A podcast for the culturally curious that turns a critical eye on some of the most-hyped plays, books, films and music in recent years and asks where they came from and what they tell us about culture today. Zoe Strimpel is a historian of gender and intimacy, Sunday Telegraph columnist and sincere contrarian. Tom Stammers is a fair-minded historian of 19th century France and a lecturer in European history at Durham University - who nonetheless knows how to turn the screw when necessary. They've been yammering about culture together since university.
Zoe and Tom consider the mania around Rooney's 2018 best-seller and 2020 TV adaptation, tempering their slight (in Zoe's case substantial) bewilderment with plenty of analysis of what Normal People seems to be saying about sex, class, family and youth.
Zoe, a former dating columnist just like Dolly, and an author of books concerning dating, just like Dolly, certainly found herself faced with the work of a much more popular and successful - and younger - version of herself. But was it just sour grapes that made her gawp at this book's fantastic success? She likes to think it wasn't. Together with historian of France Tom, they unpack the book's themes and oddities, discuss what they didn't like (and a few things they did) and think about what made it such a hit.
Join Zoe and Tom as they unpick the hype around Sir Tom Stoppard's most recent play, a chronicle of the tragedy of European Jews in the 20th century through the fate of one sprawling family. Zoe was very very unimpressed, and Tom just unimpressed. Why did critics go wild for it? What appetite among British audience goers did it serve? What was it trying to do and where did it go wrong - and in some places, right?
Based on Deborah Feldman's best-selling memoir about leaving the Satmar ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, Unorthodox became a global phenomenon after it dropped on Netflix in March 2020 - just in time for lockdown. Zoe and Tom puzzle over themes of gender, female self-discovery, Yiddish, Judaism and place - setting the miniseries in the context of a new, broadening interest by entertainment honchos in Jewish life and casting the usual critical eye over the whole. Join Zoe and Tom as they unpick the hype.
1917, released in the UK in January 2020, was one of the most successful war movies of all time. Unlike its smash hit stablemates, though, it focussed on World War One instead of Two. We discuss the appetite for World War One narratives, how perceptions of the war have changed, and why.