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Pop Culture Happy Hour
28 minutes | 2 days ago
BE is the latest album from Korean boy band BTS, making it their fifth record to top the U.S. album charts in two and a half years. Along with their earworm Dynamite, BE feels like a milestone in BTS' career, which has yielded billions of dollars and one of the world's most intensely devoted fan bases. You can support NPR by donating to your local member station at donate.npr.org/happy
9 minutes | 3 days ago
2020 Best Books: Fantasy And Sci-Fi
Every year, NPR brings together some of the best books in a searchable, explorable guide called the Book Concierge. It can help you find exactly the read you're looking for. Today we're talking about some of the science fiction and fantasy books that show up in this year's guide.
19 minutes | 4 days ago
The Mandalorian: Baby Yoda And More
It was a little over a year ago that the first episode of The Mandalorian debuted on Disney Plus. Can you remember a world before Baby Yoda was a thing? Now that season two is underway, we're bringing you an encore episode of our discussion of a show that has since gone on to become a digital phenomenon, while launching a thousand memes.
51 minutes | 7 days ago
The Conspiracy Against Hip-Hop
A special bonus feed drop from the new NPR podcast Louder Than A Riot. Hosts Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden have been working on a deep-diving exploration of the relationship between hip-hop and mass incarceration. Episodes cover the likes of Nipsey Hussle, Bobby Shmurda, Killer Mike and many more. We're dropping the first episode here.
21 minutes | 9 days ago
The Emperor's New Groove and What's Making Us Happy
The Emperor's New Groove came out 20 years ago, during a time when Disney's animation department was going through an identity crisis. The plot is simple: David Spade is a bratty emperor. Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton turn him into a llama. And John Goodman is the peasant who helps make things right. It was originally gonna be an epic musical, but then it became a comedy, a box-office disappointment, and now, we would argue, a beloved classic.
14 minutes | 10 days ago
The book Hillbilly Elegy was a phenomenon in 2016. Writer J.D. Vance wrote about growing up in Ohio and Kentucky, and about his family's struggles with addiction, abuse and poverty. He tried to both explain and critique the white Appalachian experience, to profoundly mixed reviews. Now, a film adaptation on Netflix sticks mostly to the dramatic elements of Vance's story, from his mother's battles with addiction to his path to law school. It's directed by Ron Howard and stars Glenn Close and Amy Adams.
21 minutes | 11 days ago
Megan Thee Stallion
Rapper Megan Thee Stallion has had a massive year. Her song with Cardi B, "WAP," topped the Billboard Hot 100 — as did, of course, her remix of "Savage" with Beyoncé. On Friday, Megan Thee Stallion dropped her first official full-length album, called Good News. It's stuffed with explicit sex and raunchy confidence, with features from fellow stars like SZA, Young Thug, 2 Chainz and Da Baby. But it also opens with "Shots Fired," in which Meg bluntly addresses the July shooting that led to bullet wounds in her feet and the arrest of rapper Tory Lanez.
23 minutes | 14 days ago
Animaniacs And What's Making Us Happy
Because everything in Hollywood must be revived these days, the Animaniacs are back after being locked in that Warner studio water tower for more than 20 years. Led by the fictional siblings Yakko, Wakko and Dot, the super-meta cartoon featured slapstick humor and cultural references that appealed to both kids and adults alike. Hulu has released a new batch of Animaniacs episodes and much of the original voice cast returns — though this time around you should expect fewer Goodfellas jokes and more cracks about presidential elections.
20 minutes | 15 days ago
The West Wing
The West Wing chronicles the inner workings of a fictional presidential administration. The president is Democrat Jed Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, and his staff includes heavy hitters played by folks like Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, Bradley Whitford, John Spencer, and Richard Schiff. For the first four seasons, most episodes were written by Aaron Sorkin, who created the show and gave it many of its signature flourishes — the snappy banter, the walking and talking, and, of course, the big speech that solves everything.
14 minutes | 16 days ago
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special brings back computer animated, extruded-plastic versions of Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewie, Rose, Lando and the droids. The only actors voicing their original characters are Billy Dee Williams, Kelly Marie Tran, and Anthony Daniels. It's Life Day (a Wookiee holiday of peace and harmony). While the rest of the characters set up for a party on the Millennium Falcon, Rey and BB-8 go off on a journey that brings them in contact with pretty much every major character in the entire Star Wars saga.
