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.

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Monkey See
12:35 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

The Happiest Strippers In Film History Dance Through 'Magic Mike XXL'

Stephen "Twitch" Boss, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, Joe Mangianello, Channing Tatum, and Adam Rodriguez.
Claudette Barius Warner Bros.

Pinpointing the most important conversation in Magic Mike XXL is, admittedly, a little like pinpointing the most important zoological computer model in Jurassic World, but let's do it anyway.

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Monkey See
12:37 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour, Small Batch Edition: Audiobooks

NPR

During our recent time with charming Bostonian librarian Margaret Willison, we managed to sit her down for a chat about audiobooks. We discovered that while I am a frequent listener to a variety of kinds of books (as I wrote about recently), Margaret uses them in a very different way that might appeal to some of you who like to revisit and reread your favorites.

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Monkey See
7:42 am
Fri June 26, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Judy Blume's New Book And Lifetime's 'UnREAL'

Ariel Zambelich NPR

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 9:22 pm

This week's show finds us cracking open Judy Blume's new adult novel In The Unlikely Event (it's an adult novel as in a-novel-for-adults, not an adult novel as in "too sexy for polite company). Joined by our friend and librarian-in-chief Margaret Willison, we talk about the structure of the book, the character voices, Blume's particular brand of what Margaret calls "emotional immediacy," the balancing of period references in a book set largely in the early 1950s, and lots more.

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Monkey See
12:47 pm
Fri June 19, 2015

The Weird — Weirder? — Thing About The Ferrell-Wiig Lifetime Movie

This is the real promo art for a real Lifetime movie starring Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell.
Lifetime

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Monkey See
8:59 am
Fri June 19, 2015

Why The Key Character In 'Inside Out' Is The One Who Isn't There

Riley is on her own in Inside Out.
Pixar

Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 9:38 am

Villains are staples of stories for kids. Making them bigger, meaner, madder, more impossible to defeat — that's how you build the ideas of fear and then, inevitably, of courage. A small person faces a giant, or a witch, or a wolf, or Jafar, or Cruella De Vil, or the Buy 'N' Large, and by watching that happen, you learn. You learn what it takes to beat the bad guy. You learn that you, too, can beat the bad guy. You learn not to lose heart and not to give up. You use something inside yourself to beat something outside yourself.

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Monkey See
7:30 am
Fri June 19, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Inside Out' And Moms And Dads In Love

Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) catch a ride on the Train of Thought in Disney and Pixar's Inside Out.
Pixar

I'm just going to tell you right off the bat, you guys: we really liked Inside Out. This does not exactly make us outliers in the critical landscape, but we sit down this week with the great Kat Chow of NPR's Code Switch team to talk about the film. It's a thought-provoking story and visually inventive, so we'll spend some time on the various creative forces at work. At the same time, we ding its one weak scene that unfortunately shows up in a lot of the trailers and we debate who cried the most.

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Books
3:50 pm
Tue June 16, 2015

The Heat Is On With These Summer Romance Novels

Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 3:16 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Book Reviews
9:18 am
Tue June 16, 2015

'Modern Romance' And The Emerging Audiobook

Aziz Ansari.
Joe Scarnici Getty Images

Audiobooks have traditionally been tricky to get right and even harder to make special. Very often, they're literally just books read aloud, to the best of the ability of a single, usually highly skilled reader. In fiction, you get readers who are asked to provide voices for however many characters the author invented.

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Monkey See
1:48 pm
Mon June 15, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour, Small Batch Edition: 'Jurassic World'

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World.
Chuck Zlotnick Universal Pictures

You may have heard that Jurassic World made more than $500 million worldwide in its opening weekend. That's $500 million, 5-0-0. Its nearly $209 million weekend in the U.S. alone makes it the highest-grossing U.S. opening weekend ever. That's ever, e-ver.

So how's the movie? It's fine. Does it justify having had the biggest domestic box-office opening weekend of all time? That's a pretty tall order for a pretty medium-sized movie, creatively speaking.

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Monkey See
12:43 pm
Fri June 12, 2015

How 'Silicon Valley' Tells Broad Truths From An Insular World

Zach Woods, T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch, Kumail Nanjiani, and Martin Starr.
Frank Masi HBO

Originally published on Fri June 12, 2015 2:12 pm

HBO's Silicon Valley ends its second season Sunday night with a finale I have seen and will warn you is so tense that I actually skipped forward a little bit at one point. That's how suspenseful I found it. And remember: it's a comedy.

