And Just Like That…Charli XCX Crashes into Harry’s House
Julia Fox has beauty tips, Renée Zellweger acts her way through a fat suit, Real Housewives double up, Wendy Williams speaks out, Harry Styles pays his mortgage, and more rated Top Shelf to Low Brow!
Hello and happy New Episode of The Dropout Thursday, the best day of the week for the last four weeks running. What’s better than Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes seducing her boyfriend who is twenty years her senior by dancing to Lil Wayne’s “How to Love”? Certainly none of the twenty other scammer miniseries airing right now.
How was your last week? Do anything fun? Get into any trouble? Come on, we’re all friends here. Or maybe you’re a new acquaintance, and TSLB is coming into your inbox for the very first time. If that’s the case, welcome! We’re so glad you could make it to the offices. Let’s get into it!
Top Shelf, Low Brow: March 18th-March 24th
Foxes aren’t meant to be tamed
Thank god for Julia Fox and her uncanny ability to know what we all need before we can even form it into a clear, concise kernel of desire in our collective mind’s eye. Instead of waiting for the dust to settle enough after Kim Kardashian’s March Vogue cover so that Condé Nast Entertainment would give her a ring, Julia took matters into her own hands to give the world her very own Vogue “Beauty Secrets” series vid, free of the every-95-second ad breaks that keep the ship afloat and Anna Wintour’s wig stiff and starched. Hallelujah, praise be to god!
I actually can’t think of a better way to spend sixteen minutes and fifty seconds than watching someone who has enough natural charisma to command a month and a half of the year’s pop culture cycle do their own makeup. Even better when the makeup look in question is the grease paint eyeshadow that your six-week boyfriend randomly did on you in Paris in a manic upswing after three espressos, a Vyvanse, and a text from his ex-wife, which you have now adapted into your own signature look.
It’s so much fun to see stars do their own makeup to weed out which ones care more about application style and products and which ones are just here to try and get out the god damn door on a good day. Julia Fox, of course, is the latter. Within two minutes, she’s inches from her ring light, smearing foundation across her face with her bare hands like a raccoon staring at your Nest Camera, putting on moisturizer from a half-empty bottle you threw away. Someone with french mani-adjacent acrylics being daring enough to put their foundation on with their fingers? I think that’s marvelous. I used to apply a light dabbing of Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint with my index finger as a primer for my more aggressive foundation (before I was able to afford to get my skin together—thank you oral medication! If I’m shootin’ blanks, I don’t give a fuck!), but Julia Fox goes in with the full hands. She’s not afraid to get a little dirty. This is the girl who spent the top of 2022 posing on hotel room floors, cross-contamination is the least of her worries.
The rest of the video is a hoot as well. Julia drops things, leans her faces inches from the ring light (surely diminishing her eyesight), and jokes around like she’s a friend FaceTiming in while she gets ready before meeting up with you for a night out. A charming personality through and through! And by the end? She really does perfect her “Fox Eye.” We should all have a deep level of respect and admiration. Maybe if Hilary Clinton would’ve done something like this instead of using the valuable medium of social media video content to tell us she was just chilling in Cedar Rapids, she might’ve won the presidency after all! All politicians should be trying to garner the Baddie Vote. Julia Fox already has it in the bag.
(Rating: Top Shelf)
The thing about The Thing About Pam
Against my better judgment, I began watching the new NBC miniseries The Thing About Pam two nights ago. Who am I to stay away from anything where Renée Zellweger dons a fat suit? And it was no surprise to me that it’s…quite terrible! The post-Serial true-crime boom has made for some pretty useless dramatizations of would-be mundane murder stories, and while this tale about Pam Hupp—a Missouri mom who killed her friend for the insurance payout in 2011, near-successfully framing her friend’s husband—isn’t quite scraping the bottom of the barrel, it’s getting down there!
And yet I will be here for every episode! Why? Well, because at times it almost seems so gleefully offensive that it’s actually almost a bit shocking. Choosing to slap prosthetics and a fat suit onto Renée Zellweger of all people is like…so cruel and so sick and twisted, especially in the context of this story where a real person with real children was killed, that it sort of feels like a John Waters film. Renée Zellweger’s Pam is at the intersection of Divine and Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp, and it’s a glorious car crash I simply refuse to look away from.
