You might know it as “the random show that earned Matt LeBlanc a Golden Globe for playing himself,” and yeah, that was pretty silly. But Showtime’s Episodes is more than an entry in the where-are-they-now logbook for the former Friends cast (and LeBlanc is more appealing here than in anything else I’ve seen him in post-Friends). The half-hour comedy chronicles the misadventures of married couple and writing team Sean and Beverly Lincoln (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig), who move from their native London to L.A. to adapt their acclaimed British sitcom for American audiences. There���s no shortage of meta-series that take place behind the scenes of a TV production (we have Gary Shandling to thank for that), but Episodes is a particularly sharp and funny Hollywood satire, exposing the absurdity of the TV industry through the eyes of two very smart and increasingly horrified U.K. transplants. Production is underway for the fifth and final season, slated for 2017; now’s the time to catch up on seasons 1-4, all available on Netflix. — Lara Zarum, Contributor, TV
If you feel guilty about always buying books through Amazon — but are frustrated that your local bookstore doesn’t have what you want — I’ve found a pretty good alternative. It’s called PaperBackSwap and I think it’s one of the best examples of the new “sharing economy.” It allows people to exchange books either for free or for 49 cents (depending on account type), with the sender paying the postage. PaperBackSwap lets you make your own books available and browse others’ collections. You can even create a wish list so that when any member, anywhere, posts a book you’ve been wanting, you’re notified and given the first shot at it. The site even prints postage for you, so you can wrap your book in printer paper. It’s all free (or very cheap) and a great way both to get rid of books you’re done with and to snag books you’ve always wanted. With summer reading season coming up, I recommend checking out PaperBackSwap to see what they have to offer. And it’s not just paperbacks — people post hardbacks, audiobooks, and even textbooks. — Jason Ginsburg, Social Media Editor
Who blew up Grand Central station? Who is manipulating Alex (Priyanka Chopra) to murder a soon-to-be Vice President? Who kisses best? Even after 20 episodes, we still don’t know, but there is one thing that’s certain: the answer to all of those questions is someone who is incredibly attractive. Because, though this show’s pacing and plotting are as uneven as a soap opera’s, the one thing that is consistent is Quantico‘s very high sexiness quotient.
Beyond that, this show is still a treasure to watch, gloriously bad and yet oh so good. It lacks the style of Scandal and the substance of How to Get Away with Murder, but the world of Shonda Rhimes is clearly the show’s precedent. FBI agents shack up with and then interrogate one another while people are maimed, drugged, and evicted to little effect. Chopra is a damn marvel and well worth tuning in every week, and, like I said, everybody is H-O-T. Ow!
I’ve got no idea what’s going on with the plot — nuclear weapons are involved, naturally — but I remain intrigued. So, what I’m saying is, lower your standards, and Quantico is a blast. — Shane Barnes, Associate Editor
The Truth About “Jabba Flow”
So it turns out that Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is actually the ultimate troll.
As you may or may not know, Miranda, whose music is so powerful that it kept non-president Alexander Hamilton on the 10-dollar bill, wrote the cantina music for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That song, which is called “Jabba Flow,” was written in Huttese, the fictional language of Jabba and his fellow garbage monsters. It is a slow, bubbly, and vaguely pleasant tune that I haven’t thought about since I saw the movie.
Until today, which is — sigh — May the 4th. Miranda went out to greet the fans waiting for Hamilton tickets outside the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York. To celebrate, Miranda performed an acoustic version of “Jabba Flow,” which is now available on iTunes, with a band and Force Awakens director-turned-backup-vocalist J.J. Abrams. It was then, when Miranda introduced Abrams, that he revealed the shocking truth: When translated into English, Jabba Flow is “literally a Shaggy intergalactic remix.”
“Jabba Flow is literally a Shaggy intergalactic remix” is the modern-day “Soylent Green is people.” — Michael Epstein, Editorial Apprentice
Simon Amstell’s Do Nothing
This is nothing new — and perhaps you’ve seen his comedy before (and admittedly so have I). A year or so ago, I caught Simon Amstell’s performance at a former roommate’s comedy show at a dive bar, without realizing that he was England Famous. (I know, I should be more brushed up on my English Famouses.) Anyway, this week, while trying in vain to find more clips of Josh Fadem to prove to friends how funny he is, I gave up and started making them watch Simon Amstell, another neurotic Jewish comedian with whom I identify (his composite of Jewish and gay — and sure, autonomous, individual, non-generalized — neuroses is especially appealing to my own composite of such things). I’d never seen a full special of his, though, and instead of going out recent one weekend night I ended up getting drunk watching this performance from Dublin in 2010 (called Do Nothing) and found it so relatable as to pretty much forget I wasn’t out among friends, while simultaneously realizing how sad it was to be so content with this realization, while also feeling that such a realization was very much in keeping with the self-deprecating humor of Do Nothing, thus continuing and strengthening the cycle of falsely feeling as though I was talking to a very close friend. Amstell has a somewhat philosophical, romantically unromantic, and surprisingly warm humor, and I think I better stop talking about it lest I continue to sound like I have some kind of a crush or something. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor
Orson Welles, Volume 3: The One-Man Band by Simon Callow
You’ve gotta feel for poor Simon Callow, who took it upon himself to write the definitive Orson Welles biography over two decades ago, and has watched it balloon into the kind of endlessly delayed, ever-expanding project that, well, Orson Welles might’ve been involved in. The 1995 Road to Xanadu took us through the release of Citizen Kane; 2006’s Hello Americans focused on the hyper-political half-decade that followed. Callow intended to wrap the story up in this third volume, but as he notes in the preface, “I was baulked by Welles himself,” by the heft and quality of this period’s work, and we can thus expect a fourth (“and truly final,” Callow writes, somewhat insistently) biography in, it would seem, another decade or so. However many it takes is fine with me, for once again Callow has proven peerless at capturing this fascinating life, in all its contradictions; he walks us through the work with a touch that is meticulous yet personal, crafting a work that is thoroughly, dutifully researched, yet often reads like baroque fiction, thanks to the outsized personality (and appetites) of its subject. Callow is not just a writer but an actor and director, and as with the previous volumes, that personal connection colors, flavors, and heightens his perception of Welles – he sees this man first and foremost as a performer, a character really, and explores that character with curiosity, wit, and verve. Indispensable as ever; eagerly anticipating the 2026 release of volume four. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor