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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.

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.

The first question that faced us before we could complete our Summer Movie Preview was a simple one. What is the summer movie season?

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.

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.

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.

Earlier this week, in the season 22 finale of The Bachelor, Arie Luyendyk Jr. whittled his potential fiancees down to two. But wait — there was twist. Luyendyk proposed to one of them, Becca ... and then he changed his mind and dumped her on-camera because he wanted to date Lauren, the woman he'd rejected. Viewers then saw 14 minutes of Becca crying her eyes out, which lead fans and critics to accuse The Bachelor of "manipulating the finale."

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.

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.

"Less plot, more ladders."

That's a philosophy espoused by a college friend of mine with a fondness for Jackie Chan movies. Chan is known for incredibly inventive action sequences in which he fights using whatever is handy — including, in First Strike, a ladder. But what my friend does not want from Jackie Chan movies is a lot of time unwinding a boring, byzantine plot. Less plot, he would demand. More ladders.

The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl on Sunday night. You could be forgiven for not expecting it — it's never happened before. And on this historic occasion, Stephen Thompson and I sat down Monday morning to talk with some of our favorite panelists about the game and the surrounding entertainment. With us is Katie Presley, a New Orleans Saints fan without too much at stake in this game. But also with us is Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch team. Gene is a longtime Eagles fan who had, in terms of fandom, a lot at stake in this game.

Hospital shows are a network TV staple. There are more than 625 episodes of just Grey's Anatomy and ER combined — and Grey's is still going. Just as last season, NBC found a hit in the fairly traditional family drama This Is Us, ABC has gotten lucky with the hospital show The Good Doctor.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Academy Award nominations were announced today. And if you're looking for an early front-runner, you could do worse than Guillermo del Toro's romantic science fiction fantasy "The Shape Of Water." It led the way with 13 nominations including best picture.

Updated at 11:09 a.m. ET

The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning by a dapper, genial Andy Serkis and the always-intoxicating Tiffany Haddish.

Only a few minutes into Sunday night's Golden Globes red-carpet broadcast on E!, Debra Messing explained to host Giuliana Rancic why nearly all the women were wearing black. (The men were, too, but they always do that.) Messing explained that it was part of the Time's Up initiative, which supports women who suffer from sexual harassment and assault — and not just in Hollywood. She went on to call out the recent departure from E!

The reputation of the Golden Globes is that they're the Oscars' rowdier, tipsier, weirder cousin — sometimes refreshingly so. And while awards season is always the most intense time of year for celebrity fashion, this year the allegations — and, in some cases, admissions — of sexual harassment and assault added a far more serious layer of conversation. Some women said in advance that they would wear black to convey their support for people who have reported abuse.

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RAY SUAREZ, HOST:

Twenty years ago today, the film "Titanic" opened in theaters. Titanic the ship sank in 1912. "Titanic" the movie was a huge success. NPR's pop culture critic Linda Holmes takes us back to 1997.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

This spring, we talked to Shereen Marisol Meraji, the co-host of the Code Switch podcast, about why she doesn't really like superhero films but was excited to see what director Taika Waititi did with Thor: Ragnarok. Shereen is a Waititi fan, having loved his work in the past, including the feature films Hunt For The Wilderpeople and What We Do In The Shadows.

A while ago, I heard a rumor that Tamara Keith — NPR White House correspondent and a core member of the NPR Politics Podcast team — enjoyed ABC's Shark Tank. This information was filed under "HUH," where I keep many interesting tidbits.

It's no secret that movie theaters are trying to preserve the theatrical experience as something special — something you can't replicate, even in your tricked-out living room with your home theater system. Theater design is one of the ways they're trying to add value, as consultants and Shark Tank competitors might put it.

But at a recent screening of Blade Runner 2049, I experienced a technology that isn't new but was new to me, and with it, the need to make a plea that I never expected to make. Theaters, I beg you: don't manhandle my physical being.

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