Lilly Singh shares her cultural diary, from rewatching '90s Bollywood films to catching up on Wonder Woman 1984

Ahead of the premiere of A Little Late with Lilly Singh, the TV and internet personality talks about deleting all social media apps and why watching Big Mouth is 'a vicarious redoing of childhood' for her.

The New York Times January 07, 2021 10:42:40 IST
Lilly Singh shares her cultural diary, from rewatching '90s Bollywood films to catching up on Wonder Woman 1984

In 2019, comedian Lilly Singh was the first openly bisexual woman of colour to front a late-night show (A Little Late With Lilly Singh). The YouTube star had done the impossible: made it out of the bedrooms of internet-addicted kids and into the bedrooms of their parents. With Season 2, which premieres Monday on NBC, she hopes to get more goofy. In a phone call from Los Angeles, she tracked her cultural diary. These are edited excerpts from the conversation. — MALLIKA RAO

I turned on my TV and I saw Wonder Woman 1984 everywhere. I’m not going to lie: I didn’t even know it was coming out. But I loved it. The first time I saw (the first) Wonder Woman in the theatre, I was sitting behind a row of girls who were in tears.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park is actually trending on Netflix, which is why I watched it, apparently with millions of other people. I love Jurassic Park, the entire franchise, so so much.

As a person who grew up in Indian culture, I feel like I watch Big Mouth because it seems so far from what I was allowed to be like as a kid. I watch it like: “Oh my God, this is so bad. They’re so crude.” My parents never had those talks with me, and I never learned about that stuff in school. So for me, it’s just like a vicarious redoing of childhood.

Lilly Singh shares her cultural diary from rewatching 90s Bollywood films to catching up on Wonder Woman 1984

Shah Rukh Khan in a still from Pardes

I really like ’80s and ’90s Bollywood. Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, Pardes. If you go really, really back — Ishq (1997), with Aamir Khan. Old school. I have a very long playlist that I, true story, spent three to four hours making a couple of weeks ago. I have two: Bollywood Chill and Bollywood Dance. I listen, like, if I’m in the shower, if I am cleaning my room, if I’m washing the dishes, if I’m cooking.

I deleted social media off my phone many, many months ago, so I don’t have anywhere to mindlessly scroll. However, if I do have a spare second, I check out the Deadline app — probably every morning and every night. I like to know what’s going on in film and TV.

I decided to watch the original Karate Kid. Over the holidays, I also rewatched Home Alone. When you rewatch these older movies, it’s a whole new experience! There’s so many jokes and scenes and references that I did not understand as a child, but when you rewatch them it’s so enjoyable.

I haven’t watched it yet, but Selena just premiered on Netflix a little while ago. Of course, I knew (her) songs growing up, but I wasn’t too familiar with the Spanish ones, and I’ve just become obsessed. It’s just such feel-good, amazing music.

I had no idea what Pixar’s Soul was about, and I was blown away. I thought it was so well executed, and visually stunning. The character was just so lovable. It could have very well been a real person that was not animated, someone I would have met on the street.

Lilly Singh shares her cultural diary from rewatching 90s Bollywood films to catching up on Wonder Woman 1984

A still from Soul

A lot of the reading I’ve done over the past weekend has been related to Season 2 of my show.

I have this rule for Season 2, where to the best of my ability, I do not want to talk about things or interview people or discuss projects unless I actually genuinely know them. I have no desire this season to fake knowing things or fake seeing things. I think it’s so inauthentic, and I don’t want to do it anymore. So, to the best of my ability, I’m going to try to watch every single thing I reference, which is why I started watching The Queen’s Gambit. I am hooked.

I’m a big fan of these days of watching things without any context. I don’t like to watch trailers or anything. I just like to be thrown in, and that’s exactly what happened with this. I know nothing about chess. But I think it’s a cool story, and I think the actress is brilliant. I’m a big believer of supporting stories and projects that feature strong women.

I subscribed to The Skimm. My manager right now, Kyle — he introduced me to it. I love the way it’s literally a skim of the news. You can be in the know without feeling all of the stress of the world on your shoulders.

Because I’m not the most savvy with news sources, especially coming out of India, I’ve been following @sikhexpo a lot, which is an Instagram account. When you’re not on the ground somewhere, it’s easy for misinformation to spread, and especially with things like the farmer protest, where it’s not covered by the media as thoroughly as it could be, they’ve been a great resource for me to learn what’s happening on the ground.

Mallika Rao c.2021 The New York Times Company

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