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
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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Monkey See
12:30 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Food In Pop Culture And Going Back To College

NPR

Just a very quick post this week while I work my way through my emotions about the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.

On the show this week, we're joined by our pals Gene Demby and Kat Chow to tackle the issue of food in culture, including cooking shows that feature great cooks, cooking shows that feature lousy cooks, and cooking shows that actually make us better at cooking. We talk about food for the soul and food for the glutton, and we learn a fascinating biographical tidbit about Kat.

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Monkey See
6:54 am
Sat April 18, 2015

George Lucas Sneezes, And Other Moments From His Talk With Colbert

George Lucas and Stephen Colbert talked on Friday at an event at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Grant Lamos IV Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 11:37 am

It's fair to say George Lucas is a person who has had a lot of attention paid to him.

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Monkey See
1:41 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

The Challenges Of War At A Distance

Ethan Hawke and January Jones in Andrew Niccol's Good Kill.
Lorey Sebastian Clear Skies Nevada LLC/IFC Films

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 2:32 pm

The opening moments of Good Kill, a new drama starring Ethan Hawke and written and directed by Andrew Niccol (who also directed Hawke in Gattaca), almost eerily resemble the opening moments of American Sniper. A man watches and tries to interpret the movements of a woman and child who don't see him, deciding whether to kill them. This man, however, isn't concealed nearby. The woman and child are in Afghanistan and the man is piloting a drone from an air conditioned trailer on a military base in Nevada.

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Monkey See
6:47 am
Thu April 16, 2015

Is There Anything Left To Say About 'Saturday Night Live'?

Live From New York
Edie Baskin Tribecca Film Festival

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 8:33 am

Why open a film festival whose reputation is for independent voices with a documentary salute to Saturday Night Live?

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Monkey See
8:37 am
Mon April 13, 2015

The Hapless 'Veep' Staff Trips Itself Up As Selina Ascends

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer on HBO's Veep.
Patrick Harbron HBO

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 11:02 am

One of the central conceits of the first season of HBO's Veep was the carnival of humiliations suffered by Selina Meyer, played so brilliantly by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, in her capacity as vice president. She battled for relevance while waiting for the phone to ring, surrounded by a staff even more determinedly clinging to shreds of power and significance than she was. Later, Selina wound up battling primary opponents in her own bid to become president — a path that proved to have its own endless frustrations.

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Monkey See
8:13 am
Fri April 10, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'The Comedians' And Cameo Appearances

NPR

This week, paired with the return of Louie, FX introduced a comedy series called The Comedians, which features Billy Crystal and Josh Gad as ... well, as Bizarro Billy Crystal and Josh Gad, forced to work together on a fictional FX sketch comedy show.

Does that make sense?

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Monkey See
1:51 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Small Batch Edition: 'Wolf Hall' On PBS

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell in Masterpiece's Wolf Hall.
Giles Keyte Playground & Company Pictures for MASTERPIECE/BBC/PBS

It's always a pleasure to welcome Barrie Hardymon to any Pop Culture Happy Hour, even a short one. So this week, we sat down to chat about Wolf Hall, the prizewinning novel an adaptation of which just started airing on PBS. Barrie and I talk sweating sickness, intrigue, kings, sad stories, and the fact that she is available for all your "what's going on in this scene" needs. Seriously. You can tweet at her. She thinks about Henry's wives a lot.

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Monkey See
1:12 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

Small Batch: The March Madness Of Friends On Opposite Sides

This is the Duke Blue Devil, which is here because Linda chose the photo rather than Stephen.
Andy Lyons Getty Images

I've written before about how I became a fan of Duke basketball. Stephen Thompson has talked before about being from Wisconsin (and, yes, even attending the University Of Wisconsin). As you can imagine, Monday night's men's final between our basketball teams will put us in a very tricky situation.

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Monkey See
9:38 am
Mon April 6, 2015

The Times Grow Messier As The Last Chapter Of 'Mad Men' Begins

Maliabeth Johnson as Audrey and Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the latest episode of Mad Men.
MIchael Yarish /AMC

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 10:38 am

["Spoiler" alert: This review of the season premiere of Mad Men discusses the season premiere of Mad Men.]

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Monkey See
11:11 am
Thu April 2, 2015

Jokes, Fights And Controversy In A Frictionless Void

Fer Gregory iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 5:58 pm

There's a saying about lawyers in court, which is that you never ask a question you don't know the answer to. I'm going to warn you now that this is not court, and that at the heart of this piece are a bunch of questions I don't know the answers to.

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Monkey See
11:08 am
Tue March 31, 2015

The Ups And Downs Of 'Younger' Life

Hilary Duff and Sutton Foster in Younger.
TV Land

It remains a sore point in my TV-watching heart that ABC Family's fabulous comedy-drama Bunheads lasted only one season, so I was particularly pleased to see that its star, Tony winner Sutton Foster, was coming back to television. Specifically, she's in a comedy called Younger on TV Land, which premieres Tuesday night but the pilot of which is already available to preview online.

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Monkey See
8:31 am
Mon March 30, 2015

5 Thoughts On Trevor Noah Taking Over 'The Daily Show'

Seen here in 2012, Trevor Noah was announced Monday as the new host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central.
Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 10:03 am

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Movies
4:36 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

'The Breakfast Club' At 30: '80s Classic Still Relatable Today

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 6:07 pm

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

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE BREAKFAST CLUB")

ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL: (As Brian Johnson) You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Monkey See
4:03 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Small Batch Edition: Talking 'X-Files' With Kumail Nanjiani

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson (pictured above) are both returning to The X-Files.
Getty Images

Kumail Nanjiani is a standup comedian, the co-host of the comedy show The Meltdown With Jonah And Kumail for Comedy Central, an actor (including a regular gig on HBO's Silicon Valley), and a popular Twitter presence.

