The Atlantic Daily: Russian Advance, Pandemic Retreat, Biden Reset

International conflict, domestic politics, and the pandemic all entered decisive new phases this week. Plus: After you catch up with the news, check out the TV shows our writers are escaping into.

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1. Russia intensified its war on Ukraine.

Today, Russia gained control of a major nuclear power plant (though concerns over a fire there eased), and residents of Kyiv scattered as explosions hit the city. The courage of everyday Ukranians, Peter Wehner argues, is shaking America out of its cynicism. Tom Nichols, who has been chronicling the conflict in his newsletter, Peacefield, cautioned those in the United States to exercise restraint as the violence gets worse. Meanwhile, Ukrainians are struggling to count the dead. You can find all of our coverage here.

2. President Joe Biden attempted a political reset.

In his first State of the Union address, Biden rallied a divided nation around Ukraine and made a play for centrist America. James Fallows, a former presidential speechwriter and longtime contributor to the magazine, found the president’s plain-language approach fresh, honest, and effective. Read the annotated speech here.

3. Rich countries began moving on from the pandemic.

Wealthier nations are relaxing mask mandates, while the poorest are still struggling to get their populations vaccinated—and have barely administered any boosters at all. This pattern is depressingly common: Diseases like malaria and AIDS “that are now seen as ‘Third World diseases’ were once serious threats in rich countries,” Nadia A. Sam-Agudu, Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, Fredros Okumu, and Madhukar Pai write. “When incidence of these diseases began to decline there, the global North moved on and reduced investments in new tools and programs.”

A man wearing a suit stares out the window of a car
(Starz)

Should you need a break from the news, five writers from around The Atlantic share the TV shows that they have recently escaped into.

Our Beloved Summer

I was expecting romantic-comedy vibes when I started this Netflix Korean drama, which follows two exes who are brought back into each other’s orbit years after an ugly breakup. But I wasn’t prepared for the show’s delicate and moving explorations of love in different forms: platonic, unrequited, familial, intergenerational. Tuning in each week felt like a balm—with dialogue reminiscent of a Sally Rooney novel and quiet, intimate shots like that of a Studio Ghibli film—and reminded me that love doesn’t have to be loud, or reciprocated, or even spoken, to heal and hold meaning.

Morgan Ome, assistant editor

Watch on: Netflix

The Wonder Years

I refuse to call The Wonder Years a reboot. The show was indeed inspired by the heartwarming classic about a young boy’s coming-of-age that debuted in 1988. But I think the smart, funny 2021 version will hold its own place in history. Like its predecessor, it’s nostalgic. But unlike its predecessor, it adds another dimension: It gives viewers big ideas to think about—such as what it meant to be Black in Alabama in 1968—and artfully blends it with the timeless, ultra-relatable agony of being an American preteen.

Katherine J. Wu, staff writer

Watch on: ABC and Hulu

And Just Like That

Sometimes quality television doesn’t necessarily mean “good” television. What And Just Like That delivers is laughs, outrage at your favorite ladies’ life choices, and the inevitable facepalm when you realize that Charlotte is probably the best character in this revival of the Sex and the City universe. Strap on your Manolos, pour yourself a cosmo, and tune into this trash fire that burns so hot it’s good—or don’t. Apparently Sarah Jessica Parker herself isn’t watching.

Christian Paz, assistant editor

Watch on: HBO Max

Counterpart

J. K. Simmons plays a low-level bureaucrat who gets embroiled in a conspiracy involving his counterpart from a parallel timeline. The show blends Cold War espionage antics with alternate-universe hijinks, and features twice as much J. K. Simmons as we, the audience, really deserve. And thankfully, it has nothing to do with pandem … oh no.

Ed Yong, staff writer covering the pandem … oh

Watch on: Amazon Prime Video

Alone

If it feels like spring just isn’t coming soon enough, I have the perfect remedy for you: Suck it up! The reality TV show Alone will surely help with that. Season seven features 10 contestants who are left to fend for themselves in the Canadian arctic, where it gets down to -60 degrees. (In the season I watched, whoever makes it to 100 days gets $1 million.) March is a truly wretched month, at least here on the East Coast, but hey, at least you don’t have to hunt down porcupines with a bow and arrow, fend off ravenous black bears, and fret over frostbitten toes.

Saahil Desai, senior associate editor

Watch on: Netflix