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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.
343 Episodes
The Starz drama P-Valley is set in a Black strip club in the Mississippi delta. The dancers are acrobatic, artistic and independent. The show is about their labor, but also about a wide variety of stories about power, money, and a community's identity. It's really good, and it's really different from anything else on TV right now.
Last summer, Beyoncé released an album called The Lion King: The Gift. It was based around Disney's remake of The Lion King — a film that included voice acting from Beyoncé herself, among many others. Last Friday on Disney+, Beyoncé released a movie-length video that's meant to serve as a companion to the album. It's called Black Is King, it's visually grand and sumptuous, and it's got a huge cast — you'll see Lupita Nyong'o, Pharrell Williams, Kelly Rowland, and many looks at Beyoncé's children, her mother, and her husband Jay-Z.
There's marriage, and then there's love marriage. That's the philosophy of Sima, the matchmaker at the center of the new Netflix reality series Indian Matchmaking. And her focus is not helping you find love. It's arranging marriages for young people and their families based on everything from economic and social status to height. The show has gotten a lot of attention, but also some critiques.
Taylor Swift's Folklore

Taylor Swift's Folklore


Taylor Swift was supposed to spend this summer touring with songs from Lover, an album she'd put out last August. Instead, she wound up cooped up at home. The isolation sparked her creativity, leading her to write and record an entire new record in collaboration with producers Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner of The National. It's called Folklore, and it's a massive left turn in terms of style and subject matter. And it's already earned Taylor Swift some of the best reviews of her career.
Sometimes, all it takes to change your life is a cow. In the new film First Cow, director Kelly Reichardt follows two men who meet by chance and come up with a plan to get rich. All they need is a couple of ingredients. First Cow is a western, a friendship story, a caper movie, and even a meditation on nature. (Pop Culture Happy Hour just turned 10 and we're celebrating... with a happy hour! Join us for a live, virtual event next Thursday, July 30 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. RSVP now and help shape one of our famous quizzes by heading over to NPR Presents. Hope to see ya there!)
The Baby-Sitters Club

The Baby-Sitters Club


Kristy, Claudia, Mary-Anne and Stacey are back. Netflix has adapted the book series The Baby-Sitters Club, and hopes to reintroduce it to young viewers, nostalgic millennials, and anyone else who longs for days spent with friends when worries aren't too worrisome. Starring a cast of fresh young actors, and a few familiar faces among the adults, the show is getting solid reviews and might be just the thing for summer viewing.
The big summer action movie is one of the things we've been missing this year, and now, we've got one. And it's a good one, too. The Old Guard stars Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne as members of a squad of fighters who have been in the battle game for much, much too long. The Netflix film is based on a series of comics by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández, and Rucka wrote the screenplay. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood is much loved for films including Love and Basketball.
Floor Is Lava

