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, 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.

This week's show got a fresh news peg when Challenger Deep, the Neal Shusterman YA novel we discuss in our second segment, won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Our own Glen Weldon had covered the shortlist a couple weeks ago with frequent fourth chair Barrie Hardymon, so we had Barrie back to discuss the book (before we knew it won; we just found it interesting). We talk about the very unusual structure that helps explore a teenage boy's experiences with mental illness, and how form and meaning go hand-in-hand in a fundamentally loving act of storytelling.

[This piece describes plot elements of Misery stretching back to the novel that was published in 1987. Hopefully, you've read it by now, or maybe seen the movie, which is also quite good and is 25 years old. The age of both will hopefully earn a bit of indulgence when it comes to talking about plot.]

Owing to the oddities of taping schedules, this week's show was recorded just before the opening of the World Series, so it's only fitting that we're joined by our former producer, music director, and favorite Kansas City Royals fan, Mike Katzif. As of the taping, Mike was on pins and needles waiting to see what would become of the team he and his family have followed since childhood. Spoiler alert: they won.

We've got a big live show this weekend and lots of other stuff brewing, so this week, we're replaying one of our favorite shows of the last year: the show we did with Gene Demby and Tanya Ballard Brown about the Fox show Empire and a discussion of public radio voices. Here's the post from February, recreated with links intact!

[From February 6, 2015]

Pop Culture Happy Hour listeners know that we invite a variety of NPR folks on the show, and further know that two of our very favorites are Audie Cornish and Ari Shapiro, who are both now hosts on All Things Considered. Despite this position of great dignity, they're lots of fun on the podcast, and this week, they invited Stephen and me to their show to bring a little bit of PCHH to the radio.

We're always pleased as punch when Audie Cornish of All Things Considered joins us in historic Studio 44, and this week, she's here for our talk about Bridge Of Spies, the high-class Steven Spielberg drama starring Tom Hanks as an American lawyer who negotiates a complicated Cold-War-era swap of a Russian spy for an American pilot.

We often think of marketing as being about either awareness or persuasion. It seems impossible that Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which opens December 18) needs either one, given its astronomically high profile and the fact that curiosity alone will drive plenty of ticket sales, even for those who will take pleasure in being recreationally disappointed.

This week, we tackle Steve Jobs, the solid new film about the Apple co-founder, directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin (who also tackled Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network). Together with Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch, we talk about the dialogue, the interesting structure, the alternatively devastating and celebratory tone of the film, and the (for us) surprisingly nifty turn from Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak.

We've talked about the novel The Martian on the show a couple of times before, so we rushed out this week to see the new movie (or in my case, to see the movie one more time after Toronto). We talk with our Space Movie And Ronda Rousey And Road House Correspondent Chris Klimek about Matt Damon, Drew Goddard, Ridley Scott, love of science, race and casting, and lots more.

If we're agreed that there's too much good television, then Hulu increasing its presence in scripted originals might seem like just another drop in an already overflowing bucket. But with its new comedy-drama/dramatic-comedy Casual, the first two episodes of which are now available with a Hulu subscription, it makes a pretty good argument for itself.

The title of Maris Kreizman's Slaughterhouse 90210 is, on the one hand, catchy and funny, and it certainly communicates the book's basic conceit: pictures from the world of pop culture paired with quotes from the world of great literature. Based on Kreizman's Tumblr of the same name, the book does its thing with a wink and a dose of wit in many cases, to be sure.

This week, we had the pleasure of welcoming Petra Mayer of NPR Books to our fourth chair for a chat about the comic Ms. Marvel. We must admit, we were more in agreement than we often are, so if you like arguing, you won't find all that much: we really love this series. We talk about Ms. Marvel herself, a/k/a Kamala Khan, from her exploration of identity to her friends and family, and we get into why the book's lively sense of humor hit such a sweet spot for us.

On this week's show, two of us (Bob Mondello and I) are freshly back from the Toronto International Film Festival, so we have news on some of what we saw and what you can expect to see in the near weeks and the less near months to come. Is The Martian spacey enough? Can Tom Hiddleston really play Hank Williams? And whither artsy 3D?

All these questions and lots more are about to be answered. Then in our second segment, we'll return to a favorite regular feature: the fall TV pool, where we gamble on which new shows actually have a chance to win hearts and minds.

What's most striking about the first two episodes of ABC's new The Muppets, premiering Tuesday night, is that the live celebrities seem to have a better idea of what a Muppet-centered show should feel like than the Muppet characters do.

The hard numbers on Sunday night's Primetime Emmy Awards told a story that could look a little dull to the glancing eye.

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Coming to Toronto for the film festival is like anything else you do that has complex logistics: You get better at it with practice. This is my fourth time, and now I know where things are, how to schedule myself and how not to panic over everything I'm missing. Here's a rundown of my first three days, with an open acknowledgment that in part because of some movies I wasn't able to get into, this is a pretty white-guy-heavy chunk of my schedule; rest assured that three of the five films I have scheduled for Day 4 are directed by women.

This is one in a series of essays running last week and this week about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters. The entire series is available here.

It was years ago that TV critic Alan Sepinwall said something to me that I've remembered ever since and that he doesn't remember saying: that writing about television was shifting its focus from what is said before shows are on to what is said after shows are on. It made sense to me, since my career writing about TV started with writing recaps of shows I used an actual VCR to record. With tapes. I didn't get screeners, I didn't get advances — I just taped things, and then I wrote about them. I think now, that shift is so obvious that it's taken for granted.

Five-plus years into the history of PCHH, this is the first time we've found ourselves recording a full episode with just three of us — in this case me, Stephen and Glen. We gathered this week to talk about the HBO miniseries Show Me A Hero, which I previously reviewed on the blog over here.