Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop-culture blog, Monkey See. She has several elaborate theories involving pop culture and monkeys, all of which are available on request.

Holmes began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living-room space to DVD sets of The Wire and never looked back.

Holmes was a writer and editor at Television Without Pity, where she recapped several hundred hours of programming — including both High School Musical movies, for which she did not receive hazard pay. Since 2003, she has been a contributor to MSNBC.com, where she has written about books, movies, television and pop-culture miscellany.

Holmes' work has also appeared on Vulture (New York magazine's entertainment blog), in TV Guide and in many, many legal documents.

Comedian Hari Kondabolu made a documentary in 2017 called The Problem With Apu. It's not very long — less than an hour. In it, he interrogates the legacy of Apu, the convenience store owner on The Simpsons voiced by Hank Azaria. Kondabolu talked to other actors and comics who longed for more South Asian representation, only to find that at the time, Apu was just about all there was. And Apu was not only voiced by a white actor, but he was doing what Azaria has acknowledged is a take on Peter Sellers doing an Indian accent in the movie The Party.

There is a fundamental audacity to Jesus Christ Superstar, which was staged as a live "concert" performance on NBC on Sunday night. First released as a concept album in 1970, the work by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice not only imagines a very human story behind the final days in the life of Jesus, but it focuses on that story even when it involves ugliness, vanity, and conflict. It posits that Jesus felt not only frustration, but even resentment and ambivalence — not only about his faith, but about his own followers. On the one hand, it's kind of an obvious choice for Easter.

It makes some sense that the presidency of Donald Trump would bring about the return of Roseanne. One of the few network shows to ever deal thoughtfully with a midwestern working-class family that worried about the electric bill and took second jobs when they had to, Roseanne was set in the kind of place, and even in the kind of home, that reporters have visited over and over again in the last year and a half, convinced that the needs and the fears found there might hold the key to understanding ... well, something.

Barry (Bill Hader) is a hit man, but what he really loves is community theater.

That setup, which opens the new HBO dark comedy Barry, is very nearly a television cliche in the age of the sympathetic mafia family and the meth-dealing high-school science teacher. The fact that Hader and his co-creator Alec Berg (who also makes Silicon Valley) have made something so vexing, so weird and funny and achingly sad, is a pleasant surprise, to say the least.

From the pun in the title to the idea of following a dealer all over New York to watching people smoke in almost every episode, High Maintenance makes it hard to believe that it isn't mostly just a show about weed. But in fact, it's the rare anthology series that isn't plot- or mystery-driven, but fully character-driven. It asks audiences to invest in characters they often only spend a few minutes with, and to empathize with their circumstances. That's part of what makes it so challenging.

Talk shows have been around for decades upon decades. Nerdy ones, silly ones, in late-night and daytime, shows that feature people in conversation have long been both adored and ridiculed. And the skill involved in being the perfect talk show guest has now been turned into a game show in truTV's aptly named Talk Show The Game Show. Its host, Guy Branum, is also the host of Maximum Fun's pop culture podcast Pop Rocket and the author of the upcoming book My Life As A Goddess.

There is a part of a filmgoer who is exhausted by an avalanche of stuff — much of it forgettable, much of it created by committee, much of it branded within an inch of its life and all of it subject to commercial expectations that are either indifferent or hostile to art — that says, "I cannot get on board with a film that delivers wisdom through a giant, glowing Oprah."

It only stands to reason that the most surprising Oscars might be followed by the least surprising Oscars.

The Pop Culture Happy Hour team has been covering the nine films nominated for best picture since last March, when we talked about Get Out.

Every year, just before the Oscars, Team PCHH sits down to gather our thoughts. This year, we're once again joined by All Things Considered film critic Bob Mondello.

It's been entirely too long since we got to spend time with Audie Cornish, one of the hosts of All Things Considered and one of our favorite people. It's also been a busy time of Oscar preparation and midseason premieres. So what better way to spend a very silly chunk of studio time than with a return to one of our favorite segments?

Annihilation -- the movie, not the experience — is creepy. Very creepy. There are elements of traditional horror in the latest film from Alex Garland (Ex Machina), which is based not very closely on the Jeff VanderMeer novel of the same name. But more than that, it's a film that capitalizes on its ability to create creeping, visceral dread.

HBO got Alan Ball at the right time.

