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27 Cheap Christmas Decorations That Look Incredibly Elegant

The anticipation for the 2021 holiday season is real, and the time has *finally* come to refresh your decor. And with cheap Christmas decorations that only look expensive, you can do so without messing with your budget—which might already be stretched with the holiday-shopping season already in full swing. Sure, it’s easy to hit up the usual holiday decor go-tos like Dollar Store and Walmart, but you don’t want to miss out on other affordable finds from your favorite shopping spots (ahem, Urban Outfitters).

Whether you’re looking for wrapping paper, baubles or throw pillows, you can find surprisingly cute indoor and outdoor Christmas decoration ideas for under $100. Can’t fit an actual Christmas tree through your front door? There are tiny ones for that. Are you the master chef of the family? We’ve got holiday cookbooks and utensils for you, too. The more, the merrier.

Get into the spirit with elegant yet cheap Christmas decorations—without putting the squeeze on your wallet.

All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Angelina Jolie Lent Daughter Zahara Her 2014 Oscars Dress for the Eternals Premiere

Angelina Jolie attended the Los Angeles premiere of her new Marvel movie, Eternals, on Monday, October 18, and she brought five well-dressed dates: her children Maddox, Vivienne, Knox, Shiloh, and Zahara. (The only person missing was Jolie’s son, Pax.) 

Jolie, of course, looked stunning in a strapless light brown dress, but it was daughter Zahara who stole the show. If the 16-year-old’s dress looks familiar to you, that’s because it is. Her mom actually wore it to the 2014 Oscars. 

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

See the dress on Angelina Jolie circa seven years ago, below.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

The Elie Saab Couture gown is old Hollywood glam personified, and both Jolie and Zahara wore it beautifully. 

Jolie recently opened up about motherhood to British Vogue. “I was never very good at sitting still. Even though I wanted to have many children and be a mom, I always imagined it kind of like Jane Goodall, traveling in the middle of the jungle somewhere,” she said. “I didn’t imagine it in that true, traditional sense. I feel like I’m lacking in all the skills to be a traditional stay-at-home mom. I’m managing through it because the children are quite resilient, and they’re helping me, but I’m not good at it at all.”

 And on her family life during the pandemic, Jolie shared, “We went into it having just gotten out of the hospital with Zahara [who underwent surgery early last year], and we were so happy she was OK that we entered lockdown in a different state of mind. But, you know, there are also these other markers of life: Pax going into his senior year, but not being able to enjoy all that it is to be a senior; Zahara finally getting her driving license, but she’s taking the test with the driver wrapped in the full outfit with the masks. It’s not how you imagine these moments. But birthdays go on, and I think that for many people, it’s made us all feel very human together. There’s something beautiful about that.”

Brandy Drops Her Skin-Care Routine

But she only recently started with IV therapy; if you want to really know what skin-care product she swears by, she points to the Natura Bissé line (she is not a spokesperson, FYI). “You know the saying, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ So, that’s how I look at it.”

And she’s right. While Brandy has makeup on for our Zoom interview, I also can’t stop starring at her gorgeous skin that literally looks lit from within (and we all know hotel lighting is never great). So what products does she swear by? She’s spilling all that and more for Glamour‘s latest Drop the Routine

My cleanser

I use Natura Bisse’s Diamond White Rich Luxury Cleanse and the Diamond Cocoon Daily Cleanse. Those are my two favorites. I have dry skin, and I love that the cleanser is very creamy. It feels like I’m putting lotion on my face, but it’s not. It’s cleansing my skin, but also moisturizing it at the same time. 

Natura Bissé Diamond White Rich Luxury Cleanse

$77

Dermstore

Natura Bissé Diamond Cocoon Daily Cleanse

$76

Dermstore

My makeup removing wipes

I use Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleansing Wipes to take off the makeup. Even if I don’t have much makeup on to remove, I love the way it hydrates my skin. It feels amazing and so smooth and gets my face really clean.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleansing Towelettes

My eye cream

I use my Natura Bissé Diamond Extreme Eye to keep the bags down. I’ve been using the Natura Bissé line for years because it’s consistent. It does everything it says it’s going to do. It doesn’t feel too cake-y or too thick, and all their products make my skin glow. 

