Laura Bennett

Staff Writer

After Sunday night’s Miss USA pageant, the internet reliably piled on the clip in which Miss Utah bungled the answer to her top-five interview question. The whole scene played out like a pop culture fever dream: there was a Jonas Brother intoning “Nene Leakes, the question please,” and there was Nene Leakes, who rose to fame on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” soliciting a contestant’s thoughts on income equality.

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Betty White Is Not a Sex Machine

Our culture’s cruel obsession with dirty old women

Our culture’s cruel obsession with dirty old women.

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The TV Shows That Prepared Us for the NSA Scandal

Assessing a decade of surveillance television

If the details of the NSA scandal have seemed eerily familiar, perhaps it’s because TV drama has been playing out similar scenarios for years. The past decade has seen a flood of national-security related TV shows that refract our anxieties du jour and offer different spins on the hazards of big data and the assorted ways we justify privacy invasion in the name of national security. In recent years technology has morphed from a snazzy instrument in the game of taking out enemies, as it was in most Cold-War-era spy shows, into a threat in and of itself. Elsewhere, PRISM-esque technology serves as a deus ex machina, a quick and justified way to solve crimes and thwart terrorism. If you want to fuel your paranoia about the national security apparatus, here’s what to watch—and how they stack up against the real thing.

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John Oliver is Still an Outsider

And that's just what the increasingly insidery, decreasingly funny 'Daily Show' needs

As “The Daily Show” has become increasingly rooted in the umbrage of Jon Stewart, card-carrying member of the media elite, it has also become less funny. Goofy outsider John Oliver can change that. 

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Arrested Development, Indeed

It's time to say it: The Netflix format just isn't working.

Why the show's new season struggles with the Netflix format.

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Amid all the expensive camerawork and sharp matching windbreakers on the major TV networks’ coverage of Monday's tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, the best dispatches largely came from local TV news. In the Times, Brian Stelter quoted John Welsh of KFOR, the NBC-affiliated TV station, eyeing the ruined landscape from his helicopter and repeating the word “gone” as he realized how many local landmarks had been leveled.

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Christopher Guest Was Not Made for TV

What makes his films so good is what hurts 'Family Tree'

Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries are small, perceptive oddities, so unblinkingly committed to the worlds they investigate that the comedy can seem almost accidental. This is Spinal Tap (1984) spoofs the pretensions and ambitions of aging rockers with mortal seriousness. Waiting for Guffman (1996) does the same for a community theater ensemble in small-town Missouri. Best in Show (2000) makes tightly-wound dog owners into fully likeable monsters.

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Marc Maron is obsessed with intimacy. His own compulsive oversharing is the engine of his successful, four-year-old podcast, “WTF”—structured around candid, raw interviews with comedians that take place in Maron’s garage. It fuels every page of his new book, Attempting Normal, in which he offers disclosures like “This is who I am: I overthink and I ruminate. I’m obsessive.

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Conan O'Brien’s WHCD Jokes Were A Missed Opportunity

The comedian couldn't help making himself, not the media, the butt of his jokes

The comedian couldn't help making himself, not the media, the butt of his jokes.

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The Sneaky Feminism of 'Veep'

Selina Meyer and the problem with female characters in political comedies

Selina Meyer and the problem with female characters in political comedies.

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