Easier than a Book Club: An American Masters Dinner Group

This post is sponsored by WNET; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

When Bart and I lived in North Carolina, we started a couples book club that ran for about six months before everyone scattered to the four winds for summer internships or new jobs.

We had four or five couples, and we’d meet every two months to discuss a new book.

It was a fantastic group and we loved the opportunity to talk about interesting books, share personal experiences, and have lively conversations around various topics.

It’s now been four years since that group dissolved, and since then Bart and I have talked about restarting it but instead of using a book, picking a topic and the couple hosting would choose a couple of articles for everyone to read instead of a full book.

We loved the idea of gathering a group of interesting couples and having a great discussion over dinner.

Of course, we never got around to starting that either.

But when I heard about the American Masters series from PBS, it occurred to me that this might be an even better way to start a dinner group.

American Masters is a PBS biography series that follows the creative journeys of Americans who have shaped the cultural landscape of the US, from writers and musicians to filmmakers, dancers, and actors.

PBS programing, of course, is known for exceptional storytelling and American Masters is no exception.

I love watching programs that introduce me to new people and, of course, as a history undergrad, there’s nothing I love more than a phenomenal biography.

If I can watch it on my couch? Even better.

Starting an dinner group means you get an easy at-home date where you can watch the latest episode with your spouse, and then gather for dinner with some favorite friends to discuss all together.

Sometimes, even among good friends, the conversation at dinner can be kind of stilted or drift easily to small talk that doesn’t really light me up, so having an interesting topic that everyone knows something about and can discuss is a great way to start off your dinner conversation with a bang.

An episode about artist Elizabeth Murray airs tonight.

I knew exactly zero about Elizabeth Murray before I watched this, but this sixty-minute episode gives the best peek into her life as an artist and one of the greatest painters in modern history.

She is one of the few women to be celebrated with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In the documentary, Murray’s journals are voiced by Meryl Streep. She reflects on her tumultuous childhood, being a single mom and her ambitious career, until her death from cancer in 2007.

I got to watch a sneak peek of it and it’s everything you’d expect from PBS!

It was such an interesting episode to me because it talks quite a bit about how her art didn’t fit neatly into any existing categories.

I’ve spent most of my life feeling like I was not at all creative, because I am not artistic. It took me nearly thirty years to realize that I was creative in different ways than what I’d originally assumed counted as “creative” and it was so fascinating to see that even people who are deeply artistic still have to figure out where their art fits into the cultural definition of art.

The episode premieres tonight at 9/8c on PBS – I highly recommend you check it out. Let me know what you think in the comments, or if you’re inspired to start your own dinner group. You can learn more about Elizabeth Murray here!

Photos by Christie Knight Photography

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  • Reply Elaine Doolittle September 7, 2018 at 3:20 am

    Sounds like a great way to host a party. You left me curious about your dinner menu!

  • Reply Sara Millett September 7, 2018 at 5:43 am

    This sounds like something I’d love! Thanks for sharing! For several years my mom, sisters, and I had a discussion group we called SASS (Shorts and Shorties Society)…I’m the tallest member at 5’2 (shorties) and we read short stories, articles, or poems (“shorts”…because we didn’t feel like we could commit to another book…we were all already members of local book clubs). And we’re all a little sassy, so it was perfect.

  • Reply Claire September 7, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    Love the idea! I’ll be sharing with friends and maybe we can do something similar. Thank you for the idea! I was also curious about the artwork in your photo. Do you have a link for the art work? It would be perfect in our nursery.

  • Reply Preethi September 7, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    Well, I LOVE this idea. And you’re making me wish again that we’re neighbors.

  • Reply Jodi Sparks September 7, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    I love this idea. Honestly, I dont know who I could get to come! Which is sad to me. I need to hunt around for more like minded folks.

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