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Pop Culture Happy Hour

Pop Culture Happy Hour

Get obsessed with us. Five days a week, Pop Culture Happy Hour serves you recommendations and commentary on the buzziest movies, TV, music, books, videogames and more. Join arts journalists Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, Stephen Thompson, and Aisha Harris - plus a rotating cast of guest pop culture aficionados. The Happy Hour team leaves room at the table for exploring a range of reactions and opinions on every bit of the pop universe. From lowbrow to highbrow to the stuff in between, they take it all with a shot of cheer.Make your happy hour even happier with Pop Culture Happy Hour Plus! Your subscription supports the podcast and unlocks a sponsor-free feed. Learn more at


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Sort Of

The HBO Max series Sort Of follows Sabi, played by Bilal Baig, a gender-fluid millennial in Toronto trying to figure their life out. They're the child of Pakistani parents, they've got a loser boyfriend, they work at a queer bookstore/bar and they're a nanny to a troubled professional couple with a couple of troubled kids. It's a slyly innovative show that makes for a great Saturday afternoon binge. The series recently returned for a second season, so we thought it would be a good time to revisit our conversation about the first season.
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The Fabelmans and What's Making Us Happy

The Fabelmans is Steven Spielberg's semi-autobiographical and deeply personal film about a Jewish American boy who dreams of making movies. Growing up he learns to tell stories through his 8mm camera while life-altering events within his family's household significantly affect how he views the world. The cast includes Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and Judd Hirsch.
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Strange World

In Disney's new animated adventure Strange World, a family gets lost in a mysterious land underground. It's a story about discovery and intergenerational conflict ? with a cast that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Gabrielle Union, Jaboukie Young-White, and Dennis Quaid.
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The Disney Plus movie Disenchanted brings back Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden in the continuing story of a cartoon princess making a life in the real world. A follow-up to 2007's Enchanted, it has more songs, gags and conflicts between fairytale life and reality that animated, so to speak, the original.
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Bones and All

Luca Guadagnino's weirdly beautiful romance Bones and All is a familiar road trip tale of young, angsty lovers drifting from state to state against the backdrop of breathtaking wide-open vistas. But the kicker is that the couple, played by Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell, are ? wait for it ? cannibals. And they're on the lookout for their next feeding. Subscribe to Pop Culture Happy Hour Plus at
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The Netflix series Wednesday breaks the beloved Addams Family character Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) out of her home environment and into the gloomy, gothy Nevermore Academy. It's the alma mater of parents Gomez (Luis Guzmán) and Morticia Addams (Catherine Zeta-Jones). As Wednesday navigates her new environment she's drawn into the investigation of a series of grisly murders. The show was created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville) with Tim Burton directing half of the episodes
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Ricki Lake

The Pop Culture Happy Hour team is off today, so we're bringing you an excerpt of the podcast Raised By Ricki. If you were a fan of Ricki Lake's talk show back in the '90s, this is the podcast for you. Ricki is back, and each week she's breaking down all the historic moments from her hit talk show with her co-host Kalen Allen. Part re-watch podcast, part cultural retrospective, Raised by Ricki features conversations with John Waters, Andy Cohen, Sally Jessy Raphael, and many more. In this excerpt, Ricki sits down with writer and podcast host Tracy Clayton. Tracy watched Ricki Lake every day after school, and talks about what makes the show so unforgettable, the importance of seeing Black representation on-screen, and how Ricki influenced her own career in media.
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Latinos in Hollywood

The Pop Culture Happy Hour team is off today, so we're bringing you a story from Mandalit del Barco's radio series about Latinos in Hollywood. Latinos have been a part of Hollywood since the days of silent movies, but they continue to be underrepresented in front of and behind the camera. For example, there aren't many Latina actresses in leading movie roles-- fewer than two percent, according to USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. And those who do make it also multitask as directors, producers, and activists.
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Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery And What's Making Us Happy

What has a murder mystery, a big cast of stars, some amazing fashion, and the deep blue waters of Greece? The eagerly awaited Glass Onion, the follow-up to the 2019 Oscar-nominated comedy Knives Out. Daniel Craig returns as brilliant detective Benoit Blanc and this time, he's trying to solve a murder that involves a tech billionaire and his glamorous but sketchy friends.
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2022 Christmas Movie Guide

It's that time of year again, when many cable outlets and streaming services put on their holiday best. That's right, it's holiday movie season, and we're diving in. From the splashy musical Spirited featuring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds to a big comeback for Lindsay Lohan, we're dipping a toe in some of the highest-profile movies of this season.
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Songs For Cleaning The Bathroom