Natura Bissé Diamond Extreme Eye

$228

Dermstore

My moisturizing cream

I use Natura Bissé’s Diamond Extreme Cream all over my face. It makes me feel like my skin stays super soft all day and not dry at all, even with all the makeup I wear on set. It’s perfect for my skin. 

Natura Bissé Diamond Extreme Moisturizing Face Cream

$385

Dermstore

My facial mist

I use the Diamond Mist from Natura Bissé to give me a bit of a glow, refresh. I mist once in the morning and once at night, when I get ready to take off my makeup.

Natura Bissé Diamond Mist

$96

Dermstore

My hand sanitizer

Jao Hand Refresher. It’s the best hand sanitizer, because it smells so good and doesn’t leave a sticky residue. It feels like you just washed your hands with soap and water. I have a ton of them. I’m obsessed with it.

Jao Hand Refresher

My exfoliator and body cream

I found this new brand, it’s a Black-owned brand called GSO Whipped Buttercream. It makes your skin feel so soft, like baby’s bottom soft. I use the scrub and the butter whipped cream all over my body. I used to use cocoa butter, but since I found the Good Scents Oils line, I use that. It’s amazing.

What to Know Before Buying Your First Vibrator

If you’ve been roaming the internet to find the best vibrators for beginners, you probably noticed the selection is basically infinite, and that can be overwhelming and intimidating. But props to you for taking this time to focus on your sexual health (reports show that sex toy sales were through the roof back when the COVID-19 quarantine first started). Orgasms are one of the best forms of self-care, and while you can totally get yourself there for free, a little extra help can take the experience to the next level.

There’s no one-size-fits-all vibrator, and many have to experiment with different toys until they find what feels awesome for them. Just because one friend—or even thousands of people—swear by one (hi, Womanizer), that doesn’t mean the same toy will get you off, so make sure to do your research and pinpoint what you want to get out of a vibe before you click on the purchase button.

First: Get to know the five types of vibrators.

You’ve got internal vibrators, which are meant for penetration; some are designed especially to stimulate your G-spot. There are external vibrators, which focus on the clit and labia. There’s the best of both worlds—the rabbit-style (combo)—which gives you both external and internal stimulation simultaneously. Then you have anal vibrators, which have a flared base (so nothing gets lost up there), and last, there are penis vibrators (or cock rings). No one type of vibrator is “better” than the other; it just depends on what you like and what you’re in the mood for.

Vibrators come in all different shapes and sizes, depending on what purpose you want it to serve. You can try a mini or palm-style vibe, which is great for clit stimulation. An insertable vibrator (which is generally phallic in shape and sometimes curved) can also be used externally on the clit. Some external vibrators are also long and have bulbous or round, contoured-shaped tips for optimized clit contact and stimulation, while bullet-style vibes are more compact and have less surface area (but can be just as powerful as a wand vibrator).

The rabbit-style vibes (which Good Vibrations calls Twice as Nice) are insertable and have a clit stimulator that branches off so the device can stimulate both areas at once. But note that a rabbit-style vibrator might be overwhelming for vibe newbies at first. Carol Queen, Ph.D., staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, tells Glamour, “Note to novice vibe shoppers: This sounds great, right? It can be really great! But many people find it’s a lot to focus on all the body parts all at once while you’re also learning to enjoy the vibration. We generally suggest people start with a vibrator or two that they can explore. If you get an insertable one and a clitoral one, you can use both hands and have a comparable experience that you have more control over.”

What kind of sensations are you looking for?

Last but not least, look into what sensation you want your vibrator to provide. There are buzzy vibes and rumbly vibes. A lot of people prefer rumbly vibrators for levitating orgasms, because the vibrations are more low-pitched and go deeper into the body, which helps stimulate the outside and inside of the clit, hitting as many nerve endings as possible due to its frequency. “Buzzy vibes provide more of a high-pitched hum, comparable to the vibrations of an electric toothbrush, which focuses stimulation more on the surface of the clit,” sexual health educator Navy Bastiaans explains to Glamour.

