The Atlantic's Week in Culture

A weekly roundup of our writing on arts and entertainment

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How Buffy the Vampire Slayer Redefined TV StorytellingDavid Sims explains how the show, which turned 20 this week, set the tone for the Golden Age of television.

New York Review Books


Quieter Than 1984, but No Less TerrifyingJason Guriel makes the case for Kingsley Amis’s 1976 alternate-history masterpiece The Alteration, which mines the dangers of authoritarianism.

The Lucky Ones Is No Ordinary Coming-of-Age NovelAmy Weiss-Meyer reviews Julianne Pachico’s remarkably inventive debut.

The Peculiar Power of a Zadie Smith SentenceJoe Fassler talks to Jonathan Lee about a line from the British author’s story “The Embassy of Cambodia,” as part of The Atlantic’s ongoing “By Heart” series.

We Sell Ourselves Stories in Order to LiveMegan Garber analyzes Joan Didion’s South and West: From a Notebook.

Exit West and The Edge of DystopiaSophie Gilbert reads Mohsin Hamid’s striking new novel.

A Forgotten Novel Reveals a Forgotten HarlemJennifer Wilson analyzes what Amiable With Big Teeth, a newly discovered book by Claude McKay, reveals about African American history.

Richard Shotwell / Invision / AP


John Legend on Underground and the Importance of EmpathyVann R. Newkirk II talks to the musician and executive producer of the WGN historical drama about the relevance of telling marginalized stories.

Where Saturday Night Live Loses Its Political PowerDavid Sims pinpoints why the sketch-comedy show sometimes feels less urgent.

‘The Body’: The Radical Empathy of Buffy’s Best EpisodeSophie Gilbert discusses the WB show’s treatment of grief in its fifth season.

The Bachelor Gets PoliticalMegan Garber unpacks the reality program’s seasonal The Women Tell All special.

When Saturday Night Live Loses Alec BaldwinDavid Sims wonders what will happen to the NBC show once it loses its current Donald Trump impressionist.

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP


Chance the PoliticianSpencer Kornhaber discusses the rapper’s public persona after he announced a $1 million donation to public schools in Chicago.

The Game of Thrones Live Experience Lets Fans Bask in the HighlightsSpencer Kornhaber attends the show’s composer Ramin Djawadi’s concert tour in Boston.

A 50-Song Memoir Brilliantly Argues Music Can Change LivesSpencer Kornhaber listens to the Magnetic Fields’ ambitious new album.

IFC Films


Personal Shopper Is an Unusual Postmodern Ghost StoryDavid Sims praises Oliver Assayas’s new film starring Kristen Stewart as a Parisian fashionista moonlighting as a medium.

Inside France’s Most Controversial Film of the MomentBoyd van Hoeij investigates This Is Our Land, a new movie that says a lot about the rise of the country’s far-right.

Kong: Skull Island Is a Likable Near-MissChristopher Orr believes that Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s Vietnam-era reimagination of the giant ape is just good enough to make you wish it were better.

Bebeto Matthews / AP


Amal Clooney’s Baby Bump and the Awkward State of the Media BrandMegan Garber weighs in on the reaction to Time’s coverage of the human-rights lawyer’s speech at the U.N.