Culture Gabfest podcast

Taylor Swift’s Messy Maximalism

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On this week’s episode, the panel is first joined by Slate’s music critic, Carl Wilson, to puzzle over The Tortured Poets Department, Taylor Swift’s much-anticipated 11th studio album. Stuffed with 31 tracks, the two-part album is a departure from the billionaire pop star’s otherwise perfectly crafted oeuvre: it’s messy and drippy, and at times, manic and frenetic. Is this secretly a cry for help? And more importantly, when did she find the time to record this thing? Then, the three explore Fallout, a post-apocalyptic drama series adapted from the extremely popular role-playing video game of the same name. Executive produced by Jonathan Nolan (Westworld, Person of Interest) and streaming on Prime Video, Fallout certainly achieves a high level of immersive world-building, but do the stories and characters fare the same? Finally, Becca Rothfeld, the Washington Post’s non-fiction book critic, joins to discuss her triumphant first book, All Things Are Too Small: Essays in Praise of Excess, in which she rebukes the culture’s affinity for minimalism and makes the case for living in a maximalist world.  In the exclusive Slate Plus segment, it’s part two of the Ambition versus Contentment discussion (courtesy of a listener question from Gretel): How should a parent approach cultivating ambition in a child, if at all? The hosts discuss.  Email us at [email protected].  Outro music: "Ruins (Instrumental Version)" by Origo Endorsements: Dana: The Teacher’s Lounge, a film by German-Turkish director Ilker Çatak. It was a Best International Film nominee at the 96th Academy Awards. (Also, Ebertfest in Champaign, Illinois!) Julia: Kristen Wiig’s Jumanji sketch on Saturday Night Live, inspired by Dana.  Stephen: The British band Jungle, introduced to him by his daughter. A few favorite songs: “Back on 74,” “Dominoes,” and “All of the Time.”  Podcast production by Jared Downing. Production assistance by Kat Hong.  Hosts Dana Stevens, Julia Turner, Stephen Metcalf Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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