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10 Pop-Culture Questions Answered by Vulture This Week

Every week, Vulture faces the big, important questions in entertainment and comes to some creative conclusions. This week, we were shocked by the latest episode of Game of Thrones, watched the premiere of Mad Men, and shook our heads as James Franco continued to be, well, James Franco. Naturally, spoilers follow. You may have read some of these stories below, but you certainly didn’t read them all. We forgive you.

How was the premiere of Mad Men? »

Laura Prepon Will Be on Orange Is the New Black’s Third Season, If There Is One

After it was reported that Laura Prepon would only be on Orange Is the New Black for a few episodes this coming season, BuzzFeed is reporting that she will appear full time on season three — if there is one, that is. (This hasn't been confirmed by Netflix yet.) Here's the explanation: "After Season 1 filmed, Prepon, who had only a one-season contract, decided she did not want to commit to being a series regular, and opted not to come back. After the show became Netflix’s biggest hit, and the tidal wave of viewer sorrow nearly drowned Prepon, Netflix, and the show’s creator, Jenji Kohan, the plan was rejiggered for Prepon to return for four Season 2 episodes (instead of a mere one), and to leave things open for heavier involvement in the presumed third season." Sounds great! Just give us that third season, Netflix.

Michelle Obama Will Appear on Nashville

Michelle Obama will appear on the May 7 episode of Nashville, in which Rayna (Connie Britton) organizes a charity confer, ABC announced today. Oh, FLOTUS, Nashville? We'll assume the First Lady is too busy to keep up with the show, because if she'd seen even a single episode this season, she'd know that it has really lost its luster; there's nothing inherently wrong with country-music kabuki, but there's no excuse for terrible pacing and unrecognizable human behavior. At least iCarly knew how to see a story through to its natural conclusion.

Ask a Career Coach: 4 Things Don Draper Should Do to Fix His Life

Don Draper needs a job. He needs a lot of things, actually: a wife he views as an equal, some true friends, a recreational hobby (tennis, maybe? furniture restoration?), and certainly an AA group. But these needs are as old as Mad Men; we've known about the women and the booze as long as we've known Don Draper. What's new this season is that the legendary ad man — the dickish creative genius, the "Why I'm quitting tobacco" guy — is now mostly without a job, sitting sadly on his couch, ghostwriting for lesser men. The last of his purpose has drained out of him. It is not a good look.

“Maybe say, Fuck advertising, I'm done with this shit.»

See Every Food Porn Shot From NBC's Hannibal

If Dr. Hannibal Lecter ever wrote a cookbook, it would be titled, How to Cook Everyone. (Or, maybe, To Serve Man — copyright Rod Serling.) Dr. Lecter is the classiest cannibal around, with the hands of Jacques Pepin and the face of an intense Danish actor. Throughout the show, he prepares lavish meals from the body parts of his various victims: Cassie Boyle’s lungs, some random guy running away in the woods, serial killer James Gray. Like the grisly murder tableaus that are so lovely you can’t look away from them, the dishes on Hannibal are so food porn-y you don’t know whether to grab a fork or to throw up. His guests gush over his elegant plates, ignorant to the fact that they're about to eat people. Click through to see every dish he’s made on the show so far.  

Orphan Black Is Back and You Should Watch It

Orphan Black's second season debuts on Saturday — which means there's still time to catch up! And you should; the show is terrific. It's original and confident, beautifully acted and perfectly paced. There's the sinister international-conspiracy stuff, decent action sequences, and the fun kind of violence, but maybe more important, the show also has a sense of humor. It's not all sad ladies and anonymous, cloudy Canadian backdrops! The show contains multitudes.

I haven't evangelized this hard for a sci-fi series since I launched my quest to make every human on earth watch Battlestar Galactica. »

  • Posted 4/18/14 at 2:00 PM
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‘I Only Do Outraged’: Vincent Kartheiser on Pete Campbell, Mad Men’s Final Season, and Internet Haters

Mad Men’s sixth season was a disastrous one for Pete Campbell, Sterling Cooper & Partners’ charmingly smarmy advertising-accounts executive—which made it a great one for Vincent Kartheiser, who plays him. In the span of 13 episodes, Pete got thrown out of the house by his wife, Trudy, for cheating; ran into his father-in-law at a brothel, costing SC&P the $9 million Vicks Chemical account; got banished to the firm’s nascent Los Angeles office; and tangled with a sociopathic co-worker, Bob Benson, who stole the Chevy account from him and may have played a role in the murder of Pete’s mother.

Pete has never been easy to like, but Kartheiser’s exasperated reactions to every setback have launched a thousand gifs and transformed a once-loathsome character into an oddly endearing one. All of which seems to have only inflamed Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s sadistic tendencies: “When you put him in positions to be wronged,” Weiner says, “you know you’re gonna get a full Jack Lemmon kind of frustration and anger that’s very physical, very funny.” Like the time, also last season, when, during an argument with his nemesis, Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Pete fell on his ass down a flight of stairs. “It was amazing,” says Weiner. “That was one of the payoffs to spending all that money building that staircase. We knew he would just be apoplectic.”

