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Pop Culture Happy Hour

Author: NPR

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Pop Culture Happy Hour is a fun and freewheeling chat about the latest movies, television, books, and music.
323 Episodes
It surprised a lot of people when Ramy Youssef won a Golden Globe in January. But it shouldn't have. His show, the half-hour comedy-drama Ramy on Hulu, is a smart, fresh take on a young man navigating family and his Muslim faith. Ramy recently released its second season, and it's added Mahershala Ali to its cast. The result is a show that's well deserving of that Globe, and more.
You may not have needed another streaming service, but last week, one came along anyway. It's HBO Max, and it's part HBO, part Warner Brothers — and yes, it's where you can now stream all the episodes of Friends. They've put out a modest slate of original programming as well, and it's safe to say some of their new shows are better than others. Is it worth your while? Good question. We run down what's new on HBO Max and what you might find in its deep library.
There have been countless movies about real and fictional musicians. And in the new movie The High Note, Tracee Ellis Ross plays the fictional legendary singer Grace Davis. Dakota Johnson plays Maggie, an aspiring record producer and Grace's personal assistant. The two women have to figure out everything from whether Maggie has a future in the music industry to whether Grace should take a residency in Vegas.
Last year we talked about the movie Booksmart, and we really, really liked it. It's about two young women about to graduate from high school who spend one last night trying to catch up on everything they missed. Starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, it's the directing debut of actress Olivia Wilde. The comedy came out last summer — and it's currently streaming on Hulu and available to rent on demand. And because so many students are wrapping up their school year and graduating, we thought, what better time to look back at this terrific movie? (This episode originally aired on May 31, 2019.)
This is not a normal summer movie season. Theaters are closed, big projects are delayed, and we're missing the flood of new films that would usually have already started. But you don't have to go without movies. That's because even if you see a lot, you miss even more. We do too, and that's what we're talking about today: some recent films we missed that are well worth your time. Plus, we remember the lives and work of Fred Willard and Lynn Shelton.
Hulu's new series The Great bills itself as "An Occasionally True Story." And it's a big story: a sweeping epic about Russia in the 1700s, full of palace intrigue, sex and violence, and the rise of Catherine the Great. Elle Fanning plays Catherine, and Nicholas Hoult also stars as the sociopathic emperor Peter. The show shares a lot of thematic DNA with the 2018 film The Favourite -- it was created by one of the film's screenwriters, Tony McNamara. And it's more than willing to scramble history in the service of a good story.
Twenty years ago, Harry Potter or Marvel, the movie landscape looked really different. Take a look back at some of the movies that came out in 2000 and why we think they're still relevant today.
The new comedy Never Have I Ever is a great binge from Netflix. It might remind you of a lot of warm and funny shows about navigating high school. Its hero is an Indian-American girl named Devi. She is juggling her friends, the boys she's interested in, and plenty of drama at home. One of the creators is Mindy Kaling, who gives the show some of the same energy she put into The Mindy Project. Devi is a little confused, a little selfish, and very consumed by her dreams of romance
When a popular book becomes a television series, the stakes are high. Sally Rooney's novel Normal People is no exception, and the very good Hulu adaptation has finally arrived. The new series tells the story of Marianne and Connell, who go to high school together in Ireland. We follow the couple for a few years as they drift toward adulthood, sometimes apart and sometimes together. And while the show features other characters like their mothers and friends, it's mostly a study of Marianne and Connell and how their relationship shifts.
Derry Girls might remind you of a lot of warm and funny shows about high school. It has the group of loyal friends, the adventures and humiliations, and the slow progress toward adulthood. But these kids are taking on these challenges in Northern Ireland in the 1990s. It's a time when an ordinary day can be interrupted by everything from an encounter with soldiers to breaking news of violence. Still, high school rolls on, and high school students do too.
In the mid-1990s, sports teams didn't get any bigger than the Chicago Bulls. Led by supermegastar Michael Jordan, the Bulls won six NBA championships in eight years. And now, ESPN is presenting a ten-part documentary series all about them. The Last Dance follows the Bulls' final championship season, and it dips back into history to look at how the dynasty was made. Plus, what's making us happy this week.
We've been playing games. Stuck at home, exhausted from streaming all the good TV we can find, looking for distractions, we've all been exploring games for the Nintendo Switch. And not just Animal Crossing, either. We've been trying adventure games and puzzle games, beautiful games and silly games. And we have a few to recommend.
Staying in can be hard on everybody. But it's a special kind of hard for little kids and the people who love them. So we're here to help, with some TV recommendations for those who are toddling through isolation. We've brought some ideas for things to watch that we hope will delight your littlest quarantine companions, and maybe you as well.
A woman sitting in her car gets a text message. It says "RUN." She texts back the same thing: "RUN." That's the beginning of a new HBO series, also called Run, that tells you what happens next. Starring Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson, Run is part romantic comedy, part thriller, and part road trip.
Today, we're excited to be bringing back a classic Pop Culture Happy Hour segment — the Regrettable Television Pop Quiz. We've each brought clips of some of our favorite regrettable shows, and our fellow panelists will have to see if they can guess the source. Plus, what's making us happy this week.
Started out eating rats, and now they're here. Forty seasons in, Survivor is midway through a season where former winners are playing against each other. And as you'd imagine, it's a doozy. From which season is best to which winner is best to whether host Jeff Probst is a hero or a villain, we take a look at why Survivor has been a staple of TV conversation for 20 years.
Let's talk about solutions. Specifically, solutions to the problems we're running into entertaining ourselves at home. There's a lot to watch and read and hear, but there's also a lot that we're missing--like live sports, concerts, and spending nights out with friends. And we've got some ideas about how to fill those voids.
Almost three weeks ago, as isolation at home tightened its grip on many of us, Netflix released the documentary series Tiger King. It seemed to capture a binge-ready audience at just the right moment, and it's been burning up social media channels ever since. Tiger King tells the story of a man who calls himself Joe Exotic, who bred and exhibited big cats and other animals in a sketchy private zoo. Joe is now in prison, convicted of hiring someone to kill an activist named Carole Baskin. She tried to shut down his business and became his nemesis.
Schitt's Creek is a Canadian comedy from the minds of Eugene Levy and his son Daniel follows a wealthy family that falls on hard times. They have no choice but to retreat to the small town they bought as a joke.
There are plenty of binge recommendations out there if you find yourself with a lot of free time in isolation. But with work at home, and kids at home, and everything else going on, you might be busier than ever. That's why our focus today is happiness in small bites. Quick jolts of energy to brighten up even the worst days.
Comments (51)

