ET Obsessions: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ Janelle Monae’s Visual Album, ‘Archer’ and More!
By Stacy Lambe
Morrow Cookbooks / Hulu / Viceland / FXX / Atlantic Records
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 Family Table: Recipes and Moments From a Nomadic Life
Twenty-four years after first starring together on the short-lived ABC series On Our Own, the Smollett siblings -- Jake, Jazz, Jurnee and Jussie -- have reunited to publish a cookbook, which features over 130 recipes paying tribute to their past and present. In addition to recipes, the cookbook includes passages from each sibling detailing their connections to certain foods and places, like New Orleans, which Jake explains is the resting place of his grandparents and where many of the family’s traditions thrive. The book also includes fun family snapshots, showing the Smollett’s growing family, including Jurnee’s son, Hunter. For the Smolletts, this is more than a cookbook, it’s part photo album and family history.
The Emmy-winning series is back for a second season -- and it does not disappoint. When the Hulu series debuted last year, it was in the shadow of the 2016 presidential election and spoke to the real-life fears and issues facing the United States. Season two continues to resonate in the same way, as the country still seems as unstable as ever. But beyond any allegories to real-world experiences, the success of The Handmaid’s Tale largely is dependent on the writing and acting -- both of which remain strong. Elisabeth Moss, who won an Emmy for season one, digs deeper into her role as June/Offred, while Alexis Bledel, also an Emmy winner, shines in harrowing flashback scenes that offer more insight into Emily/Ofglen. The show’s stellar ensemble cast adds Clea DuVall, Cherry Jones and Marisa Tomei in soon-to-be buzzed-about roles.
Ahead of FX’s scripted series, Pose, which will explore the ballroom scene of 1987 New York City, comes the Viceland docuseries My House. The show takes viewers inside the real-life world of today’s ballroom competitions as it follows the lives of six fierce voguers -- Tati 007, Alex Mugler, Jelani Mizrahi, Lolita Balenciaga and Relish Milan. For those uneducated in the world of voguing, Precious Ebony provides brazen commentary and explanations about the scene, its many rules and all the house rivalries. The series is similar to Fusion’s Shade: Queens of NYC, which stripped away the flashy runways of RuPaul’s Drag Race to show the realities of being a drag queen. My House’s 10-episode run does the same, and is essential viewing ahead of Pose.
Ever since season five, when it departed from the usual setup for a Miami Vice-inspired narrative, Archerhas enjoyed flipping the script on its spy-themed series. Season seven took the gang led by Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) to Hollywood, California, for a Magnum, P.I.-themed spin, while season eight went noir. The latest, dubbed Danger Island, draws inspiration from Indiana Jones for capers on the lush South Pacific island of Mitimotu in 1939, with Sterling as an alcohol-fueled seaplane pilot. The rest of the gang gets a pre-World War II retrofit with Pam as Sterling’s co-pilot, Malory as a hotel owner, Lana as island royalty Princess Lanaluakalani, Cheryl going by Charlotte and Ray transformed into uniformed French Capitaine Reynaud. The most shocking change -- and slightly tedious gag -- is Dr. Krieger appearing as the audacious parrot Crackers. But hey, every joke deserves its shot at laughter.
Why We’re Obsessed With Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae
After making her acting debut with back-to-back award-winning films, Moonlight and Hidden Figures, which she followed with a standout performance as Alice in “Autofac” from Amazon’s sci-fi anthology series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, Janelle Monae is releasing her first full-length album in five years: Dirty Computer. The music, combining her neo soul sounds with the likes of Grimes, Prince and others, will be accompanied by what she’s calling an “emotion picture,” a visually stunning 50-minute sci-fi odyssey. The album’s first three singles -- “Django Jane,” “Make Me Feel” and “Pynk” -- have garnered considerable attention, thanks in large part to Tessa Thompson, who will appear in picture as Monae’s romantic interest in a “San Junipero”-like narrative. “It was so fun to get to collaborate with her,” Thompson told ET about her involvement. “Janelle is somebody that is interested in empowering not just women, but people to be who they are.”