NymphoWars and a queer Curb Your Enthusiasm: Pop culture picks with Conor Behan

While lockdown continues, pop culture king Conor Behan gives his top tips for queer entertainment.

A photoshopped image of a young man in the middle of a mirrored image of two women

If you’ve had more time on your hands recently (and let’s face it – who hasn’t?), GCN’s resident pop culture guru, Conor Behan, is here to share the stuff he’s been keeping himself occupied with during lockdown.

MUST LISTEN: NymphoWars

Two women with skin whited out by makeup, the colour orange painted around their eyes

The podcast landscape is cluttered, to put it mildly, so when something stands out from the pack it feels truly surprising. I’m a latecomer to the hysterical podcast NymphoWars, and ended up binging it just as this lockdown moment was beginning to set in.

Hosted by Theda Hammel and Macy Rodman, two trans musicians living in New York, the show in many ways defies categorisation even as it has you screaming with laughter. Early episodes have a free-wheeling conversational feel as the pair riff on dating apps, YouTube beauty gurus and their on-off love of Lady Gaga.

Later, NymphoWars dives into absurd and surreal radio-plays, like a hysterical spoof of Drag Race that also makes salient points about its treatment of trans women, or an Agatha Christie riff, Murder on the Stupid Bitch Express, where a rogues gallery of celebs are under fire for the murder of Jeffree Star. Toilet humour, pitch-perfect impressions and hot takes abound on NymphoWars and while it’s an acquired taste, its surreal, flippant and freewheeling point of view is wildly entertaining.

MUST READ: Exciting Times – Naoise Dolan

A woman with long dark hair holds a book up to cover half of her face

Naoise Dolan’s debut novel is one of those “buzzed about debuts” that seem to emerge in the book world every year. While it would be easy to be cynical about the hype, Dolan’s bold debut novel lives up to expectations.

It follows Ava, a young Irish woman who has arrived in Hong Kong to work as an English teacher. She ends up in a relationship with Julian, a British banker, who she moves in with. While they struggle to define their relationship, Ava falls for her friend Edith with the pair navigating their own experiences of queer identity.

Dolan’s writing is stacked full of clever wordplay, deft characterisation and a sly sense of humour. While it would be easy to compare it to the likes of Sally Rooney, Dolan is a notable talent with plenty to say.

MUST WATCH: Work In Progress

LGBT+ TV is in rude health of late but there’s always room for more ways to explore LGBT+ lives. Dark comedy Work In Progress does so with aplomb.

The show follows Abby a self-described “fat queer dyke” in Chicago who is dealing with mental health woes but who finds herself rejuvenated by a relationship with young trans man, Chris. It has a matter-of-fact quality to how it depicts their relationship and aspects of queer life. It’s also frequently hilarious, not afraid to amplify Abby’s unlikeable qualities, like a queer take on Curb Your Enthusiasm

LGBT+ people are often painted as humourless or dour if they want to talk about identity or challenge norms. Work In Progress is a triumph in how it blasts past the need to worry what a cis-straight audience might make of its characters but also succeeds because it creates fresh, sharp humour that brilliantly disproves that notion.

For more pop culture mega-fandom make sure to follow Conor Behan on Twitter and Instagram.

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