A&E reporter’s picks: Favorite summer pop culture moments

A Broadway scandal, an it-girl, an album and a trendsetting tv show. Here are A&E’s favorites from this summer.

by A&E Staff

With the Minnesota Daily’s summer publishing session coming to a close, the A&E staff took time to reminisce on the last two months and reflect on what in the pop culture world stood out. Ridiculous New York celebrity personas, Pete Davidson-esque Chicago boys and Southern Californian musicians stood out amid a summer full of record-breaking heat. This one’s for the girls in low-rise jeans with line cook crushes and Twitter addictions. – James Schaak

The “Funny Girl” controversy: For Broadway lovers and those who like to watch drama unfold from afar, the controversy surrounding the recasting of Fanny Brice in the recently-revived Broadway musical, “Funny Girl,” was quite the big deal this summer. After “Booksmart”‘s Beanie Feldstein made the decision to leave the show earlier than anticipated, the rumor mill was abuzz with speculation as to who might take her place — although the top runner was, of course, Lea Michele.

Michele has been publicly vying for the role of Fanny Brice on Broadway for years. However, it seemed like she had ruined any shot at the part and a future in show business amid serious claims that she, among accusations of unprofessional conduct and racism, made a former co-worker’s life a “living hell” on the set of “Glee.” The controversy lies in casting the well-known Michele — problematic past and all — instead of Feldstein’s understudy, Julie Benko, whose name may not hold the same weight despite her success as a stand-in while Feldstein battled COVID-19. Regardless of your own stance on the casting drama, one thing’s obvious here — that’s just showbiz, baby. – Sophia Zimmerman

Julia Fox: Yes, Julia Fox’s moment in the sun was really more a January/February trend, but true Julia Fox stans (we need a name) know that was actually her least interesting era. Aside from the absurd photo shoot accompanying Hunter Harris’ profile of Fox in The Cut, the it-girl’s months with Ye confused her appeal as a performance art project of her own.

The joy of following Fox this summer has been unpacking her contemporary antics (her looks!) without the TMZ saturation and deep-diving into her storied past, even before the “Uncut Gems” role. For example, the way she’s been well-documented “friends” with Jack Donoghue for years (this photo especially) and her (drunk?) singing “Video Games” on TikTok in July before Lana Del Rey hard-launched Donoghue later that month is a narrative deserving of academic research. Maybe Bushwick residents or Hollywood insiders are less impressed with Fox’s constant oddities, but for pop culture-obsessed and hyper-online Midwesterners, this has been peak entertainment. – James Schaak

“MUNA” by MUNA: Drawing in all queer content lovers and Phoebe Bridgers fans like moths to a flame, MUNA’s new self-titled album appropriately dropped during the end of Pride month this summer. Releasing their first album in 2017, the female and non-binary indie pop band shot onto the soundtracks of local coffee shops with their single “Silk Chiffon” featuring Bridgers. The album’s second track, “What I Want,” comes with a early 2000s popstar-esque music video, but more queer, featuring the band dancing in a limo wearing glittery tubetops and surrounded by women. Gentle and slowed down ballads like “Loose Garment” and “Kind of Girl,” round out the album to give us soundtracks to either dance around our bedroom or dig into our angsty energy while staring out a bus window. –Maya Marchel Hoff

“The Bear” and Line Cook Summer: FX’s latest show about a mentally ill (but sexy) chef and his experience revitalizing his family’s Chicago Italian beef restaurant was quick to be credited as one of the most accurate TV portrayals of working in the service industry. It features the constant stress and the excitement of creating something for others to enjoy plus the hot, emotionally unavailable men (Jeremy Allen White) preparing the food behind the scenes.

Thus, as is to be expected, the internet exploded with memes, stories of individuals’ own damaging line cook experiences and even what I would describe as near-religious dogmas explaining the different types of gross-hot (state fair, gas station, etc). One tweet even described Allen White as “the working woman’s Timothée Chalamet.” All in all, everyone’s thirsting after greasy men, and it sure is fun to witness. – Bel Moran