Scene Selections: Summer recap
Twitter redemption stories, kitschy ‘80s television shows about women wrestlers, folk music in Rhode Island, jazz by the Smithsonian and Drake has a secret kid? Yes, to all of the above. Read on for a glimpse into the arts and culture that Scene’s writers loved this summer.
“Brooklyn 99,” resurrected
By Nora McGreevy, Scene Editor
At the tail end of last school year — right when finals were just about finished, and many students were on their way home — it seemed like the goofy police comedy “Brooklyn 99” was coming to an end, too. Earlier that month, Fox had announced it would not renew the show, launching the fate of Detectives Amy Santiago, Jake Peralta, Raymond Holt and the rest of their lovable crew into uncertainty.
Then, as producer Michael Schur put it, “the fans of the show went beserk.” An impromptu campaign of users stormed Twitter, tweeting and sharing #SaveBrooklyn99 like their lives depended on it. On May 11, when all hope had seemed lost, NBC swooped in and picked up the show for a sixth season. Andy Samberg, who plays man-child detective Peralta and also produces the show, told the New York Times that the renewal was “like getting to go to your own funeral and hear how much everyone loved you and then getting to be alive still.”
In early May, I still hadn’t seen a full episode of “99.” I started watching after seeing all of the Twitter drama go down, and half an episode in, I was hooked. It boasts a heartwarming and hilarious cast of quirky characters who all care deeply about each other. The writers don’t back down from tough subjects like racial profiling, mass shootings and LGBTQ+ issues, but rather explore them with a tender, serious approach. And Andre Braugher as Captain Raymond Holt — the stone-faced, idiosyncratic captain who loves plain white bread and calls John Philip Sousa “the Skrillex of his day” — gets me every time.
Season six will begin in 2019 and likely consist of 13 episodes — which is less than usual, but I’ll take what I can get. For now, I’ll content myself with watching Chelsea Peretti’s Twitter for the occasional behind-the-scenes snap of the cast as the crew films their new season.
Drake and Migos tour
By Ryan Israel, Scene Writer
Hopefully your summer started off better than Drake’s. In late May, the popular singer’s beef with rapper Pusha-T escalated when the two exchanged words over diss tracks. While Drake’s “Duppy Freestyle” was by no means kind, Pusha-T’s response, titled “The Story of Adidon,” was a masterclass in character assassination. The ruthless rapper spared no one, delivering verses regarding Drake’s parents, friends and most notably, his son.
While Drake’s summer began terribly, it could not have ended better. In late June, the Toronto star released his fifth studio album titled “Scorpion,” a 25-song double album that included hit singles “God’s Plan” and “Nice For What.” The album skyrocketed to the top of the Billboard 200 charts and stayed there for weeks thanks to the viral hit “In My Feelings” and its accompanying dance challenge.
Drake then went on a nationwide stadium tour in August, accompanied by Migos, the most popular trio in rap. On the second night of the tour, at the brand new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Drake delivered a captivating performance. The pop star spared no theatrics, performing on a LED stage, flying a replica of his Ferrari over the crowd and bringing a basketball hoop onto the stage for a mid-concert half court shot. As Drake tore through old hits “The Motto,” “Started From The Bottom” and “Hotline Bling,” and new hits “Look Alive” and “SICKO MODE” the crowd sang along word for word, and no one was thinking about the rocky start to the pop star’s summer.
“GLOW,” season 2
By Nicholas Ottone, Scene Writer
The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a kitschy ‘80s TV show, must have seemed like an odd inspiration for a prestige comedy on Netflix, but the risk paid off. While the first season of “GLOW” proved a decent translation of an inspirational sports film to television, the second truly capitalizes on the series’ potential. Combining the pure entertainment value of wrestling with more dramatic stories about the women’s relationships, “GLOW” is a candy-colored celebration of empowerment and identity, a full-throated and loving homage to its predecessor that revels in the messy contradictions of life.
Two standout episodes from the second season encapsulate the series’ strengths. The first follows Debbie (Betty Gilpin, who is brilliant) and Tamme (Kia Stevens) as they navigate their own versions of motherhood. In the smartest and most touching story of the season, Tamme struggles under the disapproving gaze of her Stanford-educated son as she performs as a stereotyped Welfare Queen. The second is a full-fledged recreation of the kitschy ‘80s original, complete with shoddy sets, melodramatic acting and inconceivable storylines. Yet the episode subtly pays off season-long arcs and develops characters despite the admittedly insanely entertaining schlock on display. That “GLOW” can accomplish all this in merely thirty minutes is a near miracle. While I found the first season to be merely okay, just like its inspirational women, “GLOW” rebounded and ultimately found great success.
Jazz at the National Gallery of Art
By Charlie Kenney, Scene Writer
If it were up to me, I would strictly listen to jazz in cold, dark, rooms with minimal amounts of people. But in a city as expensive as Washington D.C., when a jazz concert is free — it isn’t up to me. The cultural highlight of my summer was the weekly, (obviously) free jazz concert in the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
The jazz at the concerts wasn’t particularly outstanding, but that didn’t matter. What made jazz in the garden so great every Friday was the atmosphere that materialized around music and the willingness of hundreds of people to put off their commutes home for an hour or two of jazz, a pitcher of sangria and a dip of their toes in the fountain.
Rolled up chinos, loosened ties, empty pitchers and loud music are sights seldom found in an environment as serious as Capitol Hill is during the summer. Jazz on the green was a Friday refuge that allowed for those sights to be seen and permitted conversations about something other than politics. Yeah, sure, the jazz wasn’t anything you’d tell your friends about. But 200 people don’t gather in silent, jazz-less gardens.
Newport Folk Festival
By Carlos DeLoera, Scene Writer
Another summer passed and just like the previous 21 summers of my life, I didn’t attend the Newport Folk Festival. But thanks to the beauty/monster that is the Internet, I got to see watch a good portion of the performances. It has become a tradition of sorts for me to spend that weekend in late July dedicating the entirety of my being to folk music.
As expected artists like Margo Price, St. Vincent, Courtney Barnett, Sturgill Simpson and Cheech & Chong — yes, those guys — gave spectacular performances. But what has always made Newport special is its history of getting surprise performances from big-name artists.
One unexpected guest was folk legend John Prine, who performed the song “In Spite of Ourselves” from his newest album with Margo Price midway through her set. The 71-year-old Prine was met with great applause and put on a great show.
But perhaps the most notable unexpected guests were Mumford and Sons. I am personally not the biggest fans of the group, but even I have to say that they put on a great show. They came out and played a bunch of high quality covers ranging from Bob Dylan to Radiohead to The Band. The most impressive of these was their rendition of The Band’s “The Weight,” which also featured special guests Phoebe Bridgers, Brandi Carlile, Maggie Rogers and the great Mavis Staples, who sang alongside The Band in “The Last Waltz” 40 years ago.
So do yourself a favor and go on Youtube to watch the long list of impressive performances from the festival. These 200-something words can’t do it justice.