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Underrated / Overrated

May 01, 2011

UNDERRATED

'Secrets From a Stylist' on HGTV: If the many cooking shows on TV constitute food porn, think of this as home decorating porn. Starring the preternaturally perky Emily Henderson, this show reliably offers budget-minded inspiration for elevating a room beyond blank white walls and whatever Swedish-designed furnishings were on sale. Plus, with the show based in L.A., it offers an intoxicating hope that TV people could come over to do these things for us.

Poly Styrene: If you've listened to Sleater-Kinney, Hole or even — though it's a further sort of stretch — pop-punk's Paramore, you owe a debt to this big-voiced singer for the '70s punk band X-Ray Spex, born Marianne Joan Elliot-Said. Styrene was lost last week to cancer, and her bracing insistence that equality also applies within the punk movement will live on in songs such as "Artificial," "Identity" and, of course, "Oh Bondage, Up Yours." Rest in raucous peace, Poly.

OVERRATED

The royal wedding: Now that another opulent display of monarchic matrimony has come and gone, pop culture must return to fixating on obscene displays of wealth and privilege on our own shores. Think of the heartbreak inflicted upon any given Kardashian, Hilton or "Hills" star through this crisis: a nation drawn to celebrity that actually stands for something other than conspicuous consumption. Thank goodness things will soon be back to "normal."

Refighting the Civil War: Not to diminish a pivotal event in our nation's history, but every few years, Hollywood gets a taste for revisiting a period, and now we're in the thick of it with the war's 150th anniversary. With "The Conspirator," a new History Channel film and a Lincoln biopic in the works, it's almost enough to make you forget "Glory" (1989), "Gettysburg" (1993), Ken Burns' sprawling documentary and the countless films that already have fought these battles so thoroughly.

— Chris Barton

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