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Monkey See
8:21 am
Fri June 12, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Spy' And Other Director-Actor Pairings

Melissa McCarthy gets a star-vehicle movie of her own in Spy.
Larry Horricks/ Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

This week, we're lucky enough to welcome our pal Audie Cornish back to the panel for a discussion of Spy, the latest comedy (after The Heat and Bridesmaids) to team Melissa McCarthy with director Paul Feig. (If you're nostalgic, you can listen to our affectionate review of The Heat here. It's also the episode with a whole segment on The Price Is Right. Happy Friday!)

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Monkey See
10:02 am
Mon June 8, 2015

WATCH: 11-Year-Old Sydney Lucas Destroys At The Tony Awards

Sydney Lucas performs "Ring Of Keys" from Fun Home on the Tony Awards broadcast Sunday night.
Heather Wines CBS

Sydney Lucas didn't happen to win the Tony Award she was nominated for on Sunday night, but it took nothing away from the fact that she was the highlight of the entire broadcast. Lucas plays Small Alison in Fun Home, the musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir about her coming of age that won the award for Best Musical. Lucas sang "Ring Of Keys," which tells the story of Alison seeing a woman who ... well, she'll tell you.

Monkey See
9:21 am
Fri June 5, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Romance Novel Special

Summer romance reads!
Ariel Zambelich NPR

This week is a special one for us at Pop Culture Happy Hour: we invited our pals Barrie Hardymon and Petra Mayer, along with the marvelous and hugely knowledgeable Sarah Wendell, who runs the romance web site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

Here's what you're really looking for if you're looking at this post: the list of recommendations, both authors and specific books (and a couple other things) that all of us (mostly Sarah) rattled off over the course of this show. So let's just get on with it.

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Monkey See
4:41 pm
Wed June 3, 2015

Every Song In 'The Last Five Years,' Ranked By Uncontrollable Sobbing

Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick in The Last Five Years.
Thomas Concordia TIFF

Let's get weepy, people. Seriously, seriously weepy. And ... I mean, spoiler alert, obviously. But this show and movie sort of spoils itself structurally, so.

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Monkey See
8:59 am
Wed June 3, 2015

Small Batch Edition: We Really, Really Hated 'The Briefcase'

The Amanda and John Musolino, one of the families featured on The Briefcase.
CBS

It's pretty rare for us to spend much time on something with no redeeming qualities at all, but it's also pretty rare to come across something as devoid of redeeming qualities as The Briefcase.

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Television
3:02 pm
Mon June 1, 2015

Lifetime's Scripted Drama 'Unreal' Goes Behind The Scenes Of Reality TV

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 8:46 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

If you would never watch a television show like "The Bachelor," or if it's your guilty pleasure, well, a new drama called "UnREAL" may be equally appealing.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "UNREAL")

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Monkey See
9:33 am
Mon June 1, 2015

'UnREAL' Is An Unsettling Look At Making Unsettling Television

Shiri Appleby and Josh Kelly play Rachel and Jeremy, who are uncomfortable around each other for reasons that are initially a little unclear.
James Dittiger Lifetime

The least promising thing about Lifetime's strong new drama UnREAL, which takes place behind the scenes of a The Bachelor-like show, is its title. Yes, it's capitalized in the self-consciously offbeat way common to overvalued tech startups and adolescents experimenting with identity.

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Monkey See
8:28 am
Fri May 29, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Tomorrowland,' The Future And The Past

NPR

Originally published on Fri May 29, 2015 10:56 am

The Brad Bird-directed Tomorrowland didn't make a lot of dough in its opening weekend, despite Bird's impressive reputation and the star power of George Clooney. It didn't get great reviews, either, but one of us (spoiler alert: it was me) liked it more than a lot of people did. We talk on this episode with our friend Bob Mondello about how the film's underlying message about optimism works and doesn't work, and about how its execution of its ambitious concept sometimes lets down the things it's trying to say.

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Monkey See
7:34 am
Fri May 29, 2015

David Oyelowo Flies Solo In HBO's 'Nightingale'

David Oyelowo stars in Nightingale.
Joseph Cultice HBO

Inevitability has a crucial role in lots of good dramatic works, and every good use of it gives lie to the idea that it's definitionally incompetent to create anything "predictable." From the opening minutes of Nightingale, a new film airing on HBO Friday night starring David Oyelowo (Selma), there is only thick dread about what is going to happen to Peter Snowden, the only character on screen for the nearly 90-minute running time.

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Monkey See
8:31 am
Mon May 18, 2015

'Mad Men' Ends, Singing A Familiar Song

Jon Hamm as Don Draper.
AMC

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 12:48 pm

[This discussion of the Mad Men finale gives away all kinds of information about the Mad Men finale, so if you don't want to know things about it, please stop reading.]

The hippies were probably inevitable.