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Monkey See
10:43 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Here Comes 'The X-Files,' Back For More Mulder, More Scully, And More

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny will reprise their roles as Dana Scully and Fox Mulder in The X-Files limited series.
Fox Broadcasting Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 10:58 am

Everything old really is new again. Even aliens.

Fox announced today that The X-Files, which ran on television from 1993 until 2002 and was accompanied by feature films in 1998 and 2008, will be back as a six-episode "event series," with production beginning this summer. Creator and Executive Producer Chris Carter will be in charge once again, and yes, Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) will be, too.

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Monkey See
6:46 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Nick Hornby's 'Funny Girl' And Adapting Books

NPR

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 9:23 am

While our pal Stephen Thompson is in Austin, Glen Weldon and I are happy to be spending the week talking to our pals Barrie Hardymon and Chris Klimek about the latest Nick Hornby novel, Funny Girl. It follows the life cycle of a British sitcom born in the 1960s, from its inception through its period of popularity, right through its fade and its status as a piece of nostalgia.

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Monkey See
7:39 am
Thu March 19, 2015

The 'Empire' Touch: A Cookie By Any Other Name

Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) has been the highlight of the first season of Empire.
Chuck Hodes Fox

Empire closed out its remarkable first season on Wednesday night with a two-hour finale that proved once again one of the fundamental lessons brought to you by this show: whether this is your cup of tea or not, the people who make Empire really know what they're doing.

In the finale (and if this needs saying, we're about to talk about the finale, so don't claim you weren't warned), we finally got the answers to some of the questions asked in the pilot, while at the same time, it was only entirely clear what was going on about half the time.

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Monkey See
11:55 am
Wed March 18, 2015

Small Batch Edition: On Loving Romance With Sarah Wendell

NPR

Sarah Wendell is the wrangler and editor and general mischief-maker at the site Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, which reviews and discusses romance novels and serves as a home for many devoted romance fans. She's also a fascinating speaker and writer, so when she was in town recently, we had her into the studio. First up is this Small Batch, in which Sarah and I talk about romance readers, e-reading, rating sexy books with numbers of hot peppers, and why there's an optimism at the heart of reading romance.

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Monkey See
10:36 am
Wed March 18, 2015

'The Jinx' And The Challenges of Public Curiosity

Robert Durst was the subject of the six-part HBO documentary series The Jinx.
HBO

It was hard not to compare HBO's six-part miniseries The Jinx to the hit podcast Serial. Both featured serialized storytelling from reporters unafraid to be part of the stories they were telling; both were very well received. But the similarities dissipated as the conclusions approached.

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Monkey See
9:21 am
Tue March 17, 2015

'Community': No Longer A Broadcast Show, But Still A Lovable Weirdo

Joel McHale as Jeff Winger on Community.
Trae Patton Yahoo

Community, producer Dan Harmon's increasingly self-aware sitcom, has become less and less about a band of community-college misfits and more and more about being a television show. Perhaps it's fitting that a show about being a show continues its odd life with a move from NBC to Yahoo Screen, where the first two episodes are now available.

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Monkey See
1:31 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

In 'I Hate Christian Laettner,' ESPN Explores The Belly Of The Beast

Duke's Christian Laettner stretches during a news conference in Indianapolis in March 1991.
Bob Jordan AP

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Monkey See
8:20 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Cultural Anniversaries And Great Things For Kids

NPR

Back in February, when it was terribly icy, we were scheduled to record our Oscars Omnibus live in Studio 1 at NPR HQ. Unfortunately, the weather interfered, and we had to push the show forward. While this meant we didn't have people live in the room to react with glee or horror as Stephen and Glen nearly came to blows over Boyhood, it also meant we got to gather for our rescheduled show with our pal Guy Raz, of the TED Radio Hour, to talk about time.

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Monkey See
5:01 am
Fri March 13, 2015

A Girl, A Shoe, A Prince: The Endlessly Evolving Cinderella

Cinderella and her fairy godmother in the 1950 Disney cartoon.
Courtesy of Disney Princess

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 9:47 pm

"Woman gives birth to a gourd."

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Monkey See
11:33 am
Wed March 11, 2015

A Travel Show For Your Favorite Weird-Museum And Dance Enthusiast

Courtesy of Ovation

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 2:23 pm

When we get to talking about HBO and Sling, about cord-cutting and the future of television, we tend to focus on the advantages of being able to pick out only the core channels you watch most; the ones you know you love. Now and then, though, I'm glad for the vast array of channels that are trying different things with different people, serving audiences smaller than the ones for football and Cutthroat Kitchen.

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Monkey See
7:54 am
Wed March 11, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour, Small Batch Edition: 'King Of The Nerds'

Raychelle, Ben, Lily and Kaitlin are among the nerds in tight competition on TBS's King Of The Nerds.
Trae Patton TBS

In something of a companion piece to our earlier segment on nerd culture, Stephen and Glen sit down in this edition to chat about the social dynamics at work and at play on TBS's surprisingly charming competition show King Of The Nerds. Glen carefully distinguishes it from its predecessor Beauty And The Geek, then wonders whether when nerds act like reality show contestants, they're using the tactics of the enemy.

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