What type of material do you want in a vibe?

Queen tells Glamour, “Most good-quality vibrators are clad in silicone these days, which is great material—it can be softer or firmer, but is non-porous and easy to clean. But you can also get softer vibes made of other thermal plastics, or hard-shelled vibrators made of, or covered with, hard plastic and even metal.” 

What you want to avoid are jelly rubber toys. “These are not easy to clean, and they contain a chemical component, phthalates, that many consider to be toxic—or at least fear that it might be,” Queen tells us. How do you know if it’s a jelly vibe? “It’s generally fairly inexpensive. It’s clear and often brightly colored. It looks like jelly or Jell-O,” Queen says. “If you do choose one, use condoms with it.”

How much are you willing to spend?

Vibrators can get pricey! And when you’re trying out your first vibrator, you may want to try the more budget-friendly ones, just in case they don’t end up being your thing. While it’s totally okay to stick to cheaper vibrators, try to make sure that they still offer a range of speeds and modes. “If you choose one that has a variety of settings, you may find you mainly like only one—but you’ll get to choose the one that suits you best, so that’s a win. In other cases, people find they like to explore them all,” Queen says.

Here’s what to watch out for.

While there are some great mini vibes out there (and we’ll suggest a few), note that although they’re small, they can be quite mighty. “Because they are so small, all their power is focused to, usually, a pretty small surface area. For some people, that just feels too intense! Something with more surface area, all other things being equal, might be more enjoyable. Think about the difference between a palm over the vulva and clitoris, versus just one finger on the clit. The latter can be too focused compared to the former—for some people. Others are happy with focused stimulation,” Queen says.

Psssst: Use lube!

If you’re new to sex toys, try them out with lube. Even folks who consider themselves sex toy veterans love to pair the best sex toys with lube, since the slip-and-slide sensation can make the experience all the more powerful (not to mention smoother, which mitigates the risk of  too much friction or of overstimulation). Queen’s favorites include the Please Cream, which is a water-based gel cream perfect for vibrator use. Another great option is this water-based lube from Unbound.

“Whether you are a newbie or a pro, I always recommend trying different lubrications with your vibes. One of the most disturbing myths concerning lubes is that they’re only for menopausal women. No! Lubes not only offer extra lubrication, but they also allow for different sensations and can really intensify your play. Keep in mind that any lubricant that is flavored, or has sugar or sugar-substitutes in the ingredients, should not be used internally,” sex educator Micki Allen tells Glamour.

Without further ado, here are 19 of the best vibrators for beginners.

Carla Lalli Music Is Here to Convince You That Fall Is the Best Time for Grilling

What’s a holiday dish you love cooking?

Still on the grilling tip, my favorite way to prepare turkey is to grill it. The smokiness with that dark delicious rich turkey meat is just such a good combo.

You have $20 to spend at the farmers’ market. What do you buy?

Whenever I go to the farmers’ market I definitely walk end-to-end before I make a purchase and that way you can see what’s abundant, what everybody has, what’s coming in or out of season. And then I really buy the thing that looks the best to me. I know that’s vague, but I like shopping without a list, and buying something that makes me hungry or inspires me to cook. It could be anything—it could be a big cluster of mushrooms, it could be a little, tiny watermelon, it could be multicolor eggplant.  

What do you listen to while cooking? 

We pretty much have WNYC on all day, and then we switch over to a music playlist when we sit down. I have a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old, so it’s a wide range. We like a lot of 80s/90s R&B and hip hop, we like some soul, we might listen to a good jazz mix, Frank Ocean might sneak in there, and my younger son really loves Queen and The Who. It’s eclectic! 

What’s an edible impulse-buy you can never resist? 

