Pop Culture Happy Hour

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Pop Culture Happy Hour is a fun and freewheeling chat about the latest movies, television, books, comics and music.


    • Nov 29, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekdays NEW EPISODES
    • 21m AVG DURATION
    • 627 EPISODES

    Listeners of Pop Culture Happy Hour that love the show mention: weldon, barrie, pop culture happy hour, pchh, fourth chair, making me happy, love linda, gene demby, what's making, crazy ex, miss trey, culture gabfest, batch, glen's, pop culture leftovers, high and low, happy every week, culture recommendations, shows and podcasts, kat chow.

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    Latest episodes from Pop Culture Happy Hour

    Remembering Stephen Sondheim

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 29, 2021 20:58

    Stephen Sondheim, the most influential composer in modern Broadway history, died on Friday at the age of 91. He wrote music and lyrics for Sweeney Todd, Into The Woods, Sunday In The Park With George, Company, and more. Sondheim won eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And along the way, he made work so beloved that it's been produced again and again around the world, and influenced other Broadway composers like Lin Manuel-Miranda and Jonathan Larson.

    Introducing NPR's Book of the Day

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 26, 2021 17:49

    In this episode of NPR's Book of the Day podcast, we're spotlighting two thrillers. First, astronaut Chris Hadfield talked with former NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro about his novel The Apollo Murders, which is set in the 70's around, you guessed it, the Apollo missions. Then, a 2015 interview with NPR's Robert Siegel and author Anthony Horowitz about his James Bond novel Trigger Mortis, and what it's like giving a classic a 21st century twist.

    House Of Gucci And What's Making Us Happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 24, 2021 25:45

    Ridley Scott's House of Gucci is a whole lot of movie. Adam Driver plays the wealthy Mauritzio Gucci, and Lady Gaga plays his wife Patrizia. Al Pacino and Jared Leto play Mauritzio's uncle and cousin, who eventually battle Mauritzio for control of the Gucci empire. It's got fashion, it's got tragedy, and it's got terrible accents.

    King Richard

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2021 21:15

    King Richard is a sports movie about the early days of superstar tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams. But, as its title suggests, the film focuses on their demanding and ambitious father, Richard Williams. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the movie stars Will Smith as a man who'll do anything to get his daughters from Compton to Wimbledon.

    Cowboy Bebop

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2021 20:25

    The new Netflix series Cowboy Bebop is a live-action remake of the wildly popular Japanese anime about bounty hunters in a neo-noir future. Stylish and satirical, violent and cynical, the show is a bold mashup of genres – western, crime, science-fiction, buddy comedy, melodrama, thriller, and martial arts. It stars John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, and Daniella Pineda as bounty hunters with dark pasts. But does the series hold up to the original?

    Ghostbusters: Afterlife And What's Making Us Happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 19, 2021 25:23

    Ghostbusters: Afterlife reconnects with the original timeline of the Ghostbusters films from the 80s while introducing a bunch of new characters. Carrie Coon, Mckenna Grace, and Finn Wolfhard play a family who teams up with Paul Rudd to fight a new supernatural threat. The movie is directed by Jason Reitman — son of Ivan Reitman, who directed the first two Ghostbuster films.

    Remembering Petra Mayer

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 17, 2021 26:40

    There's no good way to share terrible news. Pop Culture Happy Hour panelist and NPR Books editor Petra Mayer died suddenly on Saturday of what is believed to be a pulmonary embolism. We take some time to remember our friend and colleague, and revisit some of our favorite episodes featuring Petra.

    Silk Sonic

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 17, 2021 18:29

    Silk Sonic is a new musical showcase for two familiar faces: Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. Their soulful collaborations started trickling out this past March, when the duo released the single "Leave The Door Open." Now they've dropped the album An Evening With Silk Sonic, which features classic funk and soul updated for the present day.

    Below Deck

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2021 26:13

    If you've always wondered what it would be like to see the world while making espresso martinis for the super-rich, you might already be watching the Below Deck franchise. For the past eight years, the Bravo reality series and its many spinoffs have been showing viewers the world of deckhands and chefs, housekeeping and party planning, as young hot people work on luxury yachts chartered by people who have too much money.


    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 15, 2021 19:58

    Earlier this month, ABBA released a new album called Voyage. It's the Swedish pop sensation's first set of new material in 40 years. Voyage gives us a perfect excuse to talk about all things ABBA: the massive sales, the jukebox musical Mamma Mia!, the endless hiatus, and — of course — those classic songs.

    Red Notice And What's Making Us Happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 12, 2021 23:40

    What has a wisecracking Ryan Reynolds, a glamorous Gal Godot, a muscled Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and a very convoluted story about priceless eggs? It's the new Netflix action comedy Red Notice, which combines cars, boats and secret safes with ballroom dancing and a jailbreak — all in the same frame as three big-budget action leads.

