Linda Holmes | KNKX

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.

Comedian Hari Kondabolu made a documentary in 2017 called The Problem With Apu. It's not very long — less than an hour. In it, he interrogates the legacy of Apu, the convenience store owner on The Simpsons voiced by Hank Azaria. Kondabolu talked to other actors and comics who longed for more South Asian representation, only to find that at the time, Apu was just about all there was. And Apu was not only voiced by a white actor, but he was doing what Azaria has acknowledged is a take on Peter Sellers doing an Indian accent in the movie The Party.

There is a fundamental audacity to Jesus Christ Superstar, which was staged as a live "concert" performance on NBC on Sunday night. First released as a concept album in 1970, the work by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice not only imagines a very human story behind the final days in the life of Jesus, but it focuses on that story even when it involves ugliness, vanity, and conflict. It posits that Jesus felt not only frustration, but even resentment and ambivalence — not only about his faith, but about his own followers. On the one hand, it's kind of an obvious choice for Easter.

Earlier this week, in the season 22 finale of The Bachelor, Arie Luyendyk Jr. whittled his potential fiancees down to two. But wait — there was twist. Luyendyk proposed to one of them, Becca ... and then he changed his mind and dumped her on-camera because he wanted to date Lauren, the woman he'd rejected. Viewers then saw 14 minutes of Becca crying her eyes out, which lead fans and critics to accuse The Bachelor of "manipulating the finale."

It only stands to reason that the most surprising Oscars might be followed by the least surprising Oscars.

Updated at 11:09 a.m. ET

The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning by a dapper, genial Andy Serkis and the always-intoxicating Tiffany Haddish.

Only a few minutes into Sunday night's Golden Globes red-carpet broadcast on E!, Debra Messing explained to host Giuliana Rancic why nearly all the women were wearing black. (The men were, too, but they always do that.) Messing explained that it was part of the Time's Up initiative, which supports women who suffer from sexual harassment and assault — and not just in Hollywood. She went on to call out the recent departure from E!

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.)

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).

Well, excuse me while I throw away my first draft, won't you?

Perhaps nobody cares about their clothes anymore.

Back in 2013, Monkey See brought you an exclusive interview — "exclusive" in the sense that it happened only in our minds and we therefore were the only ones who knew about it — with the iron, just after Monopoly announced it was being retired from the game. During that interview, the iron darkly alluded to a difficult history with another game piece: the thimble.

Mary Tyler Moore, who died Wednesday, wasn't just beloved. She was the kind of beloved where they build you a statue. Moore's statue is in Minneapolis, where her best-known character, Mary Richards of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, worked for the fictional television station WJM. She'd already won two Emmys playing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, but Moore cemented her icon status when Mary Richards walked into that job interview. Even if she got off to a rough start with Lou Grant, her soon-to-be boss, who kept a bottle of whiskey in his desk.

Most television shows arrive accompanied by the question, "Is it good?" Revivals of old shows, however, often arrive with the question, "Is it necessary?"

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:

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

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

Tonight (Monday), ABC will air a special at 8 p.m. ET called It's Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown, to mark the half-century since A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired in 1965. Then at 9, it will air the special itself.

The hard numbers on Sunday night's Primetime Emmy Awards told a story that could look a little dull to the glancing eye.

[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.

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.

The rain that fell on Hollywood as the hours of red-carpet coverage wore on may have provided one of the evening's best visuals: actual people running around wearing plastic bags as they guided famous people out of limos, under umbrellas and to the waiting microphones of interviewers who wanted to know who made the dress, the shoes, the jewelry. It was literally the packing up and encasing of humanity to keep reality out: What could be more Oscars than that?

The nominees are in, the arguments have been had, and the ceremony is all that's left of Oscar season. (Well, and the griping over what should have won.)

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.

[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.]

It's hard to believe that not only was there no Serial six months ago, there was no Serial three months ago. The hugely popular podcast, a spinoff production of This American Life, didn't even premiere until early October, but since then, it has made its way with great speed into worlds from Sesame Street to Funny Or Die.

I've been listening to Startup — the podcast started by Planet Money alum Alex Blumberg to talk about the establishment of his company, Gimlet Media — since it debuted in early September. It appears every other Monday, so they posted their seventh episode this morning.

I'm surprised it took me until their fourth episode, which I heard on October 10, to notice that I couldn't remember any women being heard on the show other than Blumberg's [awesome and hilarious] wife and the [less present but probably also delightful] wife of his business partner, Matt.

Part of the hook of the fine podcast Serial, spun off from This American Life and hosted by Sarah Koenig, is that it feels exactly like the grungy, procedurally exacting, multi-episode stories that are so popular right now on television. It feels so much like a great series on Showtime or HBO; it has the flavor of the anticipation and blind alleys and you-gotta-see-this social anticipation of True Detective or Fargo.

For a couple of lovely weeks in October, our dear pal Ari Shapiro — who has long since forgiven us for making him watch the VMAs and Olympus Has Fallen for a prior episode — was back at NPR HQ to host Weekend Edition. While we had him here, we grabbed him up for a conversation about Transparent and pop culture debuts.

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