Culture Feature

Jurnee Smollett Speaks Out on Brother, Jussie, and the Challenges of Being a Black Woman in Hollywood

The Lovecraft Country star has had to learn to stand up for herself, and is sticking by her brother.

Next week Lovecraft Country will be premiering on HBO.

The highly anticipated sci-fi/horror series set in the Jim Crow era of 1950s America—produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams—is already creating a lot of buzz, and Jurnee Smollett's Letitia Lewis may prove to be the breakout role that she has long deserved.

She's been acting professionally since she was too young to walk—if diaper commercials count—but as she noted in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she has avoided taking roles that she sees as degrading or objectifying. Sadly, as a Black woman in Hollywood, that has severely limited the amount of work she's gotten over the years.

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TV Lists

The 15 Hottest Sex Scenes In TV History

We know why you have an HBO subscription.

What do you do if you want to get people talking about your TV show?

Include scenes that are so explicit, people will be forced to talk about them—love them or hate them. All the best pop culture TV shows include a few steamy moments that audiences won't soon forget, especially if the scandalous moment is between two beloved characters. How can we forget Sex and the City?

Here are the best, hottest, most graphic sex scenes in TV history.

15.Mark and Lexie—"Grey's Anatomy"

14.Kate and Sawyer—"Lost"

While it's no orgy scene, this hot scene from LOST is just what the doctor ordered.

13.Chuck and Blair—"Gossip Girl"

12.Shane and Carmen—"The L Word"

11.Daenerys and Khal Drogo—"Game of Thrones"

10.Marty and Alex—"True Detective" 

9."Orphan Black"

8.Alex and Piper—"Orange Is the New Black"

s03e03

7.Bill and Sookie—"True Blood"

6.Blake and Lip—"Shameless"

5.Jughead and Betty—"Riverdale"

4.Jamie and Clare—"Outlander"

3.Ali and Emily—"Pretty Little Liars"

2.Dexter and Hannah—"Dexter"

1.Don and Megan—"Madmen"


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The Most Scandalous And Sexy Movie Scenes In Histor

TV Features

Binge-watching Challenge: Start a Show at Season 3

It's possible to spare ourselves the slog of shows when they're just starting out.

Quarantine: when jobs have either been lost or relegated to the living room, wherein social functions are limited to Zoom, wherein the 24-hours in a day can really be felt.

With less to physically fill the time, the time remains unfilled. Fortunately, sequestered humans have never had such a bevy of entertainment options available to them. But that kind of freedom can be paralyzing. Never has there been a better time for binge-watching, but what are we to binge? And how?

Since all this free-time demands discipline, here's an unconventional suggestion: Pick one of the all-time great shows, something you've always wanted to watch but couldn't find the motivation nor time to do so, and start not at the beginning, but at season three instead. Whether it's a comedy or a drama or simply something you've put off watching because the plot is too involved or the show is too hyped, ignore the first two seasons entirely, and fall into a world that's already in motion. Using our knowledge of television in general, and by tapping into the cultural conversation of characters and references, we can spare ourselves the slow starts of seasons one and two, and get right to the meat of the matter. Why sit around waiting for a show to find itself? Why settle for less than the best?

First seasons are often uneven or uncertain, anyway. Second seasons are often better and more compelling, but shows that make it to season three emerge with a clear tone and complete characters: two necessities for any show with long-term success.

Examples abound of shows finding themselves in their third seasons. Arguably, the greatest comedies of the 21st century are The Office and Parks and Recreation, though contenders such as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Curb Your Enthusiasm are important to the discussion, as well. As for dramatic examples, look to the Olympic podium of TV's Golden Era: Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Mad Men.

Mad Men Season 3 Promo Photo

A weighted-review aggregation site like Metacritic is not the law, but it is useful. The numbers almost universally favor third seasons and beyond. Parks and Rec improves in score from a 58 in season one to an 83 in season three, a change signifying an ascension from "mixed or average reviews" to "Universal Acclaim," in the critics' words. The Office's highest overall score is season three's 85. Breaking Bad starts solidly with its first two season garnering scores of 73 and 84, but in its final three earns marks of 89, 96, and 99, an unprecedented run of greatness. Game of Thrones' two highest marks of 91 and 94 are for seasons three and four, respectively. Mad Men is the lone outlier of the bunch, as its second season outscores its third by a single point. However, its fourth season, ruled a 92, is the series' high-point. Why? Shows generally hit their strides in season three.

First, character development peaks at season three. First seasons tend to be myopic about their characters, hoping that closeness will lead viewers to love them. Season two is the experimentation room, wherein worlds shift, and season three is the fruit of that labor, with confident characters and expanded worlds.

