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.

Prince Harry, the sixth in line to the British throne, is marrying American actress (and former Suits star) Meghan Markle on Saturday, May 19.

[This piece discusses the plot of the novel Little Women, which was published in 1868 and 1869. You have, we hope, had a chance to read it.]

Is it only writers who can never forgive Amy March for burning her sister Jo's handwritten novel manuscript? Or is it only me?

It's been entirely too long since Barrie Hardymon joined the Pop Culture Happy Hour panel, so we're happy to have her with us this week to talk about Tully. Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody worked together on both Juno and Young Adult, and Tully's Charlize Theron starred in Young Adult, as well. Here, she plays a mom named Marlo who finds herself physically demolished by the birth of her third child and the depression that follows.

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.

Killing Eve is the rare show that's been building its audience since it premiered. Created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also made the dark comedy Fleabag, the spy thriller follows an international assassin named Villanelle (Jodie Comer) as she's chased by an American-born British intelligence agent named Eve (Sandra Oh).

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.

Lo these many years, by which I mean since 1984, many have wondered about the answer to a simple question of history. It has echoed off the walls of canyons, burbled in the bubbles of mountain streams, and been shouted into the bottoms of volcanoes, only to be absorbed by hot lava and spit back out as igneous rock. The question: What if Johnny Lawrence hadn't said, "You're all right, LaRusso"?

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 basic rule of Scandal for seven seasons, under its creator, Shonda Rhimes, has been that absolutely anything can happen, but very little of it really matters.

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.

A confession: I was not a fan of New Girl when it premiered. Fox leaned hard on its description of Zooey Deschanel's character, Jess, as "adorkable," which is too twee even for network promotional materials. She was presented as inept and ill-equipped to function in the adult world without the help of her three male roommates: Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Winston (Lamorne Morris). The guys were flatly drawn, and the show was too reliant on an underdeveloped take on Jess' appeal.

Comedian Hari Kondabolu made a documentary in 2017 called The Problem With Apu. It's not very long — less than an hour. In it, he interrogates the legacy of Apu, the convenience store owner on The Simpsons voiced by Hank Azaria. Kondabolu talked to other actors and comics who longed for more South Asian representation, only to find that at the time, Apu was just about all there was. And Apu was not only voiced by a white actor, but he was doing what Azaria has acknowledged is a take on Peter Sellers doing an Indian accent in the movie The Party.

The E.M. Forster novel Howards End was successfully adapted in 1992 by Merchant Ivory, and it won Emma Thompson an Oscar. There are people who would argue that it's all the adaptation the book will ever need.

There is no shortage of television shows built on the premise that whatever your home looks like is wrong. The paint is wrong, the furniture is wrong, the floors are wrong, the floor plan is wrong, and it's entirely possible that your plumbing was put in by marauding vandals who cackled gleefully as they connected your upstairs shower to your kitchen sink in a way that has been causing you to unwittingly wash your hair with Dawn for the last 12 years. Someone must fix it! And film it!

There is a fundamental audacity to Jesus Christ Superstar, which was staged as a live "concert" performance on NBC on Sunday night. First released as a concept album in 1970, the work by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice not only imagines a very human story behind the final days in the life of Jesus, but it focuses on that story even when it involves ugliness, vanity, and conflict. It posits that Jesus felt not only frustration, but even resentment and ambivalence — not only about his faith, but about his own followers. On the one hand, it's kind of an obvious choice for Easter.

It makes some sense that the presidency of Donald Trump would bring about the return of Roseanne. One of the few network shows to ever deal thoughtfully with a midwestern working-class family that worried about the electric bill and took second jobs when they had to, Roseanne was set in the kind of place, and even in the kind of home, that reporters have visited over and over again in the last year and a half, convinced that the needs and the fears found there might hold the key to understanding ... well, something.

Barry (Bill Hader) is a hit man, but what he really loves is community theater.

That setup, which opens the new HBO dark comedy Barry, is very nearly a television cliche in the age of the sympathetic mafia family and the meth-dealing high-school science teacher. The fact that Hader and his co-creator Alec Berg (who also makes Silicon Valley) have made something so vexing, so weird and funny and achingly sad, is a pleasant surprise, to say the least.

There is a part of a filmgoer who is exhausted by an avalanche of stuff — much of it forgettable, much of it created by committee, much of it branded within an inch of its life and all of it subject to commercial expectations that are either indifferent or hostile to art — that says, "I cannot get on board with a film that delivers wisdom through a giant, glowing Oprah."

It only stands to reason that the most surprising Oscars might be followed by the least surprising Oscars.

The Pop Culture Happy Hour team has been covering the nine films nominated for best picture since last March, when we talked about Get Out.

Every year, just before the Oscars, Team PCHH sits down to gather our thoughts. This year, we're once again joined by All Things Considered film critic Bob Mondello.

The first season of the FX comedy Atlanta didn't just introduce its characters through a series of memorable vignettes about relationships, music, weed and money. It gradually broke down expectations until it could do almost anything. It could cast a black actor to play Justin Bieber without elaborating. It could turn itself into a half-hour send-up of a low-budget cable talk show. It stretched the boundaries in which it existed, and in the second season, it feels more settled — and not in a bad way.

It's no exaggeration to say the new NBC series Good Girls has one of the most promising casts a network show has sported in a while. It has Retta, one of the indispensable members of the Parks and Recreation ensemble. It has Mae Whitman, who's been a terrific actress since she was tiny. It has Christina Hendricks, who gave such depth to Joan Holloway Harris on Mad Men. It even has Zach Gilford, who played the still-waters-run-deep quarterback Matt Saracen on Friday Night Lights.

It's one delight of doing a lot of TV criticism: Some shows really sneak up on you. It's just so much fun when it happens.

When we invited our buddy Sam Sanders, of the It's Been A Minute podcast, to talk to us about the Winter Olympics, we didn't even remember that in 2014, he helped NPR cover the Winter Olympics in Sochi. As it turned out, in addition to his usual insight and thoughtfulness, Sam possesses relevant experience!

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