Lauren Graham’s Week: Background Binges and Books, Books, Books



I’m working with the writer Jennifer E. Smith on an adaptation of her most recent YA novel, “Field Notes on Love.” Jen was the editor of all three of my books at Random House and became a close friend and now a collaborator. There’s a TV in every room in my Vancouver corporate housing, so I’m allowing myself the soothing sounds of “Grand Designs” in the background. There’s a pleasing amount of British television available here, while at home I get my fix through the apps Acorn and BritBox. I like the abundance of low-stakes dramas, Christmas programming and game shows the Brits have to offer. There’s one game show called “The Chase” that’s a trivia competition with pretty challenging questions, and another called “Tipping Point” that’s just a giant version of those coin pusher arcade games that’s unbelievably slow and not that challenging. I love both. And don’t get me started on the baking shows …


Speaking of baking, I love cookbooks just as reading material, not even when I’m using them for their intended purpose. There’s a sort of relish I make that I found in the “Momofuku” cookbook that’s basically diced ginger and chopped green onion and a little sherry vinegar and soy sauce, and we put it on everything. I use the“Donabe” cookbook by Naoko Takei Moore a lot too. Donabes are clay pots from Iga, Japan, and they’re great for cooking sushi rice and soups, and there are ones for grilling and steaming too. There’s a store called Toiro that carries them, and their website is full of great recipes and unique kitchen tools and Japanese ingredients. My mom was a missionary kid who grew up in Japan, which is one reason I have such an affinity for the country and its food. Chrissy Teigen’s cookbooks are also a fun read, and the last time I made her mac and cheese the boys in my house devoured it in about 10 seconds.


My cast mate Skylar Astin and I go to SoulCycle and then to a sushi restaurant called Minami, where they make a type of sushi called oshizushi, which I’d never seen until I came here. It’s an Osaka-based style of nigiri that’s pressed in a mold and then seared on top. “It’s like cake,” Jane Levy once said. We’ve all eaten gallons of it while in town.

Tomorrow is our last day on set, and Skylar wants a recommendation for something to watch while he packs. I recommend Netflix’s “The Circle,” which I background-binged when I was on a deadline and had run out of “Grand Designs” episodes. Background binge is different than actual binge in that you can leave the house to go to the store or whatever for anywhere from 1 to 17 hours, and when you get home, you’re still pretty much up to speed. This year I think my favorite non-background binge shows in addition to “Cheer” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” was Netflix’s “Unbelievable.” It was directed so beautifully, and the cast including Toni Collette and Kaitlyn Dever was incredible. I met Merritt Wever at the Golden Globes this year and I gripped her hand while gushing at her for way too long.

Being on a musical TV show has reminded me of some of the musical theater that inspired me when I was starting out performing in the chorus of various summer stock productions. I recently made a playlist for my friends’ daughter who was newly interested that included some of the classics: it had selections from Barbra Streisand’s “Funny Girl,” Patti LuPone’s “Anything Goes,” Bernadette Peters in “Sunday in the Park With George,” Ethel Merman in “Gypsy,” and a few modern selections too: Ben Platt in “Dear Evan Hansen,” Sutton Foster in “Violet.” I try to see everything when I’m in New York. The last show I saw was “Jagged Little Pill,” which had a great cast, especially Kathryn Gallagher. I’ve been working with her dad, Peter, on “Zoey,” and when I went backstage at the Broadhurst, Kathryn showed me a wall of playbills from previous productions there that included her dad in a production of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” in the ’80s. Amazing! I just finished a fascinating book about the evolution of Broadway and its theaters called “Razzle Dazzle” by Michael Riedel. Like so much of New York history, real estate was everything.

The article was originally published by Newyorktimes

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