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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.
369 Episodes
Bad Hair

Bad Hair


In the horror satire Bad Hair, a meek young woman named Anna becomes emboldened after getting her very first weave. At first, the new 'do brings her professional and personal success, but soon enough, it begins to take on a mysterious life of its own. Written and directed by Dear White People creator Justin Simien, Bad Hair is heavy on social commentary and cheeky pastiche, served with a star-studded cast that includes Vanessa Williams, Lena Waithe and more.
You may know Rebecca as a 1938 novel by Daphne du Maurier. You might know it as a 1940 adaptation directed by Alfred Hitchcock that won Best Picture. But if you've always wanted a version with Armie Hammer playing the role once occupied by Laurence Olivier, Netflix is on it. The new Rebecca stars Lily James as a woman who becomes the second wife of Maxim de Winter, played by Hammer. When she gets to his massive estate, she finds it occupied by his housekeeper, played here by Kristin Scott Thomas. It's also haunted by the memory of his first wife. Her name was Rebecca.
David Byrne and Spike Lee. Two artists with very defined, very distinct, and yet very different, sensibilities — but when you put them together, it works. The theatrical concert film David Byrne's American Utopia, now streaming on HBO Max, is a career-spanning celebration of Byrne's music, both with Talking Heads and his solo work. Director Spike Lee shoots the stage of Broadway's Hudson Theater from a host of angles to capture the exuberant, rollicking — yet rigorously choreographed energy — of Byrne and his fellow barefoot, silver-gray-suited performers.
Like many of you, the Pop Culture Happy Hour team is socially distancing at home. And we are watching more TV shows and movies than ever before. So that's one of the reasons we are going to start coming to you five days a week. We'll talk about great movies, television, books, music and videogames. So make sure to join us starting Monday, October 26th when Pop Culture Happy Hour goes daily.
Writer-director Aaron Sorkin knows his way around a courtroom drama: He wrote the screenplay for A Few Good Men nearly 30 years ago. Now, he's written and directed The Trial of the Chicago 7. The new movie dramatizes the trial of a far-flung group of anti-Vietnam War activists, including Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden and Bobby Seale, who were each charged with inciting violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Ethan Hawke plays the abolitionist John Brown in the new series The Good Lord Bird, which traces the events leading up to the 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry. Told from the point of view of a fictional Black teenager nicknamed "Onion," the series has plenty of drama. But it's also a dark comedy about following a leader who's extremely passionate and wildly unpredictable.
In the wonderful new film The Forty-Year-Old Version, playwright Radha Blank plays a variation on herself. In it, the fictional Radha, frustrated by a stall in her theater career, finds a new passion: she becomes a rapper. The Forty-Year-Old Version won the dramatic directing award at Sundance, and now it's on Netflix. It's about getting older, getting honest, and, yes, finding yourself.
Latinx music has experienced a huge boom in the last 10 years. We've seen the rise of global superstars like Bad Bunny and J Balvin. We've seen Shakira and Jennifer Lopez take over this year's Super Bowl halftime show. And, of course, we've seen the chart domination of "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee. The decade has also produced countless musical discoveries across the Latin world. And the whole time, our pals at NPR Music's Alt.Latino have been there to guide us through it all.
Fifty two years ago, Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band debuted off-Broadway. The structure was simple, and not unfamiliar to anyone who'd seen a play before: Over the course of an evening, characters gather, get drunk and turn on one another. The groundbreaking difference was that it was a group of gay men doing all that gathering and drinking and lashing out. Now, a new Netflix film adapts the recent Tony-winning revival of the play.
The Legend Of Korra

The Legend Of Korra


The Legend of Korra is a sequel to the hugely popular animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. It takes place 70 years later, in a darker, more industrialized world where bending the elements is commonplace. Korra is now the Avatar, and she's everything her predecessor Aang wasn't. She's a confident, headstrong teenage girl much more comfortable with combat than with the spiritual aspect of her role.
The new, bright and breezy Netflix movie Enola Holmes stars Millie Bobby Brown as the 16-year-old sister of Sherlock Holmes. She sets out on an adventure when her eccentric mother (Helena Bonham Carter) goes missing. It also features Sam Claflin as her stuffy brother Mycroft, Louis Partridge as a romantic interest, and Henry Cavill as Sherlock.
2020 Emmys Recap

