Christmas in July!
The salmon and halibut of newsletter—sexy, eh?—is decking the halls in 90-plus-degree swelter because, ah, hell, why not?
What would make the perfect women’s magazine? Juicy yarns, big ideas, deeply personal examinations of women’s lives—and none of the advertiser obligations. Welcome to the Spread, where every week two editors read, listen, and watch it all, and deliver only the best to your inbox.
Like the Hallmark Channel before us, the Spread hereby marks today, July 18, as our first annual (if we remember it right) Christmas in July! Why today, you ask? Well, for one, Maggie’s a Christmas baby and has long been looking for an excuse to celebrate her half birthday. (We’ve already begun thawing the back half of her Shiv Roy-themed sheet cake from December. Who wants a spork?) Secondly, last night, Rachel finally caught up on season 2 of The Bear, including that flashback Christmas episode and…day-um. It’s all we could talk about in this morning’s Spreaditorial Meeting. For those who’ve yet to watch the ep, the stars came out, as they say, to play Yes Chef’s phenomenally screwy clan—Jamie Lee Curtis, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, John Mulaney, and Gillian Jacobs—as they reunite, comfort, bicker, and threaten one another with flying flatware at a calamitous, devastating Feast of the Seven Fishes. (Are you part of a family—any family? Consider this your trigger warning.) Jamie Lee Curtis1 goes for broke as matriarch Donna Berzatto—guzzling vino in a blown-out blond wig and fake nails like a down-and-out Dina Lohan, culminating in an inevitable meltdown scene that pretty much locks the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy2. What can we say? All that drama just puts us in a holiday frame of mind! So let's trim this g-damn tree and get a-wassailing before the hummingbird-size mosquitoes feast on us like we’re tuna casserole.
And to all a good night,
Rachel & Maggie
PS: Can’t hurt to ask, they say: Would you please push the 💗 button on this post? It helps us stand out on the Substack platform, and while we’re making a little like a Bachelor contestant and getting vulnerable here, it makes us feel good, too.
8 Gifts to You, Dear Reader!
Sink or swim! Your Spreaditors spill a lot of ink on infertility (a topic close to our hearts and our uteri), but have only used the word sperm—does quick archival search—thrice in the almost-two-year lifespan of this august publication. Shame on us, and good on New York’s Simon van Zuylen-Wood, given that the male side of the reproductive equation may cause up to half of all cases of infertility. In “The Global Sperm Count Decline,” he goes deep on the data (counts fell 59 percent between 1973 and 2011 and continue to plummet worldwide); the impending fallout (social, political, environmental); and the dudes who are rewriting the male fertility script with at-home testing and storage tech—of course they are—and getting rich doing it. Read it here.
Nothing says summer daze like whiling away valuable hours on the I-dos of perfect strangers. Last month, we flagged Vogue Weddings’s coverage of Beanie Feldstein3 and Bonnie Roberts’s celeb-dotted, pastel-drenched, summer camp-themed4 celebration. Well, the site—and its must-follow Insta account—continues to outdo itself this summer. Two highlights: This wildly bedazzled Texas hoedown-on-steroids. And, in a match made in fashion-gossip heaven, British publisher/fashion stalwart/former Mr. Kate Moss Jefferson Hack’s union to Pat Cleveland’s model-daughter, Anna, in the British countryside. Thanks for the invite, V.
“Doing the thing and subverting the thing.” Reading Willa Paskin's ambitious and endearing profile of Greta Gerwig and the supersize Barbie moment we’re all living through in the New York Times Magazine5, you won’t believe how much creative leeway Gerwig was granted. Neither can the director herself6. Paskin writes that Gerwig wondered, “Why couldn’t she make a movie that would delight Barbie’s protective corporate guardians at Mattel, the people at Warner Brothers who bankrolled the roughly $145 million production, the people who hate Barbie, the people who adore Barbie and also herself?” Read “Greta Gerwig’s Barbie Dream Job” here.
While we’re (still) on this topic (again): This NPR interview with Barbie biographer M.G. Lord, a cohost of the new pod LA Made: The Barbie Tapes, is a delightful 14-minute listen. Lord’s a pistol! Come for the bawdy German sex-worker commentary, stay for the comparison of Barb’s teeny-tiny-tipsy-over tootsies to those of the Venus of Willendorf. Listen to the interview here.