Hamm: “We’ve all made our peace with Vinnie’s antics. It’s crossed out of annoying and landed into adorable.” »

Dave Holmes Flashes Back to the Insane, Riveting Battle of the Network Stars

We are coming up on another Coachella weekend and, even though I’m not going, my ringing ears need a break. So for this week’s installment of Somewhere in Time, we’re going to take a little day trip in my Delorean GIF in the opposite direction. If you were alive in the 1970s and 1980s, and if you were raised by a television set as I was, you have fond memories of the biannual TV extravaganza event Battle of the Network Stars, in which your favorite personalities from ABC, CBS, and NBC would show off their athleticism (by which I mean their thighs and chests). It was an all-out war for bragging rights (and actual money — each player for the winning team would win $20,000 for themselves and not for charity), and I don’t think there’s anything I miss more. So guess what: On Monday nights, ESPN Classic shows four back-to-back reruns of ’70s and ’80s Battles of the Network Stars, and I can tell you with confidence that it’s worth changing your cable tier for, because that’s exactly what I did. Come with me as I count down the 12 best reasons why vintage BotNS is the binge-watch-worthiest show on television.

Cosell: “THE GIRLS OF ABC: UTTERLY PROSTRATE.” »

Scandal Had Its Most-Watched Finale Yet Last Night

Scandal wrapped its third season Thursday with massive ratings: 10.5 million viewers watched the Misadventures of the Family Pope, giving the Shonda Rhimes-created show its biggest finale audience ever, and flirting with an all-time viewership high for the series. Among viewers under 50, Scandal jumped 13 percent vs. last week to a 3.4 rating, giving it a bigger young adult audience than the combined adults 18-49 viewership last night of NBC’s Community season/series finale (1.0), Parks and Rec (0.9) and the Parenthood finale (1.3). Overall, ABC says season three of Scandal surged about 40 percent in both viewers and the adult 18-49 demo vs. season two, easily making it network TV’s fastest-growing returning show. Scandal also boosted Jimmy Kimmel Live, which had its best-ever ratings at 11:35 thanks to an episode themed around the night’s Shondanigans.

Scandal’s Season 3 Finale: Crescendo, Crescendo, Crescendo

A bomb and a dead child; a callous sex scene and some A+ screaming; vile machinations and a vengeance streak powerful enough to make an Old Testament God acknowledge that game recognize game. Scandal's season finale certainly went whole hog — or should I say whole piggy-piggy? — but the episode summed up everything that was off about season three: all crescendo, no climax. Tension's only tension when there's an eventual release. Otherwise that's not tension we're building; it's just unhappiness. I used to think of Scandal as a very tense show. Now I wonder if maybe it's more of a miserable one.

Remember James? RIP, James. »

American Idol Recap: Good-bye, Stranger

All day, I’ve been thinking about this old Bloom County strip from the early ’80s. I felt a lot like Opus today. In my last couple of recaps, I’ve kind of turned ape on this show, and I started to think I might have been a little too harsh. And then I remembered that this week’s performance show included long shots of Dexter sleeping and CJ vacuuming, and I realized I haven’t been harsh enough. So I’m exactly like Opus in that Bloom County strip, just without the last panel.

Six more weeks of American Idol winter. »

Community Season Finale Recap: 5 Seasons and a Treasure Hunt

“Firing on all cylinders” is not a phrase that I use often, but when the shoe fits, it fits. “Basic Sandwich,” the second half of Community’s fifth season finale, was all the things fans of the show love it for: absurd, poignant, metatextual, layered, and deeply funny. It was also unabashed in relating its central plotline (the search for Greendale’s founding dean, Russell Borchert, and his treasure, whatever that meant) to Community’s continued existence as a television show.

Dan Harmon has never exactly shied away from meta commentary about the show. »

Watch Bloopers From This Season of Scandal

Acting is hard. Not only do you have to remember the lines, but you also have to say them and then keep on remembering them and keep on saying them. As a result of this difficulty, we get bloopers! Last night, after the season finale of Scandal, Shonda Rhimes sat down with Jimmy Kimmel to eat some popped corn, drink some wine, and watch some bloops. Finally, it's your chance to see Kerry Washington not be absolutely flawless.

What Plot Point Did Scandal and Game of Thrones Share This Week?

There are spoilers in this post for this week's episodes of Game of Thrones and Scandal.

What do Scandal and Game of Thrones have in common this week?

