Mary Elizabeth Williams

Culture Critic

Mary Elizabeth Williams appears in the following:

Renee Zellweger Looks Different — So What?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

When celebrities appear in public looking drastically different, people talk. And that talk is especially critical if it's a woman. This week, it was Renee Zellweger.


TIME's Controversial Cover

Friday, May 11, 2012

Everyone is talking about this week's Time magazine, the cover of which features a young mom breastfeeding her son. Only her son isn't a baby – he's much, much older. Mary Elizabeth Williams has weighed in at where she is a staff writer.


Follow Friday: George Zimmerman's Facing Charges, Santorum Exits the Race, Ann Romney Defends Motherhood and More

Friday, April 13, 2012

Every Friday, The Takeaway convenes a panel to look back at the week's big stories. This week we hear more about the arrest of Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman, Rick Santorum's exit of the GOP presidential nomination race, Miami Marlins' Ozzie Guillen's foot-in-mouth disease, and more. This week we're joined by Mary Elizabeth Williams, staff writer for Salon, journalist and blogger Farai Chideya, and Ron Christie, Republican political strategist and political contributor for The Takeaway and It's a Free Country.

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Ashley Judd's Puffy Face: Why Do We Care?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Actress Ashley Judd is again in the media spotlight for slamming the media spotlight. This week, Judd penned an article in Daily Beast about her appearance — specifically her so-called "puffy face" — and the media’s obsession with it. Mary Elizabeth Williams writes about women and the media as a Staff Writer for Salon. Cindy Gallop is an advertising consultant and former chairwoman of the advertising agency BBH.

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Cancer Veteran or Cancer Survivor?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

For individuals facing cancer, the battle is a personal one, and whether one lives or dies, the experience is always traumatic. Mary Elizabeth Williams, a staff writer for Salon, has been sharing her own cancer story on the website over the past several months. Last month, after undergoing experimental trials for her metastatic Stage 4 cancer, her doctor told her that her tumors had disappeared. 

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The Big C: Can Cancer Be Funny?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

After a huge amount of publicity and hype, “The Big C” premiered on Showtime last night. The show is a comedy about something a lot of people don't like to talk about, let alone laugh over: cancer.

Laura Linney plays a middle aged woman who’s just been diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma, and given about 18 months to live. In the first episode, Linney's character, Cathy, confides her diagnosis to just one entity: the neighbor’s dog.

"I'm living the dream!" she shouts. "I'm here all year! Performing at Stage 4! Oh come on, come on, you gotta give it up for me a little bit. It's kind of funny? Death comedy." She laughs. And then starts to cry. 

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From 'MacGruber' to 'Wayne's World:' the Best and Worst 'SNL' Movies

Friday, May 21, 2010

In honor of “MacGruber,” which hits theatres nationwide today, we look at the best and worst movies based on Saturday Night Live sketches – from "The Blues Brothers" (quite successful) to "It's Pat" (called "shockingly unfunny") and ask: What makes for a good SNL movie? The story? The characters? The acting?


Superbowl Rewind

Monday, February 08, 2010

Superbowl ads are always provocative. Mary Elizabeth Williams, culture critic for The Takeaway and, offers her perspective on the ads during yesterday's Superbowl.

Dodge Charger Ad

Focus on the Family's ...

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Musical Acts at the Nobel Ceremony

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not even today’s otherwise somber Nobel Peace Prize ceremony will prove immune from the trappings of a big award show: marquee names will introduce over-the-top performances by acts that inconceivably and incoherently share the regal Norwegian stage.

Past performers have included Sinead O’Connor, Yusef Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), A-HA, The Cranberries ... Tonight’s show is the 16th Annual Nobel Peace Prize concert. It will be hosted by Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, and will include Wyclef Jean, Toby Keith, Donna Summer and more.

Joining us now to explain some of those choices (and to expound on the award show phenomenon) is our culture critic, Mary Elizabeth Williams.


When Less Is More: Some Health Screenings Deemed Risky

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A government-backed physicians' group, the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force, recommended this week that women delay their yearly breast exams until age 50. (Previously, 40 was the suggested age to begin screening.) The recommendation has quickly sparked a national debate. People intuitively feel that more tests are always better, but health economists and doctors practicing "evidence-based medicine" say that some screenings aren't worth doing as often: They don't actually help many patients, they expose millions to risks from radiation, and they can lead to expensive, unnecessary treatments for patients who wouldn't otherwise get sick.