Floor Is Lava


There's a new game show so silly, so stupid, so low-stakes that we can't stop watching it. Teams of three try to cross a course made of furniture and obstacles without touching the ground. It's called Floor Is Lava, it's based on a game played by children, and let's be honest — it couldn't be played by anyone else. You won't want to miss a minute of the craziest, the wackiest, the goofiest game show on Netflix, because the Floor! Is! Lavaaaaa!
On this bonus episode of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, we bring you a conversation from our pal Sam Sanders. Sam recently had a wide-ranging conversation with the one and only Tracee Ellis Ross on his podcast It's Been A Minute. They talk about her work on Girlfriends, Black-ish, and the recent film The High Note--plus, what it's like to be a black creative right now.
Food media has become one of the many arenas in which debates about inclusivity and justice have taken center stage in recent months. And now, into this troubled world comes Taste The Nation. Hosted by Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi, the marvelous Hulu series visits immigrant and indigenous communities around the United States to explore food. Taste The Nation puts everything from chop suey to pad Thai in cultural, political and culinary contexts, with Lakshmi as your hungry, curious guide.
Once upon a time, a man named John Wick retired from his successful career as an assassin. But then he returned to it. And across what's now a three-film series, he's been having a heck of a week ever since. In the third film, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Wick, played by Keanu Reeves, is on the run from foes and former friends alike. This episode originally aired on May 17, 2019.
Let's cut to the chase: the Hamilton film has arrived, and it's great. Four years after Lin-Manuel Miranda's show won 11 Tony Awards, you can watch an original Broadway cast performance at home. The film is now available on Disney+. It's a chance to see already legendary performances from Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom Jr., and Phillipa Soo, among others, and to see how this sweeping historical story was staged.
Close watchers of smart television know Michaela Coel from Chewing Gum, the acclaimed comedy series she created and starred in. Her new show on HBO is called I May Destroy You. It's just as strong, but finds her going in an entirely new direction. Coel plays Arabella, a writer whose life changes one night while she's sexually assaulted at a nightclub. She is missing pieces of her memory, and as she tries to figure out what happened, the show fans out to consider other questions about sexual ethics and honesty. Plus, we remember comedy legend Carl Reiner, who died this week at 98.
In Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods, four Black war veterans return to Vietnam. They're there to retrieve the remains of a fellow soldier, who died on the battlefield. They're also after millions of dollars' worth of gold bars they'd hidden during the war. Da 5 Bloods was supposed to roll out in theaters this summer; instead, it dropped on Netflix earlier this month. But it's still a major Oscar contender — a war epic that's grand in scope, with generational scars that run deep.
Giancarlo Esposito has appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies — from several of Spike Lee's early films, to his role as Gus Fring on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. In this interview from Bullseye, Esposito talks about the complexity of his characters, his time on The Electric Company and his work on Do the Right Thing. Plus, we talk to him about a very difficult time in his life and working through the trauma of racial profiling.
In 2017, the #MeToo movement brought to light accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct against powerful people in entertainment. Most of the women whose allegations received detailed media consideration were white, and so were most of the men they accused. But late that year, a number of women, several of them black women, alleged sexual assault and other misconduct by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. Simmons is the enormously powerful man behind Def Jam. The new HBO Max documentary On The Record tells the stories of some of Russell Simmons' accusers. It includes interviews with a lot of black women about specific worries and conflicted feelings that arise when black women raise allegations against black men.
In The King Of Staten Island, comedian Pete Davidson plays a wayward stoner whose life isn't going anywhere. He still lives with his mom, he doesn't have a job, and his plans for his life involve a vague — and foolish — plan to open "a tattoo restaurant." The film is directed by Judd Apatow, who also made Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Trainwreck. Apatow's movies often involve a protagonist who faces some sort of need to grow up, and The King Of Staten Island may feature the biggest reclamation project yet: Davidson's character barely functions as an adult, and through much of the film, we see a manchild with a lot of growing up to do.
The new Apple TV+ series Central Park is an animated musical with a lot of interesting DNA. It shares creative and performing talent with Bob's Burgers, Frozen, and Hamilton, among other projects. The show follows the manager of New York's Central Park, who tries to keep the park safe from trash overflows, a demanding public, and city politics.
Sales are surging for books like Ibram X. Kendi's 'How To Be Anti-Racist,' Robin DiAngelo's 'White Fragility,' and Michelle Alexander's 'The New Jim Crow.' That's in part because these titles often appear on so-called "anti-racist reading lists." But what is an anti-racist reading list for? We talk with Lauren Michele Jackson, an Assistant Professor of English at Northwestern University, and the author of 'White Negroes,' about the limitations of such lists — which she wrote about in an essay called "What Is an Anti-Racist Reading List For?" for Vulture.
Right now, many of us are thinking about the ways we can start to address the shortfalls in our own knowledge that have grown out of structural racism in every part of life, entertainment very much included. And if you're looking for one place to start, we want to point you toward Slate's Black Film Canon. Four years ago, Slate published a list of 50 great films by black directors. It was put together by Dan Kois and Aisha Harris in 2016, and Aisha came on Pop Culture Happy Hour to talk about it with us. (This episode originally aired on June 7, 2016.)
Comments (52)

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


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
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