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.

This is the time of year when everybody is making predictions for next year, and everybody is making resolutions for the things they plan to do. But it's a Pop Culture Happy Hour tradition that while we do these things too, we also revisit the ones from last year to see whether we have any ability to know what's going to happen (rarely!) and any tendency to follow through on our own plans (sometimes!). As she has for the last two years, Kat Chow of NPR's Code Switch team sits down with us to check in.

[If you're looking for the audio of this week's show, it's in a slightly different place than usual for boring technical reasons — it's over on the right or right above you, depending on how you're viewing this page.]

You know Sam Sanders as the host of the NPR Politics Podcast — a project from which he's about to move on to new and exciting stuff. But you also know him as one of Pop Culture Happy Hour's new fourth chairs of 2016, so who better to join us to talk about some of our favorite things from this year?

Lauren Ober listens to a lot of podcasts.

Ober is the host of The Big Listen, a broadcast about podcasts, you see. Her job is to listen to, and recommend, tons and tons of podcasts.

We — Glen Weldon and Linda Holmes — at NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, also listen to a lot of podcasts. Not on an Ober-esque order of magnitude, admittedly, but we have plenty of favorites.

We're in the time of year where not only do potentially popular movies hit theaters, but so do potentially Oscar-winning movies. We brought Daoud Tyler-Ameen of NPR Music to our fourth chair this week for a chat about two of the biggest releases in a while.

We spend a lot of time on Pop Culture Happy Hour talking about interesting cable television, because interesting cable television gives us a lot to talk about. But this week, we look at two strong fall shows that showed up on broadcast networks. NBC's This Is Us is a breakout hit, and falls into the long-established tradition of family dramas that follow many threads at once and bring the crying relatively frequently. (Just ask Ari Shapiro of All Things Considered, our guest for this segment.)

While Pop Culture Happy Hour was out in San Francisco recently, we dropped by KQED and caught up with Emmanuel Hapsis, the editor of KQED Pop, the station's pop culture blog, and the host of its podcast, The Cooler. Along with our affinity for writing and podcasting about many of the same things, Emmanuel and I share an affection for Younger, which recently closed its third season (not all of which we'd seen when we taped in late October, of course).

We're lucky enough to be joined this week by Daisy Rosario and Margaret Willison for looks at two new girl-themed stories.

First, non-Gilmore Girls person Stephen Thompson sits out of our usual rotation as we cover the return of the people of Stars Hollow in four new movies available on Netflix. Did we get what we were hoping for from this reunion? Did we get too much of Logan's goofy friends, or not enough? And what of Jess and his duffel bag?

At an exceptionally strong Toronto International Film Festival this year, Moonlight was the film I kept hearing that people couldn't get into. One critic told me he'd tried at three different screenings; all were full. That's not a terribly common Toronto tale, particularly with a film where the director/screenwriter and the lead actors are not especially famous. What was driving people to the film was word of mouth. What was driving them to it was that people kept telling them how good it was. That's how it ought to work; that's not how it always works.

Most television shows arrive accompanied by the question, "Is it good?" Revivals of old shows, however, often arrive with the question, "Is it necessary?"

Almost a year ago, via a seemingly innocuous tweet, the very funny comedian and very funny actor Kumail Nanjiani and I discovered a shared enthusiasm for, and very deep feelings about, the romantic comedies of the 1990s. At our recent tour stop in Los Angeles at the Regent Theater, Kumail was in our fourth chair, and the topic was ... romantic comedies.

After a few weeks of vacation and touring, I'm very glad to be back on the show this week, particularly because we're talking about Arrival, a movie so intriguing and layered I managed to write an entire essay about it, expanding on some of the ideas in this episode. On hand is our friend Chris Klimek in the fourth chair, which is just right given his deep body of knowledge about perplexing space movies.

The setup of the film Arrival is familiar to anyone who's watched first-contact science fiction about aliens before: ships hover. Little is known. The military assumes the worst, and scientists thrum with curiosity. Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguist, and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, are summoned to try to figure out the answer to a question that seems to be about aliens but hides in plain sight as a nod to philosophy: What is your purpose on Earth?

As you read this, we at Pop Culture Happy Hour are preparing for our final west coast stop at the Now Hear This podcast festival in Anaheim on Saturday, October 29, after the four shows we recently did in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. We had an enormous amount of fun with our fourth chairs: Audie Cornish in Seattle and Portland, Mallory Ortberg in San Francisco, and Kumail Nanjiani in L.A. And this week, we're bringing you a mix of two segments from those shows.

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