By season three, the main characters have been poked and prodded for two full seasons, experimented on until their truest selves have been revealed. How? Conflict. Characters are made complete, in mold and mindset, through consistent conflict. They are built through what are essentially a series of thought experiments: How would x react if y? A byproduct of such conflict is a fleshing out of a show's world. Conflict requires fresh subjects to be placed before a character, be they fresh faces, strange circumstances, or unfamiliar situations.

For instance, two of Parks and Rec's most iconic characters, Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger aren't introduced until the very end of season two, where they immediately begin foiling Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones, the series leads. Breaking Bad's first two seasons lack the series' big bad, Gus Fring, creator of the fictional restaurant, Los Pollos Hermanos, the logo of which adorns the show's most popular merchandise; yet, it's only introduced in concept at the tail-end of the second season. The Office changes dramatically in season three, adding mainstay Andy Dwyer, flirting with a young Rashida Jones, and cementing Jim and Pam's relationship, which was until then a typical will-they-won't-they situation. Once resolved, it formed the literal backbone upon which the show is built.


Once they got together, Jim-and-Pam as a concept burst outside the confines of the show they were in, taking up real-estate in the general pop culture consciousness. The great shows, the all-timers, the ones you really should be watching in this quarantine time, share this Jungian trait. One doesn't need to have watched Seinfeld to understand the terms "shrinkage" or "close-talker." "We were on a break," is just part of our dialect.

Though this principle doesn't inform our viewing of many great shows, it does so with some of our touchstone comedies, like the aforementioned It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Curb your Enthusiasm. Shows of this format don't have one cohesive story pulling them along; it's possible, if not normal, to jump around to the great episodes through seasons, without care for continuity. Once it's known that the characters in Always Sunny are narcissists who work at a bar, it's easy to understand any episode, to jump in without further background. Ditto Curb, where Larry David is culturally understood to be an off-putting schmuck, and that's all one must know for maximum enjoyment.

Because the DNA of these two shows, and their dramatic brethren like Grey's Anatomy and NCIS, is accessible via collective unconscious, we culturally understand that it's unnecessary to sit and watch every single episode in a row. We know enough from our general human wanderings that we can skip the fluff and enjoy the standout performances and pieces, allowing superfluous details to slowly fill themselves in, as they always do.


Grey's Anatomy Season 3


Which of the truly great shows don't also already exist in our cultural consciousness? Nobody goes in blind to any piece of art nowadays, so it's hard to think of even one. Everyone knows Tony Soprano is a gangster in therapy. Lost takes place on an island post-plane crash. Jon Snow in Game of Thrones is a bastard, and if that isn't abundantly clear, they'll say it five or six times an episode.

No show is ever entered into truly blind. Between our bevy of previous cultural knowledge and the practice we've had in consuming other content en media res, it's possible to spare ourselves the slog of shows when they're just starting out. We've just never strayed from the unimaginative formula that shows are best began at the beginning. But that's clinging to tradition alone. Shows in season three will contain characters at their most compelling, jokes at their most pointed, worlds at their most alive. The show itself will be easier to enjoy, and that enjoyment will come quicker. Is that not the point? Maximum enjoyment, minimum commitment.

And when it's all over, when you love these people desperately and want so bad to live in their world for just a few minutes more, you can rejoice! For there are two more seasons for you to watch, saved, untouched. Their growing pains will seem quaint, their iffy characterizations cute. And the exercise alone will make you feel powerful, able to ground yourself in a world in movement.

TV

Everything Coming To Netflix in June

Including Season 5 of Black Mirror, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and The Dark Knight.

NETFLIX

Summertime always means great new movies, and this year has not disappointed.

So far, we've found even more love in our hearts for Keanu Reeves thanks to John Wick 3, Disney's Aladdin took us to a whole new world, Booksmart confirmed that high school comedies are still hilarious and charming, and Avenger's: Endgame was expectedly sensational.

Another month has come and gone, and that means Netflix is also welcoming a new wave of titles to contribute to your choice fatigue.

It wouldn't be a Netflix rollout without some Netflix originals. This June, the techno-dystopian Black Mirror (Season 5) is coming back in three new episodes, one of which features Miley Cyrus. Jennifer Anniston and Adam Sandler also teamed up for the new Netflix original movie, Murder Mystery. Plus, the Amanda Bynes early aughts flick, What a Girl Wants, that's canon to some (me), is coming to the streaming platform this June. We're also getting Carrie, Magic Mike, Cabaret, 20th Century Women, and 50/50.

If you're looking for something a little more real and raw, Martin Scorsese is releasing his Bob Dylan documentary, Rolling Thunder Revue, straight to Netflix in June, too. If that isn't your style, and you didn't get your superhero fix with Avengers: Endgame, then Netflix's June selection might still be up your alley. This month brings Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on June 26th, plus the third and final season of Marvel's Jessica Jones. If you're craving the classics, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are also both coming this month.

