The Essential Sophie Gilbert Reading List

A staff writer at The Atlantic since 2016, Gilbert is a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism.

A collage of illustrations from works of criticism by Sophie Gilbert
Najeebah Al-Ghadban; Arsh Raziuddin / Getty; Claire Merchlinsky; Kypros / Getty / The Atlantic

For her witty and clear-eyed writing on pop culture and literature, Sophie Gilbert has been named a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism. A staff writer at The Atlantic since 2016, Gilbert has explored gender norms, feminism, beauty culture, motherhood, and more with moral clarity and an inimitable voice. Revisiting Game of Thrones 10 years after it debuted, she argued that the show’s portrayals of sexual violence still influence the small screen. Rape on TV, she wrote, is still “the Klaxon for supposed narrative fearlessness, the device that humanizes ‘difficult’ women and adds supposed texture to vulnerable ones.” And about Season 3 of Succession, she noted, memorably: “The marriage between Shiv Roy and Tom Wambsgans is, at this point, built on mutual ambition and cold white wine, and the wine at least has turned poisonously sour.” Read more of Gilbert’s work:

Marilyn Manson Told Us What He Was

A new HBO documentary portrays the actor Evan Rachel Wood’s attempts to get justice for alleged abuse.

March 2022

Curse of the ’90s Bombshell

In a new miniseries, the Pamela Anderson–Tommy Lee sex tape isn’t just a tabloid frenzy. It’s a moment that actually changed the world.

February 2022

The Redemption of the Bad Mother

Two recent works challenge the long-standing pact of American motherhood: We give mothers nothing and expect everything in return.

January 2022

The Problem With Emily Ratajkowski’s My Body

The model and actor’s new book of essays is a fascinatingly solipsistic portrait of the tension between empowerment and objectification.

November 2021

The Tragedy of Tom and Shiv

The only real relationship on Succession is a marriage entirely corrupted by the family business.

November 2021

The Dark Side of Fitness Culture

The Apple TV+ series Physical is a reminder that making people hate their body is a thriving pillar of American commerce.

June 2021

What the Sexual Violence of Game of Thrones Begot

Ten years after the hit series debuted, television’s reliance on rape culture still feels exploitative.

May 2021

The Literary-Abuser Trope Is Everywhere

A spate of recent works—some memoiristic, some fictional—points to how uniquely teachers and mentors can manipulate their power.

May 2021

The Unending Assaults on Girlhood

Rape culture permeates adolescence. The lessons that it teaches girls cast long shadows.

March 2021

Becoming a Parent During the Pandemic Was the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

This completely different person I’ve become since I gave birth is someone virtually no one knows.

March 2021

How to Tell the Story of a Cult

Two docuseries about NXIVM present a question: Are the people who have escaped a controlling organization the most reliable sources on what happened to them?

November 2020