Life of the party: Thanks to Cecily Strong, we’ve long felt like we knew Gretchen Whitmer. Benjamin Wallace-Wells’s New Yorker profile of the “relatable” “wartime consigliere” governor fills out that picture (she’s a great example of someone who’s a star in a male-dominated world because of being a woman) and—turns out, even more clutch—delivers a crash course in the inner workings of Michigan politics. Read “How Gretchen Whitmer Made Michigan a Democratic Stronghold” here.
It feels wrong for a mother to “give in to the primacy of my own needs,” even when she has cancer. Miranda Featherstone started chemo for breast cancer in June. In the Atlantic, she writes about how transgressive it feels, even under dire circumstances, to deprioritize her children’s wants and needs; the receptionist at her doctor’s office seems taken aback when Featherstone says she’ll drop everything to get in for earlier testing—most mothers, it seems, are working their biopsies around the soccer carpool? Featherstone’s job, she begins to realize, is not to ferry her kids to dance classes or to fold that basket of laundry, but to let other people do that stuff while she laser-focuses her limited energies on herself and her own survival. But to do that, she must unlearn everything she thinks she knows about how a mother should be. Read it here.
How d’you say “girl crush” in 2023? Do we care about Olivia Rodrigo? Should we care about Olivia Rodrigo? This question has hijacked at least two Spreaditorial meetings since Rodrigo’s Vogue cover dropped a couple weeks ago. Know who we’re not wishy-washy about? Writer Jia Tolentino (who expertly handled the Rodrigo cover story as always—that’s the connective tissue here!), and who, to our delight and surprise. was also recently elevated to the starry ranks of Megan Rapinoe, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Michelle Obama, and Cheryl Strayed as a guest on the Chosen One’s (Glennon Doyle) podcast We Can Do Hard Things! Yeah, we’re still conflicted about Glennon, but this listen was a hard yes for us, and the conversation—Tolentino is as delightful and quick as you’d imagine—delivered. Listen here.
A tisket, a tasket, a Jane Birkin basket: Speaking of girl crushes, Rachel Tashjian—still relatively new in her role as Washington Post fashion writer—teases out the magique of Jane Birkin following her death last week. Among the piece’s many amuses bouches: the icon of French style was actually English and spoke French with an endearingly British accent; the namesake of the ultimate status bag never carried one (it went beyond taste: An Hermés Birkin was too weighty for her tendonitis); the famously doting mother allowed her young daughter to record a single called “Lemon Incest” with her living-legend father, Serge Gainsbourg. Read “Jane Birkin made the simple things feel luxurious” here.
Spell it out: For Harper’s, an aspiring witch of Amish and Mennonite heritage (Rachel Yoder) tracks down and studies a community of veteran witches that exists at the furthest fringes of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Though your Spreaditors are often skeptical of the superwoo, this piece—which is part personal history, part anthropological ride-along—worked its magic on us. Read “In the Glimmer” here.
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Excuse us, that’s the Academy Award-winning Jamie Lee Curtis!
Yes, The Bear is considered a comedy as far as the Television Academy is concerned. Congrats to the nominees!
At the time, we were too carried away to notice that none of the many pics included Feldstein’s brother Jonah Hill…which kinda makes sense now, doesn’t it?
Speaking of summer camp and The Bear, who's Fandangoed their tickets for Theater Camp, the spoof directed by Molly Gordon—who also plays Chef's ah-dore-able love interest in Season 2 of the series?
Also in the Times Magazine, Caity Weaver chases notoriously secretive daredevil Tom Cruise all over God’s creation—specifically: an area on the farthest outskirts of London called Biggin Hill—on the Gray Lady’s dime! What a world! (Like all of Weaver’s wonderful and semi-bonkers work, we recommend reading this one in the speaking voice of Mindy Kaling.) Read it here.
Best outtake: In the mid-60s, “Slumber Party Barbie came with a scale locked at 110 pounds and a ‘How to Lose Weight’ manual, with the directions ‘Don’t Eat.’”