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.

Episodes

October 26, 2021 13 min
Foundation is set in the far future, when humanity has expanded into a vast galactic empire. A mathematician comes forward to announce that he's crunched the numbers — and found that the empire is on the verge of collapse, and humanity is about to enter a 30,000 year dark age. The Apple TV+ series is based on a series of books by Isaac Asimov that was once awarded a Hugo Award for best science-fiction series of all time.
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Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch is a love letter to classic French cinema and The New Yorker magazine. Like all of his films, it's highly stylized — this one adopts the format of a magazine. It's an anthology of sorts, featuring three different main stories. The film's actors Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Benicio del Toro, Timothée Chalamet, and Jeffrey Wright.
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October 24, 2021 21 min
A lot of us are about to have the experience of opening our front doors to find witches, goblins, ghosts, and those guards from Squid Game standing on our porches. Why? Because it's almost Halloween. We decided this would be a good time to talk about what kinds of entertainment scared us when we were kids, and maybe even whether they still scare us now.
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October 21, 2021 25 min
Dune is a sweeping epic set way into the future, where various groups are vying for control of a planet's highly coveted substance. Timothée Chalamet plays a duke's son who comes of age and exhibits messianic tendencies. The cast also includes Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and Jason Momoa. Sci-fi fans have been waiting years for director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel to arrive, and...
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October 20, 2021 6 min
NPR Music has song recommendations for every occasion, from major life events to tidying up the house. As we enter the fall season, it doesn't hurt to spruce up and start afresh with a new playlist. Today, we're recommending three songs to play while dance-cleaning the bathroom.
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October 19, 2021 23 min
This fall, a number of auteurs are directing major blockbusters: Cary Joji Fukunaga took on the James Bond movie No Time To Die; Chloe Zhao joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Eternals; and Denis Villeneuve hopes to launch a film franchise with Dune. So we thought it would be a good time to revisit our conversation about how auteur directors shape genre films. In this encore episode recorded on stage in Los Angeles, we're ...
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October 18, 2021 24 min
FX's Impeachment: American Crime Story is less about President Bill Clinton's 1998 impeachment and more about three women who played central roles in the saga, including Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky was a consultant on the series, which examines how a young intern not only began a sexual relationship with the president, but also became the subject of ridicule and even the threat of prosecution. The series stars...
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October 17, 2021 22 min
When the Netflix thriller series You premiered three years ago, it started a lot of conversations. The show was told largely from the point of view of a charismatic serial killer named Joe, played by Penn Badgley, and it followed his obsession with and stalking of a young woman. Now in its third season, Joe hasn't changed much as a person, even though his circumstances have. He has a wife now, and a baby, although he's hard...
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October 14, 2021 26 min
It's been more than 20 years since Ben Affleck and Matt Damon wrote their Oscar-winning screenplay Good Will Hunting, but that changes with Ridley Scott's bloody epic The Last Duel. Co-written by Oscar nominee Nicole Holofcener, the film features performances by Damon, Affleck, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer. Together, they play out a tale of anger, vengeance and the fine points of 14th century property ownership.
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October 13, 2021 30 min
The Korean drama Squid Game is a worldwide sensation. According to Netflix, it's topped their rankings in more than 90 countries. Written and directed by the filmmaker Hwang Dong-Hyuk, it's a violent and artful horror miniseries, a survival drama, and a commentary on debt and capitalism. With a plot that's both simple and ambitious, the series is fast-paced but character-driven, and unbelievably addictive to watch.
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October 12, 2021 18 min
Based on Stephanie Land's memoir, the Netflix series Maid stars Margaret Qualley as a single mom who must learn to survive on public assistance. While the series takes a hard look at the logistics of poverty, it's also a riveting personal story that will keep you guessing until the very end of its tenth episode.
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October 11, 2021 21 min
The FX on Hulu drama Y: The Last Man is the latest in a long line of post-apocalyptic narratives of TV, but this one comes with a novel twist: A mysterious event wipes out every mammal on Earth with a Y chromosome, except for two: an aimless would-be escape artist named Yorick, and his companion monkey, Ampersand. In a world overrun by militias and fueled by paranoid conspiracy theories, a beleaguered government attempts to rebuild...
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October 10, 2021 34 min
When Soul Train was first nationally syndicated in October of 1971, there was nothing else like it on TV. It became an iconic Black music and dance show — a party every weekend that anyone could join from their living room. In this episode of It's Been A Minute With Sam Sanders, we break down the lasting influence of Soul Train on our culture, with Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Little Devil in America.
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No Time To Die is Daniel Craig's final outing as James Bond. This time, he's dealing with the skeletons of his past while trying to build himself a future. That future may or may not include Léa Seydoux, who returns as Madeleine Swann — she's nursing a secret involving Rami Malek's Safin, who's a kind of classic Bond villain, factory-installed with a master plan, a secret headquarters and access to a terrible b...
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October 6, 2021 14 min
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is not your standard superhero action flick. With more human-on-goo romance and symbiote-on-symbiote violence, the sequel to 2018's Venom already posted the biggest box-office opening weekend of the pandemic. Tom Hardy returns as reporter Eddie Brock and voices Venom, and he's joined by Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Naomie Harris and Reid Scott in a film that makes up for lack of plot with ...
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October 5, 2021 14 min
Director Antoine Fuqua is no stranger to compromised cops — he famously put Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke through their paces in Training Day. Now, he's back with The Guilty, a Netflix thriller that stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a suspended police officer temporarily assigned to 911 dispatch. A call comes in from a woman in terrible trouble, and for the rest of the film, we follow his efforts to rescue her without leaving his de...
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October 4, 2021 21 min
Two years ago, Beyoncé unleashed two major projects called Homecoming. On Netflix, a documentary captured the process of putting on headlining appearances at the Coachella Music Festival. She also surprise-released a double-length live album containing just some of the highlights from Beyoncé's Coachella performances. In this encore episode we're revisiting our conversation about Beyoncé's Homecoming.
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October 3, 2021 17 min
Star Wars: Visions is a new animated anthology series on Disney+ that brings together seven anime studios to tell nine stand-alone Star Wars stories. There's some recurring elements — Padawans and Masters, Lightsaber duels — but the choice to view the Star Wars universe through an anime lens isn't merely cosmetic. There's a wholly different sensibility at work in the animation, the imagery, and especially, the story...
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If you've been waiting for more of Tony Sopranos's universe, you're in luck. The Many Saints Of Newark isn't a sequel but a prequel to the influential HBO series The Sopranos. Co-written by Sopranos creator David Chase, the film examines how the man we knew on television as mafia boss Tony Soprano was made from the kid and then the teenager we see here, portrayed by the late James Gandolfini's son, Michael.
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September 29, 2021 25 min
The Sopranos changed television. The HBO series was centered on mobster Tony Soprano — a deeply flawed male antihero played by James Gandolfini. But the thing that really set The Sopranos apart was the fact that Tony was in therapy, a genius touch that granted viewers special access to his inner conflicts. Today, we're taking your questions about the influential series — and delving into how it ended.
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