Culture Gabfest

The Culture Gabfest “Best in Blow” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on The Farewell, Blown Away, and the legacy of Hal Prince.


Episode Notes

On Slate Plus, the hosts discuss why Steve left Twitter.

This week, Dana, Steve, and Julia discuss The Farewell, the Awkwafina-led family drama “based on an actual lie” that changed writer-director Lulu Wang’s own life. The film teases out universal truths without sacrificing cultural specificity—but is its understated approach a strength or a weakness? Next, the Canadian glassblowing competition show Blown Away has become an unlikely sensation since its arrival on Netflix. Can the rush of the reality TV format work for such a slow and steady art form? Finally, the critics are joined by Isaac Butler to trace the legacy of Hal Prince, the legendary director and producer behind shows ranging from Company to Phantom of the Opera. Together, they reflect on his role in the rise of the “concept musical,” his formative collaborations with Stephen Sondheim, and how we measure influence in such an ephemeral art form.

Links to some of the things we discussed this week:

The Farewell starring Awkwafina
• “The Farewell Finds Universal Truths in a Highly Specific Lie” by Inkoo Kang in Slate
• “Meet Zhao Shuzhen, the Breakout Star of The Farewell” by Jenelle Riley in Variety
Blown Away
• “Love Her or Hate Her, Deborah Czeresko Is the Unlikely Star of Netflix’s Blown Away” by Matt Brennan in the Los Angeles Times
The Great British Bake Off
• “Hal Prince, Giant of Broadway and Reaper of Tonys, Dies at 91” by Bruce Weber in the New York Times
• Dan Kois and Isaac Butler’s The World Only Spins Forward
• Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories
• Bob Fosse’s Cabaret
• “The Last Word: Hal Prince” by Mervyn Rothstein, Matthew Orr, and Robin Stein in the New York Times
• “One Night Wonder” by Isaac Butler in Topic magazine


Dana: The Replacements’ cover of Cruella de Vil” from the album Stay Awake

Alex: Andrew Scott’s Hamlet and In the Flesh

Julia: The 2019 Audobon Photography Awards

Steve:One Night Wonder” by Isaac Butler in Topic Magazine and Bernard Crick’s George Orwell: A Life

Outro: “Of the Sun” by Cospe

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

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About the Show

New York Times critic Dwight Garner says, “The Slate Culture Gabfest is one of the highlights of my week.” The award-winning Culturefest features Slate culture critics Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner debating the week in culture, from highbrow to pop.

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