Maybe you've got guests coming over for the holidays. Maybe an onslaught of news has kept you glued to the couch or hiding under your covers. Either way, you need to clean the bathroom, and you need a playlist. In this encore episode, we're recommending three songs for cleaning the bathroom.
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Screening Ourselves: The Color Purple

In the final chapter of our special documentary series Screening Ourselves, host Aisha Harris recounts the debates ignited by Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple. The 1985 film is remembered as a fan-favorite centering Black women's lives, but the acclaimed adaptation of Alice Walker's novel was received quite differently among female viewers and male viewers.
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She Said and What's Making Us Happy

The film She Said is about the New York Times investigation of movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Zoe Kazan plays Jodi Kantor and Carey Mulligan plays Megan Twohey. Their reporting on Weinstein's sexual misconduct and assault allegations contributed greatly to the #MeToo movement, and helped lead to criminal charges that sent Weinstein to prison. The film was directed by Maria Schrader and written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz and is in theaters now.
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Even if you don't watch the TV show Yellowstone, there's a good chance you know people who do. The very popular western is entering its fifth season, it's already got multiple spin-offs planned, and it's not slowing down. Kevin Costner plays the patriarch of the Dutton family, and their story and sprawling ranch is one of television's biggest current success stories.
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When the FX series Atlanta arrived six years ago, it was unlike anything else on TV. It depicted its namesake city as a surreal landscape rich with offbeat characters. And it turned its creator and star Donald Glover from a niche comedic actor and rapper into an A-list Hollywood auteur. Atlanta recently concluded its fourth and final season, and it remained dark and weird until the very end. But did it go out on top?
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The Crown

In the latest season of Netflix's The Crown, a new cast steps into the roles of Queen Elizabeth II and her family just in time for the 1990s ? and a series of scandals growing out of the bitter separation and divorce of Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki). The world around the royal family undergoes sweeping changes while Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton) strives, in her own stolid way, to hold on to privacy, tradition, and duty.
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The excellent BBC America/AMC+ drama series Mood considers how one young woman, at one of her most difficult moments, finds herself making choices she assumed she never would. Its writer and star is Nicôle Lecky, and the show is about sex work, social media and the way economic reality can make following your true passions very challenging.
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Screening Ourselves: Basic Instinct

In the second chapter of our special documentary series, Screening Ourselves, host Aisha Harris revisits the politics and legacy of Basic Instinct. Paul Verhoeven's 1992 thriller is a sexy and violent cult classic. But the film was also a problematic mainstream portrayal of queer women at a time of great political crisis for LGBTQ politics and representation.
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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever And What's Making Us Happy

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is the sequel to 2018's Black Panther, which starred the late Chadwick Boseman. This film begins with T'Challa's death and allows its characters time to grieve him, including his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) and his mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett). But a new threat rises out of the waters in the form of Prince Namor (Tenoch Huerta). The film is directed by Ryan Coogler.
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Love Is Blind

The reality dating show Love Is Blind is built around a simple premise: Couples date without meeting face to face, fall in love with each other's personalities, and don't meet in person until after they've gotten engaged. Viewers are bound to have strong opinions on the couples. The Netflix show just wrapped its third season, and we're going to unpack what happened.
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The new Disney Plus series Andor tells the story of Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), the rebel captain who stole the plans for the Death Star in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This series takes place years before that, and traces Andor's evolution from an apolitical scoundrel to a rebel hero dedicated to the cause of freedom. The series was created by Tony Gilroy, the screenwriter behind Rogue One.
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Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman was a gifted actor who was probably best known for his role as T'Challa in Black Panther and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We'll be talking about the film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever later this week, but today we're revisiting our episode looking back at some of Chadwick Boseman's essential performances.
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Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

You should expect to learn nothing about the life of "Weird Al" Yankovic from the new film Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. That's because in keeping with his history of parody and comedy and sendups, the film, starring Daniel Radcliffe, is itself a sendup of biopics. From unsupportive parents who hate the accordion to a scandalous affair with Madonna, the movie is an avalanche of fictions mixed with the occasional dash of truth.
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Screening Ourselves: The Godfather

