MUSIC: "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Backstreet Boys
No, we’re not playing games with your heart—it’s actually that good. The ’90s band proves its musical mettle in 2018 with this catchy new single (no relation to Elton John) that announces, triumphantly, that Backstreet’s back. You’ll definitely hear the pop tune on BSB’s 10th studio album this year, but the band’s 25th anniversary year is so special, singers Brian Littrell and AJ McLean revealed to EW that two albums could soon be headed your way.
BOOK: Pretend I'm Dead by Jen Beagin
The author won a prestigious Whiting Award for her spiky first novel, a portrait of a young cleaning woman whose romance with a junkie—referred to, exclusively, as Mr. Disgusting—ends in tragedy. It’s dark stuff, to be sure, but Beagin’s prose is ultimately breezy and scathingly funny.
MUSIC: "This Is America" by Childish Gambino
Childish Gambino’s new stand-alone single mixes gospel and trap to create a striking rumination about life in this country; however, the genre-blending track is immediately elevated by the provocative and bleak visuals of its Hiro Murai-directed music video, which raises difficult questions about gun violence, black culture, and more. Donald Glover has definitely leveled up with this one.
And hey, don’t you just wish you were Glover these days? In 2011, the Community star described himself as a “Renaissance man with a Hollywood buzz” on the Childish Gambino song “Not Going Back.” Well, that buzzy hum has crescendoed into a loud, inescapable roar as Glover is everywhere right now. In addition to the viral “This Is America,” Glover debuted the fun, Off the Wall-reminiscent track “Saturday” when he served as host and musical guest on SNL on May 5. While the stunning second season of his Emmy-winning FX comedy Atlanta concluded on May 10, its challenging episodes (including the award-worthy “Teddy Perkins”) are still inciting conversation. He’ll go full superhero mode as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story on May 25, and by September he’ll embark on the 18-city This Is America tour. Plus, don’t forget that he’s set to star—alongside Beyoncé!—in Disney’s remake of The Lion King next year. Yes, summer is sure on its way, but Glover season is already in full swing.
TV: 13 Reasons Why
One of 2017’s most controversial shows is back for a twisty second season on Netflix as Hannah’s story takes a backseat to the expanded lives and issues of her stressed-out classmates. As EW’s critic Kristen Baldwin writes in her review, season 2 takes a hot minute to really get going, but if you can stick with it and look past its overly instructive moments, you’ll find plenty of reasons why it’s ultimately a success.
And hey, you know what might help? A 30-second recap on season 1! Start your timer right now:
Before high school student Hannah Baker committed suicide, she recorded 13 tapes chronicling the many people and events that led her down that path—and by the end of season 1, Hannah wouldn’t be the only one affected: Cheerleader Jessica was coming to terms with her sexual assault; tortured athlete Justin left town; loner photographer Tyler was collecting guns; and sheriff’s son Alex shot himself. And then there’s quiet protagonist Clay, still just trying to make sense of it all. Welcome to season 2.
MOVIE: 2001: A Space Odyssey
HAL-elujah! Christopher Nolan may be the only working director qualified to reexamine Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi space masterpiece, which Nolan has carefully “unrestored” to its original photo format for an extraordinary theatrical rerelease unlike any other 50th anniversary. (Your move, Funny Girl.) Read EW’s Piya Sinha-Roy’s Q&A with Nolan about why he wants you to see this movie the same way he did.
Writer-director Coralie Fargeat’s rape-revenge thriller calls time up on the genre’s more misogynistic tropes by declining to depict the initial crime that sets this juicy film into motion but devoting plenty of time to the ensuing retribution. Learn the name of actress Matilda Lutz, who unforgettably transforms from left-for-dead victim to vengeance-seeking angel of death. Read our interview with Fargeat and Lutz here.
And by the way… no, this has nothing to do with that ABC show with Emily VanCamp.
TV: The Middle
After nine seasons of hilarious pratfalls and awkward family moments, The Middle comes to an end on ABC on May 22. We’ll sure as hell miss the Heck family, but there’s no better way to honor this endearingly average clan than to start all over again and begin a binge of what EW will remember as one of the purest TV underdogs of the decade.
“It’s so insane to think the show would have a legacy, that I could be part of something that people will think about beyond this moment,” said frequent scene-stealer Eden Sher, who played prodigal daughter Sue Heck. “If you think of your favorite finale and the feeling it evoked, I think [our finale] captured that.”
Over on Starz, two estranged sisters (Mishel Prada and Melissa Barrera) are pulled back to their East Los Angeles home for their mother’s funeral on former How to Get Away With Murder writer Tanya Saracho’s dazzling and unparalleled half-hour dramedy about family, gentrification, and Latino identity.
BOOK: The High Season by Judy Blundell
We can’t think of a better beach read to kick off the dog days. Blundell’s adult debut has it all: glamorous Hamptons intrigue, cutting satire, and a woman scorned—struggling to keep her crumbling life together over one delectably unhinged summer.
Intrigued? Blundell also gave EW 3 juicy tips for how to build the perfect beach read:
1. Keep the plot juicy but not jumbled. (“Twists and turns [should] come pretty often. One wall in my office was just made up of index cards, and Post-it notes, and color-coded Sharpies…the inside of my crazy brain!”)
2. Take advantage of the summer season. (“Everyone approaches summer in this way where they’re going to turn a page in their life…. It’s also a concentrated period of time for things to go wrong.”
3. Get your hero to a breaking point. (“Good novels are always about bad choices.”)
STREAMING: Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life
Dare you not to smile as the two comedy legends wax equal parts wise and wild in their marvelous Netflix special. Short is as frenzied as ever and Martin as classically cutting as they bring the belly laughs through song, showbiz memories (involving everyone from Elvis to Billy Crystal), and touching stories pulled from the course of two treasured—and far-from-over-yet—careers.