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 only thing more delightful than being back with my PCHH team this week is that while Glen Weldon takes a week off, we're joined by our former sometimes-producer Kiana Fitzgerald, who's also a DJ and writer and wonderful Twitter follow, as well as Brittany Luse, who hosts Sampler over at Gimlet Media and hosts the fabulous For Colored Nerds podcast with Eric Eddings.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We're halfway through this year's Television Critics Association press tour. I've been to 77 press conferences and — sadly — only one of them has involved Mariah Carey reclining on a purple chaise longue while drinking champagne. Elsewhere, the assembled reporters and critics have been introduced to devastating documentaries about tragedy, heard the stories behind splashy and expensive new series from familiar creators, and watched a digitally puppeteered cartoon fish sing the Hamilton favorite "My Shot." And there are eight more days to go.

When we first learned that Great Performances would have a film about Hamilton, there were those who hoped it would be a full performance by the original Broadway cast that's gradually been departing in recent weeks and months. It's not; it's a film called Hamilton's America, and PBS presented it at the Television Critics' Association press tour on Thursday, where its director, Alex Horwitz, was joined by Daveed Diggs, who just wrapped up his run as both Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson on Broadway.

Baz Luhrmann seems aware that as an Australian writer-director who first became known for Strictly Ballroom, he isn't the most obvious choice to produce a drama series about the origins of hip-hop in the South Bronx in the late 1970s.

From the moment Netflix announced that it would be bringing back Gilmore Girls for four 90-minute episodes making up a sort of mini-season called Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, fans have wondered how long they'd have to wait and in what shape they'd find Lorelai and Rory Gilmore after years away. On Wednesday, Netflix announced an arrival date of Nov. 25 and showed critics the first two minutes of the first episode, "Winter."

The Television Critics Association is ... okay, that's the easy part. It's an association of people who write about television, mostly as critics, although many function, either instead or in addition, as reporters. I'm in it, as is NPR's full-time TV critic Eric Deggans, as are a couple hundred other people. And twice a year — once in the summer and once in the winter — we gather in the L.A. area for what's referred to as either "press tour" or "TCA," so that we can hear about what's coming up on TV and get a chance to talk to the people who make it.

It's been a busy couple of weeks in the world; how are you doing?

We had the rare opportunity to pull the extremely busy Ari Shapiro into our fourth chair this week, just in time to join us for a chat about Ghostbusters, the latest summer action comedy to bust its way into theaters. We talked about its PG-13-ness, its lineup of very funny women, its place in the impressive Feig/McCarthy canon, and lots more.

I suspect I was about eight years old at the time I'm remembering. I had to go to bed at 8:00 on school nights, except that one night a week, I could stay up until 8:30. I got to pick the night, and I generally picked Tuesdays, because that's when Happy Days was on.

It goes without saying that this has been a very sad week of watching the news unfold around us. On Tuesday, we took some time to chat about movies and sweets, and if that's what you're in the mood for, this is the show for you.

First, we talk about The BFG, the Spielberg adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book that tries to integrate a live girl with a CGI creature. From there, we pull back a little to discuss the general arc of the Steven Spielberg situation, from fantasy to history to very big, very friendly giants.

There is a myth that the most worshipped woman in popular culture is the one perceived as most perfectly beautiful, but that's not so. What's worshipped the most is the one who threads the needle most precisely such that she is almost impossibly beautiful, but something about her brings her toward you and into focus, close enough that you feel like you could touch her.

As of last weekend, we thought the show we'd be bringing you today would be primarily about Independence Day: Resurgence, which seems like the umpteenth sequel this summer to open with soft box office and exhausted reviews. But then we remembered: we don't have to see it.

We have to posit first that baking itself can feel like magic. A simple loaf of bread might include only flour, water, yeast and salt, and it can still transform from a sticky blob to a pillowy ball with a texture unlike anything else you've ever handled to a final product that's perfectly crisp on the outside, perfectly tender on the inside. Not only that, but it will audibly crackle at you as it cools on the counter. It will pass through a perfect moment for consumption, and then that moment will be gone.

