NYT Crossword 12-14-20 Complete

The week starts off with a not-so-challenging puzzle. However, it’s got plenty of room for tripping up. Take it from someone who knows.

I pulled out 34D Typical John le Carré work: SPYNOVEL because how the hell did they get him in a puzzle right after he died? Did they have this one ready to go? Was it happenstance?

Now, I didn’t know the name John le Carré until I got the notifications that he’d passed away. But it turned out I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with his work. That is to say that I’d heard of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

As usual, I didn’t know the theme until the end.

19A Model/TV host on a record five Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue covers: ELLEMACPHERSON. In another sign of how uncultured I am, I had been unaware that she is/was a TV host. But as a former SI subscriber, I found the clue overall to be helpful.
28A “Grey’s Anatomy” actress: SANDRAOH. I tried watching this show but couldn’t get into it. Then I happened upon spinoff series Private Practice on Netflix. I got partway through the first episode and could not bear to continue. Good for them for getting paid and for so long, but I have proved unhelpful when it comes to them collecting residuals.
34A “Full Frontal” host: SAMANTHABEE. I haven’t watched this show, but I liked her on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I was in DC in 2017 when signs were promoting the then-upcoming Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner located at Constitutional Hall, a venue operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution. To be honest, I’m a little creeped out by this organization. It’s not that I’m against celebrating our history and those who fought for our country’s independence but that DAR is a sorority of almost exclusively white women. That they recently let a Black woman join their national board is a good sign for the future(?), but long traditions of exclusion can make joining any organization a deterrent, and that can be a never-ending cycle. I’m not saying that my opinion reflects the feelings of DAR, and I am fully in favor of expanding outreach and making the organization more inclusive.
42A North Carolina senator who unseated Elizabeth Dole: KAYHAGAN. Whenever I hear that name, I just think of The Godfather. I know that it’s Kay who marries Michael Corleone and not Tom Hagen, but it’s like when I see the name Trey Stone, I think of South Park.

53A Female scholars … or a hint to 19-, 28-, 34- and 42-Across: WOMENOFLETTERS. The theme because ELLE (L) MACPHERSON, SANDRA (O) OH, SAMANTHA (B) BEE, and KAY (K) HAGEN.

Finished this one in 6:58.

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