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 Television Critics Association is ... okay, that's the easy part. It's an association of people who write about television, mostly as critics, although many function, either instead or in addition, as reporters. I'm in it, as is NPR's full-time TV critic Eric Deggans, as are a couple hundred other people. And twice a year — once in the summer and once in the winter — we gather in the L.A. area for what's referred to as either "press tour" or "TCA," so that we can hear about what's coming up on TV and get a chance to talk to the people who make it.

It's been a busy couple of weeks in the world; how are you doing?

We had the rare opportunity to pull the extremely busy Ari Shapiro into our fourth chair this week, just in time to join us for a chat about Ghostbusters, the latest summer action comedy to bust its way into theaters. We talked about its PG-13-ness, its lineup of very funny women, its place in the impressive Feig/McCarthy canon, and lots more.

I suspect I was about eight years old at the time I'm remembering. I had to go to bed at 8:00 on school nights, except that one night a week, I could stay up until 8:30. I got to pick the night, and I generally picked Tuesdays, because that's when Happy Days was on.

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There is a myth that the most worshipped woman in popular culture is the one perceived as most perfectly beautiful, but that's not so. What's worshipped the most is the one who threads the needle most precisely such that she is almost impossibly beautiful, but something about her brings her toward you and into focus, close enough that you feel like you could touch her.

As of last weekend, we thought the show we'd be bringing you today would be primarily about Independence Day: Resurgence, which seems like the umpteenth sequel this summer to open with soft box office and exhausted reviews. But then we remembered: we don't have to see it.

It's a pleasure every week to take a little time to talk about culture, and it's especially a pleasure when we get to welcome a new member to our fourth chair. This week, it's Daisy Rosario of Latino USA, who you might have heard previously during a discussion with me about the upcoming Gilmore Girls return.

The rant is a staple of sports fandom. At Thanksgiving, at the office, in bars, via text, on Twitter — wherever sports fans go, rants go, too.

It makes sense, then, that the biggest headline out of Wednesday's premiere of Bill Simmons' new HBO talk show Any Given Wednesday was a sports rant. And it wasn't from the first guest, Charles Barkley. It was from the second guest, Ben Affleck.

"Specificity is the soul of narrative" is a thing John Hodgman likes to say when he's hearing cases on the smart and funny Judge John Hodgman podcast, and it's applicable to documentary film, too. Documentaries devoted to a topic with heft do better if they can find a particular angle, a particular way into the question.

In August of 2015, I wrote a list of five fictional TV shows representing some of the ideas networks seem to return to over and over (and over) again. One of the entries read like this:

It's odd to view the O.J. Simpson trial in a renewed cultural spotlight today, 22 years after the murders and 21 years after the verdicts, almost in defiance of our tendency to observe round-number anniversaries. But between FX's The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story earlier this year and now Ezra Edelman's 7 1/2-hour documentary O.J.: Made In America, we are not observing a milestone, but attempting an almost convulsive reckoning with every open or tenuously bound wound the case touched and still touches: racism and sexism, certainly.

On May 30, Slate published a feature called The Black Film Canon, a list of the 50 greatest films by black directors.

"We were high school sweethearts. Ever since college."

It's strange to describe the apparent purchase and forgiveness of nearly $15 million in medical debt as "impish," but bear with me.

Oh, how I'd like to tell you the first thing you will see in Season 2 of Lifetime's clever, cutting drama series UnREAL.

NBC hyped its new Maya & Marty variety series, starring Maya Rudolph and Martin Short, as a sort of whimsical variety show. What actually emerged Tuesday night, on the other hand, was a slack Saturday Night Live imitator for the prime-time summer nights where reruns used to live.

[Note: This is where a spoiler warning would usually go, but in this case, the warning is this: it's a post about The Bachelorette. You should only read it if you're interested in a post about The Bachelorette.

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This week's show finds Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon and Gene Demby (Gene Demby, that is, of NPR's coming-soon Code Switch podcast, and this is where I would insert a praise-hands emoji if we did that in blog posts around here) chatting about Captain America: Civil War. They talk about the action, the Bucky situation, the Tony situation, the kissing, and much, much more.

When you first wrap your head around its plot, the new film Captain America: Civil War seems to have abandoned most of the pointed political content of Marvel's 2006 comics series Civil War, on which it's based. ("Loosely based"? Let's say "semi-loosely based.")

We're so excited that this week's show brings Danielle Henderson to our fourth chair. You might remember Danielle from the chat she and I had about American Crime earlier this spring, and she's back to talk to us about the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley, which just kicked off its third season. We chat about the writing style, the ensemble, the surprisingly nuanced comedic treatment of billionaires, and lots more.

On Tuesday, April 19, the news broke that Michael Strahan would leave Live with Kelly and Michael to join Good Morning America. Strahan, who had been with Live since 2012, had been doing some work for GMA for a while, but now was making the switch full-time for good. A week later, the titular Kelly and Michael did their first show together since the announcement.

We're a ways into The Phenom, Noah Buschel's tense drama about a young pitcher named Hopper Gibson, Jr. (Johnny Simmons) who's been busted down to the minors after a sudden case of the yips, when Hopper comes home and encounters his father, Hopper Sr. Senior is played by Ethan Hawke and has returned after being gone a while and not being missed. We have been told about him, enough to know he's bad news, and enough to know that he's obsessed with Hopper's baseball career as well as his own wasted promise as an athlete.

One of the best things about covering film festivals — like the Tribeca Film Festival, where I'll be for a couple of days — is seeing people's work with very little context around it. By the time films are released in theaters, particularly when they're being heavily marketed, I usually know a lot about them. I know something about what to expect, I know a good bit about the directors and actors, and very often, the film has been on various planning calendars for months.

On this week's show, Stephen Thompson takes the week off to tend to his house full of cats while both All Things Considered host Audie Cornish and superlibrarian and Two Bossy Dames co-writer Margaret H. "Hulahoop" Willison join me and Glen Weldon to talk about romantic comedy.

Chatter about Catastrophe, a series that airs on regular TV in the UK and streams on Amazon in the US, often concentrates on how gleefully frank and filthy it is. Written by its stars, Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, the show follows a American man and an Irish (sorry! originally said "British"; I'm a distracted American) woman whose fling leads to a pregnancy, then a marriage and a love affair, in that order.

Chatter about Catastrophe, a series that airs on regular TV in the UK and streams on Amazon in the US, often concentrates on how gleefully frank and filthy it is. Written by its stars, Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, the show follows a American man and an Irish (sorry! originally said "British"; I'm a distracted American) woman whose fling leads to a pregnancy, then a marriage and a love affair, in that order.

It's a fun week at Pop Culture Happy Hour, as we welcome back, as this week's fourth chair, original PCHH panelist Trey Graham, who gives an update on how he's been since he departed NPR. We're so excited to see Trey, and we know a lot of you will be, too.

Oh, American Idol. You were too good for this world.

OK, maybe not too good. Maybe too rooted in people voting via telephone calls.

The pilot of The CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was one of my favorite pieces of TV last year. Energetic and intriguingly unnerving, it set up the story of Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), who leaves her fancy New York lawyer job to move to West Covina, California, on an impulse. The impulse: a deeply felt, consciously irrational (and therefore officially denied) desire to pursue her ex-boyfriend, Josh Chan, who she'd learned was living there.

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