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 new NBC series Making It has two reasons for being.

One is to grab a little of the upbeat, you-can-do-it energy generated by competitive cooking shows – The Great British Baking Show especially – and expand it to other areas of crafting. The other is to give viewers some solid hangout time with the stupendously amiable hosting pair that is Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. All put together with some staples and glue, it's a lovely, if very low-key, summer watch.

A new film about Robin Williams begins with his appearance on Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton. Lipton says: "How do you explain the mental reflexes that you deploy with such awesome speed? Are you thinking faster than the rest of us? What the hell is going on?" Williams first makes a goggle-eyed face, but then he falls over sideways, like an embarrassed kid, curling up and cackling. And then, of course, he does precisely the thing Lipton is asking about: a flurry of movements, voices, bits, fragments of thoughts flying by — fragments riffing on his own thinking.

Sacha Baron Cohen has two basic shticks that he uses in his new Showtime show Who Is America?, which premiered Sunday night. One of them works well, and the other one doesn't. Unfortunately, of the four segments in the premiere, he uses the effective strategy once and the ineffective one three times.

Those unfamiliar with Cohen's past work in films like Borat and Bruno need only to know that what he does, in short, is interview (and interact with) people while inhabiting various absurd alter egos. It's a prank show, for all intents and purposes.

Updated 2:14 p.m. ET

To see the best stories inside the Emmy nominations, you often have to look past the ones that often make headlines. The big nomination numbers were raked in by familiar nominees: Game of Thrones was the leader with 22 nominations, Saturday Night Live and Westworld had 21, The Handmaid's Tale 20. In comedy, Atlanta led with 16, but the next two spots went to first-year series: Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with 14 and Barry right behind at 13.

Every week, we talk about what we should all do to prepare to tape Pop Culture Happy Hour. For this episode, we're joined by Marissa Lorusso of NPR Music. And when I wrote to Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon and Marissa in advance, I told them this about preparation: "I mean, I assume we've all watched Jeopardy!"

This review of the second-season finale of The Handmaid's Tale discusses in detail what happens in the second-season finale of The Handmaid's Tale.

The sound of the second season of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale coming to an end was the sound of a balloon, expertly inflated to the point where it seemed about to break, being let go so that it releases its tension in a long, anticlimactic raspberry.

There's a good chance that I try to absorb too much stuff, culturally speaking. I try to keep up with TV, and movies, and at least some books, and I read other people's criticism, and then there's news, and also I now spend a lot of time looking at pictures of other people's dogs. (I have a reciprocity agreement with All Internet Dog People. They look at my dog walking a stick down the streets of D.C.; I look at their dogs sleeping or wearing clothes or looking balefully at the camera.)

Many Americans had little exposure to Australian actress/comic/writer Hannah Gadsby before a few weeks ago. Maybe they had seen her in Please Like Me, an Australian comedy series in which she had a supporting role. But statistically, they probably hadn't.

ABC canceled its lucrative reboot of Roseanne in late May, after star Roseanne Barr published a tweet that compared Valerie Jarrett, a former aide to President Barack Obama, to an ape. ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey called the tweet "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values." It looked like the network was willing to take a financial hit and part with a successful property in the name of, of all things, principle.

Not so fast.

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 Ocean's 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)

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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.

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