This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
Thankful for the comedies that made summer bearable.
Thankful for the greatest show there is: Bluey.
Thankful for Olivia Newton-John’s most random videos.
Thankful for Bravo memes during the FBI raid.
Thankful for what’s next!
Bluey Is So Good—Even for Grown, Single, Childless Adults
It is with no irony, sarcasm, or attempt at trolling that I say that Bluey is one of the greatest shows on television.
The Australian animated series is, yes, “for kids.” But that is a reductionist and exclusionary label, as it is one of the TV shows I enjoy watching the most and I am most certainly not a parent. (Well, I am a proud dad to my thriving fiddle-leaf fig tree. My therapist and I have talked about not selling myself short.) I will not be told that this series that brings me such immense pleasure is “not for me” because I “am not 4 years old.”
Bluey airs in the U.S. on Disney+, and the third season finally arrived this week. (Not that I was counting down…) It’s phenomenal in the way that it’s both, again, appropriate for and hilarious to the extremely young demographic, but boasts sophisticated and inventive writing befitting the best TV sitcoms. It’s not one of those shows that kids like, but at least there’s some stuff for the adults to laugh at that might go over younger people’s heads. With Bluey, we’re all laughing at the same jokes.
Bluey herself is a dog who lives in Australia with mum, dad, and little sister Bingo. Like a lot of kids’ shows, most episodes follow Bluey and Bingo as they attempt to make each day an adventure, and there’s usually a lesson to be learned at the end of it. But Bluey gives a 360-degree view of what that day entailed, showing the effort it took for mum and dad to pull off the activities, the fun, and the education. It’s an inspiring portrait of what “play” means to children, and how adults can be a vital part of it.
There’s an episode in which the whole family pretends every household object is almost too heavy to carry. Physical comedy gold. “Rain” is incredibly moving, revealing how great it is when a parent embraces their child’s sense of wonder. An episode set in a Big Box store where the family shops for a pizza oven is as uproarious as it is a powerful lesson about jealousy and responsibility. Don’t even talk to me about “Sleepytime.” I’ll get emotional.
The new season sees Bluey and Bingo wanting to make a Father’s Day breakfast for dad, messing everything up Lucy-at-the-conveyor-belt style, but it being OK anyway. “Bedroom” spotlights the difficulty of growing up and learning to be an individual when you have a sibling. In “Mini Bluey,” Bingo dresses up as her older sister and she teaches her how to be like her. “I like to talk a lot,” Bluey says. “It doesn’t even need to make sense. Sometimes I just make sounds.” Then they just start honking and screaming gibberish.
Have you met a child? That’s brilliant writing. I was with my family when the new episodes “dropped”—the first time that phrase has been used about kids’ programming. My young nephews started cackling when they began making the noises. I laughed heartily. My father roared and kept repeating the line, marveling at its truth. It’s a perfect observation, made funny for everyone.
It’s not a novel take to say that Bluey is so good. It’s popped up on many critics’ Top TV lists, particularly parents, and countless essays have been written about its brilliance. I’m just happy to add to the pile.
My New Favorite Olivia Newton-John Videos
There is no better character entrance in a movie than when Olivia Newton-John struts into the carnival as “Bad Sandy” in Grease. More sophisticated cinephiles will bristle. Moralists will protest the almost inexcusable lesson the scene teaches: Change who you are and get rid of all your values to appease a man, and you’ll be happy, too. I don’t care. There’s a reason it’s so indelible, so lasting. And only a star with the magnetism of Newton-John could have pulled that off.
I thought that would be the clip I’d be thinking about the most in the wake of Newton-John’s passing this week. Then I saw the footage of her duetting to “Hopelessly Devoted to You” with Mariah Carey. (Sensational.) My colleague Coleman Spilde brought to my attention the music video for a Christmas song she recorded with John Travolta in 2012. (Mesmerizing and baffling, which I say with love.) Then several celebrities posted the same clip that I had no idea existed. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before, and I will never go a day without watching it again.
It is from a 1990 benefit for the organization Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet. Newton-John is part of the unlikely supergroup of Bette Midler, Cher, Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, and Lily Tomlin performing “What a Wonderful World.” (Watch it here.) It is cheesy. It is beautiful. And, most of all, Newton-John is radiant. As she always was.
The Best Way to Report the News
If there’s one way to get me to pay attention to the news, it’s to report that Mar-a-Lago had been raided by the FBI, but explained through reality-TV memes.
They said there’d never be a service like the one provided by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, finding ways to get young people engaged with the news by marrying politics and entertainment. Well, whoever “they” were, they’d clearly never heard of Bravo fans, or witnessed their incredible talent at making memes.
Exciting Stuff Is Dropping!
Normally I end this newsletter with a photo of a shirtless celebrity, or Anne Hathaway looking flawless, or a very funny pop-culture-related tweet. I am deeply sorry that, this week, it’s not the case. However, I promise that if any of those things is of interest to you—or anything you’ve ever read in this newsletter is, for that matter—then there’s good news coming on Monday. Shameless plug! Stay tuned!
What to watch this week:
I Love My Dad: This movie is one of the wildest rides I’ve gone on this year, and it’s worth it. (Fri. on VOD)
A League of Their Own: One of my all-time favorite movies gets a refreshingly lovely reboot series. (Fri. on Amazon)
Never Have I Ever: A precious jewel of a TV series launches its final season. (Fri. on Netflix)
The Princess: Anyone obsessed with Princess Diana—so all humans—should tune into this. (Sat. on HBO)
What to skip this week:
Day Shift: Jamie Foxx made a vampire comedy for Netflix. I am stunned that it isn’t good. (Fri. on Netflix)
Mack & Rita: Someone please rescue Diane Keaton from her agent!!! (Fri. in theaters)