16 minutes | 17 days ago
The game show Supermarket Sweep has run in the '60s, the '90s and the aughts. This fall, it's been revived for a fourth iteration — this time in primetime on ABC. While the previous two versions of the show were hosted by the affable David Ruprecht, the new Supermarket Sweep is hosted by the delightfully amped-up Leslie Jones. She helps a new generation of shoppers as they run around a fake grocery store and attempt to fill their shopping carts with high-priced hams, fancy olives and anything else that adds up to big money.
16 minutes | 18 days ago
The fourth season of Fargo stars Chris Rock as Loy Cannon, a ruthless Kansas City crime boss battling an Italian-American gang for power in the 1950s. In order to keep the peace while doing business, Loy and his rival swap their youngest sons as hostages. The series is both an immigrant tale and a migrant tale viewed through the familiar lens of a gritty mobster saga. Though true to the Coen Brother's sensibilities, creator Noah Hawley injects it with darkly oddball humor and characters.
23 minutes | 21 days ago
Ted Lasso And What's Making Us Happy
Ted Lasso knows football, but not, you know, football. He is an American football coach who finds himself in the U.K. coaching soccer in the Premier League. Jason Sudeikis originated the character in a promotional campaign for NBC's soccer coverage back in 2013. Now, Apple has given Ted his own ten-episode underdog sports series, called Ted Lasso. The show follows Ted's first season of play, which begins as a doomed campaign masterminded by an embittered team owner who's trying to tank her own team. But as the story continues, Ted turns out to have a surprisingly warm heart, and maybe even some valuable insights.
17 minutes | 22 days ago
When the country went on lockdown earlier this year, Saturday Night Live was forced to end their 45th season earlier than expected. After producing three shows remotely, SNL returned to Studio 8H in October with COVID-related precautions. So far, SNL has brought on a deep bench of A-list hosts like Issa Rae and Dave Chappelle, and they've had plenty of election commentary with a fair share of social distancing jokes.
17 minutes | 23 days ago
HGTV And Home Makeover Shows
Whether you live in a big house or a tiny apartment, on a beach or in a bustling city, television is full of opportunities for you to ruminate on your living space. And nowhere is that impulse more prevalent than on HGTV. One of basic cable's most basic networks, HGTV has been handing out advice and house-envy for a long time. We're revisiting our discussion of HGTV and home makeover shows.
12 minutes | 24 days ago
On the vaguely unsettling, but satisfyingly pulpy FOX techno-thriller series Next, John Slattery plays a genius billionaire who blows the whistle on an artificial intelligence he created called "neXt." When people who know too much about the AI start dying in mysterious, tech-adjacent ways, the FBI Cybercrime Unit takes notice, and teams up with Slattery to stop it.
10 minutes | 25 days ago
Remembering Jeopardy! Host Alex Trebek
The game show host Alex Trebek died Sunday following a battle with pancreatic cancer. Trebek hosted Jeopardy! for 36 years — his last episode airs on Christmas Day. Trebek hosted a number of game shows dating back to the early '70s. But he'll be forever known for his work on Jeopardy! — both for his steady demeanor and for moments when he couldn't bring himself to suffer fools gladly.
22 minutes | a month ago
2020 Comedy Special Recommendations And What's Making Us Happy
Comedy specials come in many forms. Stand-up, sketch, improv — and there are times when they really come in handy. But there are also so many of them circulating right now that it can be tough to find the ones that are worth your time. We're here to help. We want to share a few specials that have managed to make us laugh in 2020, despite 2020, so that when you have a moment when you can really use one, you'll have one on hand.
16 minutes | a month ago
The Vow And Seduced: Two NXIVM Docuseries
NXIVM gained mainstream attention when several high-ranking members were charged with crimes, including racketeering, forced labor conspiracy and sex trafficking. The group called itself a self-help organization while a lot of other people called it a cult. HBO and Starz both have documentary series about the organization, and they're a little different, but pretty shocking nonetheless.
18 minutes | a month ago
The Queen's Gambit
The new Netflix series The Queen's Gambit finds its story in the equally intense if less obviously bruising world of competitive chess. Based on a 1983 novel, it stars Anya Taylor-Joy as a young woman whose brilliance at chess is threatened by trauma and addiction as she goes from child prodigy to international star. We're joined by this year's Tiny Desk Contest winner Linda Diaz, who also happens to be a chess expert.
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