ET Obsessions: ‘Kimmy Schmidt,’ ‘Pose,’ the Spelling Bee and More!
By Stacy Lambe
Breaking the Bee / Netflix / FX / Polk PR / Audible
Here at ET, we’re obsessed with all things pop culture -- and here’s what we’re most excited about this week:
Why We’re Obsessed With the Spelling Bee
With the summer season just getting underway, it’s time for the ultimate championship: the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Every year, young kids (all competitors are under the age of 15) amaze audiences with their smarts -- and their unexpected personalities. There’s always a breakout star each year, especially when the number of contestants narrows down and the competition heats up. In 2002, the nation’s obsession with the longtime competition was chronicled through the lives of eight competitors in the documentary Spellbound. Now there’s a new film, Breaking the Bee, that goes deeper into the social and racial dynamic of the competition, which has been won by Indian Americans 18 out of 22 times since 1999. The film, which premiered at the New York Indian Film Festival, takes a thoughtful look at how these students have stormed the competition and the pushback they’ve received despite their success.
After three years of laughing with Kimmy, a naive yet resourceful woman played by Ellie Kemper who moves to New York City after growing up underground in a bunker, her story is coming to a close. The series created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock will end after season four. (While Tituss Burgess confirms to ET that a movie has been proposed, what happens with that remains to be seen.) Broken up into two parts, 4A will see Kimmy, Titus (Burgess) and Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) exploring new directions in their lives and careers. For Kimmy, that means jumping headfirst into her new job at a tech startup. After creating a fake TV show, Titus finally starts building buzz around his acting career, which continues to be managed by Jacqueline, whose life as a talent agent is far from the glamorous life of a housewife. The new episodes are funny, if not slightly bittersweet knowing that the end is coming.
The category is… werk! From Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Steven Canalscomes this groundbreaking new series about the ballroom scene and the transgender community in 1987 New York City. Produced and co-written by Janet Mock and Our Lady J, the FX show features the largest LGBT cast, including five transgender series regulars, seen on TV. Perhaps modeled after the 1991 documentary Paris Is Burning, the series follows the lives of multiple performers who turn to the ballroom as a way of escape from poverty, racism, homophobia and the AIDS crisis plaguing the city and the LGBT community at the time. “It’s like a history lesson,” MJ Rodriguez says. “To see what we had to go through in 1987 and how we persevered, which is one of the reasons why a lot of us are here today and able to do shows like this.” The actress leads the cast as Blanca, who leaves the House of Abundance -- run by Elecktra (Dominique Robinson) -- to form her own self-selected house with Angel (Indya Moore) and Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain). “It’s really exciting to be one of the people this story is actually about,” Moore adds. Rounding out the cast is Billy Porter as announcer and mentor Pray Tell, Evan Peters as Trump Organization employee Stan, Kate Mara as his wife, Patty, and James Van Deer Beek as his boss, Matt.
Yes, this is another Murphy project -- but this time on Broadway. The prolific producer is presenting the revival of The Boys in the Band, 50 years after it first premiered onstage. Mart Crowley’s 1968 groundbreaking play is about a group of gay men gathering together at a New York City apartment for a friend’s birthday when faults in relationships are exposed. At the time, it was a game changer for putting the lives of gay men onstage. Now, the show is just one of many -- with current runs of Angels in America, The Book of Mormon and Mean Girls all featuring pivotal gay characters or narratives. Though, none perhaps in the way The Boys in the Band does with its new, intimate production. Featuring a cast of openly gay actors, the ensemble includes Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer and Zachary Quinto.
Why We’re Obsessed With The Path to Pride With Lance and Nikki
Lance Bass and Nikki Levy are ushering in Pride Month with the all-new 90-minute Audible special that includes funny and heartfelt stories about coming out from a diverse group of performers -- including Frank DeCaro (The Daily Show With Jon Stewart) and Zeke Smith (Survivor). Both hosts also share their respective coming out stories, which for Bass, was during his days touring with *NSYNC. The Path to Pride is just one of many audio shows and podcast to check out during June (or any month of the year). In addition to Bass and Levy’s new special, we also recommend Queery With Cameron Esposito, Homophilia hosted by Dave Holmes and Matt McConkey and Still Processing from The New York Times.