Let’s just say, this isn’t one of the good fat suits, okay? Because, well, there are no “good” fat suits, they’re all fatphobic sight gags and reflections of Hollywood’s constant state of tone deafness. And still, this isn’t the fat suit that, like, Spielberg or Eddie Murphy can get. This is the only fat suit that NBC can afford, probably found in a storage closet somewhere, leftover from some 30 Rock gag that was cut from an episode years ago. It looks like it’s stuffed with tiny balloons that are constantly shifting. It’s so consistently offensive that my jaw has dropped at least three times per episode in the two episodes that have aired so far. Hiring an actress who is just as capable, if not more, of playing this role and actually looks the part naturally? NBC said, “OUT OF THE FUCKING QUESTION! We will be calling Renée Zellweger and paying millions of dollars and have no money left over, so we will simply squeeze a bunch of overripe bananas into a pair of Spanx and call it a day.” It’s fucking giving Tyra Banks, or worse, Melissa Gorga taking to the streets for Entertainment Tonight in a highly-offensive, truly sinister segment that may be even a little triggering if it wasn’t so fucking absurd and stupid for everyone involved.
Now I’d also like to make it clear here that, since a lot of us don’t know each other personally, I have struggled with my weight my whole life! Simply hated my body. Still do some days until I bonk the little mouse that’s chewing on the wires in my brain with a hammer and I can remember to love myself again because I am hot! But also, this is not laughter coming from a place of appearance, it’s laughter coming from a place of “how the hell did they get away with this in 2022?” There’s a moment, like, five minutes into the first episode where Pam sits down on a giant bean bag and I had to pause the show for a moment to say, “Are they serious?” This is NBC does Pink Flamingoes.
So yes, I would highly recommend The Thing About Pam, if only to marvel at its boneheaded absurdity and the wrong choices being made left and right. Judy Greer is even here, giving when bitches get a lil bob.
Admittedly, I was never not going to be reeled in by this stupid series. I’m a sucker for any content set in a sleepy small town. And well? A sleepy small town story set at Christmas where Renée Zelwegger is having the absolute time of her life trying to act her way out of the worst fat suits ever put to screen. I’m a fly to honey. To paraphrase Susan Sontag, “Somewhat esteemed actresses putting on offensive prosthetics? It’s giving camp. Yes god.”
(Rating: the Top Shelf of the very, VERY Low Brow)
Speaking of Christmas…
Two of the three Haim sisters in Candy Cane couture by Marni…
Who the hell do I have to kill and/or suck to not only get ahold of these dresses but fit into them by the 2022 holiday season? DMs are open for suggestions.
And Just Like That…our long national nightmare is only just beginning
Who forgot to make sure the killer was dead at the end of the movie?
Yes, And Just Like That… will return for a second season. It was inevitable, but as I was already beginning to let this show dissolve into nothing but a faint memory, this news sent me careening back toward the abyss. What, am I going to say no? Am I going to not watch? Of course not! But I just want to spend my time on something good. And if it’s not going to be good, can it least be campy? Can it least be stupid? Can it stop taking itself so god damn seriously?
Here is a list of things I would like to see in AJLT (again, always, the worst acronym ever) season two:
Che Diaz wearing Ed Hardy unironically
Hari Nef in a regular, recurring role
Seema continues to hotbox every room that she enters, only this season Sarita Choudhury’s low rasp has gone full Kathleen Turner and she cannot stop hacking up a lung—so much so that everyone worries she has a new strain of COVID and at one point they cut to her at a girl’s lunch and she’s wearing a full hazmat suit but no one ever mentions it.
Carrie having some fucking SEX in this CITY!!!!!!!!
Miranda relapses. Recovery is not linear, come on!
Dick, ballz, and hole.
Cynthia Nixon’s real hair. Why the fuck did she have to wear a wig in the first place? What was that about?
HBO Max, if my demands are not met, I-
(Rating: Low Brow)
Please clap for an HBO Max show’s second season that we will all be tuning in for!
Cuocheads, let’s get high! 30,000 feet, to be exact. The Flight Attendant returns next month for its second season. And well, as with all media that extends past the length of its source material, I’m a bit skeptical but I am now of the firm belief that Kaley Cuoco is capable of anything. This show was my sweet salve at the end of 2020, one of the only things that made not being able to go home to see my family for the holidays bearable. I look forward to its return and thank god on my knees that she has allowed me more Rosie Perez.
(Rating: Top Shelf. And if it’s bad, don’t quote me!)
The Horny Section
Robert Pattinson hit the gym last week when he should’ve been hitting the back of my throat!
Lil Nas X has returned from a social media detox and immediately provided me with enough content to last me through summer
And finally, presented without comment because I can’t type anything about this imagine without malfunctioning and dropping to the floor, foaming at the mouth.
Thank you to this week’s soldiers. The work you do is invaluable.
