Pamela Adlon reveals the mundane project of motherhood to be vast, fluid, and fascinating in its own right.
On Our Nightstands: May 2022
A behind-the-scenes look at what Public Books editors and staff have been reading this month.
Trans Women and Children on TV
The family as we know it today functions to further isolate trans children from trans women and vice versa. Thank goodness for TV.
“Lupin” and the Limits of “Haute Culture”
Does Netflix’s “Lupin” resist the notoriously white milieu of European high culture, or, instead, endorse it?
Trapped Inside with Bo Burnham
Autofiction like Burnham’s—or Wallace’s, or Lerner’s—show white men using irony, self-deprecation, and vulnerability. Should we listen?
To Suffer a Witch in “WandaVision”
Anyone who has been called a bitch-witch might have predicted the show’s big twist: there is absolutely no right way to wield your power.
Don’t Listen to Morals, Listen to Vegetables
Making food joyful—even while educating on food insecurity—is a tall order for a children’s show. But Waffles + Mochi is a show like no other.
At its core, noir is a feeling: realizing one’s own helplessness, when faced with the vast networks of power that control everyday life.
Twelve Moral Axioms on Ryan Murphy’s Oeuvre
“I don’t quite know what Murphy means by baroque or what he means by camp, but Murphy has never been able to discern tone.”
The Broken Promises of “Bridgerton”
The show portrays a racially diverse society, but papers over white-supremacist interracial sexual assault and violence. Was there another way?
Public Picks 2021
Each May we send our readers into summer with a curated list of the titles that dazzled, challenged, and inspired us most over the past year (or so).
Meritocracy Is a Dystopia
Netflix Brazil’s 3% presents a desperate future city that nevertheless proclaims its citizens all have an equal shot at success. Sound familiar?
What if comfort TV brought no comfort? Even the most innocuous shows can transform into horror, when the monster of racism bursts onto the scene.
What Is the Genre of Rape?
While some progress has been made, TV is still trying to figure out how to tell the stories of male-identified rape survivors.
On Baltimore: Narratives and City Making
All cities tell a story. But who decides what Baltimore’s next story will be?
Even with its ambitious and compelling premise of robot revolution, HBO’s Westworld lacks the imagination to follow the story to its logical outcomes.
“Lovecraft Country”: A Spell Gone Awry
Lovecraft Country runs on a formula: genre clichés—however racist—only need to be painted over, so as to be enjoyed without guilt.
What the Kardashians Reveal about Race
The many faces of the Kardashians are the many faces of the monstrous hydra of blackface. They must be critiqued to a cultural halt.
Facing Our Demons
I May Destroy You explores how sexual violation is entangled in relations of visuality.
Settler Fantasies, Televised
House-hunting and home-improvement TV shows are premised on the settler fantasy of property ownership—and that fantasy’s relationship to whiteness.