1. Watch Borgen
Fantastic drama about government.
This Danish TV drama with an intense cult following is kind of a Scandinavian West Wing with more-realistic politics—and, as it centers on a female prime minister, it could be the best show ever about work-life balance.
DirecTV channel 375; limited availability at linktv.org.
2. See The Lone Ranger
Yeah, it’s got problems, but don’t wave it off.
The Johnny Depp megaflop is overblown, overlong, and underfunny. But it’s not the cynical enterprise its detractors claim—it’s odder and more interesting. Mixing slapstick spectacle with the (bloodless) slaughtering of Native Americans, it’s like Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee turned into a Disney theme-park ride. Give it a spin if you’re up for something unhinged. —David Edelstein
In theaters now.
3. See Something About a Tree
A lofty start to group-show season.
Crackerjack writer, critic, and woman-about-the-art-world Linda Yablonsky shows us her contemplative and curatorial side in this enchanted forest of a group show. Including big names and unknowns, Yablonsky uncovers the mysteries, joys, and artistic possibilities of our friends the trees. The revelation: Trees are a way for artists to be representational, abstract, and beautiful at the same time. —Jerry Saltz
Flag Art Foundation, 545 W. 25th St., ninth fl.; through September 7.
4. Read The Telling Room
Michael Paterniti is as entertaining a literary journalist as they come—take a look at Driving Mr. Albert, his account of a cross-country road trip with an aged doctor riding shotgun and Albert Einstein’s pickled brain in the trunk. His new book is also about tracking a curious object, but this time it’s one you’d want for yourself: a hunk of Páramo de Guzmán, the world’s greatest cheese.
5. See Buyer & Cellar
In Barbra’s basement.
Jonathan Tolins’s multicharacter megalogue—starring the ticklishly talented, ultracarbonated Michael Urie—imagines the life of an employee on Barbra Streisand’s Wonka-like estate, slyly and hilariously corkscrewing a story of gay-icon worship with a treatise on our star-fucking (sorry, “aspirational”) economy. —Scott Brown
Barrow Street Theatre, through October 13.
6. Read H. P. Lovecraft’s The Classic Horror Stories
Keep the lights on as you go.
The horror buzz this year is all about Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining, forthcoming in September. While you’re waiting for it, you can acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with King’s figurative great-granddaddy, H. P. Lovecraft, via Oxford University Press’s new collection. Roger Luckhurst provides a critical introduction smart enough that you definitely shouldn’t skip it, but the real pleasure lies in the tales themselves: wildly uneven, yes, but also extremely weird, deeply spooky, and totally fun. —Kathryn Schulz
Oxford University Press.
7. Hear Andy and His Grandmother
Andy Kaufman, catching himself on tape.
Andy Kaufman never made a comedy album—but he obsessively taped his anarchic comedic interventions in other people’s lives, and here’s a selection of what he caught. Technologically crude, but, for comedy nerds, unskippable.
Drag City/Process Media.
8. See Choir Boy
Folding jagged edges in perfect harmonies, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play keeps exceeding its after-school-special premise—about a flamboyantly “out” tenor in the choir of an African-American all-male academy. —S.B.
City Center, through August 4.
9. Read Watson and Holmes
Old English detective, fresh New York approach.
Well, why not reimagine Sherlock as a hip Harlem sleuth and Watson as his body man? In comic-book form, even?
New Paradigm Studios.
10. Hear The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Still blowing up.
A nineties holdout, yes, but one with staying power and a new album, Meat + Bone. Also, it’s easy to forget it, but they’re New Yorkers!
Music Hall of Williamsburg, July 18.
11. Read Young Men and Fire
Arizona’s horrifying Yarnell Hill fire makes this a singular time to read Norman Maclean’s 1992 story of a similar tragedy—the loss of thirteen smoke jumpers in 1949 in Montana’s Mann Gulch. It’s simultaneously a procedural, a primer on fire ecology, a meditation on risk, and an old man’s keen, elegiac look at young manhood. “While the oxygen lasts,” Maclean writes, “there are still new things to love.” It’s the “while” that kills me. —K.S.
University of Chicago Press.
12. Read & Sons
Novel about a novelist.
A Franzenish portrait of a biting, aging New York writer, David Gilbert’s novel is perceptive, witty, and—like all great books about remote fathers and their sons—prone to leaving male readers either cursing or calling their dads. Its spirit of invention extends to that ampersand, which totally knotted up Amazon.com’s coding.