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What's Making Us Happy: A Guide For Your Weekend Watching, Listening And Reading

Elizabeth Holmes (center) walks into the federal courthouse for her trial in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday.
Nic Coury
Elizabeth Holmes (center) walks into the federal courthouse for her trial in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday.

Sometimes we find it hard to pry ourselves away from the news, but even when we can't, we often can find things that are good to watch or listen to or read that either keep us entertained, make us smarter, or help us understand things a little better.

What to watch

Run the World, Starz

Run the World on Starz is a half-hour comedy-drama series that kind of ran under the radar over the summer, but I recently went on a binge and watched all of the first season, and I really enjoyed it. It's a show about four black women living in Harlem in their thirties. So, as a 30-something Black woman, even though I don't live in Harlem, it was kind of right up my alley. I was curious about it, and it's definitely drawing from many of its TV forbearers like Sex and the City, Girlfriends, and even to some extent, Insecure. All four women have, of course, the typical TV living-in-an-urban-environment jobs, like blogger or writer. One of them is an academic at Columbia. These women are not poor, or at least they're not struggling in the way that a lot of millennials might be right now. So it's got an element of fantasy to it, but I really enjoy the chemistry between them.

I want to shout out Andrea Bordeaux, who plays Ella McFair, who is sort of the central point of the show, even though it's an ensemble show. First of all, she's gorgeous. I've never seen her in anything else, but she just has like the most striking face, she's got a shaved head and she's just beautiful. We've seen her character, the struggling writer, many times, but I really think she delves into some interesting things there. The most fantastical thing about this show is the fact that all four of the women go to the same therapist who is played by Rosie O'Donnell of all people. So it's fun to see her pop up for a little bit. I recommend checking this out if you're looking for something a little light, but also engrossing, compelling and dramatic. -- Aisha Harris

What to read

"A 'Concerned' Elizabeth Holmes Trial Observer Has Secret Identity," NPR

Please enjoy this story from NPR's Bobby Allyn about the current Elizabeth Holmes (no relation) Theranos trial. Sometimes, news still has the capacity to be engagingly wacky. -- Linda Holmes

What to listen to

Believed, Michigan Radio and NPR

I think a lot of people were quite riveted to the testimony to Congress from elite U.S. gymnasts, including familiar names like Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, who spoke about the abuse they suffered at the hands of their team doctor, and about what they described as mishandling of the allegations by the FBI, among others. If you're interested in this story, there has been a lot of fine journalism done about it, but I want to resurface in particular the podcast Believed, from Michigan Radio and NPR. -- Linda Holmes

Bad Blood: The Final Chapter, Three Uncanny Four

I am a sucker for coverage of Theranos. If you're not familiar, Theranos is Elizabeth Holmes' (no relation) company that was going to revolutionize blood testing by creating a little finger-prick blood test that could then test you for everything. She's currently on trial for fraud and other things. Reporter John Carreyrou, who wrote the book Bad Blood about her and was the key reporter in originally reporting on Theranos, now has a podcast where he's following up and doing some new reporting and also following the progress of her trial. Her trial is already very wacky. Carreyrou is my go-to if you like Theranos reporting, and I've just been delighted to just sink my teeth back into these. I love this podcast. -- Linda Holmes

What to play

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza

We're on vacation, and we really tried to play Wingspan, but after a long day of sun and surf, you just can't do that. On the other hand, Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza is made for this. It's a card game with a deck of cards with very charming drawings of on different cards of a taco, a cat, a goat, cheese and some pizza. You go around in turns and you say the words "taco," "cat," "goat," "cheese," and "pizza" repeatedly, and as you do, you slap down the cards in your hand. If the word you say matches what's on the card, you slap it. The idea is to get rid of the cards in your hand. So the last person to slap once the words match the card has to take those cards. Now it's very simple and you have to kind of keep in rhythm, which is hard for me, but it's a hell of a lot of fun. I would recommend doing it with just a simple deck. Then you add to the deck once, maybe you've had a cocktail or two, the gorilla card, the groundhog card and the narwhal card. With the gorilla card, you pound your chest and then slap. With the groundhog card, you pound the table, then you slap. And then with the narwhal card, you put a little horn up your to your head with your finger and then you slap. It is so compelling, so simple and so much fun. -- Glen Weldon

Overboard! on Nintendo Switch

I've been playing Overboard!on the Nintendo Switch this week. It's a murder mystery where you're a glamorous newlywed at sea and, uh, you're the murderer and you're trying to get away with it. (I choose to believe the victim was a person who was very very evil.) You have to conceal evidence, prevent people from tattling who might have seen what you did, that kind of thing. You play through to the end and find out whether (1) you got away with it and (2) you can get the life insurance money, and then if you don't accomplish both of those things, you start over. It requires a little more repetition (redoing the round when it doesn't go perfectly) than I prefer, but it's a game to which I lost a couple of happy hours. -- Linda Holmes

What else has been making us happy recently?

There's more where this came from! Five days a week, Pop Culture Happy Hour serves you recommendations and commentary on the buzziest movies, TV, music, books, videogames and more. Subscribe here >>

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.
Aisha Harris
Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She 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.