I probably gravitate over to the cheese counter, charcuterie. I love sheep’s milk cheeses, and I love finding a cheese i haven’t had before. I like to snack around and talk to the cheesemonger.

What does comfort food mean to you?

Night cereal, which is cereal you eat at night! Bread and butter—that’s what my mom would bring to me when I was sick in bed. Rice is a big comfort food, for sure. Steamed rice that you can put broth into, grate parmesan cheese into. I always have furikake in the house, which is a rice seasoning. They’re all very starchy. 

What’s your kids’ favorite meal that you cook?  

Definitely pasta. They’re good eaters when it comes to what kind of a sauce is on the pasta, but if there was one thing that everyone would get really excited about it would be a ragu or meat sauce.

What thing gets the most use in your kitchen? 

There’s a section in That Sounds So Good called 10 Tools You May Not Have But Could Definitely Use. That’s where I think about specialty items that are so multi-purpose. Wire spiders or metal skimmers—I have a six inch one and an eight inch one—and I use them every day. I use them to get pasta out of the boiling water and into the sauce, yesterday I blanched some corn kernels and I used that to strain them. They’re great for edamame, they’re great for any noodle, even lowering or lifting out eggs from hard boiling or making jammy eggs. I use them more than I use my colander. There are fancy ones that have stainless steel handles, but the ones that I like and find indestructible have the bamboo handle and the kind of woven—it looks like a —metal mesh. I think they cost like eight dollars, and they’re gonna last you 10 or 15 years. 

What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow? 

There’s a few creators who just inspire me so much. One of them is this woman named Tuệ, her handle is Twaydabae. She makes reels where she talks straight to camera and makes incredible Vietnamese food. There’s another woman, her handle is Dobydobap—her signature thing she says when she starts every video is “Don’t yuck my yum.” She makes traditional Korean dishes, and it’s always really beautiful and delicious-looking.

What’s your go-to hostess gift? 

I like to ask if there’s anything specific I can bring. But if not, I’ll bring a bottle of wine or some chocolate bars. Or if it’s a big party, like a holiday party, one of the best things you can bring is a bag of ice. It’s the thing you don’t think about and you always run out of.

Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter. 

6 Unique Foods to Bring to a Party

It’s actually happening: People are having parties again, with food and drinks and everything. And the secret to being everyone’s favorite guest is bringing some good party food. While there are the old standbys and fan favorites—we’re looking at (and crowding around) you, cheese platter—you can also branch out and bring some modern takes (aka plant-based, vegan, or gluten-free) on party food and all-star sides. We spoke to the culinary goddesses behind Okonomi Kitchen, a plant-based Japanese-inspired blog, and Meera’s Made from Scratch, a blog specializing in dairy and gluten-free meals, to figure out exactly which foods you should bring along to the next party.

Level up ye olde onion-soup-and-sour-cream concoction and show up at the party with the mega umami flavor bomb known as spicy eggplant and tomato dip from Lisa Kitahara of Okonomi Kitchen. After you make it, be sure to keep it covered and well refrigerated, and add color and crunch by serving it with sliced raw vegetables. Bonus: It’s so colorful, it pretty much doubles as a centerpiece on the table…until it disappears and gets gobbled up. Be

And dip is just part of Kitahara’s party food trifecta: “Three favorite foods I love to bring to parties are dips, salads and vegetable dishes, and pasta bakes and casseroles,” she says. “They’re all easy to make ahead of time, in a big batch.”

Take everything you know about the caramelized yumminess of roasted veggies, then deepen the deliciousness even more. These roasted potatoes, beets, carrots, and onions have all the flavors—umami from the miso, sweet from maple syrup, creamy tang from tahini—and can be made ahead, and easily reheated in a warm oven.

If macaroni ’n’ cheese and guac had a bouncing, beautiful baby, this would be it. (But make it fashun vegan!) “Pasta bakes and casseroles are easy to make a large portion of and reheat well in the oven, too,” Kitahara says. The trick to getting all the textures and flavors to truly sing is in having the ooey-gooey cheesy part hot…and the guac cold. That’s why Kitahara recommends adding it just before serving. “Prepare all the add-ins in a bowl and then simply mash the avocado at the party,” she says.

