What's making us happy: A guide to your weekend listening and viewing
This week, we solved a fictional prep school murder, traced Black resistance in film, and talked to Ke Huy Quan about his return to acting.
Here's what the NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.
South Side on HBO Max
Well, this is making me sad and happy at the same time. It was announced that South Side has been canceled by HBO Max. It is one of the most ridiculous, ambitious, joke-dense shows I've ever seen. There are so many episodes I've watched and had to rewatch because I'm like, I've missed all of these stupid jokes. It's just so specific, and there are all these moments in the show that go past me, even as I rewatch it, because I'm not a Chicagoan.
We interviewed two of the creators of the show at our live show last November, and there were all of these layers of random, sort of like visual cues that only makes sense to Chicagoans. They were completely lost on me. It feels like Springfield of The Simpsons. You have this giant ecosystem of mostly Black folks of all these different classes and political temperaments and leanings bouncing off of each other. It's just really fun and fizzy. It's smart without being preachy, and silly and without being stupid. I'm sad to see it go. But also, gosh, if you haven't watched South Side yet, please spend some time watching that show.
— Gene Demby
Ariana DeBose performing at the BAFTAs
Sisters are doing it for themselves! The incredible @ArianaDeBose opens the 2023 #EEBAFTAs with an iconic performance! ✨ pic.twitter.com/G9YgKN2e1t— BAFTA (@BAFTA) February 19, 2023
The thing that's making me happy — which I can't believe I'm saying, because it's oversaturated but somehow continues to be an earworm — is Ariana DeBose's BAFTA performance [where her opening number was a widely-mocked rap about the women nominated for BAFTAs].
I think we all have a friend who is a musical theater person or who just has their own cadence of doing things. I think every new revelation about this is just a new nugget of pleasure for me. It's not just that she was out of breath — [she] committed to the bit and kept going. It's [the way] that [she said] "Angela Bassett" — [DeBose] actually intended it to be that way. That cadence wasn't because she was like two minutes in and had to keep pace with the beat. None of the actual iterations of the names made sense? It's like, why was it "Blanchett, Cate"? And why was Jamie Lee "all of us"? This is guaranteed to be a Drag Race next season, because that's just how the way things go, right?
I know this is one of those things where the public embarrassment happens in the first 24 hours. But I hope she's willing to lean into it after a few weeks of just feeling the humiliation of it all, which is inevitable, and realize she's a queer icon now.
— Shamira Ibrahim
Paramore's This Is Why album
So I am a Black millennial who grew up in the suburbs, and somehow it took me a really long time to get into Paramore. I don't know how. I didn't actually get into them until two years ago during the pandemic. Anyway, I'm a late bloomer to Paramore. Their new album, This Is Why is making me really happy. It was made during the pandemic. Hayley Williams, the lead singer and sort of the anchor of the group (especially after personnel changes over the years), really tapped into the anxieties that a lot of us were feeling during the pandemic and even now, as the pandemic continues in its various forms. It's been a slow burn for me, but I think my favorite song at the moment is "Running Out of Time." This song is so relatable, because it's basically about having really poor time management and being late for things, and I really like that there's a song that's just about that. It's really enjoyable and really fitting my mood, especially when it's been super dreary in the Bay these last few months. It's really helped me out.
— Aisha Harris
More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter
by Aisha Harris
Friend of the show and fabulous host of NPR's Weekend Edition Ayesha Rascoe had a delightful and insightful conversation with thee Jonathan Majors. You should absolutely watch the extended version of it right now.
I'm a few months late to this, but I've been making my way through the latest season of the Articles of Interest podcast on the endurance of American Ivy fashion, and it's super fascinating. Despite being obsessed with the first few seasons of America's Next Top Model way back when, my interest in fashion has never been so deep that I've wished to listen to people talk about it for extended periods of time, until now. There's so much rich history to be mined here, and host Avery Trufelman is a great guide through a style that everyone has encountered in one way or another.
I've become unhealthily obsessed with Netflix's many terrible dating shows, so this is a half-hearted recommendation, because I want better for others than I apparently want for myself. Nevertheless, if you think you'd enjoy cringing at a bunch of self-absorbed reality "stars" from Netflix's other shows (including the brotastic Shayne from Love Is Blind Season 2) as they compete to find their "perfect match" or risk being eliminated from a mansion in a tropical location, well then ... go ahead and give Perfect Match a go.
NPR's Teresa Xie adapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" into a digital page. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletter to get recommendations every week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
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