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.

It was years ago that TV critic Alan Sepinwall said something to me that I've remembered ever since and that he doesn't remember saying: that writing about television was shifting its focus from what is said before shows are on to what is said after shows are on. It made sense to me, since my career writing about TV started with writing recaps of shows I used an actual VCR to record. With tapes. I didn't get screeners, I didn't get advances — I just taped things, and then I wrote about them. I think now, that shift is so obvious that it's taken for granted.

Five-plus years into the history of PCHH, this is the first time we've found ourselves recording a full episode with just three of us — in this case me, Stephen and Glen. We gathered this week to talk about the HBO miniseries Show Me A Hero, which I previously reviewed on the blog over here.

This is one in a series of essays running last week and this week about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters. The entire series is available here.

This is one in a series of essays running last week and this week about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters. The entire series is available here.

This is one in a series of essays running last week and this week about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters. The entire series is available here.

This is one in a series of essays running this week and next about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters.

This is one in a series of essays running this week and next about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters.

If television is so interesting right now, why do parts of it seem so old-fashioned?

A few days into our essay series on the state of television in the summer of 2015, I sat down with Audie Cornish on All Things Considered to get a few of the basics down. We talked about the sheer volume of scripted shows, the struggles of networks to get attention for what's great, and all the ways you can get television into your eyes and ears.

This is one in a series of essays running this week and next about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters.

Everybody loves to talk about brands, right? What's more exciting than brands?

This is one in a series of essays running this week and next about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters.

This is one in a series of essays running this week and next about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters.

This is one in a series of essays running this week and next about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters.

One of the accusations that was often leveled against Mad Men as an examination of social problems was that it paused too often to scoff at how foolish (or sexist, or racist, or environmentally ignorant) everyone was in the 1960s, as if we've outgrown all of it. One of the best things about Show Me A Hero, HBO's dense but involving examination of a dispute over the construction of low-income housing in Yonkers, N.Y. in the 1980s is that there's no smugness to it.

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

Transcript

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Tuesday's Television Critics Association press tour presentations from ABC wrapped up with a panel devoted to the network's scripted ace in the hole: Shonda Rhimes, who created Grey's Anatomy and Scandal and is an executive producer of How To Get Away With Murder.

Most of the panel discussions that happen at the Television Critics Association press tour currently underway in Beverly Hills have something critical in common: the panelists are humans. (Please hold your jokes about Hollywood. The critics in attendance have made them all.)

Tuesday was the first day of the summer press tour for the Television Critics Association. Press tour is an event that goes on for a couple of weeks, in which TV networks bring in personnel from their new shows (and sometimes their existing shows) for panel press conferences where the convened critics and reporters can ask questions.

Two movies are up to bat this week for our conversation with our pal and producer emeritus Mike Katzif, and the bottom line: we like 'em both.

First up is Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow's Trainwreck, which I wrote about last week (and talked about on the air), but which we have more time to explore here. We talk about the movie's stance toward monogamy, its unavoidable Apatovian looseness, the charms of Bill Hader, the bold (and, for some of us, tear-inducing) vulnerability of Amy Schumer, and lots more. It's a good movie.

To be a lead in a Hollywood romance — especially a female lead — is to be told what's wrong with you. A lot. There's always an assistant or a best friend or, of course, the guy himself to fix you or coach you, because you are broken.

The fact that Amy Schumer's character in Trainwreck — also named Amy — is the reason it's called Trainwreck would make you think she's in for similar treatment. But that's not as much the case as it might seem.

This week's show brings back into the studio — well, remotely anyway — our original producer and music director Mike Katzif, now ensconced in New York working for the lovely people at NPR's Ask Me Another. Mike joins us for a talk about the Netflix comedy BoJack Horseman, which just made its second season available this week. It's an adult-oriented cartoon with a sometimes startling undercurrent of sadness, and you might want to give it a shot.

The new FX comedy Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll* stars Denis Leary as the decaying former singer of a briefly scorching New York band whose speedy self-immolation was brought about by debauchery and betrayal. The band was called The Heathens, because they were heathens. The singer is named Johnny Rock, apparently because it was a rock band and "John" is a popular name.

This week's show features our great friend Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch and opens with a discussion of Key & Peele, the Comedy Central sketch show that's just come back for its fifth season. We look at some of what's to come in the early part of season five, as well as what we like best about what the duo has already done.

Where new levels of quality go, new levels of parody are sure to follow. So it makes sense that a strong run of historical sports documentaries, particularly from ESPN's 30 For 30 series, would give rise to a spot-on mock-documentary like HBO's 7 Days In Hell, airing Saturday night.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Transcript

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