Nothing says “party food” like wings—and these babies really do fly off the platter, so consider doubling (or tripling?) the recipe. “The five-spice wings add so much flavor and heat,” says Meera Bhogal of Meera’s Made from Scratch. “The dish is aromatic yet super simple to put together.” Handfuls of coriander, lime, and spring onion add a zesty lightness to the meat, while the sesame seeds add appetizing texture and crunch. Be sure to make enough portions—these will fly off the plate fast!

Street food comes to the party with crispy, savory falafels. These little chickpea-forward flavor bursts are versatile, too: “Falafels are so tasty and can be made ahead of time, eaten hot or cold too. These work really well with a mint and yogurt dip at a party,” Bhogal says.

If you’re one for theatrics, pause for dramatic effect when you tell a partygoer that a certain green fruit is responsible for the creaminess of this dessert. Because yes indeed, avocado is the secret to Bhogal’s silky smooth mousse. “This vegan mousse has a rich chocolatey taste, so a small amount is all you need to get that chocolate hit for a quick and easy party dessert!” she says. “They look so pretty when served in little cups. And If you’re busy in the lead-up to the festivities, the mousse can be made ahead and keeps well for a couple of days.”

People on TikTok Are Using Lube as Primer

The world of beauty hacks on TikTok is a very slippery slope — literally. In a string of recent viral videos, some users on the app are giving their foundation extra glide by mixing it with… lube. As in sexual lubricant. As in bow chicka wow wow. 

A version of this, er, trick has been used by @lukeketuhok in many prior makeup videos, but it really took off October 11, when Sean Anthony (@seananthonyv) posted a video of the hack, which has since earned more than 1.5 million views and 100,000 likes.

“You have to start mixing lube with your foundation,” an automated voice urges as Anthony mixes foundation and Durex lubricant together on a palette. “It makes it glide extra smooth… makes your base flawless and fresh.” The results, admittedly, do look amazing; Anthony’s skin appears radiant after finishing his makeup routine. That’s why no one should be shocked that other people raced to try lube makeup for themselves. 

Searches for “lube makeup” or “lube primer” on the app will grant you dozens of videos of other people squeezing lube onto their faces (now there’s a sentence we didn’t think we’d ever see in Allure). Much as people seem to love the results that mixing lubricant into makeup can wield, not even Durex — the brand that makes the lube formula most people have used in their videos — can get behind it. 

“We appreciate the creativity here (and your makeup looks great) but we don’t recommend using our lubricants on the face as makeup primers,” the verified Durex TikTok account wrote in a comment on Anthony’s video. 

There’s a reason lubricants are only meant to be used for… you know. “Unless the lube you are using is Vaseline, don’t mix your sex and makeup accessories,” says Mona Gohara, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Connecticut. “Popular lube ingredients such as nonoxynol-9, propylene glycol, and fragrance will, sure enough, slide your face right into acne, redness, or full-blown irritation.” Cosmetic chemist Ginger King also notes that propylene glycol, “an anti-freeze, can have irritation potential,” and that the common lube ingredient glycerin can cause stickiness (which isn’t the end of the world, just very annoying). 

You can achieve somewhat similar results by swapping out the sexual lubricant in this hack with a skin-care serum, which is what King recommends doing. “It seems like the intention [of using lube] is just to get viral on social media,” she concludes. 

If you’re considering using this TikTok hack as an everyday practice, you might want to reconsider. But, hey, if going viral is your goal, we won’t stop you — just be careful not to leave that lube on your skin for very long. 

This story originally appeared on Allure. 

Kate Middleton’s Hair Is a Lot More Red Now

Kate Middleton just debuted her new auburn hair, and she looks amazing.

The Duchess of Cambridge has been hitting a few red carpets (and one green one) lately, which makes it easier to notice her recent shift from deep brown hair to a much warmer brunette with red tones in recent weeks. 