Jason L

This episode is outstanding, so-oooo good!

Mar 7th

Jason Salvo

Did... did you seriously have an ad from Hulu, highlighting their reality tv programming, on an episode discussing a Netflix reality show? WTF is wrong with your marketing department?

Mar 1st
Reply (1)

Akwasi Opoku-Dakwa

if you plan to see the movie, this has spoilers.

Feb 11th

Studio 2053 Bisbee

I freaking loved it!

Feb 10th

Fati Ma

a crappy movie

Jan 29th

Presantha Pillay

I am a mum and I was freaked out by breast milk. Most people don't fall off to sleep in each others arms it is an intimate act regardless of sexual orientation...its a comedy...that's why people loved Friends...its honest. People are not perfect.

Jan 9th

Gene Kang

it's not horror so she doesn't like it. wtf??? you're a film critic? yeah I stopped listening.

Oct 29th
Reply (1)

Darian Brown


Oct 11th

Joshua Woods

Matt Damon in Talented Mr.Ripley was so creepy and excellent. loved his performance.

Sep 19th

Oscar Munoz

Great Episode!

Sep 5th

Karen Harkness

I love this show! Thanks for your review. Based on what was said I gave it a try.

May 19th

Angela Howard-Gibbs

Octavia Spencer in MA can't wait to see female African-American lead a Horror Flick!

May 4th

Presantha Pillay

I hated unicorn star... The character was so self absorbed and spoilt.

Apr 9th

Thomas Albert

With the entire panel serenading the show RUSSIAN DOLL, some even saying they'd re-watched episodes, I approached with enthusiasm. Alas, the best thing about it IS Natasha Lyonne who does nice things but does not really add much further dimension or surprise to a familiar character. The "Groundhog Day" conceit is there to add some spice from a "making a show" perspective, but didn't add much to me. Here is another case of fair to middling television spiced-up with cuss language and adult situations/talk. I lasted halfway thru the 2nd episode.

Mar 5th

Ilya Zverev

This movie is captivating and I was very happy the hosts shared this feeling.

Feb 25th

Bill Thiemann

One thing I really appreciated was that they did not have the presenters engage in the usual lame banter and jokes. Also for many of the awards there was a short video clip saying the names and details about the nominees. It seems as if they correctly decided to minimize the duties of the presenters- and that made to show much more watchable.

Feb 12th

Presantha Pillay

Kasey Musgrave has such a weak voice.

Feb 11th


OMG I almost exited out at the end and missed the song! 😂

Feb 4th

Presantha Pillay

Can't we just enjoy the movie.... I loved it!

Feb 1st

Presantha Pillay

Brooklyn nine nine... Is overrated

Jan 23rd
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