Photo by Lacey Terrell/Hulu

Spoilers ahead

Sue me, I was excited for Happiest Season. A gay Christmas romcom where Kristen Stewart wears suits and Mary Steenburgen wears red? Two, please.

Unfortunately, like a lot of people I know, I watched and then hated Happiest Season. I’m no Grinch: I find great comfort in the fevered, credibility-stretching symphonies of your Family Stones and your The Holidays. Nor do I require my queer content sanded-down and conflict-free — I don’t subscribe to the notion that grappling intelligently with our suffering is somehow counter to a cause. But Happiest Season doesn’t do any intelligent grappling. It exposes…

The new Taylor Swift album came when none of us were expecting it, and for the first time since Beyoncé pioneered the stealth drop seven years ago, it feels like that means something. Swift’s catalogue is animated by twitchy legacy anxiety: the fear that lovers will misremember key moments from a faded relationship; the determination to affect history on your own terms, with carefully considered messaging, lest someone canonize you incorrectly. …

courtesy Chrysallis Records

Laura Marling released her last album while I was wandering through London with my heart breaking at half-speed. I was trying to preserve everything around me in amber, but at some point the days turned against me and I had to (at least privately) admit that I was treating zombified relationships like flesh-and-blood. I would pipe Marling’s Semper Femina straight into my ears each morning while I walked to my silent, deskbound internship, and then again on the walk to my daily bowl of bank-breaking pho. “Are you getting away with who you’re trying to be?” she would ask in…

Anna Maxwell Martin, Ben Chaplin, Adam James, and Priyanga Buford in “Consent”

LONDON—Nina Raine’s new play is called Consent, and with a title like that, you probably think you know what it’s about. You’re not wrong, but to Raine’s immense credit, you’re not exactly right. On its surface, Consent is about a London rape case, but it ultimately uses that morally rigid, hot-button issue as a springboard for a million other conversations. It’s is a spiky, powerful piece of work whose occasional rough edges are more than smoothed over by incendiary performances and Raine’s savage wit.

The show, playing in the NT’s Dorfman theatre in a production directed by Roger Mitchell, centers…

There are two entrances to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The main entrance on Huntington Avenue is serviced by the E branch of the green line and swallowed by Northeastern University. The grandeur of the facade is almost entirely muted by its surroundings: dorm buildings, greasy pizza-cum-falafel shops, a few anonymous offices.

The other, more secluded entrance faces Fenway and offers a segmented glimpse of the Boston skyline. Two sculpted-iron infant heads flank the gray stone steps. Between them, lit softly from below, are a deer and a hunter with a half-taut bow. …

On the importance of not being who you think you are.

I’ve spent the last 45 minutes figuring out what I’m going to wear today.

“Going to” is a key phrase, because it’s already 3:15 pm, which in the murky-gray winter of the Pacific Northwest counts as dusk, and the furthest I’ve moved is to the front porch to pick up my mom’s FedEx package. But now here I am, Googling things like “what to wear with light wash jeans” and “t-shirt under v-neck sweater?” for the first time in my life (re: the latter, Ashley Weston says absolutely not).

What our complicated relationship with the formerly-adored pop star says about us.

I remember tearing a close friend apart in 9th grade for listening to Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now.”

It was the fall of 2010, the record had just dropped, and without hearing a note, I decided that it was awful. The album art features a waxen Swift glancing at the observer, her purple dress dissipating into Jackson Pollock splatters. Glitter flows liberally. To my newly-out 14 year-old self, hating Speak Now was an easy way to gain distance from the pieces of gay culture I was least comfortable with. It was a two-pronged attack: I was wary of Swift’s femininity, but I was also reacting to…

The promotional cycle surrounding The Life of Pablo, Kanye West’s seventh studio album, has become a spectator sport every bit as infuriating and invigorating as anything on ESPN.

Listening to the final product, it’s difficult to confirm or deny whether the ceaseless fanfare was worth it: The Life of Pablo is a bundle of contradictions. It is by turns assured and petulant, self-aware and tone-deaf. In other words, it’s a lot like Kanye West.

The first time we hear West’s voice on this messy, domineering album, he breaks through the sound of a child in religious ecstasy to proclaim, “I’m trynna keep my faith/But I’m looking for more.” While he throws plenty of clutter at us across Pablo’s staggering 18 tracks — Rihanna singing Nina Simone samples, bizarre…

A short story inspired, perhaps distastefully, by a news headline.

The beginning is always the same. Having dulled the razor’s edge of adolescence with nothing but a few nicks to show for it, young men of all creeds and backgrounds freeze wherever they happen to be and drop their expressions entirely. A long, twisted tunnel comes together before their eyes — a dumping ground for all the unreturned phone calls their addled minds have buried with time. …

Conner Reed

I live in Portland and write for a magazine. Nice!

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