Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette”: With Netflix’s habit of releasing stand-up comedy shows with the care of an alpine avalanche, you’d be forgiven for losing track of this new special, which may be the most affecting hour of television you’ll watch this year. Beginning as a genial, dryly funny set that explores gender, sexuality and male sensitivities, “Nanette” takes a turn as Gadsby outlines her reasons for quitting stand-up comedy, and what began as something familiar becomes increasingly raw as laughs get left behind in the name of expressing something more powerful and human. In short, all that the greatest stand-up can be.
Charles Lloyd and the Marvels with Lucinda Williams, “Vanished Gardens”: Fresh from a turn at this summer’s Playboy Jazz Festival, musical explorer Lloyd released another album to add to a rich and expressive legacy. Backed by a band that works an Americana-informed seam with guitarists Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz, the 80-year-old Lloyd’s ability to deliver evocative, even mournful instrumentals like “Defiant” are as strong as ever, but the wild card is Williams, whose weathered tone gives voice to the inexpressible beauty of the band’s interplay on supple reinventions of songs such as “Dust” and “Unsuffer Me.”
Sean Spicer, talk show host: Hot on the heels of a renewed discussion about the importance of civility in American political discourse, former White House Press Secretary and Melissa McCarthy muse Spicer revealed that he is shopping a genial chat show that’s said to be a “‘Washington Week’ meets ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.’” While the hot-headed Spicer extolling the virtue of measured discourse is another peak on 2018’s mountain range of ironic heights, there is something impressive in how much vitriol can be worked up against “Hollywood elites” up to the point a political figure aims to become one.
The Grammys’ growth: Following the lead of the Oscars, the Recording Academy announced this week it would be expanding the field from five to eight nominees in its major categories, including song of the year, album of the year and best new artist. While this will theoretically allow for a much-needed infusion of diversity among the artists and albums to be acknowledged, this mostly smacks of a need for the Grammys to regain its relevance as ratings have continued to flag. It sounds promising, but given the Grammys’ track record, all this will do is allow for three more albums that Kendrick Lamar will finish behind.
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