Zayn Malik and Pride and Prejudice: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Kamil Zihnioglu / AP

The Ongoing Allure of Pride and Prejudice
Katy Waldman | New York
“If Austen’s restraint suggests treasure left beneath the surface, the paradoxes she sustains in her writing keep us from feeling as though we’ve figured her out. Who but she can conjure such ardencies in readers while remaining so pragmatic and demure? Who else splices so much light-fingered subtlety with so many fervent (and occasionally cruel) opinions?”

How Zayn Malik Keeps Refining the Art of Shade
Rob Sheffield | Rolling Stone
“Zayn's latest (and best) solo hit has the quintessential boy-band title ‘BeFoUr,’ which is a great moment in the history of human subtlety … But of course, 1D’s final album with Zayn was Four, back in the days BeFoUr he quit, leaving only FoUr of them to Be2Gether until their recent hi8Us. Also the capitalized letters spell BFU, which possibly means he’s sending a Big Fuck You to whoever he’s singing about.”

Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Get One Basic Thing About TV Very Wrong
Todd VanDerWerff | Vox
“This has always been television's chief storytelling advantage. Instead of having lots of time, TV actually has less time—in that each episode is a short story in and of itself—but it can use its smaller stories to give the appearance of larger ones. The episode itself is the most important single unit of storytelling on TV, not the season or even the series. Without good episodes, shows inevitably end up feeling muddled and aimless.”

You Won’t Believe How Nike Lost Steph to Under Armour
Ethan Sherwood Strauss | ESPN
“It’s not immortality, but it might be as close as an athlete gets in the ephemeral world in which we live. So Curry and James aren’t just salvos in a battle between brands; it’s a personal war to see whose cultural impact resonates years after they’ve retired. It’s a fight for something even bigger than a basketball career. And right now, despite four MVPs and two championships, LeBron James is losing.”

Drake’s Very Own: On Dennis Graham’s Instagram
Doreen St. Felix | The New York Times Magazine
“But then there is Dennis Graham, father to Aubrey Drake Graham, the biggest rapper in the world, whose feed lies somewhere between celebrity-backed extravagance and boring supermarket trips. It’s a doting, excessive, almost embarrassing record of his life with his son, a virtual refrigerator door where fans can discover scores of new information and Graham, above all, can flex on his progeny.”

The Brothers Grimsby Trots Out a Demeaning Racial Trope
Wesley Morris | The New York Times
“When it comes to art and spectatorship, depicting black life turns tricky fast, especially when a white outfit like the motion-picture academy takes notice. But Mr. Daniels’s harsh yet fulsome artistry is a sealant against pity … Mr. Daniels introduced Ms. Sidibe as triumphantly free from the movies’ traditional racial circumscription: the idea that fat black women are there to serve white people.”

The Birth of a Beauty Criticism
Autumn Whitefield-Madrano | The New Inquiry
“The new beauty criticism sites are for women, but they don’t let that constrain their attention. They’ve learned that a female audience means an audience that has absorbed ‘the personal is political’ and can handle a little intellectual roughhousing mixed in with the best nude lipsticks of winter.”

Lots of Love for Garry Shandling
Sarah Larson | The New Yorker
“In 1984, before doing a gig in Lake Tahoe, he told a young Judd Apatow, who was interviewing him over the phone, ‘The most important thing a comic can do is write from his insides.’ This idea—writing comedy from within, honestly, and not just casting about for jokes—strongly influenced his peers.”

The Silicon Valley Boys Aren’t Just Brilliant—They’re Part of a Comedy Revolution
Brian Raftery | Wired
“That communal ethos is part of why comedy has become one of the most skillfully executed pop-cultural commodities we have, a never-ending swirl of Good Stuff, regardless of medium. It’s genuinely ridiculous how much ace comedy is out there, and how it encourages happy gluttony … Every day, it seems, there’s something new and boundary-warping to get passionate about. And it’s all instantly within reach, via a gazillion different (and still evolving) formats.”