The Atlantic's Week in Culture

A roundup of our recent writing on arts and entertainment


Don’t Miss

Serena Williams Is the GreatestVann R. Newkirk on how the player’s record-tying championship at Wimbledon means as much for the world outside of tennis as it does for the sport itself.

TPW Films


One Secret Ingredient of Great B-MoviesLenika Cruz analyzes how so-bad-they’re-good cult films The Room, Birdemic, and Samurai Cop all feature the same thing: American small talk written by foreign filmmakers.

How the CIA Hoodwinked HollywoodNicholas Schou reveals how the agency has wooed filmmakers, producers, and actors in order to present a rosy portrait of its operations to the American public.

Hey, Look, the New Ghostbusters Didn’t Kill GhostbustersMegan Garber discusses how films aren’t, and have never been, a zero-sum game.



The Bleak Cynicism of Mr. Robot—Sophie Gilbert describes how USA’s acclaimed series about a mentally ill hacker indicts everyone in season two—including its audience.

UnREAL’s Surprisingly Sober Look at ViolenceMegan Garber considers how the Lifetime drama, having explored gender and race, trained its focus on abuse and assault in its most recent episode.

Make It or Break It Is Pre-Olympics GoldMegan Garber revisits the soap opera, which, in more detail than news coverage ever could, explores the human dramas on balance in elite gymnastics.

Breakouts, Snubs, and Stars in the 2016 Emmy NominationsLenika Cruz recaps how the Television Academy was kind to Mr. Robot, Game of Thrones, The Americans, and The People v. O.J. Simpson, but less so to Orange Is the New Black.

MIke Nelson / AFP / Getty Images


Bagpipes: A Rock-and-Roll HistorySheila Liming explores the history of how the instrument has played a cacophonous—and subtly political—role in popular music.

Katy vs. Britney: Can Either Redeem Pop in 2016?Sophie Gilbert on two singles that dropped unexpectedly the same night.

Eric Thayer / Reuters


Catching Pikachus at the MoviesLenika Cruz catches up with how the Pokemon Go gaming craze is testing cultural venues that have already been grappling with the distracting effects of cell phones.

Limbad / Shutterstock / Zak Bickel / The Atlantic


Lessons From a KidnappingMatthew Quirk reveals how he learned to pick locks and survive capture to make his latest thriller as authentic as possible, even though searching for authenticity led him back to fiction.

Burn It Down: How to Set a Fire and Why Makes Teenage Angst LiteralAditi Sriram reviews Jesse Ball’s new novel, in which an angry young narrator adds to the pantheon of tortured but brilliant protagonists.

Danny Moloshok / Reuters


Jennifer Aniston Body-Shames the TabloidsMegan Garber explores how the actor and marketer has had enough with gossip rags wondering whether she’s pregnant.

Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters


In With the New at the 2016 MLB All-Star GameRobert O’Connell notes how, with some the sport’s biggest stars now gone, a seemingly inexhaustible wave of young talent has come to take their place.