It's a pleasure every week to take a little time to talk about culture, and it's especially a pleasure when we get to welcome a new member to our fourth chair. This week, it's Daisy Rosario of Latino USA, who you might have heard previously during a discussion with me about the upcoming Gilmore Girls return.

The rant is a staple of sports fandom. At Thanksgiving, at the office, in bars, via text, on Twitter — wherever sports fans go, rants go, too.

It makes sense, then, that the biggest headline out of Wednesday's premiere of Bill Simmons' new HBO talk show Any Given Wednesday was a sports rant. And it wasn't from the first guest, Charles Barkley. It was from the second guest, Ben Affleck.

"Specificity is the soul of narrative" is a thing John Hodgman likes to say when he's hearing cases on the smart and funny Judge John Hodgman podcast, and it's applicable to documentary film, too. Documentaries devoted to a topic with heft do better if they can find a particular angle, a particular way into the question.

The old Mother May I Sleep With Danger is to the new Mother May I Sleep With Danger as a garbage fire is to an audio recording of a garbage fire: I get the reference, but why bother?

In August of 2015, I wrote a list of five fictional TV shows representing some of the ideas networks seem to return to over and over (and over) again. One of the entries read like this:

It's odd to view the O.J. Simpson trial in a renewed cultural spotlight today, 22 years after the murders and 21 years after the verdicts, almost in defiance of our tendency to observe round-number anniversaries. But between FX's The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story earlier this year and now Ezra Edelman's 7 1/2-hour documentary O.J.: Made In America, we are not observing a milestone, but attempting an almost convulsive reckoning with every open or tenuously bound wound the case touched and still touches: racism and sexism, certainly.

On May 30, Slate published a feature called The Black Film Canon, a list of the 50 greatest films by black directors.

"We were high school sweethearts. Ever since college."

It's strange to describe the apparent purchase and forgiveness of nearly $15 million in medical debt as "impish," but bear with me.

Oh, how I'd like to tell you the first thing you will see in Season 2 of Lifetime's clever, cutting drama series UnREAL.

While it's always sad when our compatriot Glen Weldon has the week off, Stephen Thompson and I were thrilled this week to be joined not only by regular PCHH-er Chris Klimek but also Daoud Tyler-Ameen, whose searching interview with Leslie Odom, Jr. you may have heard in our podcast feed in March.

NBC hyped its new Maya & Marty variety series, starring Maya Rudolph and Martin Short, as a sort of whimsical variety show. What actually emerged Tuesday night, on the other hand, was a slack Saturday Night Live imitator for the prime-time summer nights where reruns used to live.

We were very excited to be invited to participate in the Vulture Festival in New York on May 22, where we taped this live episode in front of a fantastic crowd. We wanted to have reliable weapons at our disposal, so in addition to our great producer, Jessica Reedy, who handled all the logistics and other tricks of her trade, we brought Audie Cornish to be our fourth chair.

It's National Spelling Bee Day!

Well, it's more than just today — the rounds started Wednesday — but as we type this (and carefully spell-check it), they've entered the finals that will conclude Thursday night with the championship round, which will be broadcast on ESPN starting at 8 p.m. (Eastern, that is.)

[Note: This is where a spoiler warning would usually go, but in this case, the warning is this: it's a post about The Bachelorette. You should only read it if you're interested in a post about The Bachelorette.

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Over the years that we've been doing Pop Culture Happy Hour, there are a few things we've been repeatedly asked to cover that we haven't figured out how to do for logistical reasons. One of them is the Eurovision Song Contest. A decades-old tradition watched by hundreds of millions of people who aren't Americans, it didn't come to American television until this year, when Logo ran the grand finale live for the first time.

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