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For those enduring another tough lockdown, there’s fortunately a swathe of pop culture pickings to while away the days. And for the rest of us, well who wants to go outside right now anyway? (besides penguins).
Whether trading in escapism, nostalgia or distracting hilarity, these feelgood TV shows, books, albums, podcasts and movies will warm your spirits
Listen: Pet Shop Boys: Discovery: Live in Rio 1994
The UK pop icons’ fabled 1994 concert film was last month reissued as a live album, and it’s the ultimate headphones escape. Max out the volume, close your eyes, and imagine you’re right there among the wild Brazilian crowd chanting to the sublime melodies and floor-pounding beats of songs like Domino Dancing and Paninaro.
Watch: Mr Show with Bob and David (Binge)
All four seasons of the cult ’90s sketch comedy series from Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) and David Cross (Arrested Development) are now available on Binge, and even 20-odd years on remain the surreal peak of the genre. Jump straight to Season 4, Episode 3’s Audition, which Vulture once described as the “Who’s on First? of modern comedy”.
Watch: Love on the Spectrum (ABC iView)
Michael from the ABC series Love on the Spectrum, season two.
The new season of ABC’s globally beloved series, which follows the dating lives of young adults on the autism spectrum, is reality TV at its most charming. Dapper dresser Michael is back and making all the right moves, while newcomers – including racing-obsessed Ronan, and infectiously enthusiastic Teo – bring new perspectives to the show.
Read: In My Defence I Have No Defence by Sinead Stubbins
Melbourne writer Stubbins’ hilariously off-kilter perspective is already well-known to extremely online readers thanks to her viral TV recaps for local pop culture site Junkee; turns out she’s just as funny in book form. This one, a collection of essays about “small moments and big humiliations”, will have you reconsidering your own goofy neuroses.
Watch: Bo Burnham: Inside (Netflix)
Burnham isn’t afraid to expose himself for the sake of a gag, or a lyric. Credit:Netflix
The US comedian’s new Netflix special is tailor-made for lockdown viewing, a satirical look at the existential dread that’s defined the world since March 2020. As bad as lockdown might be at least you’re not reciting jaunty show tunes with a sock puppet about the way political systems “protect the pedophilic corporate elite” (unless you are, in which case seek help).
Read:Yearbook by Seth Rogen
I know what you’re thinking: “Ugh, another Hollywood egotist pretending at Ring Lardner, thinking his on-set goofs with Nic Cage and Borat are the stuff of art. Didn’t I just finish a 304-page book of Matthew McConaughey’s limp Beat-drivel? Do you think I’m deranged? Get out of my hou-“. Fine, don’t read it then. But Rogen’s Nic Cage story really is a rib-tickling page-turner.
Watch: The Mitchells vs The Machines (Netflix)
At some point in lockdown (if not all the points?), the entire family’s going to be in the same room needing entertainment: Netflix’s delightfully bonkers The Mitchells vs The Machines is your go-to. Produced by the ever-funny Lord and Miller (The Lego Movie) and featuring the voice talents of Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride and Maya Rudolph, it’s basically The Griswolds battling the robot apocalypse.
Listen: Good One podcast
Vulture senior editor Jesse David Fox is a renowned comedy nerd, and his podcast is for the like-minded. Stand-up comedians, including names like Nate Bargatze and Mae Martin, deep-dive into how they created their best joke and what it represents about their wider material. Listen to James Acaster’s take on his infamous 20-minute bit about appearing on Great British Bake Off.
Listen: Chai: Wink
From its lilting R&B-ish opener Donuts Mind if I Do to Karaage, their bouncy paean to the world’s best dish, the beloved Japanese band’s new album exudes feel-good warmth. According to the band the album was largely inspired by the first time they heard Mac Miller playing in a cafe while on tour in Australia. Never thought I’d say this but local baristas, take a bow.
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