Mary Elizabeth Williams is The Takeaway's culture critic and a writer for She's been getting mammograms for years even though she's noticeably younger than the new recommended cutoff age...but she has no plans to stop. We also talk to Michael Chernew, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. Economists like Chernew run the numbers that lead to some of these controversial suggestions. And Dr. Gerald Andriole, professor and chief of urology at Washington University in St. Louis, does prostate screenings – yet another preventive-care practice now under scrutiny for its evidence-based results.

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Mickey Mouse Meets The Hulk

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The children’s entertainment super-giant Walt Disney Corporation announced on Monday that it's acquiring Marvel Inc., the home of such superheroes as Spiderman, Iron Man and Captain America. The $4 billion deal would see Mickey Mouse on the same corporate team with the likes of the X-Men, The New Mutants and other yet-to-be-blockbuster movie action fare.  

The question now is: was this a bold and brilliant example of corporate synergy or an ungodly pop-cultural mutation? We ask Takeaway contributor Mary Elizabeth Williams, culture critic for


"Want to know where the money is? it’s in comic book characters. That’s the global economy now: it’s comic book characters." — Mary Elizabeth Williams, Takeaway contributor and culture critic for


Back to School Shopping Blues

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's back to school time, which means that while parents head to stores to outfit their kids for a new school year, schools need to refresh their supplies as well. Some economists say that the recession is easing, but both schools and parents are still feeling the financial squeeze. With us today to talk about how the retail market is doing is Louise Story, finance reporter for The New York Times, along with friend of The Takeaway Mary Elizabeth Williams, culture critic for


Are Wal-Mart and the Girl Scouts in a Cookie War?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Girl Scouts start selling their best-selling cookies — Thin Mints and Tagalongs — each December. But this year, the Scouts’ annual cookie sales, which add up to $700 million a year, may not be so high. That’s because giant Wal-Mart will start stocking its shelves with its own Great Value brand Fudge Mint and Fudge Covered Peanut Butter Filled cookies next month. Some bloggers who were at the women's BlogHer convention where Wal-Mart debuted its desserts last week are crying foul, saying the retailer is trying to steal the Scouts’ sales. We discuss the cookie war with culture critic Mary Elizabeth Williams and her 9-year old daughter, Lucy, who is, in the interest of full disclosure, a Girl Scout and a darn good little saleswoman.


No Place Like Home

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mary Elizabeth Williams, culture critic for The Takeaway, host of’s Table Talk, and the author of Gimme Shelter, gives her perspective on the recent real estate bubble.

Join Mary Elizabeth Williams for a talk on the housing crisis, Wednesday, March 11th at ...

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Top four things overheard at the inauguration

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"I'd rather get a stimulus than a recovery."

"Look at this mob. It looks like a Will Smith movie here."

"Don't forget this is the city that greenlighted a trillion-dollar bailout and two days later couldn't figure out where the money had gone."

"Log cabin republicans? There are six, and they all hate themselves."

Watch Mary Beth Williams' collection of images from the Inauguration.

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Bye bye Crawford. Hello Hawaii.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

As the Bush administration fades in history, so will the little town of Crawford, Texas. The equivalent refuge in the Obama administration isn't really known. Obama is from Chicago...but he's also from Kahului, Hawaii.


Christmas Gifts Gone Wild

Friday, December 12, 2008

Takeaway culture correspondent Mary Elizabeth Williams looks off the beaten track to find you some of the coolest Christmas gifts around.

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Mary Elizabeth Williams: Screw the polls, voters are putting candidates where their mouths are

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In these last few days before the election, many of us are furiously surfing the Web looking for the clues to the outcome. We We 538. We Gallup. Maybe we check out some goat entrails. But we're American. We vote with our wallets — especially when there's a delectable sweet or a meat lover's pie thrown in the deal.
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Unconventional polls

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The most accurate polls around might be a little on the unconventional side: Halloween mask sales, schoolchildren, coffee cups, and cookies.

Mary Beth Williams hits the streets of New York to look at this year's "Xtreme" polls:

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When the markets are toast, people buy breakfast

Friday, September 19, 2008

New numbers show that, while everyone else is in the red, spending on breakfast foods has actually increased. What does the nation eat when times are tight?