Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She 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. Her first novel, Evvie Drake Starts Over, will be published in the summer of 2019.

It's been five years since Parks and Recreation ended its run, after a final season that jumped forward into the future — specifically, to 2017. We haven't got the nifty transparent touchscreens their 2017 showed. Instead, we have a pandemic, and we have social distancing, and we are doing without many of our comforts, large and small. But for a half-hour on Thursday night, we did not have to be without our friends from Pawnee.

It's a blessing to meet very special people when you're young and dumb. You'll get older either way, but without them, without how hard you will try to deserve them, how will you ever get less dumb?

The documentary series The Last Dance, which begins Sunday night on ESPN, is about basketball.

Maybe that should be obvious, since it's the story of Michael Jordan and the dominant Chicago Bulls team that won six NBA championships in the 1990s. But understand: it's really about basketball. It's not O.J.: Made In America, which was primarily about race and policing and media. It's not like some of the documentaries in ESPN's 30 For 30 series — to which this feels like a spiritual cousin — that use sports as a way to talk about other things.

"With everything else going on in the world, now I gotta spend almost nine hours of my life thinking about Phyllis Schlafly?"

It only seems honest to admit to this reaction to the approach of Mrs. America, a nine-part miniseries created by Dahvi Waller. It was made under the FX Networks umbrella, but it's available only on Hulu, which drops the first three episodes on April 15. The series is not exclusively interested in Schlafly, but she is its point of greatest fascination, as it tells the story of the battle over the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.

The streaming service Quibi — short for "quick bites" — calls itself "the first entertainment platform designed specifically for your phone."

Translation: They're doling out their shows in 7-to-10-minute chunks — er, episodes — at a rate of one per day. Quick bites, get it? Perfect for the busy, distracted, on-the-go consumer! Too bad none of us are on-the-going anywhere these days.

Quibi divides its shows into three categories: Movies in Chapters (read: serialized narrative), Unscripted and Documentaries (read: episodic nonfiction) and Daily Essentials.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

When Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum left Project Runway, it wasn't clear whether it could survive without them, or whether they could succeed on a different show. We know the answer to the first question, at least creatively: The new incarnation of Runway, starring Christian Siriano and Karlie Kloss, is better than most of us expected, and Siriano in particular has carved out a very different mentor role than Gunn's that's satisfying in new ways.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The great frustration of Little Fires Everywhere, the Hulu adaptation of Celeste Ng's popular novel, is that of the eight episodes, they only made seven available for review.

The 2018 Netflix romantic comedy To All The Boys I've Loved Before, based on Jenny Han's YA novel, was a big enough success that they quickly announced plans to adapt the other two novels in the trilogy: P.S. I Still Love You and Always And Forever, Lara Jean.

At Sunday's Oscars, on a night when almost everything went as planned and as usual, the one true surprise came in the biggest moment of all.

There are nine nominees for best picture this year, and we've covered all of them on Pop Culture Happy Hour. We're cramming for Sunday night's awards, and we know some of you are too. We'll be tweeting and writing and recording on Sunday night, and we'll have our wrap-up on Monday morning, so until then, enjoy this look back at some of our favorites (and not-so-favorites) of 2019 that have risen to the top of this particular pack.

'1917' Is Not Your Dad's War Movie

Endings are sad, but without them, nothing matters.

That was only one of the lessons of the thoughtful, emotional finale of NBC's The Good Place, which itself ended after four seasons and only 52 episodes. But, as the show itself stressed in its last couple of installments, heaven is not continuing forever: It's leaving at the right time, when you've done your work. When you're ready.

The new Comedy Central series officially called Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens uses the shorter title Nora From Queens in its own animated graphics.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The headline out of this morning's Oscar nominations could have been newness. There was the arrival of Netflix's two best picture contenders (Marriage Story with six nominations and The Irishman with 10). There was the huge showing for Bong Joon-ho's remarkable Parasite (six nominations) out of South Korea, the extraordinarily rare foreign-language film to make the leap to best picture and the first from South Korea.

One of my best teachers told me once — warned me once — "Good teachers want students, not disciples."

I don't remember what the context was, except that he wasn't cautioning me about anyone in particular. He was just speaking about teaching and expectations, and about the dangers of a cult of personality in the context of education. I thought about this statement a lot while watching the six-episode Netflix documentary series Cheer.

We have this conversation every year, but that doesn't mean it's not true: It's hard to know what to make of the Golden Globes telecast. We — and by "we" I mean most awards show watchers — hold a few truths to be self-evident: that the Globes are silly, that it's nice to see people be praised for good work and that the Globes (like most awards, unfortunately) do a pretty terrible job of rewarding people who do good work in an equitable way, which means even deserved wins can feel bittersweet.

Golden Globes Preview

Jan 5, 2020

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Standard caveats (really standard — same as last year and the year before): I don't watch everything. I am behind on many things. That's just the way the world is. So if something you loved isn't here, it is not a rebuke.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's time to talk about "Cats."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JELLICLE SONGS FOR JELLICLE CATS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (Singing) Jellicle songs for jellicle cats, jellicle songs for jellicle cats.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

The Hallmark Channel is in a bit of a mess over an ad campaign for Zola, which is a wedding planning website. The channel recently aired this ad.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NPR's TV critic and Pop Culture Happy Hour hosts pick 19 of their favorite television and streaming series of the year.

Chernobyl (HBO)

There's something distastefully playful about the title Bombshell being attached to a film about the sexual harassment scandal that, in a matter of weeks, led to the resignation of hugely powerful Fox News chief Roger Ailes in 2016.

The rapid ascent of Netflix as a creator of film and television continued Monday morning as the streaming service placed four films in the Golden Globes' 10 best motion picture contenders in comedy and drama. But the Hollywood Foreign Press Association rewarded established directors like Quentin Tarantino, too, while continuing its legendarily wacky devotion to some of its favorite celebrities.

The business proposition behind Netflix's painfully flat family sitcom Merry Happy Whatever, released in an eight-episode binge on Thanksgiving Day, is the most defensible thing about it. It makes all the sense in the world to try to offer large groups of people something aggressively — almost defiantly — unobjectionable to watch, and it makes sense that it might be a very old-fashioned multicamera sitcom. What's more, there have been some good multicams in the last few years, including Netflix's own fabulous One Day At A Time, so why not give it a shot?

Certain fictional mansions exist only so their owners can mysteriously die in them. The gothic revival abode of famous novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) in Rian Johnson's Knives Out is one of them. All brick turrets and spindly spires on the outside, all dark wood and winding staircases on the inside, it's a perfect place to throw a party — especially one in which all the suspects in a death are gathered at the request of law enforcement.

You've seen press in the last few weeks about new original programming from Apple and Disney, but do you know about Spectrum originals? They're the ones rebooting Mad About You. Six new episodes are now available to you — maybe.

It's no coincidence that when Charlie (Adam Driver) takes his young son out for Halloween in the new Noah Baumbach film Marriage Story, he dresses as The Invisible Man.

Pages