It's not a massive month for comedy releases, but Documentary Now: Season 3 is coming to Netflix, as well as Jo Koy's comedy special, Comin' In Hot, and season 5 of Girlfriends' Guide To Divorce.

Here's everything coming to Netflix in June 2019.

Available June 1

Arthdal Chronicles

Oh, Ramona! (Netflix Film)

50/50

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

Batman Begins

Cabaret

Carrie

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Dynasty, Season 2

Good Night, and Good Luck

Gran Torino

Life in the Doghouse

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Magic Mike

Network

Platoon

Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz

Satan & Adam

Small Soldiers

The Dark Knight

The Phantom of the Opera

The Space Between Us

What a Girl Wants

Available June 3

Documentary Now, Season 3

Malibu Rescue: The Series (Netflix Family)

Available June 4

Miranda Sings Live…Your Welcome (Netflix Original)

Available June 5

A Silent Voice

Black Mirror, Season 5 (Netflix Original)

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

Available June 6

Alles Ist Gut (Netflix Film)

Todos lo Saben

Available June 7

3%, Season 3 (Netflix Original)

Belmonte

The Black Godfather (Netflix Film)

The Chef Show (Netflix Original)

Designated Survivor, Season 3 (Netflix Original)

Elisa & Marcela (Netflix Film)

I Am Mother (Netflix Film)

Pachamama (Netflix Family)

Rock My Heart (Netflix Film)

Super Monsters Monster Pets (Netflix Family)

Tales of the City (Netflix Original)

Available June 8

Berlin, I Love You

Available June 11

Disney's Ralph Breaks the Internet

Available June 12

Jo Koy: Comin' In Hot (Netflix Original)

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (Netflix Film)

Available June 13

The 3rd Eye 2 (Netflix Film)

Jinn (Netflix Original)

Kakegurui xx (Netflix Anime)

Available June 14

Aggretsuko, season 2 (Netflix Anime)

The Alcàsser Murders (Netflix Original)

Awake: The Million Dollar Game (Netflix Original)

Charité at War (Netflix Original)

Cinderella Pop (Netflix Film)

Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce, Season 5

Leila (Netflix Original)

Life Overtakes Me (Netflix Original)

Marlon, Season 2

Murder Mystery (Netflix Film)

Unité 42 (Netflix Original)

Available June 15

Grey's Anatomy, Season 15

Available June 16

Cop Car

Available June 17

The Missing, Season 3 (Netflix Original)

Available June 18

Adam Devine: Best Time of Our Lives (Netflix Original)

Big Kill

Available June 19

Beats (Netflix Film)

The Edge of Democracy (Netflix Film)

Available June 20

Le Chant du Loup (Netflix Film)

Available June 21

Ad Vitam (Netflix Original)

Bolívar (Netflix Original)

The Casketeers, Season 2 (Netflix Original)

The Confession Tapes, Season 2 (Netflix Original)

Dark, Season 2 (Netflix Original)

The End of Evangelion

Evangelion: Death (True)²

Girls Incarcerated, Season 2 (Netflix Original)

Go! Live Your Way, Season 2 (Netflix Family)

Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil (Netflix Film)

La Misma Sangre (Netflix Film)

Mr. Iglesias (Netflix Original)

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Shooter, Season 3

Available June 24

Forest of Piano, Season 2 (Netflix Anime)

Available June 25

Mike Epps: Only One Mike (Netflix Original)

Available June 26

The Golem

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

The Zookeeper

Available June 27

Answer for Heaven (Netflix Original)

Available June 28

20th Century Women

7SEEDS (Netflix Anime)

Dope, Season 3 (Netflix Original)

Exhibit A (Netflix Original)

Instant Hotel, Season 2 (Netflix Original)

Motown Magic, Season 2 (Netflix Original)

Paquita Salas, Season 3 (Netflix Original)

The Chosen One (Netflix Original)

Available June 29

Scare Tactics, Seasons 4 and 5

Available June 30

Madam Secretary, Season 5

New podcast episodes on Netflix

I Hate Talking About Myself

Watching With...

Human Algorithm

I'm Obsessed With This

You Can't Make This Up

TV

Guilty Pleasure TV Shows You Should Be Watching

Guilty pleasure TV: the streamable narcotic.

Pulp Fiction Cine

We don't just love trashy TV; science proves that we use it as a healthy coping mechanism when the world seems sad and stupid.

Some studies even describe it as a narcotic effect. Guilty pleasure TV: the streamable narcotic. In an age when we appreciate post-ironic humor and campiness more than ever, our storylines (and even our fashion sense) can seem so bad that they're good. In her essay "Notes on Camp," Susan Sontag described this societal "love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration." From melodramatic family feuds to psycho-sexual dramas, these are some of the best over-the-top performances of greed, revenge, lust, and ambition.

