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 week, now that more of you have had a chance to see it, we're finally getting around to talking about the critical and commercial success that is Wonder Woman. Petra Mayer of NPR Books joins us to talk about Diana, her island of fighters, her romance, the inevitable Great Big Ending, representation that does and doesn't exist in this movie, and more.

The 2016 Tony Awards were fun, but undeniably a little anticlimactic. By then, it was in large part a coronation of Hamilton, a delivery mechanism for the many, many awards we all knew it would win. (And did.)

This week's show combines two segments from our fall tour that we haven't had a chance to share yet, because we've been so busy dealing with new things from week to week. First, from our Seattle show with Audie Cornish, we talk about when you hang in with culture until the very end and when you quit — or, as you might say, throw a book across the room. (Glen has strong feelings about this.) Shonda Rhimes, how to watch Law & Order, and lots more will go by the window as you travel through this segment.

Award-winning writer Denis Johnson died Thursday at 67, according to his publisher, Farrar Straus and Giroux. The prolific writer explored many forms during his career, and in 2007, novelist Nathan Englander wrote about Johnson's short story collection Jesus' Son for NPR.

Because of a scheduling snafu this week, it's just me and Stephen Thompson sitting down with our sci-fi buddy Chris Klimek to talk about Alien: Covenant, the film that dares to ask: "Is it okay if I put this little thing in your ear? I promise it won't grow into something that will burst out of your chest."

Then, we move on to a visit with Selina Meyer and friends as another season of Veep finds the group out of office and loving it. Or ... not really loving it, more like tooth-grittingly enduring it until something else can be arranged.

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Now we're going to have the time of our lives.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DIRTY DANCING")

COLT PRATTES: (As Johnny Castle) What's your name?

ABIGAIL BRESLIN: (As Baby Houseman) Baby.

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Oh, yes. Get out.

First, let me remind you: we've still got tickets to see us live in L.A. on June 15, where our fourth chair will be Shereen Marisol Meraji. We've got lots of good fun planned, since we figure everybody can use a night of good fun, so join us!

We've been known to enjoy a mix of the sublime and the ridiculous, and it's a week that's a little bit like that as we take on one of the best shows we've covered in a while and one of the most vexing movies.

You don't need me to tell you how much more television there is than there used to be, or how many more places you can find it. You don't need me to tell you that its population of creatively ambitious and idiosyncratic shows has grown enormously, as has its population of cheaply made UCSs – Undiscovered Channel Shows, where you learn that a show is entering its third season and only then do you realize that (1) it exists and (2) your byzantine cable menu actually does get that channel (although perhaps not in HD).

The first season of Master Of None, the thoughtful Netflix comedy starring Aziz Ansari and created by Ansari and Alan Yang, was one of the best pieces of comedy-drama to come out in 2015. Now, about a year and a half later, they're back with a second season that is even better, more ambitious, more creative and more moving than the first run was.

On this week's show, we have probably the biggest tonal difference between our first and second segments in our history, so stay with me.

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Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

The first thing comedian Chris Gethard says in his new special, Career Suicide, is that he started seeing his current psychiatrist in 2007, but only started dating the woman who's now his wife in 2012. His doctor — named Barb — is the framing device for an hour and a half of discussion about depression, anxiety, telling people you have depression and anxiety, and what it is that people need and ask from one another.

First up, let me mention this: one big piece of news out of this week's show is that we announced a live show at the Bell House in Brooklyn on June 6. Tickets will be on sale May 9, and we've been known to sell out pretty quickly sometimes, so be there at noon on Tuesday the 9th and grab your tickets!

Last year, the Tony Awards were swamped, particularly in the minds of many who only follow theater casually, by the phenomenon that was Hamilton. It got 16 nominations, it seemed like (and was) a lock to win many of them, and every other Tony story struggled to get a little bit of sunlight.

We're always excited for the beginning of summer movie season. Despite the fact that it's almost guaranteed to contain some major disappointments and jarring disasters, we often find goofy fun, sharp writing and new stars blowing up (sometimes literally) our cinematic seasons.