On September 28, Middleton attended the London premiere of the latest James Bond movie, No Time to Die, at the Royal Albert Hall. Wearing a stunning gold gown, it’s easy to see the rich chocolate and caramel tones of her hair in a braided updo.

Chris Jackson, Getty Images

Fast-forward about a week to October 5, when she visited the University of London for its Children of the 2020s project. Looking much more casual in an affordable Zara dress, her long hair was let down and appeared noticeably lighter. 

Karwai Tang, Getty Images

Still, it wasn’t until Kate Middleton hit the green carpet with her husband, Prince William, on October 17 for the 2021 Earthshot Prize Awards ceremony that she debuted slightly more auburn locks with red undertones—a perfect look for the fall season.

Getty Images

Much like the Zara dress, this was not the first time the Duchess of Cambridge has worn this lilac gown by Alexander McQueen. 

The Earthshot Prize Awards ceremony, which was developed by the Duke of Cambridge, is an eco-friendly event that spotlights environment leaders working to save and protect the planet. Every year for the next decade, five scientists, activists, and organizations around the world will be awarded prizes of $1.3 million to further their environmental efforts. 

Given the scope of the event, attendees were asked not to purchase anything new for the evening. (Emma Watson, for one, made her red carpet return in a backless Harris Reed number.) Middleton, for her part, brought back a fan-favorite gown from 10 years ago that she originally wore to a black-tie BAFTA event in Los Angeles back in 2011. 

Clearly, she still knows how to rock it. 


6 Delicious Potluck Dinner Recipes to Steal the Show

The potluck dinner party has enduring mass appeal—whether it’s in the church basement, the neighbor’s yard, or at the book club’s holiday gathering. (We’re willing to wager this dates back to the cavemen: “You hunt. I gather. Let’s meet at sundown on the banks of the Euphrates.”) A potluck not only has something for (and from) everyone, but it is also among the budget-friendliest ways to feed a lot of people. “Potlucks give us the chance to get together with our loved ones, often in the open air, with very little fuss or work,” says Ksenia Prints from At The Immigrant’s Table, a blog that spotlights immigrants’ journeys and delicious family recipes. “Each person brings their favorite dish, and the resulting meal is a vibrant and diverse reflection of the tastes, personalities, and backgrounds of each of the participants,” Here are six timeless recipes to consider bringing to your next potluck, and a few tips for planning a fun, easy dinner:

Here’s a mind-bend for you: Hummus doesn’t have to be just about chickpeas. “This dip is a unique take that replaces chickpeas with black-eyed peas and makes for a vibrant, beautiful presentation,” Prints says. (Bonus points if you bring this to a New Year’s Day potluck dinner, since eating black-eyed peas on January 1 is supposed to bring you prosperity.) If you’re hosting, remember that guests may feel encouraged and relieved—not offended—if you assign them a dish or even a particular recipe, she adds.

Let the gluten-free folks enjoy something a little more indulgent than a joyless quinoa salad or floppy celery sticks—and unveil this tasty quick bread. “This cheesy, gluten-free cornbread with red chili and cheddar is sweet, spicy, and redolent with the heat and scents of authentic Mexican cuisine,” Prints says. As pleasantly peppery this bread is, Prints warns against bringing any dish that’s overly spicy: “You don’t want kids or people with sensitive palettes to find themselves with their mouths unexpectedly on fire,” she says. And don’t be the guest whose dish needs to go into the oven or hog a shelf in the fridge. “It adds hassle and takes the fun out of the impromptu atmosphere of a potluck,” she says.

It’s OK, boo, not everyone was meant to cook. But just because you’re stove-averse doesn’t mean you have to languish in the “bring napkins and paper cups” potluck category. You, friend, can bring a pre-mixed starter for a rhubarb-strawberry fizz. “It makes for a beautiful presentation and a fun spring and summertime drink. All you need to do is open a bottle of bubbly when you’re at the event, and let the oohs and ahhs flow,” Prints says.