What/If

Netflix's new drama is a "neo-noir social thriller" that reviewers are calling "a deliberately bad TV show" that's too enjoyable to miss. In a meta-commentary on erotic thrillers and "bad '90s movies," Academy Award-winner Renee Zellweger plays Anne Montgomery, a devious venture capitalist who offers to fund an entrepreneurial young couple's dreams—in exchange for sexual favors.

What/If with Renée Zellweger | Official Trailer | Netflix youtu.be

Riverdale

The CW network specializes in melodramatic teen dramas, but the Jughead-based series quickly left reality behind by season 2. With murder, cults, and magic dropping twists throughout Riverdale's three seasons, the massive success of the show lies in its over-the-top drama and exaggerated conflicts.

Watch Riverdale Season 3 Trailer (Comic-Con 2018) youtu.be

Doctor Who

This British sci-fi classic has delighted viewers since 1963. Its campiness is part of its glory, as thirteen different actors (including Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor) have played the eponymous character. As the last known Time Lord, the Doctor's adventures through space and time know no limits. Each actor has brought a distinct charm to the character, from Peter Capaldi's paternal protectiveness to Whittaker's quirkiness.

Doctor Who: Series 11 Trailer #2 youtu.be


Dynasty

Another show tailored for CW's viewers, this modern reboot of the 80s soap opera follows two of America's wealthiest families, the Carringtons and the Colbys. Their internal feuds over control of their fortunes and their futures are glamorous and sinister. Inevitably, hidden family secrets and corrupted morals uncover the dark side of wealth. Dynasty was recently renewed for its third season next year.

Watch CW's Dynasty Season 2 Trailer youtu.be

Grey's Anatomy

Renewed for its 17th season, Shonda Rhimes' medical drama has become a classic soap-opera-style guilty pleasure. Rhimes' insistence on addressing women's rights like abortion, domestic abuse, and sexual assault, as well as LGBTQ representation, have made it a standout show in prime-time television. Wrapping up its 15th season with most of its original characters tragically dead or having far off adventures, Grey's Anatomy is the show you never miss but never admit to watching.

Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Trailer (HD) youtu.be

FILM & TV

Fan Favorites Arizona and April Won't Return to Grey's Anatomy

Fans Are Devastated to Hear Some Favorites Will Be Written Off

Grey's Anatomy is no stranger to heartbreak and it seems there's more to come. News has rattled the fanbase when it was revealed that two longtime fan favorites will be departing after season 14. Marking the end of an era, Dr. Arizona Robbins played by Jessica Capshaw for 10 seasons and Dr. April Kepner played by Sarah Drew for 9 have been written off by the showrunners. Playing these rolls for 10 and 9 seasons respectively, it will be an emotional moment for those who saw themselves in these women and have followed their stories.

Arizona Robbins has been an important character for the LGBTQ community and many people feel disheartened at the loss of this representation. Shonda Rhimes has a passion for inclusivity on television and released a statement in response saying, "It's always hard for me to say goodbye to any of my characters. Both Arizona Robbins and April Kepner are not only beloved but iconic — both the LBGTQ and devout Christian communities are underrepresented on TV."

Jessica Capshaw and Sara RamirezIMDB

While Grey's Anatomy isn't technically renewed for another season, this cash cow shows no sign of stopping as it has negotiated the new salary of $10 million a season for its lead, Ellen Pompeo. As a result fans were quick to cast doubt and blame onto the show's star because of her newly signed two-year deal and hefty salary increase, but it seems this wasn't a result of Pompeo but the producers decision.

Showrunner Vernoff was quick to release a statement saying these accusations are, "wrong and hurtful and misguided," elaborating that, "it smacks of an old, broken, patriarchal notion that women must be pitted against each other and that one woman's success will be costly to others." Pompeo, who is an avid supporter of her fellow female cast members and women in general, said in addition that these character write offs were, "above her paygrade."

It shouldn't be a surprise to fans of the show that this was a creative decision and not just a financial one, given how long the series has stayed on air accumulating heartbreaking character departures.

Sarah Drew and Jesse Williams IMDB

The decision seems to have been abrupt with both the fans and women blindsided but there doesn't seem to be strong ill will between the showrunners and the actresses. Everyone involved had nothing but kind words about their experiences. Vernoff stated that, "as writers, our job is to follow the stories where they want to go and sometimes that means saying goodbye to characters we love. It has been a joy and a privilege to work with these phenomenally talented actresses."

After years of writing beautiful and heartbreaking farewells there is some hope they will get this right. Hopefully the writers will recognize the importance these characters in particular played in their show and in people's lives, and will give them the memorable finale that they deserve.