Culture Gabfest

The Culture Gabfest “All This Science I Don’t Understand” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on Rocketman, Chernobyl, and Running From Cops.

Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 558 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, Forrest Wickman, Sam Adams, and Inkoo Kang with the audio player below.

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This week, Slate culture editor Forrest Wickman joins Dana and Steve to talk Rocketman, the new Taron Egerton–led film about the life of Elton John. It puts a fresh spin on familiar rock star biopic tropes, but what gets lost in forcing his story to fit that formula? Next, the hosts discuss the HBO miniseries Chernobyl with TV editor Sam Adams, unpacking its approach to the science and history underpinning the disaster. Finally, the gabbers are joined by Inkoo Kang to discuss Running From Cops, a riveting (and alarming) investigative podcast about how the reality TV show Cops has shaped our perception of policing in America.


Links to some of the things we discussed this week:

• Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman
• “I Want Love” by Elton John
• “Rocketman Doesn’t Break Ground, but It Does Kick Up Dust in Sparkly Heels” by Jeffrey Bloomer in Slate
• Craig Mazin’s Chernobyl
• “The Creator of Chernobyl on Viewers Taking Away the Wrong Lessons” by Sam Adams in Slate
The Hangover Part II
• Dan Taberski’s Running From Cops
• “A New Investigative Podcast About Cops Proves We Underestimate Reality TV at Our Peril” by Inkoo Kang in Slate


Dana: Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster and the end of the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Steve: Lillian Smith’s Killers of the Dream


Outro: “Neon Raceway” by Elfl

This podcast was produced by Benjamin Frisch. Our production assistant is Alex Barasch.

Feel free to email us at or interact with us at @SlateCultFest on Twitter. You can follow all of Slate’s culture coverage by signing up for our newsletter and liking our Facebook page.

Want more of the Culture Gabfest?

Come see Steve, Dana, and supreme friend of the pod Isaac Butler live in New York on June 8 as part of Slate Day. Get your tickets for pop culture trivia, a Hit Parade Dance party, and much more here.