One very big thing. »

The Vampire Diaries Recap: In Another Universe

It has been a long month. They taunted us with those sequences of dreamy, sepia-toned Stefan and Elena putting their faces on each other’s faces and then just peaced out. Why do you keep us wanting, TVD? Oh, that’s your show strategy? Cool. Anyway, last night, we returned with Paul Wesley’s directorial debut! Yeah! The episode was awesome. Stefan and Elena were having visions of some alterna-reality where they were happy and not vampires. Turns out “the universe” is just one really super old dude. And Kol came back so I know that must have made at least a few of you pretty happy. Also I still don’t know what a traveler actually is, so there’s that.

Let’s give some points!

As soon as I saw those flowers in the opening shot, I knew this was a dream sequence. »

Parks and Recreation Recap: More Than One Surprise

Why does anyone see Dr. Saperstein?

Dr. Saperstein would be my last choice for an ob-gyn. He’s probably the second-least competent sitcom doctor going, after Dr. Spaceman from 30 Rock. Yet it’s in Dr. Saperstein’s office where we find Ben and Leslie, awaiting news from the ultrasound. The news is big. The news is that Ben and Leslie are expecting four babies.

Wait! No, sorry, Saperstein’s bad. That’s just some cream cheese on the monitor. Three babies. Phew, they really dodged a bullet.

Why do television shows reuse the same tropes over and over again when a character gets pregnant? »

Did We Convince David Benioff to Give Amanda Peet a Game of Thrones Role? Maybe!

Amanda Peet has been trying to land a part on Game of Thrones for years, but her request continues to fall on deaf ears. Those ears happen to belong to her husband, the HBO show’s co-creator David Benioff, who has used age, nudity, and just flat “no” as his rationale for why various female roles wouldn’t be right for her. When Peet first shared her conundrum with us a few seasons ago, with Benioff at her side, Vulture decided to make it our mission to find her the right part on the show. (Especially after she told us that just for fun, she acts out all the different parts in the scripts.) Then, finally, at the Game of Thrones premiere party for season four a few weeks ago, we seemed to land on a part that worked for both of them: a septa.

“I want to degrade Lena Headey!” »

Scandal Finale Recap: Bad Guys Run the World

It's the season finale, and the start of this episode is frenzied; Cyrus is bugging out over his decision to let an entire church full of people explode, and Liv plays the concerned daughter as a stabbed-up Papa Pope is wheeled into a hospital. I say plays because as soon as Jake busts into the White House to tell the president about BombSplosion Fest 2014™ and they evacuate the church, Olivia basically teleports to the White House while her dad is still on the operating table. Hospitals are boring and your dad is, in fact, a stone-cold murderer, but damn, Liv, I thought y’all were trying to patch things up. How did she even manage to get to the White House in the chaos of a senator’s funeral being blown to smithereens with the vice-president in attendance? I imagine she grabbed the giant lapels of her cashmere coat, spun around like Inspector Gadget, and screamed, “I. AM. OLIVIA. POPE!” to anyone on the ground trying to block her as she levitated over the gate into the White House gardens.

Olivia and Cyrus know they’ve lost the election, but when they tell Fitz, he’s agog. »

Who Is Denis O’Hare Playing on American Horror Story: Freak Show?

Denis O’Hare long ago wrapped his American Horror Story: Coven role as loyal manservant Spaulding, but he took home a notable memento. “I loved Spaulding ... and his dolls,” he told Vulture at last night’s opening of Of Mice and Men on Broadway. “I kept one. A little one. I can't talk about it. I think Ryan [Murphy] would let me go, for that.” Murphy also wouldn’t appreciate O’Hare doling out spoilers for the upcoming American Horror Story: Freak Show, but the actor was willing to oblige just a bit: While he spent last season gazing at Jessica Lange oh-so-lovingly, next season will find the pair at odds. “I’m going to be working at cross-purposes with her. We’re going to be like this,” he said, crossing his fingers. “We’ll have lots of scenes with each other, but we’ll be battling.” O’Hare said that the new character will be featured in all ten episodes (unlike the oft-missing Spaulding), and while he wouldn’t give away spoilers, he also let loose this one little tidbit about his character’s place in the season: Instead of playing a freak himself, the character will be “a collector of freaks.” A man after Ryan Murphy’s own heart.

Parenthood Cry-cap: Let the Rookie Win

There was a scene in last night’s season-five finale of Parenthood that, for me, demonstrated what this show is capable of when it’s striking all the right poignant, textured notes. It happened when Joel and Julia tucked Sydney into bed while Joel regaled his daughter with tales of what happened on the day she was born. After laughing over how many Bravermans were packed into the delivery room, he told the story of the epidural that suddenly made Julia besotted with her anesthesiologist. “Here I was, going through 40 hours of intense labor next to this woman,” Joel remembered, smiling and looking directly at the woman who is still, despite their separation, his lawfully wedded wife. “This guy comes in and gives her one shot: She loves him.”

Five cry moments. »