Five Best Friday Columns

Laura Bennett on Arrested Development's Netflix problem, Margaret Talbot on the disadvantages of being a breadwinner, Akbar Ahmed on Obama's neverending drone war, Mike Lupica on the new Rutgers AD, and Ronald Brownstein on affirmative action at the Supreme Court.

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Laura Bennett at The New Republic on Arrested Development's platform troubles Laura Bennett argues that the long-anticipated fourth season of Arrested Development is hampered by the medium for which it was mad. Namely, Netflix: "Arrested Development was precisely the wrong show for the Netflix platform," she writes. "After all, the collision with the constraints of the sitcom was partly what made the show so good. ... Now many episodes feel bloated, the plot made sluggish from too many nods to the behind-the-scenes work of making a show." At BuzzFeed, Kate Aurthur tries to explain the odd, unforeseen dynamic of rapid cultural consumption: "Faced with 15 new episodes of [creator Mitch] Hurwitz's baby, with all of the show's stars returning, Netflix's Memorial Day weekend Arrested Development dump brought out the worst in everyone. Fans ... sought out viewers expressing dissent on social media and attacked them; many critics on Twitter seemed to compete to see who could finish watching and file first." Our own Richard Lawson has some prescriptions.

Margaret Talbot at The New Yorker on the disadvantages of being a breadwinner "When people talk about the difficulty of rearing children today, they may actually be talking about economics and about work," Margaret Talbot observes in her response to a recent Pew survey on the rise of female breadwinners. "Life is harder when mothers work outside the home because, obviously, there’s more to do in the same amount of time. ... But life is also stressful and often demoralizing in twenty-first-century America because we all live under a speeded-up, coercively multitasking, vacation-poor, debt-burdened, harsher, and less forgiving form of capitalism than do the citizens of many other industrial countries." She continues: "Those realities are even more crushing for the women who make up the majority of the new female breadwinners: single mothers and, especially, never married single mothers." Slate's Amanda Marcotte, addressing a heated discussion of gender roles that aired on Fox News, adds: "What's really hurting Americans isn't female equality, but growing income inequality between the rich and everyone else. Pitting men against women is simply a distraction from the real economic issues facing us all."

Akbar Ahmed in The New York Times on Obama's neverending drone war The remote-controlled strikes are still being felt on the ground, Akbar Ahmed forcefully argues in his meditation on the effects drones have had on Pakistanis. "When people in Washington talk about shrinking the drone program, as President Obama promised to do last week, they are mostly concerned with placating Pakistan, where members of the newly elected government have vowed to end violations of the country’s sovereignty," he writes. "But the drone war is alive and well in the remote corners of Pakistan where the strikes have caused the greatest and most lasting damage." He adds: "Those at the receiving end of the strikes see them as unjust, immoral and dishonorable — killing innocent people who have never themselves harmed Americans while the drone operators sit safely halfway across the world, terrorizing and killing by remote control." Commenting on the work of The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, Ahmed's editor Andrew Rosenthal adds that "the president’s speech did not signal a specific, immediate change in the administration’s policy on signature strikes — just a promise that they will decline over time. That’s a shame."

Mike Lupica at the New York Daily News on the hiring of Julie Hermann What does the hiring of the already controversial Julie Hermann as Rutgers's newest athletic director mean for New Jersey's flagship university — and the rest of college athletics? Considering Hermann's documented history of mistreating players, allegations that she wrongfully fired employees at two prior appointments, and the rushed hiring process, Mike Lupica writes: "No one ever seems very interested in doing the right thing at Rutgers, except as a last resort. They are mostly obsessed with saving face. You want to know why the school has become a national punching bag and punch line? Start there." His prescription: "Interviewing every single one of those volleyball players, the ones who said Hermann called them alcoholics and whores and learning disabled, as a way of finally getting to the truth about Hermann. ...  In that way, [Rutgers] can finally do a real vetting process on their new AD, not something that played out faster than the drive-thru at McDonald’s." At ForbesDavid Lariviere gives even stronger advice: "The honorable thing for Hermann to do is withdraw immediately."

Ronald Brownstein at National Journal on affirmative action before the Supreme Court With less than a month left before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on Fisher v. University of Texas, Ronald Brownstein places the affirmative action case in the context of other contentious issues in higher education. "With educational opportunity already stratifying by race and class, this seems an inopportune time to retrench affirmative action," he says. "But even if those programs survive, they cannot reverse these trends alone. Whatever the Court decides, the challenge of hardening inequality in higher education demands further responses. ... In the Fisher case ... the Supreme Court ultimately is ruling on a tactic not a goal. And however the Court treats the tactic of affirmative action, the goal of democratizing opportunity in a diversifying society remains urgent—and unmet." Writing at Slate, Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger contests: "We are hearing the argument that higher education’s historic commitment to racial diversity must be replaced by efforts to enroll more children of low-income families at top universities—as though these are mutually exclusive goals. The obvious reply is that the right course is to pursue both."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.