2020 Emmys Recap


It was not your usual Emmy Awards ceremony. Because of the pandemic, there was no crowd, and host Jimmy Kimmel worked mostly alone. People accepted their awards from home. But surprisingly enough, it turned out pretty well. Schitt's Creek, Watchmen, and Succession all had big nights. And it was kind of fun to watch people dressed up in their own living rooms.
In the new horror film Antebellum, Janelle Monáe plays an enslaved woman on a plantation run by Confederate soldiers. She's desperate to escape. But Monáe also plays a successful contemporary author and speaker with a beautiful family, living a life of success and wealth. But does the film successfully tie the story together? Note: This conversation discusses specific spoiler-y plot points to explore how those roles fit together, break down what's really going on, and whether or not the movie is successful.
It's hard to predict how the current pandemic will affect the work of artists in television and film and theater, but that doesn't mean we can't try. What will change? What won't change? How might creators react? Today, we're stepping back to make some guesses about the future of pop culture and think about what's to come.
A special bonus feed drop from the NPR podcast It's Been A Minute With Sam Sanders. Billy Porter is a force to be reckoned with. A Tony Award-winning Broadway performer. A fashion icon with unforgettable red carpet looks. An Emmy Award-winning actor (with another nomination under his belt this year). Currently, Porter stars in the acclaimed FX show Pose, all about New York's underground ball culture in the 80s and 90s. It's also takes place during the height of the HIV-AIDS crisis. Sam talks to Porter about the parallels between that crisis and the one we're living in today, about growing up in the church, and why — despite everything that's happened this year — love will always win.
In the Netflix film, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, the plot is easy to follow. A young couple played by Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons drives through a snowstorm to the farmhouse where Plemons' character grew up. They have dinner with his parents, played by Toni Collette and David Thewlis, then they drive home. That's it. That's the movie. Simple, right? Wrong! This is a Charlie Kaufman movie, and that means things are trippy and dreamlike and just plain weird from the jump. Note: This conversation delves into spoilers that discuss specific plot points and theories to try to unpack just what this movie is actually about!
The fantasy adventure Avatar: The Last Airbender aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. But this year, as the pandemic struck, the animated series became one of the biggest streaming hits on Netflix. In the world of Avatar, some people are essentially equipped with superpowers: They can bend fire, water, earth, or air. Only the Avatar — in this case a 12-year-old boy named Aang — can develop the power to bend all four elements and keep the world in balance.
The biggest movie so far to be bumped from theaters to home viewing during the pandemic is Disney's Mulan. The live-action reimagining of the 1998 animated musical doesn't have songs or a cartoon dragon. But the story still finds young Mulan disguising herself as a man so she can fight in her father's place.
2020 MTV VMAs

2020 MTV VMAs


The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards took place Sunday night. The telecast was in the shadow of a pandemic, in the midst of major civil unrest, and in the aftermath of actor Chadwick Boseman's death. The VMAs couldn't have live audiences, so we got a lot of pre-taped performances in front of green screens from artists like BTS. Plus, it was a big night for masked Lady Gaga.
Back in 1989, we met Bill S. Preston and Ted "Theodore" Logan in the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. They returned in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey in 1991. And now, almost 30 years later, they're back. In Bill and Ted Face the Music, Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves return as... well, Bill and Ted, respectively. And this time, they'll need not just their triumphant band to save the world, but also their daughters.
Comments (55)

Ricardo Antonio

once I was Ric... an American... then I was told I'm Hispanic... ok... then nope I'm Latino... neither of which I wanted but was placed on me... now Latinx. all I ever wanted to be was Ric, born in America(Puerto Rico). 2020 has sure taught me that I'm not seen as Ric from America. ok rant over... let me hear what "Latinx" songs everyone thinks shaped America. #notamericanenough I guess.

Oct 16th
Reply (1)


سلام چطور به متن میشه دسترسی پیدا کرد؟

Sep 5th

Mahsa Bolvari

its terrible

Jul 18th

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
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