“The joy of a potluck is that you get to experience different dishes without any one person doing the work of hosting a dinner party. Plus you get to sample recipes you might not usually make, so it’s great for variety,” says Kate Ailey, the founder of the Italian-inspired food blog, Cooking & Carafes. Of course, it’s also great for serious crowd-pleasers, which is why her potluck go-to is a hearty pasta dish. “I’m a total pasta fiend, so rather than serving up a lasagna, I’d go for something a bit different like pasta shells. Lumaconi or Conchiglie are perfect for this. Fill them with spinach, ricotta, and nutmeg for a tasty, veggie filling, and nestle them into a tomato sauce,” she says. “Top with plenty of parmesan or add some mozzarella for a cheesy, oozy finish.”

If you want two gold stars next to your name, don’t just bring pasta (🎖)—bring room-temperature pasta (🎖) that makes things beyond easy for the host. “My orzo pasta salad is always popular, whether it’s as part of a BBQ, a side dish, or served on its own, it’s versatile and quick to make,” Ailey says.

It’s hard to be humble when you’re the one showing up with homemade bread! (Be sure to practice a few “Oh, this? It was nothings” in the mirror before heading over to the party.) This focaccia is tasty, for sure, and it’s a great centerpiece, Ailey says. Serve it as an appetizer on its own, or with charcuterie and cheeses. The best part is you can make it the day before and leave it to prove. “It only actually bakes for 20 minutes,” Ailey says.

All Your Burning Questions About the You Season 3 Finale, Answered by the Showrunner

Before we jump into the finale, I wanted to know how much of the storyline surrounding Love’s murder of Gil (Mackenzie Astin), the anti-vaxxer, was influenced by our country’s current COVID-19 vaccine crisis.

We started talking about the season in February of 2020. That’s when our room opened, so there was no pandemic, and we were all just sitting in a room talking about what is the scariest part about being a parent—what is so terrifying or infuriating that you would hit someone over the head and lock them in a cage? The parents in the room talked about how scared they are when their children are sick. 

I think, certainly, we’re all watching that differently than we did a year ago. There’s a lot about that character who’s a really good dad. It wasn’t our goal to paint some kind of caricature or monster. 

Still, this seems to be one of the few moments of the series where viewers really empathize with Love; meanwhile, many fans let Joe get away with so much more. 

Part of what we’re trying to do is invite you to look a little more deeply at your reactions. For me, I have this knee-jerk reaction to what I see as a romantic hero, where I believe him when he tells me why he’s motivated, and I think he’s being heroic and romantic. The invitation of the book and the show was to look at that a little more deeply. He’s a stalker, he’s a killer, like, is that really what you want in your life? 

Hopefully, we’re also inviting that question to pop into your head about the women on the show, too. Just as much as we are used to lionizing white male romantic heroes, we are so fucking quick to judge women. And by the way, at the top of the list of women are mothers. They really can’t get it right, no matter what they do. So, if it makes you pause for just a second in between screaming at your TV, and just be like, “Huh, yeah, she’s not actually worse than he is, but my reaction is different,” that’s good. 

That brings me to that moment between Love and Marienne, where we hear what’s really going on alongside Joe’s rationalizations. Love’s like, “He’s obsessed with you,” while Joe is thinking, “No, I’m saving you.” I have to say, I really liked that Marienne instantly believed Love and chose to leave without Joe.

It’s interesting that you say that, because I’ve actually talked to people today who asked me the question, “Who is she running away from?” And I think that maybe some people will watch it and think she’s running away from Love. 

Either way, Marienne has good instincts. I actually think most people have good instincts, and then we’re socialized not to listen to them. That’s especially true for women. You hear so often, “I had this weird little feeling, but I was trying to be polite.” Part of Marienne’s story is that she has had quite a journey with that. Her relationship with Joe is not all bad. She is gaining strength from that friendship at times. But it was important to us that ultimately, she’s making an independent decision in that moment because her first priority is her daughter. Romance is cool, but these people are a lot of trouble.