    Project Runway

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 15:28

    When Project Runway launched in 2004, competitive reality shows were in their infancy. Now, they're in their mature pantsuit years, as Project Runway airs its 19th season. Longtime mentor Tim Gunn has been replaced by former winner Christian Siriano, but the sewing machines continue to buzz, and it's still hard to make a dress in a day. In this encore episode we're revisiting our conversation about Project Runway.


    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 10, 2021 24:00

    In the Netflix melodrama Passing, Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga play childhood friends who are reunited years later in 1920s Harlem. Both women are Black and fair-skinned, but only one of them has chosen to "pass" — to completely abandon their ties to the Black community and identify as white. The movie premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and marks the directorial debut of actress Rebecca Hall. And it's already gaining some awards season heat.

    The Harder They Fall

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2021 23:14

    Netflix's The Harder They Fall is the latest modern take on the movie western, with nods to real-life Black cowboys and cowgirls. In it, an outlaw and his gang seek revenge for a horrific crime committed many years ago. Gunfights and showdowns ensue, of course. The film boasts an impressive cast, including Jonathan Majors, Regina King, Idris Elba, and LaKeith Stanfield. Does this revisionist tale live up to the incredible talent involved?


    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2021 18:54

    What if the story of Princess Diana wasn't a fairy tale, but instead a psychological horror movie? That's the premise of Pablo Larraín's intriguing new film Spencer, in which Kristen Stewart plays Diana. Here, Diana is trapped, frightened and sometimes uncertain of reality. It's a different perspective on the figure, but unlike other art about the royals, it has a clear point of view and a reason to revisit this tale.

    Eternals And What's Making Us Happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 5, 2021 27:13

    Eternals, the latest film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is a sweeping saga about ten immortal aliens with super-powers. The cast includes Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Brian Tyree Henry, and Richard Madden. The film is directed by Chloé Zhao, the indie director behind small, intimate films like the Oscar-winning Nomadland. Eternals is unlike anything she's done before, but it's also unlike anything Marvel's done before.

    Army Of Thieves

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 4, 2021 15:17

    So do you have a slow Saturday afternoon, and need something to watch while folding laundry? Perhaps check out Netflix's heist movie Army of Thieves. It's also a prequel to Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead, and it stars that film's squirrelly German safecracker, Ludwig Dieter, played by Matthias Schweighöfer, who also directed the film. Dieter joins a rag-tag crew of bank robbers that includes Game of Thrones' Nathalie Emmanuel.

    Colin in Black & White

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 3, 2021 17:34

    Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick has been a prominent activist and a Rorschach test in the culture wars — and he's been widely reconsidered in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests. But he hasn't really gotten to tell his own story until now. He stars in the Netflix series Colin In Black & White, which he co-created with director Ava DuVernay. It's a dramatization of his life as the biracial son of white adoptive parents.

    Judge Judy

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 17:52

    Judy Sheindlin has been one of the highest-paid people in TV for years, churning out episode after episode of Judge Judy. But after years of syndication, Sheindlin has shut down the CBS show and moved over to streaming service IMDB TV to make the almost identical new show, Judy Justice. Despite the new platform, the cases still revolve around dog bites, landlord-tenant conflicts, and people who fail to learn the most important lesson: never put anybody else on your cell phone plan.

    Film Noir: A Guide

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2021 17:12

    Your calendar might say it's November, but among movie buffs, this month is also known as Noirvember. It's a time to settle in and enjoy an old movie that features a washed up detective, a sultry femme fatale, or hardened criminals. And whether you're familiar with the genre or looking for great places to start, we're here to help by recommending a few great noirs.

    Last Night In Soho And What's Making Us Happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 29, 2021 21:30

    Last Night in Soho is a psychological horror film about a young, naïve fashion student in London named Eloise, played by Thomasin McKenzie. Eloise is so obsessed with the Swinging London of the 1960s that she begins dream of and (sort of) inhabit the body of a glamorous aspiring singer played by Anya Taylor-Joy. The more this happens, the more the wall separating her dreams and her waking life begins to crumble. The film is directed and co-written by Edgar Wright and features the late Diana Rigg in her final film role.

    The Morning Show

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 28, 2021 22:59

    If you like secret relationships, morning television melodrama, men singing Neil Diamond unexpectedly and a rom-com set against the backdrop of COVID, you're going to love the kooky, uneven and profoundly strange second season of the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show. Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Billy Crudup still lead the show, whose first season examined the aftermath of a sexual harassment scandal. Now, it's another wild ride, where hair color, allegiances and the year 2020 can all change in the blink of an eye.


    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 27, 2021 13:56

    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.

    The French Dispatch

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 26, 2021 15:55

    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.

    The Scary Movies And Books That Still Haunt Us

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2021 21:57

    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.

    Dune And What's Making Us Happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 22, 2021 25:59

    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 it's finally arrived in theaters and on HBO Max. But was it worth the wait?

