is this the week we run out of titles?

The Sussexes Pull A Katie Holmes, Maybe

This Newsletter Is Rooting For Them, OBVIOUSLY

Their Royal Highnesses the Duke & Duchess of Sussex are consciously uncoupling from the royal family and we are...mildly obsessed. Need a primer on what’s been happening since Wednesday, and why it matters? No sweat! 

  • First up, their Wednesday announcement, issued on Instagram, that they’d be stepping back from their roles as senior royals, splitting their time between the UK and North America (read: maybe living part-time in the US as well as Canada, where Meghan spent several happy years in the cast of Suits), and exercising their own judgment about how to manage their charitable organization, Sussex Royal (featuring web design by Article, the same company that designed Meghan’s now-closed lifestyle blog, The Tig). It was a bit of a surprise, to say the least, followed swiftly by an even more surprising, terse two-sentence response from Buckingham Palace to the effect that excuse you, but the Queen hasn’t signed off on any of this, so just hold your horses, kiddos

  • After the initial shock wore off, a consensus in our corner of the Internet coalesced around a couple of ideas: 1) The Sussexes are savvy operators who are willing to risk a lot of personal capital to establish and maintain healthy boundaries with the press and with their own families; 2) They’ve been planning moves like this for a long time; 3) This outcome was maybe inevitable, given the toxic racism of British tabloids; 4) Prince Andrew should be very, very grateful to them for taking the spotlight off of him and his frankly appalling friendship with Jeffrey Epstein; 5) Good for them!

  • This piece in Harper’s Bazaar does a nice job of refocusing readers’ attention on the very real harm the Sussexes (and all people who wind up being relentlessly badgered by paparazzi and tabloid press) face and want to protect themselves and their son from, while Afua Hirsch’s op-ed in the New York Times lays bare the grim lack of surprise that many Black Britons felt on learning that the Sussexes are trying to negotiate both psychological and physical space to live by their own lights. As interested observers from afar, in a country that’s also notoriously inimical to people of color, we were particularly struck by how easy it can be for white people not to see the racism that’s so obvious to POC, and how harmful it is when we make others explain and justify their lived experiences. This interview-commentary with Pakistani-Scottish writer & broadcaster Amna Saleem, where her fellow panelist tries his best to blithely brush aside her criticism, really drives it home.  

  • Lainey Gossip furnishes one of her patented indispensable analyses of the whole situation, including updates on the timeline of the announcement and the likely cause of it dropping so precipitously this week (leaks from either Prince William or Prince Charles’ press offices) 

  • And finally, if you want a little more lighthearted processing, both the special emergency episode of The Ringer’s Jam Session and Who Weekly’s Friday call-in show are great treats. You can actually hear Buckingham Palace’s statement come in as the former is being taped and listen to the hosts react to it live.

Protect this little squishy cutie at all costs!

Pssst Hey! You! Yeah, You!

Hello, stylish & clever friend. Would you like to read more royals coverage? We published a special subscribers-only issue when Li’l Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor was born, and we’ve gotta say, it’s even more relevant now than when Dame Sophie wrote it in May. You can read all our special issues and support this newsletter with your paid subscription! Thanks so much!

Livetweet Announcement: If Beale Street Could Talk, 1/19

The love We Your Dames share for Greta Gerwig’s new adaptation of Little Women has the pair of us thinking about literary adaptations we love, particularly Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk, one of 2018’s most underrated films. SO! We are aiming to assure Dames Nation comes to rate it appropriately. Look to this space next week for a discussion of what makes an incredible literary adaptation and then, on Sunday night, join us at your laptops to watch this devastatingly lovely film. The details:

What: Watching If Beale Street Could Talk

When: This Sunday, January 19th at 7:30 PM EST

How: Either streaming for free on Hulu, rented for $3.99 or less on another streaming platform, or borrowed from your local library!

Where: Both on Twitter, with the hashtag #DamesStreet, and in a Substack chat— you can pick whichever venue you prefer!

Dame Sophie’s Internet Bits & Bobs

The contents of my heart, every day

  • I’ve been overflowing with Garden State Pride lately, thanks to howling with laughter through Chris Gethard’s all-New Jersey jokes standup set Taylor Ham, Egg, and Cheese (listen on YouTube or Spotify) and thanks to Ramy Youssef’s Golden Globes win. These Sons of Jersey are funny and sharp and warm-hearted and self-aware and full of the most delicious zingers and I love them so much. Just before Ramy took the stage to receive his first step towards an EGOT, sentient phlegm gobbet Ricky Gervais had been nastily admonishing the famouses in the Beverly Hilton grand ballroom to thank their god and get the hell off stage, and that’s exactly what Ramy did, speedily removing all the wind from Gervais’ sails with his tartly earnest praise of Allah. His self-titled show (streaming in the US on Hulu) is one of my favorites of 2019, and now is a great time to get caught up with it before Season 2 drops later this year. Do yourself a favor & listen to the S1 playlist, it’s wall to wall bangers & the source of so many of my most-listened-to songs of the last year. I wish Getherd’s set had a few more minutes devoted to South Jersey, but I get it, he’s from West Orange, has way more material for Essex and Bergen Counties! At least the White Horse Pike (a real road that I drive on regularly) got a mention, and literally nothing will be funnier to me this year than his impression of Philly folks going around yelling Wawa Wawa Wawa Rocky Rocky Manayunk Manayunk Wawa Wawa. In conclusion, THANK GOD for New Jersey!!! And you’re welcome.