Ball won an Oscar in 2000 for writing American Beauty. Shortly thereafter, in 2001, with HBO's drama brand still in its infancy (The Sopranos was a couple of seasons old), he created Six Feet Under for the network. Both it and later Ball's True Blood were fundamental to HBO's growth, and now, the network is ready to introduce his new show.

"Less plot, more ladders."

That's a philosophy espoused by a college friend of mine with a fondness for Jackie Chan movies. Chan is known for incredibly inventive action sequences in which he fights using whatever is handy — including, in First Strike, a ladder. But what my friend does not want from Jackie Chan movies is a lot of time unwinding a boring, byzantine plot. Less plot, he would demand. More ladders.

The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl on Sunday night. You could be forgiven for not expecting it — it's never happened before. And on this historic occasion, Stephen Thompson and I sat down Monday morning to talk with some of our favorite panelists about the game and the surrounding entertainment. With us is Katie Presley, a New Orleans Saints fan without too much at stake in this game. But also with us is Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch team. Gene is a longtime Eagles fan who had, in terms of fandom, a lot at stake in this game.

Phantom Thread is only the latest Paul Thomas Anderson film to examine a troubled, perhaps toxic genius and the people in his orbit. Daniel Day-Lewis, in what he says is his last film, plays Reynolds Woodcock, a 1950s dress designer in London who lives with his sister and a succession of women with whom he eventually grows tired. When Woodcock meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), who serves him breakfast and gets his order right, he takes her into his house as his lover and muse. Their relationship is, to say the least, a little intense.

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Academy Award nominations were announced today. And if you're looking for an early front-runner, you could do worse than Guillermo del Toro's romantic science fiction fantasy "The Shape Of Water." It led the way with 13 nominations including best picture.

Updated at 11:09 a.m. ET

The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning by a dapper, genial Andy Serkis and the always-intoxicating Tiffany Haddish.

If you saw the Golden Globes on Sunday night, you saw Allison Janney win in the supporting actress category for playing Tonya Harding's mother in I, Tonya. You're likely to see more of her in this awards season, and more of Margot Robbie, who plays Harding herself in the film, directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Steven Rogers.

Only a few minutes into Sunday night's Golden Globes red-carpet broadcast on E!, Debra Messing explained to host Giuliana Rancic why nearly all the women were wearing black. (The men were, too, but they always do that.) Messing explained that it was part of the Time's Up initiative, which supports women who suffer from sexual harassment and assault — and not just in Hollywood. She went on to call out the recent departure from E!

The reputation of the Golden Globes is that they're the Oscars' rowdier, tipsier, weirder cousin — sometimes refreshingly so. And while awards season is always the most intense time of year for celebrity fashion, this year the allegations — and, in some cases, admissions — of sexual harassment and assault added a far more serious layer of conversation. Some women said in advance that they would wear black to convey their support for people who have reported abuse.

Standard caveats: I don't watch everything! I am behind on many things. That's just the way the world is. So if something you loved isn't here, it is not a rebuke.

In 1971, The New York Times and then The Washington Post began publishing excerpts from the Pentagon study of American involvement in the Vietnam War that became known as the Pentagon Papers. The new Steven Spielberg film The Post is about the role that paper played in the story, and particularly the decision-making of Post publisher Katharine Graham, played by Meryl Streep.

We've done some holiday episodes of Pop Culture Happy Hour in the past. But very often, because many of us on the panel celebrate Christmas, we end up talking about that. This year, we wanted to talk a little about Hanukkah as both a religious and pop-cultural event, so we called in two of our favorite women who celebrate: Barrie Hardymon of Weekend Edition and Sarah Ventre of member station KJZZ in Phoenix.

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RAY SUAREZ, HOST:

Twenty years ago today, the film "Titanic" opened in theaters. Titanic the ship sank in 1912. "Titanic" the movie was a huge success. NPR's pop culture critic Linda Holmes takes us back to 1997.

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On a chilly winter night, two old flames meet again on a train.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN")

Pixar writes about a lot of critters — robots and bugs and toys and fish and so forth. But Coco is about, first and foremost, a kid. Twelve-year-old Miguel wants to be a musician, but his relatives are firmly against it because of a long family history nobody likes to talk about too much. Eventually, this sends him into the Land of the Dead on the holiday Dia de los Muertos.

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