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.

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

The most striking thing about Disney+ as of its launch is that even most of what's new isn't new.

[UPDATE: As of Monday 11/11, we have added three films from OWN and two from Freeform.]

It's holiday TV movie season, and it's not just a Hallmark party. There's also Lifetime, UPTV, and — increasingly — Netflix, as well as OWN and Freeform.

It is both a positive and negative attribute of the anthology series that it tends to be uneven. Black Mirror is, the new Twilight Zone was, Room 104 is. And now, Amazon is presenting an eight-episode series based on the loved, hated, and love-to-hated New York Times column Modern Love. Created by John Carney, who directed Once and Sing Street, it is — of course — uneven.

It is hopefully clear that a review and discussion of the Succession season two finale is not suitable for people who do not want to be spoiled regarding the Succession season two finale. If it is not clear: You will know what happened on this episode by the time you're finished reading this piece. Choose wisely.

Note: This piece discusses the events of El Camino, as well as the events of Breaking Bad. If you're looking for a simple recommendation or not, here it is: El Camino is absolutely a satisfying and enjoyable addition to Breaking Bad, and Aaron Paul is very good, as always. Come back after you've watched it.

How did this happen to me?, you may wonder as a weekend afternoon sinks into the deep blue waters of the figurative Mediterranean. I had plans for today. I had dreams. I am still in my pajamas, and it is three o'clock in the afternoon. My bones feel like bungee cords. I may never get up.

Payton Hobart (Ben Platt) wants to be president of the United States. He always has. And when we meet him, he's a high school student who has studied past presidents (only back to Reagan, whom he considers the inventor of the modern presidency) to find patterns in their paths that he can follow. First up: become student body president at his high school and get into Harvard.

[This piece contains spoilers about the first three seasons of The Good Place but treads very carefully with anything about the new season. If you aren't caught up with the earlier seasons, go catch up!]

If you predicted that creator-actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge would be a big winner going into Sunday night's Emmy Awards, you might just have won your Emmys pool. And if you were predicting a giant final haul of Game of Thrones trophies as that show leaves us for good, you were, well, sort of right.

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