Illustration by Mike Tofanelli for EW
Join the hottest new party in Brooklyn, where Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams have upgraded their hit culture podcast to pay cable with a series of specials as intimate, freewheeling, and queen-sized as ever. (HBO, Fridays, 11:30 p.m.)
The Sexy Soundtracks of Fifty Shades
Say what you will about the quality of the Fifty Shades film trilogy (which climaxes, finally, on Feb. 9 with Fifty Shades Freed), but it’s hard to deny the series’ strongest artistic legacy: sex music. And lots of it, from both A-list superstars and indie songwriters, all of whom elevated a sleepy movie franchise by giving us sultry music worth sleeping with.
Celebrities Who Joined Instagram in January
Nicole Kidman entered the frame after her Golden Globe win and instantly fit right in with social-happy friends like Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon. Tom Cruise soon followed suit (if not Kidman’s account) with a juicy Mission: Impossible promo, as did Waco star Taylor Kitsch, whose ’gram is already a touchdown.
Cinema’s banner year for children’s literary icons continues with a fresh take on Beatrix Potter’s impish rabbit, who grabs the spotlight (along with scene-stealing humans Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson) in Sony’s disarmingly fun countryside comedy.
By the Way, I Forgive You by Brandi Carlile
What do you get when one of Washington State’s finest vocal and lyrical talents teams up with one of Music City’s most electrifying producers? Brandi Carlile and Dave Cobb found out for her latest, By the Way, I Forgive You — and the results are pure, powerful country-rock catharsis.
Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
Action abounds in this explosive new series-starter, which picks up a decade after Brown’s first trilogy, Red Rising. With no momentum lost, the author’s space epic about a war hero’s quest to bring peace to the galaxy he shattered remains the best, most surprising sci-fi series you’ve still never read.
The Bachelor Winter Games
This four-episode event gathers former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants from around the world — Australia! Japan! Texas! — to compete in wintry challenges in hopes of winning dates and, ultimately, taking home the greatest non-gold prize of all: true love. (ABC, Tuesdays/Thursdays, 8 p.m.)
There’s a thoughtful yet wicked tone to this high school comedy (which boasts producers like Seth Meyers and former SNL player Mike O’Brien). It’s Always Sunny alum Glenn Howerton is jerky fun as a disgraced philosopher-turned-science teacher, but it’s the supporting cast of gossiping teachers, hilariously average students, and Patton Oswalt’s scene-stealing principal who really nail this curriculum. (NBC, Thursdays, 9:30 p.m., starting March 1.)
Ira Madison III’s new pop culture podcast Keep It! (produced by the folks behind EW’s best-of-2017 pick Pod Save America) was named for a catchphrase that caught fire on Twitter: As he describes it, it’s a way of succinctly saying, “I don’t want that, no thank you, you can keep it.” From Woody Allen and Taylor Swift to TV reboots and Hollywood discrimination, culture critic Madison dives into entertainment topics with a thoughtful mix of hilarity and conversant seriousness through lenses of race, gender, LGBT perspective, politics, and simply taste.
What to stream this week: Terms of Endearment
Substitute Valentine’s romance for QT with Mom by revisiting this 1983 dramedy, starring Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger as a mother-daughter duo looking for love and driving each other crazy until an illness unites them. The gooey you crave, without the greeting cards. Available to stream on Netflix.