    Three Songs For Cleaning Your Bathroom

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 21, 2021 6:15

    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.

    Auteurs And Film Franchises

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 20, 2021 23:01

    This fall, a number of auteurs are directing major blockbuster: 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 talking about auteurs and film franchises — and dream up some great artists taking on unexpected genres.

    Impeachment: American Crime Story

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2021 24:35

    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 Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp, and Clive Owen as President Clinton.


    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2021 22:05

    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 hardly living the typical suburban dad life.

    The Last Duel And What's Making Us Happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 15, 2021 26:12

    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.

    Squid Game

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 14, 2021 30:26

    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.


    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 13, 2021 18:39

    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.

    Y: The Last Man

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 21:34

    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 — and keep certain secrets from getting out.

    Soul Train

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2021 34:15

    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.

    No Time To Die And What's Making Us Happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 8, 2021 23:58

    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 bioweapon. The film is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, and add newcomers Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas to join in on the action.

    'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' is a chaotic love story

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 7, 2021 14:15

    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 plenty of action, passion and utter chaos.

    The Guilty

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2021 14:11

    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 desk.

    Beyoncé's Homecoming

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2021 21:53

    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.

    Star Wars: Visions

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2021 17:24

    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 storytelling.

    The Many Saints Of Newark And What's Making Us Happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 1, 2021 25:13

    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.

    The Sopranos

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 30, 2021 25:46

    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.

    Scenes From A Marriage

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 29, 2021 18:07

    The original Scenes From A Marriage was an influential 1973 Swedish miniseries written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Updated for a modern audience, HBO's remake is written and directed by Hagai Levi, who takes many elements from the original, while making some important shifts. In this version, the five-part limited series stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in an intimate story about a dissolving relationship with a constantly shifting dynamic.

    Our 2021 Tony Awards Recap

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2021 18:48

    The Tony Awards came back last night, after being gone for over two years. It was an unusual ceremony — a mix of performances and award presentations that aired on two different platforms. It was all a coordinated, tuneful effort to lure audiences back to Broadway. And, it was a big night for Moulin Rouge! and The Inheritance.

    Isabel Allende and Sandra Cisneros

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2021 28:46

    Isabel Allende and Sandra Cisneros loom large over the literary landscape. In fact, their respective careers have a lot of parallels. They both published their first novels around the same time: Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits was published in 1982, and Sandra Cisneros published The House on Mango Street in 1983. Today, we're teaming up with our pals at the fantastic Alt.Latino podcast to bring you interviews with both writers.

    Dear Evan Hansen And What's Making Us Happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 24, 2021 26:47

    The stage musical Dear Evan Hansen debuted on Broadway five years ago. It won six Tony Awards, including one for its star, Ben Platt. It's now a movie, and Platt, who's now 27, is back to play Evan, a deeply troubled high school student who tangles himself in a lie. There's still singing, there's still dancing, and there are still a lot of questions to struggle with in this story. Plus, we remember the work of filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles.

    Lil Nas X's Montero

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2021 26:04

    In just two short years, Lil Nas X has proven he's much more than "Old Town Road." He's taken a successful novelty song and parlayed it into a budding and influential music career. He's come out as gay and arguably become pop's biggest out star. He's a master of performance art and marketing, and his eponymous debut studio album Montero easily became one of the year's most anticipated projects.

    Everybody's Talking About Jamie

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2021 14:20

    Everybody's Talking About Jamie is a coming-out story with some familiar contours, but it doesn't have your typical splashy musical pedigree. Adapted from a successful West End production, the Amazon Prime film follows Jamie, a teenage boy in England, who's determined to become a drag queen. Max Harwood stars as Jamie, and he's met with barriers and supporters along the way, including Sharon Horgan to the great Richard E. Grant.

    Three Great Fiction Audiobooks

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 21, 2021 8:11

    Curling up with a good book is a pleasure with which we're all familiar. But when you find just the right narrator to bring characters to life, a novel can be even better. The right voice, or the right cast of voices, has pleasures all its own, beyond the printed page. Today, we're bringing you three favorite fiction audiobook recommendations worth a listen.

    2021 Emmys Recap

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2021 17:51

    It was a really good night for three very popular TV shows, and a groundbreaking night for Netflix. Yes, it was time again for the Emmys, which saw Ted Lasso, Mare of Easttown, and The Crown win big. There were also a few real surprises, genuinely touching moments, and memorable speeches — some memorable for perhaps all the wrong reasons.

    TIFF Film Guide And What's Making Us Happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 17, 2021 19:35

    The Toronto International Film Festival traditionally helps launch awards season. This year has been a little different, with pandemic restrictions leading to a hybrid remote and in-person festival. After watching a batch of entries from home, we've seen some things you'll want to know about — some of which you might be hearing about for the first time.

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