Scandalous Wives & Highlights from Tunes Corner

Hello, Dames Nation! Come take one last spin with us this summer!

Pinned to our vision board for next weekend

We will be fully out of office next Friday (Dame Margaret in Edinburgh, Dame Sophie squeezing every last drop of pool time out of her summer), but never fear: we’re leaving you with loads of #content to enjoy while we’re gone. See you in September

The joyful energy we want to bring with us into Virgo szn


Dame Margaret’s Legendary Wives Corner

Kisses blown from my Saturday night plans

  • This weekend I am finally debuting my Strategist-approved tutu at an event worthy of its exact princess-brat vibe: seeing Six: The Musical at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge. If you’re not familiar with the show, which has now taken the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, London, and Chicago by storm, the premise is easy to summarize: what if Henry VIII’s six famous wives were pop divas and, to finally tell their side of the story, they got together for one giant reunion concert? The resulting cast album is pure ear candy for anyone who loves female-fronted pop from 1998-today, with songs inspired by everyone from Adele to Lily Allen, Ariana to Rihanna. In addition to that, it also does a great job drawing forth fascinating elements of each woman’s life— like, get prepared to become obsessed with Anna of Cleves now, if you’ve somehow avoided it up until this point. Moreover, I can now say from weeks of experience, it is intensely enjoyable even when completely independent from the stage show. So if you don’t live close enough to swing on by Cambridge and take in the production for yourself between now and when it closes on September 29th, the cast recording is no small comfort.  

  • However, if you want the intrigue of Wives Behaving Scandalously without any compromises, you’re in luck as Paul Feig’s blackly comic thriller A Simple Favor is now streaming for free on both Amazon Prime and Hulu. Starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, each in what should be career-defining performances, making exquisite use of both 1960s French pop music this movie and menswear on women, this massively femslashy film solidified my conviction that Paul Feig is the best male director of actresses since George Cukor. It is exactly what you’d get if someone crossed Spy with Gone Girl and I can think of few better ways to spend a Sunday night than watching it with an enormous bowl of particularly good popcorn. Like Feig in this interview, I am extremely hopeful that A Simple Favor will finally find, on streaming sites, the massive audience and cult status it deserves.  In the meantime, I am grateful to Tumblr for teaching me that it also, indirectly, created one of the greatest gif sets of all time.

  • In a very similar vein, Marc Cherry’s new melodramatic comedy-thriller Why Women Kill has just been added to CBS All Access and, more importantly, has a free-to-stream pilot episode up on YouTube. Focused on three wives living in one Bel-Air Mansion, each in a different time period (the 1960s, the 1980s, and today), each with a different trash husband, the show is visually intoxicating, gorgeously cast (Lucy Liu in high Dynasty glamour— you absolutely love to see it), and has, in episode one, set up three possible murder plots I am very interested in following through to their conclusion. If you weren’t already subscribing to CBS All Access for either Star Trek: Discovery or The Good Fight, this show would be a compelling secondary reason to jump on board.  

  • The open marriage at the center of Why Women Kill’s 2019 plot line reminded me of the juiciest longread of the last few weeks New York Magazine’sThe Harvard Professor and the Paternity Trap.” If somehow you missed it, you are in for one HECK of a ride. If you didn’t miss it, there’s still a chance you missed the update New York Magazine published a couple weeks later. Did either or both of these articles inspire me to stand around in front of beautiful homes in Cambridge until men emerge, and then walk up to the men and say, with disarming frankness, “Excuse me, but you’re very attractive”? WHOMST CAN SAY??? But seducing my way into a mansard-roofed home is not not on my mind.

  • Unrelated to Misbehaving Wives, I wanted to share two extremely New York stories: first, this photo essay from New York Magazine checking in with shoppers at Zitomer’s Pharmacy on the Upper East Side (protect Lynn B, Goddess at all costs) . And second, this look at the battle to protect another, very different New York icon: Scabby, the giant inflatable union protest rat.

  • And finally! Whatever your feelings about Taylor Swift, there is a good chance you’re going to spend a solid chunk of the next few weeks talking about her. It’s the 10 year anniversary of the time Kanye took her mic at the VMAs, something upon which The Washington Post published a pretty terrific retrospective! An awards show which she is opening this coming Monday night! Given that she’s sure to be generating chatter, we wanted to arm you with this essential piece of service journalism: Jill Gutoswki’s breakdown of what every song on Taylor Swift’s Lover is actually about. This take is far from definitive, but it does make a VERY persuasive case that some of the albums best songs are about a secret romance with Karlie Kloss. And, in light of the news that Taylor is in fact planning to re-record her first five albums to spite Scooter Braun, let me share my secret favorite video of her performing “Wildest Dreams” alone with her guitar at the Grammy’s museum in hopes that, by dint of loving this version more than is strictly sane or reasonable, I can somehow compel Taylor to go full Indie Guitar Girl on her 1989 re-record and thereby own me forever.  