Today we debut Screening Ourselves, a new documentary series hosted by Aisha Harris. The Godfather is considered an American film classic with an enduring legacy that still shows up in TV, hip hop, and even Muppet culture. But the film also sparked a complicated relationship with the real-life Italian-American community about how they were seen and screened. In this episode, Aisha looks into the politics and the legacy of representation in Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather saga.
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The Banshees Of Inisherin And What's Making Us Happy

In The Banshees Of Inisherin, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play two longtime drinking buddies who face a crisis when one of them decides he really doesn't want to be friends anymore. Set on a fictional island off the coast of Ireland, the film was written and directed by Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and is in theaters now.
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Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities

The Netflix anthology Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities looks at horror storytelling from many angles. Its eight installments come from different directors, and it includes both new stories and adaptations of tales from writers like H.P. Lovecraft. The mix of the tragic, the comic, the just plain scary, and the gross will serve a lot of different horror appetites.
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Interview with the Vampire

If you're familiar with Interview with the Vampire ? because you read the Anne Rice novel or you saw the 1994 movie ? the new AMC series has some surprises in store. The story still revolves around a young man named Louis, his handsome vampire lover Lestat and Claudia, the creepy vampire child they adopt. But it's funnier, sexier and queerer than you remember. Most importantly, this Louis isn't a white plantation owner ? he's an ambitious and closeted Black man.
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When 14-year-old Emmett Till was murdered by two white men in 1955, his mother Mamie Till-Mobley became a voice of the civil rights movement. And now, the events surrounding his death have been dramatized in the new movie Till. Danielle Deadwyler's performance as Mamie is the focal point and standout, as she taps into the depths of a mother's grief.
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Movies For Scaredy Cats

It's Halloween, and maybe you're into the idea of horror movies, but you aren't looking to be grossed out by gore or freaked out by jump scares. If that's the case then this is the episode for you. In this encore episode, we're revisiting a conversation about three great horror movies for scaredy cats.
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Wendell & Wild And What's Making Us Happy

Director and animator Henry Selick, best-known for films like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, has teamed up with co-writer Jordan Peele for Wendell & Wild, a new stop-motion animated movie from Netflix. Peele also stars in the film, reuniting with Keegan-Michael Key as a pair of demon brothers who escape the underworld with the help of Kat, a teenager with a tragic past.
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Ticket to Paradise

In the film Ticket to Paradise, George Clooney and Julia Roberts play divorced parents determined to stop the wedding of their adult daughter. It's part romantic comedy, part wacky adventure, and part gorgeous travel movie. Clooney and Roberts star alongside Kaitlyn Dever, Maxime Bouttier and Billie Lourd.
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Taylor's Swift's Midnights

Taylor Swift's tenth studio album, Midnights, once again reshapes her music in unexpected ways. Along with producer and co-writer Jack Antonoff, she's working with a palette of buzzy electro-pop. Midnights showcases love songs, confessions, and anthems ? and all of them are rendered in the singer's distinct songwriting voice.
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Carly Rae Jepsen's The Loneliest Time

Carly Rae Jepsen is back with a new album called The Loneliest Time. The Canadian singer first broke through with the inescapable banger "Call Me Maybe." But in these last few years Jepsen has become a full-blown pop star, thanks to well-received albums like Emotion and Dedicated. Her new album mixes hard-driving pop jams with breezy ballads.
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Decision to Leave

In Decision to Leave, a man is found dead and the prime suspect is his widow. Things become complicated when the detective assigned to the case becomes enamored with her. This is the latest movie from South Korean director Park Chan-wook, who made Oldboy and The Handmaiden.
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Black Adam And What's Making Us Happy

It's hard to believe Dwayne Johnson hasn't played a superhero before, but he's finally filling this gap in his resume with Black Adam, in which he joins the DC Universe. Brought out of a tomb after thousands of years, the character Black Adam has a mostly dour demeanor which doesn't exactly play to the wisecracking side Johnson has showed in other films. Black Adam also stars Pierce Brosnan, Aldis Hodge, and Sarah Shahi.
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House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon returns us to the world of George R.R. Martin's Seven Kingdoms, almost 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. When the Targaryen family dynasty is threatened by a rift between the king's second wife and his oldest daughter, the fate of the Iron Throne ? and of this whole brutally violent, morally gray world ? hangs in the balance.
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Halloween Ends