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Monkey See
7:48 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Pitch Perfect 2' And Summer Movies

Pitch Perfect 2
Richard Cartwright Universal Pictures

This week's show came to you a little late, because that's how much we wanted to drag our pal Petra Mayer of NPR Books to see Pitch Perfect 2 with us before we taped.

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Monkey See
10:14 am
Tue May 12, 2015

Black Widow, Scarce Resources And High-Stakes Stories

Scarlett Johansson plays Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff in Marvel's Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
Jay Maidment Marvel

[This post about the plot and characters in Avengers: Age Of Ultron discusses the plot and characters in Avengers: Age Of Ultron.]

We were never going to avoid gender politics with a character named "Black Widow."

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Monkey See
9:16 am
Mon May 11, 2015

What Is Upfronts Week, Anyway?: 5 Questions Answered

The limited information of upfronts week: This is John Stamos in the new comedy Grandfathered, coming to Fox. In it, he apparently hangs out with this baby!
Jennifer Clasen Fox

What's upfronts week, anyway?

Upfronts week is when the broadcast networks, in this order and in general, (1) make final decisions about canceling or keeping existing shows, (2) unveil their schedules for the fall and spring seasons, and (3) present their new shows to advertisers to kick off their ad sales. In other words, "Look at this beautiful show! Wouldn't you like to put your beautiful commercial right between the first and second acts?"

What do we know about new shows at this point?

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Monkey See
8:00 am
Mon May 11, 2015

The End Of 'American Idol'

Ryan Seacrest (from left), Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban
Matthias Vriens-McGrath Fox

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 12:23 pm

[Note: Listen to the audio above to hear a conversation I had with Pop Culture Happy Hour team member Stephen Thompson about the end of the show.]

Ahead of its fall programming presentation to advertisers in the afternoon, Fox announced Monday that the 15th season of American Idol, which will begin in January 2016, will be the last.

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Monkey See
12:28 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

'Grace And Frankie' Looks At Life Unexpectedly Alone

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the Netflix series Grace and Frankie.
Melissa Moseley Netflix

Originally published on Sat May 9, 2015 7:48 am

The opening credits of the new Netflix comedy (maybe comedy-drama) Grace And Frankie lay out the show's high concept using the song "Stuck In The Middle With You" and a set of wedding cake toppers. You see two couples, then two couples with kids, then the husbands kissing, then the abandoned women falling through the broken cake.

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Monkey See
11:25 am
Thu May 7, 2015

'I Am Big Bird' Finds An Artist Under The Feathers

An archival photo of Caroll Spinney at work.
Courtesy of Robert Furhing

The film I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, which focuses on the life of puppeteer Spinney, avoids a few common pitfalls in the biographical documentary. It doesn't occupy its entire running time with people saying how amazing Spinney is or with testimonials to the importance of his work. It doesn't return to the same analyses of the effects of Sesame Street on children that have been offered a million times before. It doesn't explain over and over how puppeteers merge with their characters.

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Monkey See
9:01 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Amy Schumer Puts Her Own Looks On Trial

Front row (from left): Chris Gethard, Nick DiPaolo, Vincent Kartheiser. Back row (from left): Henry Zebrowski, Paul Giamatti.
Comedy Central

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 11:59 am

On the fantastic advice podcast Judge John Hodgman, one of the things Hodgman always says in getting litigants to relay their stories is that "specificity is the soul of narrative." Specificity is also the soul of parody, as we saw Tuesday night on Inside Amy Schumer.

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Monkey See
9:20 am
Mon May 4, 2015

'Mad Men' Skates Across A Changed And Changing Landscape

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in Mad Men.
AMC AMC

Sunday night's Mad Men was the antepenultimate episode of the series – a word we don't get to use enough, but one that can be surprisingly significant in television. The second to last episode is often (rightly or wrongly) understood and analyzed as finale table-setting, so this third to last episode is sometimes the last that feels like the regular show. And for Mad Men, it seemed to serve as a crystallizing hour for the themes that the show has returned to over and over, reaching no conclusions about those themes but turning them over and over in its narrative hands.

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Monkey See
10:08 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Free Comic Book Day And Rabbit Holes

NPR

Another year, another Free Comic Book Day!

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Monkey See
3:21 am
Sat April 25, 2015

The Hard Work And Close Bonds Of Competitive College A Cappella

Voices In Your Head, from the University of Chicago, performs their competition set. In the front, you can see Kari Wei — she's the one with the pitch pipe around her neck.
Joe Martinez Photography

Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 10:36 am

It's been many years since I did my three semesters of college a cappella, but it remains a genre of performance for which I have enormous affection. In 2012, the arrival of Pitch Perfect meant that suddenly, I knew a lot more people who even knew what a college a cappella was.

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