Staff Picks: Frank Ocean’s “Nikes,” ‘United States of Tara,’ Long Reads About Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner


Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Scroll through for our picks below.

Frank Ocean — “Nikes” [above link slightly NSFW, if your W can’t handle a genius music video]

If a week ago, you’d told me that a song/music video named after a sneaker brand and featuring a talking chihuahua would have the crazy emotional range that Frank Ocean’s “Nikes” has, I would have been dubious; it’d clearly been too long since I’d had a chance to get into new work by Ocean. What’s most impressive about “Nikes” is that this slow, moody Blond(e) track happens to also be frenetically varied when it comes to the visceral reactions each of its fraught lyrics alight in the listener; it’s quite a smooth emotional roller coaster.

One verse alone, despite moving within intentional torpor through the song, also jumps thematically between thirsty groupies, to a pun at once on basketball, sex, and the death of A$AP Yams, to the killing of Trayvon Martin, to drugs and Ocean’s family and real and metaphorical mermaids; the music video follows suit, likewise dazed yet skipping between interpretations of Ocean’s images, alternating between beautiful, comical and unsettling as Ocean’s voice is split into three versions of itself. I don’t often use the hyperbole “this is everything,” but in this drowsy song’s deceptive multitudinousness, it really is. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

United States of Tara

This Showtime series, created by Diablo Cody, aired from 2009-2011 — right around the time the early-2000s “Golden Age” of anti-hero dramas was ending, but before our current era of “Peak TV” had really begun to, well, peak. On United States of Tara, the wonderful Toni Collette plays a woman with dissociative identity disorder, whose family has learned to juggle her different personae: Alice, a prim, 1950s-era housewife; T, an out-of-control 16-year-old; and Buck, a beer-swilling, crotch-grabbing dude’s dude. (More “alters” eventually emerge, but if you haven’t seen the show, I won’t spoil them.)

As I wrote in my review of Amazon’s I Love Dick pilot, the real gender-reversed “anti-hero” doesn’t appear to be a gun-toting, ‘badass” woman but a woman, like that show’s protagonist, Chris, on the verge of a breakdown — pushing 40, dissatisfied professionally and sexually, stretched thin and worn out. United States of Tara’s concept allows it to literalize this particularly female kind of mid-life crisis. If you’re looking for a show with a complicated woman at its center, try United States of Tara; all three seasons are streaming on Netflix. — Lara Zarum, TV Editor

Long Reads About Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

The thing I actually enjoyed culturally this week was my 21st Bruce Springsteen show, an epic one by all measures, but who needs uplifting, wholesome and righteous pleasure when you can get a sick, infuriating thrill from reading about rich people selling their souls for the sake of a Nazi-esque narcissist they call family? Thus, my staff pick this week is a pair of longreads about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, specifically vicky Ward’s Esquire piece about the latter and the New Yorker piece by Lizzie Widdicombe about them both. Why do two seemingly intelligent, not that conservative young people embrace a campaign that’s growing more and more racist, xenophobic, crudely sexist and out of control? The answer is of course that good educations and wealthy upbringings hardly guarantee morality; these hallmarks of privilege may in fact be buffers against having a conscience, insulating a sense of right vs. wrong in layers of self-interest. If Trump loses, the story of Jared Kushner will read like a petty Shakespearean tragedy. If he wins this story will be a parable for the fate of the country. — Sarah Seltzer, Deputy Editor

The Guardian‘s write up of the trailer for Same Kind of Different as Me

This week I choose Stuart Heritage’s hilarious piece for The Guardian about the trailer for Same Kind of Different as Me. The film, if you’ve managed to avoid the chorus of astonishment at its trailer, looks startlingly bad, but if nothing else, it’ll have been responsible for the most amusing takedown of the year to date. That’s something, right? — Tom Hawking, Editor-in-Chief