From a stolen sex tape saga to the first novel in a decade from one of Britain’s best-loved authors, this is your definitive guide to the best in culture this week.
Admit it: keeping up with culture these days can sometimes feel like mission impossible. What with reading a few pages of the latest bestseller, listening to a conversation-starting podcast or catching up with that obscure documentary all your colleagues are talking about, there’s always more to consume. Little wonder, then, that we’re so overwhelmed by choice that we very often end up doomscrolling into the light of our phones.
But culture shouldn’t be a burden, dear reader, it should be fun. That’s why we’ve given this handy guide. Here’s where we’ll be sifting through the stream of new books, TV shows, films and podcasts to highlight five standout releases that we love. Hopefully, you’ll find something here that not only saves you from infinite browsing, but that you can chat about with all your favourite people afterwards.
With 2022 bringing a truly bumper crop of entertainment, we figured there was no time like the present to get started. But rest assured: we won’t be bombarding you with options and bringing yet more “did-I-choose-right?” anxiety into your life. Rather, you’ll find just five recommendations of things to watch, read, attend and listen to.
This week, dive into a new series dramatising the story of a stolen sex tape from one of the most iconic celebrity couples of the modern era, immerse yourself in a captivating novel from one of Britain’s best-loved novelists, and transport yourself to Costa Rica by way of a showstopping orchid festival – and don’t forget to check back here next Monday, where we’ll be back with another roundup to help you figure out your culture for the coming week ahead.
TV: watch Pam & Tommy on Disney+
Are you ready for mullets, rockstar shenanigans and an epic club remix of Total Eclipse Of The Heart? Then prepare to travel back to 1995 in the new Disney+ drama Pam & Tommy, which revisits the story of the whirlwind romance between Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, and their stolen sex tape which was leaked onto the internet in an act of revenge by a disgruntled building contractor. The transformations are incredible, the frolics are outrageous, and the soundtrack will genuinely want to make you get up and dance. But as well as being hugely entertaining, the show also aims to reframe the narrative of the scandal by exploring how the wave of misogyny in the aftermath of the leak affected Anderson’s life forever.
The first three episodes of Pam & Tommy are available to stream on Disney+ on 2 February
Listen to the Fake Psychic podcast on BBC Sounds
We’re all game for stories of scammers right now, and if you were captivated by Fake Heiress, the BBC podcast digging into the scandal of Anna Delvey, who conned New York society into believing she was a multi-millionaire heiress (the serialisation drops on Netflix next week), you’ll be pleased to hear that journalist Vicky Baker is back with a another stranger-than-fiction tale.
This time around, Baker’s exploring the tale of Lamar Keene, who was well-known by the title of Prince of Spiritualists in 1960s America. If you wanted to speak with the dead, this man was your port of call; that is, until he sensationally published a tell-all expose outing himself as a conman who manipulated people in their most vulnerable moments. Not content with setting fire to his reputation, Keene sought to blow the whistle on the whole industry of psychics, clairvoyants and mediums that he claimed were fleecing the public on a national scale. Years after Keene’s extraordinary confession, there are still timely questions about our susceptibility to misinformation.
The first episode of Fake Psychic is available to stream on 1 Feb on BBC Sounds
Read Love Marriage by Monica Ali
Everyone knows the bestselling novel Brick Lane, which became a literary phenomenon and earned Monica Ali a Man Booker Prize nomination nearly 20 years ago. Now, in one of the biggest publishing events of the year, the much-loved author has returned with her first novel in a decade, Love Marriage.
The story follows Yasmin Ghormai, a young doctor who is engaged to charming, handsome fellow doctor Joe Sangster. But as their wedding day draws closer and the two families and their very different cultures collide, Yasmin is forced to confront what she really wants in a relationship, and what a “love marriage” actually means. It’s an utterly unputdownable exploration of modern love, and seeing as the tale has already been snapped up by the BBC, we can look forward to a fantastic TV adaptation before long, too.
Love Marriage by Monica Ali (£18.98, Virago) is published on 3 February
Watch The Tinder Swindler on Netflix
If you’ve ever watched open-mouthed at the stories of dating deceit on Catfish, Netflix’s latest true crime offering won’t disappoint. In what’s certain to be one of the best documentaries of the year, The Tinder Swindler explores the crimes of Shimon Hayut, a prolific Israeli conman who posed as a diamond mogul to defraud women he met on the dating site out of millions of dollars.
Now, three of Hayut’s victims are reclaiming their voices. In the documentary, Cecilie Fjellhoy, Ayleen Charlotte and Pernilla Sjoholm recount how they were taken in by Hayut’s web of lies and conned out of vast sums of cash, before they teamed up and plotted to bring about his downfall.
The Tinder Swindler is available to stream on Netflix on 2 February.
Images: Netflix; BBC; Virago.