishes with the virtual help of her experts, who guide Gomez from their own kitchens.”
This might prove helpful for those of us who have grown tired of our own cooking during the pandemic and are looking for ways to spice up our menus (see what I just did there?).
Plus, raise your hand if you are invested in checking out Selena’s kitchen.
“Darcey & Stacey”
I am OBSESSED with TLC’s “90 Day Fiancé” franchise and could kiss the network for this one
Identical twins Stacey and Darcey Silva are getting a spin-off titled “Darcey & Stacey.”
Both women, with their penchant for lip fillers, blonde extensions and men from overseas who break their hearts, have been standout stars on the series, and now we get to enjoy just them in all their crying glory.
Because trust me, there will be tears.
If you don’t believe me, Google memes of Darcey turning on the waterworks.
“90 Day Fiancé” revolves around couples who find love – often online – with people in other countries. Then there is a rush for someone to relocate, along with all the drama that often comes with merging cultures.
Darcey came to fame with more than one failed long-distance romance, and her sister Stacey has her own boo across the ocean.
It’s hard to even describe what a delicious mess this show could turn out to be, but I am here for it.
Two things to listen to:
Coming full circle with the nostalgia, here are two artists from back in the day who are back with new music.
Gloria Estefan is dropping “Brazil305.”
As the name suggests, the album features Brazilian tunes, musicians and producers.
Estefan told the Miami Herald that she wanted to release the tunes specifically because of the times in which we are living.
“I called Frank [Amadeo, Estefan Enterprise’s president] and Sony and said, ‘We need to put something out there uplifting that is going to contribute to positive vibes in the universe and that is new because people need some joy,’” she said. “To me, music was always an escape from the difficulties in my life and fulfilled me that way.”
Bruce Hornsby’s new album is titled “Non-Secure Connection.”
It contains a rerecorded version of the duet “Anything Can Happen,” with renowned rock and roll musician Leon Russell, who died in 2016 at the age of 74.
“I always wanted to recut it. And the time came to do that,” Hornsby told Rolling Stone. “It’s got Leon’s vocal from that original rough mix, and then he emerges to sing full force with me and sing harmonies. My vocal is completely about me doing my Leon Russell imitation.”
One thing to talk about:
Several celebs sounded pretty excited about Joe Biden selecting Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate.
Taylor Swift had but one word to say.
“YES,” Swift tweeted in response to the announcement.
Before you complain that celebrities should stay out of politics, keep in mind that they too are citizens, with all the rights that come along with that. These folks just happen to have massive platforms in which they can share and spread their political thoughts.
Kind of like how someone currently in the White House does.
Something to sip on
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s summer hit “WAP” has some people hot and bothered over Kylie Jenner being in the music video or others who were taken aback by the song’s sexually explicit lyrics.
But the pair of rappers aren’t doing anything new.
Check out songs by Lil’ Kim, Trina and a whole host of other female rappers who have advocated for women’s sexual empowerment in their lyrics.
Male rappers seem to be allowed to rap about the many women they sleep with, and it’s celebrated.
Video vixens twerk and dance provocatively, sometimes scantly clad, in videos, and they get applauded.
But peruse social media and you will see that Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion were called everything but children of God for their “WAP” video.
I talked to Cardi a bit about this on Wednesday.
“I just feel when you’re successful people always want to cancel you,” she said. “And it’s just, it is what it is. That’s what it is when you’re famous.’
Misogynoir is real, and folks might want to reevaluate the double standard applied to women in the male-dominated hip-hop game.
This year has been all about the examination of power dynamics, and the music sphere should be no different.
Why shouldn’t these women be allowed to celebrate their hot girl summer as they see fit? As Cardi B would say, “Why you mad?!”
Pop back here next Thursday for all the latest happenings that matter in Hollywood.