  • Somehow, I managed to live until Christmas Week 2019 unaware of the many delights of Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel. I saw people tweeting about a video where an ambitious pastry chef was trying to create a fancy version of Totino’s pizza bites and was sufficiently intrigued to click, sending myself down a rabbit hole leading to my now-total devotion to the channel and all its works, especially their show Gourmet Makes, featuring Claire Saffitz. The conceit is very simple: Claire attempts to create fancy homemade versions of snacks and candy in Bon Appetit’s well-appointed & bustling test kitchen. That’s it! The magic of the show is a combination of it being a low-stakes yet fully engrossing process diary, the chemistry between Claire and the colleagues she cheerfully dragoons into taste-testing, feedback-providing, and occasionally assisting her (as in the Starburst video), and Claire herself. I love to see highly competent people mess up, revise & retest their hypotheses, and then triumph. Do I over-identify with this type? Shut up, you’re not my therapist! You can get started with Gourmet Makes using this handy guide from Vulture, but I’d be remiss not to share that alongside a lowkey warning that doing so may well lead you to join this fairly chill cult & declare your readiness to die for her (acceptable alternates: supertaster Chris Morocco, hypercompetent test kitchen manager Gaby Melian, or confirmed human-golden retriever hybrid Brad Leone). (The only thing that gives me a pang about the Bon Appetit YouTube channel is that it’s an idea Ruth Reichl had when she was the editor of Gourmet and it galls me that Condé Nast leadership would never let her attempt it and then they shuttered her wonderful magazine and it burns.)

  • Cross-filed under I Love Love and It Came From YouTube: last year, my darling teen child got me hooked on videos by Safiya Nygaard and her partner Tyler. They do fun & brainy deep dives into fashion history, weird and ambitious makeup experiments, and travel/food/fashion adventures in South Korea and Japan, and they’re among the most reliably delightful sources of content on the internet. And now they’re married! Safiya & Tyler are at the level of Internet fame where, due to their fans being very emotionally involved with them, and due to their having always produced videos as a couple, it would have been hard for them not to have their wedding planning journey pull double-duty as life cycle event and content for their channel. I’ve been so impressed with how skillfully they’ve incorporated their experiences with wedding dress shopping, cake selection, and now the wedding itself into videos for their channel, while also being very clear about holding some things back privately. Hooray for successfully navigating those tricky waters and mazels to them on their marriage! It looks so heartfelt & joyful, in addition to being fully true to their sweet, quirky vision.

Dame Margaret Didn’t Even Start Writing Her Section Until 12:13 Tonight

  • Because look, here’s the thing. This 1,200+ comment thread about a very messy blog post wherein a semi-famous blogger admits to having slept with two of her good friends’s husbands was NOT going to read itself, okay? It took up… more of my evening than I anticipated, and I can’t say I have NO regrets. But I cannot pretend I will ever have the strength to do other than what I did tonight.

  • Something else I recently binged but with absolutely no regrets (unless you count wishing there were more of it) was Apple TV+’s hilarious, inventive, delightful, addictive, impossible new series Dickinson, a ½ hour sitcom about dedicated to dismantling the cultural understanding of Emily Dickinson as a shy, reserved poetess and instead presenting her as bisexual hellion with a deliriously anchronistic demeanor and vocabulary. There are 10 episodes of it, they are perfect, you can watch all of them in your free 7-day trial. If you like at least two of any of the following things, you owe it to yourself to watch:

    • Me

    • Derry Girls 

    • 19th century lady writers

    • Kate Beaton’s webcomic Hark, A Vagrant

    • The idea of John Mulaney, shirtless, portraying Henry David Thoreau

    • Emily Dickinson having gay sex with her brother’s fiancee while Mistki’s “Your Best American Girl” plays in the background

    • Giant talking bees smoking blunts

    • The most perfectly pitched Aaron Sorkin parody since The Foodroom

  • If that description alone isn’t enough to persuade you to give the show a try, maybe listening to Alena Smith, the show’s creator and head writer, talk about it on my TV podcast will take you over the edge. She is so smart and funny and she does SUCH a good job of articulating her goals with the show. I have a hard time imagining you won’t come out thinking that— even at the cost of acquiring another streaming service— Dickinson is worth checking out.

  • And, following that, I have yet another assault on your finances to bring to your attention: Caroline Moss’s podcast Gee Thanks, Just Bought It where noteable Internet writers from Dodai Stewart to Alison Roman discuss the best thing they’ve recently bought for under $25, and host Caroline Moss (whose impromptu #WireCaro thread inspired the podcast) shares in kind. It’s light and charming, with episodes clocking in at just around 30 minutes apiece, but BE WARNED: it will leave you absolutely convinced you need everything discussed on the show, whether it’s convincing flameless candles or an assortment of dickeys. If you love the idea of The Strategist’s “What [Insert Minor Celebrity] Can’t Live Without” feature, but wish it produced more consistently compelling recommendations, this podcast is your dream come true.

  • And finally, as we all navigate the emotional hangover that is the entire month of January, I am recommending to you some of what I call “palate cleanser music.” Lovely, gentle music that can lap softly at the edges of your holiday-fried brain and (almost) acclimate you to being back at work. My go-tos at the moment are:

    • Bonny Light Horseman, whose every new single heightens my anticipation of their full album’s release on Friday, January 31st.

    • Joan Shelley, a delicate, Joni Mitchell-esque folk singer I have inexplicably and inexcusably slept on until this year who slaps, in an introspective and genre-appropriate way

    • And Saintseneca, whose jangly guitars I find bracing enough to fight off the 3 PM sleepies while still being soft enough to coddle my bruised brain.

    • What music is helping you through this, our time of grudging recommitment to everyday struggle?

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