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.

On Sunday night, the big Grammy Award winners included Beck and Sam Smith, both of whom put out records that moved pretty slowly. As Stephen Thompson and I note in our wrap-up of the night, the ceremony was a little heavy also, despite some strong performances and a helpful infusion of social commentary.

This is the time of year when it never hurts to give our very own Stephen Thompson a week off to continue studying hard for various music festivals and planning for family birthdays, so we're happy that Glen and I could sit down with PCHH regulars Gene Demby and Tanya Ballard Brown to talk about one very silly television show and one very good conversation.

Fresh Off The Boat, a comedy premiering Wednesday night on ABC, is the rare series that features Asian-American actors in a show about an Asian-American family. It closely resembles ABC's Black-ish not primarily because both shows feature casts of color, but because both shows share a sort of emerging ABC house style, in which slightly hapless but deeply lovable narrators have family adventures while constantly teetering at the edge of a very much heightened reality.

As longtime PCHH listeners know, Stephen Thompson hosts a Super Bowl party every year that keeps him hopping and keeps us from discussing the game in real time as we otherwise would. Therefore, we sat down Monday morning to catch up about the game, including the phenomenon of concluding you've witnessed an inexplicable play call from someone who knows much, much more about football than you do. We also talk about the Katy Perry halftime show, the surprisingly sentimental ads and lots more.

The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has yet to find its Mad Men or Transparent -- the show that will make it an instant player the way those shows did for AMC and Amazon. But today, they announced that later this year, production will begin on a scripted drama series inspired by the Natalie Baszile novel Queen Sugar, on which Oprah Winfrey will collaborate with Ava DuVernay, the director of Best Picture nominee Selma. The story is about a woman living in Los Angeles who moves to her father's 800-acre sugar cane farm in Louisiana after his death.

On this week's show, we start off by chatting with our friend Barrie Hardymon about the CW's terrific telenovela adaptation Jane The Virgin. Why the show is so good, why the show is so different, why the show has been so well received, and have we mentioned how much we adore the lead, Gina Rodriguez? (If you haven't ever read the speech she gave at press tour about turning down Devious Maids, which I reference in the discussion, you really should.)

There's a solid argument to be made against a reboot of Ghostbusters, just as there's a solid argument to be made against a reboot of just about anything. You could take any group of creative people, put them together, and wish they'd just start from scratch rather than revisit a property that's already been done.

However.

On this week's Pop Culture Happy Hour, we're joined from Boston by PCHH's official enthusiastic librarian, Margaret Willison. We begin with a conversation about Broad City, the Comedy Central show that recently kicked off its second season (you can see the event Stephen talks about right here). We talk about some of the show's influences, some of what makes it special, and some of the ways it pushes against the boundaries of typical television.

One of my favorite bonkers displays of the year is the National Costume Show at the Miss Universe pageant. I don't watch the pageant, I don't care who wins, I don't think any of the countries are funny, I don't think any of the cultural references in the outfits are funny, but the costumes are hysterical, and this is basically the joyful, glittering, headpiece-wearing Olympics Of Gaudy Excess, and I could not be more on board. The captions have all the info you could ever need and then some.

The wedding of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) was one of Parks and Recreation's greatest moments. So was the wedding of April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt). But Tuesday night, Parks spent the second half of its hourlong double episode on its greatest love story: the friendship of Leslie and Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman).

It's perhaps not surprising that the strongest part of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on its debut Monday was the part that looked the most like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, with which it shares considerable DNA. Wilmore opened with an observation that the Oscar nominations are "so white a grand jury decided not to indict them," acknowledged Selma and said the words "Eric Garner" and "Ferguson" in the teaser before the show open even rolled. (What was on Colbert's show the "pre-eagle" moment.)

The high bar that a biopic about Whitney Houston has to clear is essentially this: Is it better than just watching YouTube videos of Whitney Houston singing? Does it somehow tell you more, open her up more, explain her legacy more? Because honestly, all it takes is watching her sing to understand why she was as beloved as she was, from her arrival as a 21-year-old phenomenon through her The Bodyguard superstardom and the shocking news that she had died the night before the 2012 Grammy Awards.

This week's show — which was taped before Thursday's Oscar nominations — is focused on Ava DuVernay's drama Selma, and we're happy to be joined by our pal and Code Switch blogger Gene Demby, who also recently wrote a terrific piece in Politico about what he talked about as a new civil rights movement. It made sense, we thought, to make sure he was with us to cover a movie about the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

[At the top of this post, you'll find a discussion I had with Stephen Thompson, my Pop Culture Happy Hour co-panelist, about the Oscar nominations. Tomorrow's full PCHH episode more fully covers the film Selma.]

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