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[Binge This Week]

Binge This Week: ‘Homecoming,’ ‘Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi,’ Gogo Penguin and more

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Janelle Monáe in Homecoming
Photo: Amazon Prime / Courtesy
  • Television: Parks and Recreation

    Remember politics before 2016? If your memory’s a bit fuzzy, revisit this gem from NBC, which ran from 2009-2015, about the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, and the government employees in its parks department. There’s lots of hijinks involved, but at its heart, it’s about bureaucratic competence. The indomitable Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is the antidote to our current cynicism about politics—over the span of 125 episodes, she restores our faith in our governing bodies. (Joe Biden even makes a cameo appearance in Season 5.) Netflix. –Genevie Durano

  • Book: Don't Call Us Dead

    A finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry, this collection by Danez Smith takes a magnifying glass to issues of race, love, police violence, living with HIV and being a black queer person in the United States. “I do not trust the God you have given us. Though his songs are beautiful, his miracles are inconsistent,” Smith writes in “dear white America.” Passionate and ferocious, Don’t Call Us Dead is as jarring as it is awakening—a harrowing work about the intersection of black and queer life. –Leslie Ventura

  • Music: GoGo Penguin

    It’s tricky business describing GoGo Penguin, the Manchester, England-based instrumental trio whose fifth, self-titled LP dropped on June 5. In broad strokes, it’s a jazz band—Chris Illingworth plays piano, Nick Blacka double bass and Rob Turner drums—but its output more closely resembles electronic music: techno, house, breakbeats. The members compose using electronic gear, then reverse-engineer those sounds to fit their acoustic instruments. The music evokes Four Tet, Tycho, Squarepusher, Philip Glass and Radiohead—while at the same time advancing those sounds into new territory. It takes an entire album, and good speakers or headphones, to get a proper feel for GGP. Do it. –Geoff Carter

  • Television: Homecoming

    Janelle Monáe takes the baton from Julia Roberts for the second season of this Amazon psychological thriller and takes the show in an even less-expected direction, as time and perspectives twist to turn a few days’ events into an epic unraveling. Hong Chau, Stephan James, Chris Cooper and an unhinged Joan Cusack join in on the fun. Prime Video. –Spencer Patterson

  • Television: Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi

    You know Hulu’s new culinary show is unique when host and famous foodie Padma Lakshmi pauses the discussion about El Paso burritos to wait for the border patrol helicopter to pass. Normally, such a distraction might be edited out, but Lakshmi uses it as an entry point to discuss the immigrant experience, including her own. In 10 episodes, Lakshmi explores cooking, culture and identity. Bonus: Episode 9 features Las Vegas Thai food. Hulu. –C. Moon Reed

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