Reba McEntire is your new Colonel Sanders, and maybe 2018 won't be so bad.

Fast food fried chicken juggernaut KFC has cast a new actor to play Colonel Sanders: Reba McEntire.

Yeah, this Reba McEntire.

Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Celebrity Fight Night.


Only for this role, she looks a little more like this.

Image via KFC/YouTube.

McEntire donned the signature white suit and string tie to perform a tongue in cheek song as everyone's second ,favorite fried chicken purveyor. (I'm an Annie from Popeye's stan, now and forever.)

"I’m Colonel Sanders, the same as always,” she sings. "I swear I'm not a famous woman!”

Several male actors have portrayed the Colonel, including Rob Lowe, Norm MacDonald, Ray Liotta, and Jim Gaffigan. But this is the first time the company's founder has been portrayed by a woman or a musician. McEntire was chosen specifically for the role because of her Southern roots (she's from Oklahoma) and legend status in country music. She'll appear in television spots for the chain's Smoky Mountain BBQ chicken through April.

So the internet had absolutely nothing to say about all of this and that's the end of this charming and delightful story, right?

Hold on to your biscuits, folks.

Loyal Colonel Sanders supporters, confused followers, and former fans of KFC voiced their displeasure at the decision on social media.

Who knew people were invested in which actors are selected to portray this Southern icon? But apparently, they are.

Some were turned off by the idea of a woman playing a man.

Others were skeptical, but open to change.

But for the most part, people had some fun with it. After all, we're talking about fast food chicken, here.

For instance: What might a woman playing Colonel Sanders have to put up with?

And then there's this tweet, which is funny (and a little bit sad) because it's true.

Others, particularly fans of McEntire, were pretty pleased with the decision. Who wouldn't want to see one of their faves break the dredged and breaded ceiling?

While this a very small, silly thing to choose to complain or cheer about, it's not completely insignificant.

In 2018, women are still breaking barriers, both large and important and small and crispy. This week alone, Rachel Morrison became the first woman to be nominated for an Academy Award in cinematography. Sen. Tammi Duckworth announced her pregnancy and will be the first senator to give birth in office. And on Sunday at the Grammy's, we may see Cardi B become first woman ever to earn the award for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.

And yeah, people like Hec have a point.

A female Colonel Sanders probably wasn't the first thing people participating in the Women's March had in mind. Women have made some serious moves, but when it comes to improving representation, earning equal wages, confronting gender based violence, or sexual misconduct, we have a long way to go.

Then again, every first, even a seemingly silly one, is a chicken-fried step in the right direction.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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