Saturday, September 30, 2023

Culture From The Couch: Emergency Lockdown #3 Edition

Every day is a couch day when you’re in lockdown and so here we are again!


Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

An immediate admission here: I don’t care for Marvel – obviously I saw Taika Waititi’s Thor because I’m a Kiwi and we support our geniuses – and so I generally avoid anything Marvel related. However, I’ve long been a fan of Elizabeth Olsen and Las Culturistas – the pop culture podcast I follow like a Bible – was raving about it, so I thought “Sure, why not? I’m in lockdown #3 and I’ve already basically finished Netflix.” So this show is about two superheroes who suddenly end up in a suburban sitcom – and it is both delightful AND totally deranged. Elizabeth and Paul Bettany as the leads are superb and manage to ground the bizarre premise, but the show also stars Kathryn Hahn, a comedic star who always makes everything she stars in better. It’s funny and creepy and weird and cute and I don’t know where it’s going, but I’m enjoying the ride.

It’s A Sin
Three people recommended this to me in one week, so I knew it was going to be good. This UK mini-series is about the start of the AIDs crisis in London and centres around a group of young friends in their 20s, exploring their sexuality against a backdrop of a deadly virus that’s about to change their lives. “Neck tears” is how one of my friends put it – meaning, it’s something you’ll cry so heavily in there will be tears rolling down your neck. I can already tell it’s going to break my heart but it’s wonderful and funny and heartfelt and an important part of our very, very recent history that needs to be told.
TVNZ OnDemand


Buy Yourself The F—king Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life
By Tara Schuster
Penguin Random House
This book came out a year ago but, hey, comedic self-help never goes out of style. Tara Schuster is a TV executive who had a glowing professional life but was falling apart in her personal life – which was a theme I also felt marked my own 20s – and this book is about how she turned things around by looking after herself better. It manages to be self-helpy without, even ONCE, making me ‘oh my god, it’s come to this’, which is a consequence I often find when reading self-help books. I found it very delightful and helpful; it’s filled with small ways to be happier and mental-health healthier and hey, this might be a really good time to read such a book!


I can never give you music recommendations because all I do is listen to folklore but I have podcasts, don’t you worry.

Still feeling enraged about the Britney Spears doco, Free Britney?
The Britney Episode from Las Culturistas is here to serve AND make you glad Justin Timberlake is finally getting his comeuppance (#justiceforjanet)

One of the best love stories I’ve heard in recent times is how writer Roxane Gay met her wife, podcaster Debbie Millman. In their late 40s and 50s, both women talk about falling in love and getting married at this stage of their life – particularly for Debbie, who had been previously married twice to men – and it’s incredibly romantic and joy-giving. Oh, plus it’s an Unlocking Us Brene Brown interview and she is just in love with every word they say. It’s a delight of a time.


Alison Roman is a former NY Times contributor who started her own business after losing her job for giving a seriously ill-thought-out print media interview early last year (it’s a very long story and it is very well summed-up here by writer Charlotte Muru-Lanning).  So with that caveat in mind, Alison also an excellent cook because her recipes are designed for people who live in rented apartments and therefore do not have the space/income for complicated ingredients or tools. Her two cookbooks are the only ones I find invaluable. She does a weekly newsletter featuring a new recipe and also she’s just started a YouTube channel, which is as chaotic as it is delicious. She spills things, she’s lost her 1/3 cup measurer, she drops things… like a snarkier Julia Child, she’s as relatable as she is funny.

Money, Honey: Inside the Life and Budget of an Auckland Recruitment Consultant on $75,000 a Year

How much are we all earning? How does your profession add up? How are women your age spending their money? Is everyone in debt?...

A Three-Star Family-Friendly Fiji Resort at a Five Star Location. Here’s Where to Take the Kids Next Holidays That Won’t Break the Bank

“OMG, exciting. Have you joined the Facebook Group?” It wasn’t quite the response I had been expecting when I told a friend that we were...

The Mental Cost Of ‘Intensive Mothering’: A Feminist Philosopher On Why Modern Motherhood Is So Hard

The importance placed on 'intensive mothering' means that many parents constantly feel like they're falling behind. Elise Addlem, an Australian born feminist and motherhood...

The Kindness of Strangers: During a Weekend of Wild Windy Weather, We Learn How Much it Can Mean When Strangers Help Out

It was chaos at Auckland Airport last night, with cancelled flights and displaced passengers. Sarah Lang was one of them. Yesterday and so far today,...