It has been a second since we checked in about The Real Housewives, but rest assured I’ve been enjoying my weekly dose of bright red meatballs served up every week on The Real Housewives of New Jersey (and by meatballs, I, of course, mean Joe Gorga’s bright red head and tiddies).
But we are really gathered here this week to talk about a major development in another east coast franchise, New York City. Bravo and Andy Cohen announced yesterday that, after an abysmally-rated thirteenth season that saw longtime fans (including myself) rallying against their favorite franchise, they will be rebooting Real Housewives of New York City with an entirely new cast, AS WELL as launching a spinoff series, tentatively titled something like Real Housewives of New York: Legacy.
I was surprised that the reaction to this news on my timeline seemed to be mixed to negative. A far worse reaction than the news of And Just Like That… being renewed, which somehow was eliciting screams of joy from everyone I knew that had spent two straight months complaining about it. What is there not to like about this? We clear the decks with RHONY entirely, which was really the only option left. The seasoned players were faltering and the new additions were swerving the show into a different direction, keeping everyone consistently warring with each other and not in a way that was remotely entertaining. Now we get the opportunity for something entirely new and fresh, without the necessity of having to hang on to one or two veterans or OGs simply to keep fans happy. And we get a chance to reboot the series with a cast that actually reflects New York’s diverse, exciting energy and spirit—something Cohen stated they’re actively looking to do.
And then we get to keep all of our drunken, undignified messes from seasons past who gave us ~11 years of consistently great television (11 out of 13 ain’t too bad!). This is a chance to create a fucking black hole of Housewife insanity, far more dark and disturbing and incredible than anything we saw on the already-brilliant Ultimate Girls Trip last winter. In my heart of hearts, I have a deep feeling that Dorinda Medley slurring off too many martinis about her late husband, railing Kelly Bensimon after Kelly claims that her life is hard, would be the thing that could pull us out of the final stretches of the pandemic. It must. What else could? Science? Who needs science when you have The Theatre of the Absurd:
(Rating: Top Shelf)
#FreeWendy now you lowdown, dirty, rotten, miserly, evil leeches!
Do I know much about the intimate details behind Wendy Williams’ personal health and finances? No, of course not—only what she has disclosed thus far. Do I believe that women who work hard their entire lives, famously hustling at every turn to make a name for themselves in an industry, not to mention a world, run by men deserve to have constant control of the assets they’ve accumulated throughout their life and career? Without a doubt. Which is why it’s so frustrating to see that Wendy Williams, radio and talk show host extraordinaire and inventor of the Bic-lighter-smoked-Slim Jim, is being taken control of by handlers, bankers, and conservators and not being allowed access to the millions of dollars that she has earned for herself.
After months of speculation, Wendy spoke out to reveal some peripheral details and names on her personal Instagram page:
I think if you have working eyes and ears, it’s not hard to tell that Wendy is completely lucid and understands exactly what she’s saying. Yes, she is repeating that her precarious circumstance is both not right and not fair, but what else is there really to say when you’re being held hostage in a situation that is not right and not fair? With the amount of nonsensical tangents that Wendy has run through in the history of her career, any dedicated Wendy historian should be able to tell when she’s not making sense and she’s completely lost in her own head. This does not seem like one of those times! We’re all aware by now that conservatorships can be dastardly and unfair to those being controlled under their power, and yet here we are again. I wish I had something more positive to say.
I hate being without Wendy on the daily. I hate that she cannot access all of the money she has worked her entire life for. I hate that her show is being shuffled off to Sherri Shepherd without a chance to say goodbye. It’s all not right and it’s all not fair.
(Rating: Low Brow. I am not a person of prayer but I am praying for Wendy!)
The Music Section
If you thought you were getting out of this newsletter without having to read a little bit about Charli XCX’s fantastic new album CRASH, then you were dead wrong and you simply do not know me! CRASH is a masterwork of pop perfection, a dissertation of pop themes that traverse through the mythology of all of Charli XCX’s discography and sounds thus far. This is sellout, mainstream pop done on Charli’s terms. Spencer Kornhaber at The Atlantic wisely said, “Charli is not making a desperate bid for the mainstream so much as giving the listener a fantasy of a mainstream in which she’d rule.”
It’s a genius album, one that Charli could only make at this stage of her career. The title track’s perfect take on late 80s Janet Jackson woven with synth pop, the sledgehammer chorus of “Lightning” hitting after its gorgeous intro, the Robin S-interpolating “Used to Know Me,” which is destined to be THE song that gay men will force you to listen to for the remainder of 2022 (which you’ll only be so happy to oblige after hearing it once)—this record is stacked top to bottom with hits for everyone to enjoy. Well, except maybe for Katy Perry, who will wake up covered in sweat for the rest of her life knowing that she never got to record “Yuck,” the hyper-mushy, playful love song perfect for a summer radio smasher. How can you pick a favorite? And I’m still forgetting the Melancholia-inspired, YOLO-at-the-apocalypse jam “Twice” and the dreamy “Constant Repeat.”