Guitar Girl Taylor, you could really ruin me.


Dame Sophie’s Small-c catholic Internet Grab Bag

I keep saying I’m ready for fall, but they’re going to have to drag me into the parking lot, clinging (glamorously) to my lounge chair next Monday when our pool season ends 

  • Rachel Syme has good ideas. Most recently, I was taken by her thread inviting writers to share their favorite pieces that didn’t reach as large an audience as they should have, which will furnish an embarrassment of reading riches to help you pass the time during the next week of summer doldrums. This is an act of double-generosity, giving fellow writers a boost and introducing readers to pieces they’ll enjoy & share. Chef’s kiss! My favorite one that I’d like to reintroduce to Dames Nation is on my ongoing quest for cultural catharsis.

  • In childhood, I thought reading the obituaries was ghoulish, but I now understand the practice as serendipitous historical context-gathering and as an access point  into research rabbit holes. They’re part of how history is written both retrospectively and contemporaneously, and that endows them with a power that’s often disproportionate to their word count. Obituaries are very underrated, is what I’m saying! I’m so glad Leah Rosenzweig wrote this analysis of the way the New York Times covered deaths from of AIDS in the 1980s, and how their approach changed over time (too long a period, though the changes the Times ultimately made were substantive). It reminds me that although obituaries have a patina of officialness, they’re stories written by people, who are subject to newsroom rules and cultural norms of their eras, however messed-up they may be, so it’s important to revisit and re-evaluate them. It’s well worth clicking through the many links Leah included in her piece to read the older obits — many written by cultural critics of the time who were not only well-versed in the work by their subjects, but who knew the subjects themselves. I’m looking forward to watching Obit., too — it’s a recent documentary about the history of American obituaries, as practiced specifically at the Times. Here’s where I remind you that former NYT Obituaries editor Margalit Fox is one of the best interviews Longform ever recorded.  

  • I have three items for Tunes Corner this week! 

  • The New York Times’ 1619 Project has dominated my Twitter timeline ever since it was published, and rightly so. It’s a rich, multifaceted anthology of perspectives on the history and legacy of chattel slavery in the United States, making the case that this history undergirds every aspect of life in this country.  I’ve read a couple of pieces and am so glad that the NYT Store is making the special issue of the weekly Magazine available, because I’m going to want to read it all in print. It keeps selling out, and they keep restocking it — they sent me email updates as more copies became available. The accompanying podcast series for this project debuted today and is also outstanding. This is 

  • As a comedy nerd in the early 90s, I went to see Wayne’s World twice on initial release. My whispered entreaties to friends during our high school musical rehearsals that winter — an early form of the enthusiastic shouting you enjoy here every week — were something along the lines of “guys, it’s so funny, they play hockey in the street and mock everything and Alice Cooper makes a cameo?!! You have to see it, I’ll go with you!!!” I spent my babysitting money on the VHS release and watched it religiously with my sisters throughout my teens, so frequently that I’m pretty sure my routine, unironic use of “excellent” is entirely attributable to Wayne and Garth. This revisitation of the movie’s long, strange trip to box office and zeitgeist domination makes a decent case for Wayne’s World as the shared ancestor of not just Chris Farley and Adam Sandler’s run of movies, but of the entire 1990s renaissance of comedies made on the cheap that wildly outperformed their budgets, including beloved classics like Clueless and Friday.  

  • I conclude this week with a little round-up of fancy things on sale here in Indulgence Corner:

    • Luxe perfumery Olfactif is running a 50% off clearance event on certain samples & full-bottle fragrances. I selected 5 samples and would love to know what you choose, if you do, too! Olfactif’s guide to testing new-to-you perfume is also really helpful. (My picks: Luctor et Emergo, Laudano Nero, Eau Sans Pareil, Lira, and Golden Chypre)

    • Dermstore’s 20th anniversary sale runs through the weekend and is a great time to stock up on staples or try out an enticing new product at a solid discount. For my money, their rewards program is way better than Sephora’s, so even if you buy nothing this weekend, signing up to participate is worth the 5 minutes and zero dollars you’ll spend.

    • This Strategist obsessive sure did punch the air & stage-whisper YESSSSS when she saw that they’re running a special Dupes Week package right now. Just-as-good-and-sometimes-better items of all kinds — fancy candles, mattresses, Dutch ovens and more — all at bargain prices? Yes, please! 

 My contribution to the Internet this week is to signal-boost this wonderful idea, the crossover event we need & deserve, which will confirm my hypothesis that Tati & Orla are twins separated at birth


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