The Atlantic's Week in Culture

A roundup of our recent writing on arts and entertainment

Robert De Niro in Wag the Dog (New Line Cinema)

Don’t Miss

Pop Culture Resents the Establishment TooMegan Garber reveals how American movies and TV shows helped predict the rise of Donald Trump, and the rebuke of Hillary Clinton.



Arrival’s Timely Message About EmpathyDavid Sims chats with the sci-fi film’s screenwriter about the geopolitics of the movie and creating an alien language.

Fantastic Beasts Charts a New Path Through a Familiar WorldChristopher Orr journeys through the newest J.K. Rowling tale, which feels like a Harry Potter spinoff, but not a knockoff.

The Edge of Seventeen Is an Instant Teen ClassicDavid Sims praises Kelly Freamon Craig’s beautiful, sometimes abrasive, coming-of-age debut ​​​​​​film.

Nocturnal Animals: The Art Without the HeartChristopher Orr reviews Tom Ford’s latest film, which has the director’s signature style, but is ultimately lacking in depth.



A Tribe Called Quest and the Shadow of TrumpSpencer Kornhaber finds politics and solace in the legendary hip-hop group’s remarkable final album, We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service.

It Pays to Be a Jerk, Bob Dylan EditionMegan Garber believes the iconic songwriter’s latest antics around the Nobel Prize reveal pop culture’s tendency to celebrate bad behavior.



John Oliver, ActivistMegan Garber analyzes the Last Week Tonight host’s first post-election show, the final one of the year, in which he blurs the lines between comedy and political action.

What Westworld’s Twist Says About the ShowDavid Sims examines the latest episode of the HBO series, as it moves closer to its season-one finale.

Stephen Colbert Finds Refuge in PunditryMegan Garber looks at how the Late Show host took sides during his monologue explaining (and condemning) the alt-right movement.

Saturday Night Live’s Post-Trump BluesDavid Sims recaps the sketch-comedy show’s first episode after the election.

Selfishness Is Complicated in You’re the WorstLenika Cruz dissects the finale of the FX show’s largely hopeful third season.

The Battle Over Adult Swim’s Alt-Right TV ShowDavid Sims questions the future of Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace, which has become a political flashpoint for the subversive network.

Robin Platzer / Twin Images


The National Book Awards Make a Powerful StatementArnav Adhikari recaps a historic night that saw the prestigious literary prizes go to three African American authors whose work explores black history.

Elena Ferrante’s Right to a PseudonymMira T. Sundara Rajan explains why the journalist who “unmasked” the anonymous Italian author violated a time-honored means of protecting creativity.

Zadie Smith and the Politics of FictionMegan Garber unpacks the British author’s talk in Washington, D.C., where she spoke about the changing role of the writer-activist.

Queer Writers in the Age of TrumpGabrielle Bellot wonders about the renewed urgency of LGBT literary voices in an anxious political moment for the community.

Frederick M. Brown / Stringer / Getty


What Gwen Ifill Knew About Race in AmericaJeffrey Goldberg remembers the late iconic journalist and newscaster, whose loss is a cruel blow to a nation that could use her voice now more than ever.

Joe Biden, a Meme for All AgesMegan Garber finds solace in the viral jokes imagining the outgoing vice president as rather mischievous.

Popular Culture’s Failed Presidential CampaignSpencer Kornhaber talks to the political scientist David Jackson about the significance of Hillary Clinton’s celebrity endorsement.

Finding Meaning in the Mannequin ChallengeSpencer Kornhaber makes sense of the viral craze sweeping the internet.