The lucrative horror franchise Halloween has spanned more than four decades and includes 13 films. And in that time it's amassed countless bloody deaths at the hands of the killer Michael Myers. The series has seemingly reached its conclusion with Halloween Ends, which brings Jamie Lee Curtis back for one last showdown.
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The Korean pop band BTS will complete mandatory military service under South Korean law, meaning they will reconvene as a group around 2025. This break presses pause on a career that includes mega hits like "Dynamite" and "Butter." But their discography is farther-reaching than casual fans might think. So we're revisiting our episode from earlier this year that showcases some discoveries in the BTS catalog.
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Spooky Season Songs

Halloween and Dia de los Muertos are creeping up on us, which means it's peak spooky music season. In this episode the hosts of NPR Music's Alt.Latino podcast share some of their favorite seasonal songs.
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Tár And What's Making Us Happy

Writer-director Todd Field's fantastic new film Tár stars Cate Blanchett as a world-famous composer and conductor. Intelligent, charismatic and supremely confident, she's been able to orchestrate her own life, and those of the people around her. But a reckoning is coming.
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The Midnight Club

The Netflix series The Midnight Club is set in a mysterious seaside hospice where teens with terminal conditions spend their final days gathering in the library every midnight to tell each other scary stories. The result is both a straight ahead horror show and a stealth anthology series. The show was created by Leah Fong and Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass).
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Catherine Called Birdy

Catherine Called Birdy is a novel beloved by many who grew up in the '90s. One millennial in particular who remembers the book fondly is writer and director Lena Dunham. She's translated the novel into a wry coming-of-age movie starring Bella Ramsey as Catherine, a smart and spirited teen living in medieval England. When her parents set out to match her with a suitor, she finds increasingly clever ways to resist any such arrangement.
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The film Amsterdam is a screwball comedy very loosely based on a real historical event from the 1930s. Christian Bale, John David Washington, and Margot Robbie play friends who get caught up in a political conspiracy. Written and directed by David O. Russell, the movie's sprawling ensemble also includes Robert De Niro, Rami Malek, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Zoe Saldana.
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How Rosalía Found Her Confidence

The Pop Culture Happy Hour team is off today, so we're bringing you an episode from our pals at NPR Music's Alt. Latino podcast. In each episode, hosts Felix Contreras and Anamaria Sayre talk with a different living legend or rising star to discuss Latinx culture, heritage, and the shared borders of our experiences. In this episode, Anamaria talks with Spanish pop superstar Rosalía, who released the album Motomami earlier this year, and recently earned eight Latin Grammy nominations. Anamaria talks with Rosalía about her musical inspirations, divine sensuality and constant pull to transform.
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Hocus Pocus 2 And What's Making Us Happy

The witchy Disney comedy Hocus Pocus wasn't a huge hit when it came out in 1993. But it found a devoted following and became a Halloween staple over time, so much so that it's finally got a sequel 29 years later. Hocus Pocus 2 brings back the Sanderson sisters, played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker, as they sing songs, get into mischief and contend with a new world of confusing technology. But does it live up the original?
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The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power

The Amazon Prime Video series The Rings of Power is a prequel to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and traces the early history of Middle-earth, thousands of years before Bilbo and Frodo's adventures. The story takes place in various locales all around Tolkien's world ? places both familiar and unfamiliar ? and the show introduces a cast of both new characters and some friendly faces.
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In the Netflix movie Blonde, Ana de Armas steps into the billowing white dress of one of the most iconic figures of the 21st century: Marilyn Monroe. It was written and directed by Andrew Dominik and is an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' novel of the same name, which took extensive creative liberties with Monroe's life.
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Los Espookys

Los Espookys is very odd and very good comedy series about a group of horror-loving friends who start up a business that provides scary experiences for their clients. It's co-written by two of its stars, comedians Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega. The second season is currently airing on HBO so we thought it would be a good time to encore our episode about the first season.
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The Patient

The Hulu series The Patient is a terrifying thriller with a simple premise. A therapist (Steve Carell) is imprisoned in the basement of a serial killer (Domhall Gleeson) who wants to stop killing and thinks therapy can help. The show unfolds over 10 intense episodes and comes from Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, who last worked together on the The Americans.
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Bros And What's Making Us Happy

In the grand tradition of the modern rom-com, stories about queer couples are still few and far between. Which is part of what makes the new movie Bros so special: Billy Eichner stars as a lanky intellectual who boasts a proud aversion to romance until he has a meet-cute with his polar opposite, a hyper-masculine gym rat played by Luke Macfarlane. Eichner co-wrote the movie, and Judd Apatow is a producer, so unsurprisingly, the jokes can be broad and raunchy. But there's plenty of heart here, too.
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