And now, we’ve been gifted with the announcement of a deluxe version of CRASH with four additional songs, which drops tomorrow.
The similar-yet-slightly-darker alternate cover feels akin to what Gaga did with The Fame Monster—pop innovators only, baby. Strap on your safety belts, girls, we’re careening off the bridge into the waters of pure popstar panache!
While we’re discussing Britain-born, LA-based singers with big boobs and a flair for the dramatic, Harry Styles has announced a new album out of nowhere! The album is titled Harry’s House, which I think is so sweet and romantic because that’s where we live together. I’m sure I’ll be featured prominently in the Architectural Digest home tour video that will be accompanying the album rollout. Just hope he tells me what day they’re showing up so I can put the swing away!
No, no, in all seriousness I’m actually very excited for this. I loooooove the London in the 90s/early 00s aesthetic of the furniture style, staging, and lighting in the album cover, as well as the font for the album’s marketing materials.
It very much feels like Daniel Bedingfield “I Gotta Get Through This,” SoHo loft vibe, so naturally I’m obsessed. To be determined on what the sound will be like, but maybe I’ll take a leap of faith and request than an album titled Harry’s House has at least one house track on it? Would that be too much to ask for our resident pop-rocker? Could he pull that off? I think so.
Speaking of 90s aesthetics, Normani has released her newest single, “Fair,” which is exactly how I would describe the song’s quality. Fair. The real serve is the single cover, which is 1995 Peter Lindbergh for Harper’s Bazaar perfection!
Can this be the aesthetic of the entire album? Is there even an album? Who is to say, certainly not Normani! If RCA doesn’t get their fucking shit together and do right by her, their name is going to start standing for Repugnant Coleman Attackers, which will bring them some Real Calamities Ahead.
Lykke Li has announced a new album, Eyeye, due out in May (same day as Harry’s House…the girls are fighting!). The audiovisual album will come accompanied by a film directed by Theo Lindquist and shot by cinematographer Edu Grau on 16-millimeter film. “We wanted to capture the beauty and grandeur of a three-hour European arthouse movie, while making something native to modern media,” Lykke Li said in a press release. The press released also described Eyeye as:
…an eight track story about lust, attraction, attachment, and rejection; the landscape of love. The songs are inhabited by moving images that neither start nor end. Each film functions as a visual loop, concise as a haiku, yet continuing in perpetuity. The result is a somatic, repetitious experience. Compounding chapters between a dream and reality.
I don’t know what any of those things mean but I certainly enjoy all of the words! The first single, “NO HOTEL,” is…cute. It’s fine. It’s not taking me by the throat like the average Lykke Li song—and please don’t come for me, I bought Youth Novels at a fucking Best Buy in Fargo, North Dakota when I was like 13—but maybe it’ll grow on me! I’m always down for a Sad Girl Summer, something to vibe to on a humid day while contemplating your mortality. I’ll keep checking in.
Finally, Ethel Cain has released the first single from her upcoming full-length debut, Preacher’s Daughter, titled “Gibson Girl.” To put it simply: we have a song of the year contender on our hands here.
The hazy, sleazy guitars on “Gibson Girl” are reminiscent of the darker side of Sky Ferreira’s brilliant Night Time, My Time, while Hayden Anhedönia’s sometimes-coy, sometimes fearless vocals remain as alluring, unpredictable, and wholly enigmatic as ever. I can’t get the chorus’ throaty, slightly distorted lead-in lyric of “Black lea-ther and dark glasses/pouring another while I shake my ass” out of my head. I woke up briefly the other night and through all of the grogginess of rolling over in bed, that was the first thing to rattle around my brain. Preacher’s Daughter is also out in May (the 12th, so at least we can stagger some of these artistic masterworks, my god), and could be a pretty astonishing debut if “Gibson Girl” and several other Ethel Cain alt-rock/indie pop headbangers are any indication!
That’s it for this week! Tune in next week, where I’ll be interviewing Beyoncé to discover exactly what the inspiration was behind this dance move that has permeated my thought process every day for well over a decade.
In the meantime, comment, like, share, and subscribe if you haven’t already! It’s free! Free shit is hot, sexy, fly, and cool. Much like your intrepid reporter…
Alright, we’ll meet again soon! Have a great weekend. I love you! 💖