The first thing you may notice about Great News, a comedy premiering Tuesday night on NBC, is its similarities to 30 Rock. Here, a news producer named Katie (Briga Heelan) has her work life disrupted when her boss (Adam Campbell) hires her loving but overbearing mom (the great Andrea Martin, late of SCTV and truckloads of comedy since then) as an intern at the station. And while the focus is news rather than late night, the frustrated goofball at the center of a constantly careening television production has a familiar tone.

The first thing you should know about this week's show is that PCHH regular Glen Weldon has a strict rule against seeing Fast And The Furious movies, and while he would have waived it if he absolutely had to, we fortunately had willing correspondents in beloved fourth chairs Gene Demby and Chris Klimek, so they joined me and Stephen Thompson for our first segment.

It's not just Hamilton.

Musicals have always had a built-in advantage as cultural products. Individual songs can translate and build interest via cast albums or Tony telecasts in a way that's very difficult for plays to emulate. A lot of kids grow up on musicals like Grease and Annie -- and, yes, now Hamilton — while early introductions to plays, however great, might make them seem impenetrable or like homework. (I'm looking at you, William Shakespeare, and doing so lovingly.)

Note: This piece discusses the plot details from the sixth-season premiere of Veep.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page


Would you believe this time, Ned Ryerson gets a big ballad about the meaning of life?

Our team is just back from a wonderful live show in Chicago — thank you all for coming! — with W. Kamau Bell as our special guest and Sam Sanders in our fourth chair. (Both were wonderful.) We'll have audio from that show in your feeds later, but this week, we've got a special edition.

First up, we bring you a segment Glen Weldon did with our buddy Gene Demby of Code Switch about diversity in comics. It originally aired on the Code Switch podcast, but we thought we'd bring it to you here as well.

We're all back at the table this week, and we're joined by our library consultant, Boston pal, and wearer of colorful clothing, Margaret H. Willison. First up, we all listened to the new podcast S-Town, which has again raised the profile of narrative podcasts. This one, in seven parts, is about a man who wrote to This American Life to air his complaints about his small Alabama hometown — and that was only the very, very beginning of a complex story.

Tale as old as tiiiiiiime ...

By which, of course, I mean "tired people return from South By Southwest."

But in any event: this week's show kicks off with a discussion with our pal Katie Presley of Bitch Media about the live-action version of Disney's Beauty And The Beast. How are the candlesticks? How's the new music? And, as Katie wonders, is there adequate eroticism within the Beast, compared to the cartoon Beast who set Katie's young heart aflutter so many years ago? And what's the Les Miz-iest part of the Beast's new tune, anyway?

The six-episode podcast Missing Richard Simmons dropped its final episode on Monday, two days ahead of schedule. For a project nominally devoted to finding out more about what happened to onetime fitness guru Richard Simmons, it wasn't very satisfying by that standard. Host Dan Taberski concluded, in effect, that Richard Simmons was safe and physically healthy and had withdrawn voluntarily from public life without much fanfare, which is ... pretty much what we already knew. That's what Simmons had said in a call to Today that Taberski played again and again.

First, it was the iron. Then, it was the thimble. Now, Monopoly has kicked two more longtime tokens out of the game.

Step away, boot. Roll yourself away, wheelbarrow.

While we're waiting for Stephen Thompson to return from South By Southwest, we wanted to bring you two of the segments we did on our fall tour with friend of the show Guy Branum, who hosts the Maximum Fun podcast Pop Rocket and is also the host of the upcoming TruTV show Talk Show The Game Show, based on a live format he's been doing for a while. Guy joined us at the Now Hear This festival in Anaheim to talk about memes and fads, and to offer some pop culture advice to our listeners.

I've shed many of my physical books during my various moves, but one that I still have is Bill Walsh's Lapsing Into A Comma. Its subtitle: A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong In Print — and How to Avoid Them. I either loaned it to someone at some point or I intended to, because I wrote on the dedication page: "A book I read and loved, that it takes a grouchy writer to appreciate."

That comma should not be there, so that's embarrassing.

You've probably read by now at least a little bit about Jordan Peele's well-reviewed and very commercially successful horror movie Get Out. And many of you, I'm sure, have seen it. With the film a couple of weeks into its run, we thought it was the right time to sit down with Gene Demby and Kat Chow from Code Switch (while Stephen Thompson was out of town) to talk about this very, very creepy movie.

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The third season of "American Crime" premieres this Sunday on ABC.

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