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.

The Tony Awards felt a little different this year than they have recently. It was a year without a Hamilton or a Dear Evan Hansen; there was no one original, out-of-nowhere show that came into the Tony Awards as a pop phenomenon. In fact, all four of the four nominated musicals were adaptations of existing properties: SpongeBob SquarePants, Disney's Frozen and the non-musical films Mean Girls and The Band's Visit.

Anthony Bourdain's Twitter profile just says, "Enthusiast."

The chef, food writer, Parts Unknown host, Top Chef judge — the enthusiast — has died from an apparent suicide. He was 61.

Steven Soderbergh's Oceans Eleven was released in December 2001. It arrived early in a long winter in which debates bubbled along over what people wanted from entertainment in the post-Sept. 11 environment. Would they seek out simple diversions? Or something uplifting?

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Twenty years ago today, a TV show debuted that reverberated far beyond its setting in Manhattan.

(SOUNDBITE OF "SEX AND THE CITY" THEME)

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We've all been there - a darkened theater, the reminder to silence your phones, of course, and then...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM")

BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD: (As Claire) What is that thing?

CORNISH: ...It's movie trailer time...

It's Memorial Day weekend. Perhaps you're grilling some burgers or taking a dip in the pool. Perhaps you're strolling on a beach or taking a quick trip out of town and staying in a hotel for a couple of days just so you don't have to make your own bed.

This piece discusses general Brooklyn Nine-Nine plot developments through the fifth season finale that aired on Sunday night.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that people become publicly infuriated when their favorite shows are canceled. It is another truth universally acknowledged that from time to time, shows are rescued — either by a network that changes its mind, or more often by a transfer from one home to another.

I belong to a generation of Americans for whom the idea of not only a royal wedding but a royal marriage was largely established by Charles and Diana, the Prince and Princess of Wales. Their staid ceremony and their seemingly joyless marriage (aside from the births of their children) made marrying into the royal family look less like a fantasy than like a march into oblivion — a grudgingly accepted transformation into a wealthy but hollowed-out target for photographers hoping to catch you at your worst.

Prince Harry, the sixth in line to the British throne, is marrying American actress (and former Suits star) Meghan Markle on Saturday, May 19.

Melissa McCarthy's capacity for sweetness has come full circle.

Her first big role was on Gilmore Girls, where she played the gentle, funny, burbling Sookie St. James. Sookie's dimples, her delightful chirp, and her unrelenting sunniness could have sunk the character as a little bit of a sap, but McCarthy carried it off, using about 10 percent of what she turned out to be capable of.

The new Starz drama Vida begins with what could be an ending: the death of a woman named Vidalia, who owned a building with a bar on the ground floor and apartments above. Her death means that her daughters, both of whom left the Los Angeles neighborhood long ago, must return to make arrangements — among other things, for the future of the building. Emma (Mishel Prada) lives in Chicago and works in business; Lyn (Melissa Barrera) lives in San Francisco and seems to value herself mostly for being beautiful and desired by men.

One useful rule of documentaries or quasi-documentaries is: be suspicious of the ones with voice-overs by their subjects. At the very least, be aware that these subjects are being allowed to frame their own stories, so whatever you see is an autobiography of a kind, an assisted self-portrait. In the case of HBO's Being Serena, the series is a collaboration between HBO and the content-producing arm IMG, which belongs to the same sprawling talent management empire that represents Serena Williams.

When I first sat down to talk to Leslie Odom, Jr., I told him that our team had seen him in Hamilton, and then I told him that I suspected that's how many of his conversations started these days. He said that now, it's all about how early people say they saw it. They saw it at the beginning of the run! Before it was a hit! Back when it was at the Public!

Netflix is doing a volume business in comedy specials. Just since the start of 2017, they've had specials from Trevor Noah, Patton Oswalt, Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Maria Bamford, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Jerry Seinfeld, and Marc Maron — and those are just the ones with the higher profiles.

The rise of the true-crime documentary — and the true-crime podcast — has made serialized storytelling about historical controversies seem like a trial, like a presentation of evidence leading to the answer to a question. A person is innocent, or a person is guilty. Someone disappeared this way or that way. A person was a persecuted saint or a nefarious monster.

Fear and dread. Fear and dread.

The first question that faced us before we could complete our Summer Movie Preview was a simple one. What is the summer movie season?

Wyatt Cenac knows his aesthetic, and his aesthetic seems to be "PBS in the 1970s."

The logo of his new HBO series Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas looks precisely like the public television of a couple decades ago, with its friendly-looking sans serif lowercase letters in earthy colors. The set is the same way, looking much like one that a host might have wandered around to talk about the beginnings of the world or the ways of the penguin.

Many years ago, at a party where I was very drunk, I asked a much-desired woman of my friendly acquaintance what it was like to be pretty.

Our big summer movie preview is coming to you Friday, and while we get that ready to go, we thought we'd revisit a conversation we had a few years ago about something you can't help arguing about: splits.

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.

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