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, 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.

When we learned that our treasured friends Barrie Hardymon and Margaret "Hulahoop" Willison (thus named for her actual middle initial, H, as well as her whimsical and irresistible delightfulness) were both going to be in town when we taped this episode, there was only one thing to do: fire Stephen.

Bill Simmons, the ESPN commentator whose Twitter bio reads in part "Grantland boss + columnist, @30for30 co-creator, NBA Countdown co-host, BS Report host," will not be doing most of those jobs for three weeks after using the last of them — host of the podcast The BS Report — to call NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a liar, and to dare ESPN to discipline him.

Steve Almond's blistering book Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto is exactly what it advertises itself to be: an exasperated, frustrated, wide-ranging argument that the time has come to abandon football — particularly but not exclusively the NFL — as a sport built on violence, racism, economic exploitation of poor kids, corrupt dealmaking with local governments over stadiums, and a willingness to find it entertaining to watch people suffer brain damage.

"When brothers start getting a little money, stuff starts getting a little weird."

I saw Shonda Rhimes at a panel presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour this summer where she helped introduce How to Get Away with Murder, the new ABC drama she helps produce but did not create. I found her pleasantly (and a little amusingly) transparent in not loving some of the questions she was asked (including one about whether she was worried that #HTGAWM, which was printed on the promotional cookies ABC handed out, was an unwieldy hashtag), and I thought, "She is an interview for which you would want to be on your toes."

Ordinariness is a quality in movies that likely bothers critics and enthusiasts more than it does other people. The more films you see, the more the enemy becomes not just poor quality but familiarity, simply because even an inoffensive cliche becomes a cinematic earworm after a while — something that makes your brain flinch simply at the "this again!" of it all. This Is Where I Leave You, a family comedy-drama adapted by Jonathan Tropper from his 2009 novel, is unfortunately a very ordinary film, particularly for one adapted from such a thoughtful and tonally tricky book.

We've had a lively summer on PCHH, full of live events and quizzes and special guests and even Stephen hosting episodes (!) (kidding!), but this week, we've got our pal Bob Mondello in the studio for some good old-fashioned movie and TV chatter.

[This post contains information about where main characters stand relative to each other at the opening of the new seasons of The Mindy Project and New Girl. Be advised.]

Well, it's that time again: Monday night brings the premiere of the 19th season — NINETEENTH SEASON — of ABC's Dancing With the Stars, a show that has had some ratings struggles in recent years but has managed to keep on plugging for ... well, 19 seasons.

Perhaps the most static conversation in American culture is the one about its constant decline. Today's music, today's actors, today's movies, today's media, today's food, today's habits, today's language — it's all going to hell, all of it, and it's taking us with it, no matter when today is.

Cake: Jennifer Aniston plays Claire, a woman we first meet as she's shocking her chronic pain support group with her barbed reactions to the recent suicide of a group member named Nina. Claire's face and body are crisscrossed with scars, and she moves uncomfortably at every moment — which is why she gobbles pain pills and has to constantly invent new methods for getting more. Her marriage has recently broken up, despite the fact that she and her husband (Chris Messina) clearly still care about each other.

Steve Carell is not unrecognizable in Foxcatcher, from director Bennett Miller (who also made Moneyball and Capote) but it's instantly clear that his transformation is meant to be substantial. Carell plays the very rich and very strange (and very real) John du Pont, who in 1996 killed Dave Schultz (played here by Mark Ruffalo), an Olympic wrestler who was working as a coach in the elite wrestling program du Pont operated on his enormous estate.

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Beyond the Lights: Gina Prince-Bythewood wrote and directed the terrific 2000 romance Love & Basketball, and here, she looks at the intersection of love and celebrity. Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is a rapidly rising pop star whose hard-driving mother (Minnie Driver) has been pushing her hard all her life. Career-wise, she's doing great. Personally, not so much. On a particularly bad night, Noni meets a cop named Kaz (Nate Parker), who winds up knowing more than she (or her mom) would like about her state of mind.

Men, Women & Children: If you can't get enough alarmist local news segments about how all the kids are sexting and everyone is giving up their families for free online pornography that's infected with malware, you'll love Jason Reitman's Men, Women & Children, a cautionary tale about fighting the real enemies: the internet and terrible mothers.

The idea of a James Franco-directed adaptation of William Faulkner's The Sound And The Fury sounds like the setup for a bit on Funny Or Die, or maybe for the thing you'd have someone mention offhand in our satire about Hollywood. Franco does so many different things that he's almost killed any specific image he could possibly have, but you can say this for him: he tries things.

Critics all have our idiosyncratic ways of handling the scheduling of a film festival like Toronto. There are planners, improvisers, pragmatists and poll-takers, all counting on some combination of research, serendipity, instinct, word of mouth and logistics to put them in the right rooms at the right times to see the right things.

Lifetime's new show Girlfriend Intervention is not subtle about its message. Its premise is four black women giving a makeover to a white woman on the theory that, as they put it, "Trapped inside of every white girl is a strong black woman ready to bust out."

They don't even have to say "weak white girl" or "lame white girl" or "ugly white girl" or "unfashionable white girl" or "boring white girl," because all those things are, before long, implied.

On this Small Batch Edition of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, Glen and I are always up for a little chat about fashion and people's skill and lack of skill at the making of sick burns, so we sat down for a catch-up chat about Project Runway, which is part of the way through its 13th season, now on Lifetime after an earlier history on Bravo.

[Note: The audio above is a conversation about the Emmy Awards I had today with Stephen Thompson, my co-panelist on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast.]

The Emmys are known for one thing more than any other, and that's repetition. Shows winning four times, actors winning three times — the most likely Emmy winner is always the guy who's already won.

Sure, some of the coverage so far has been about the fear that holding the Emmys on a Monday — and forcing the attendees to compete with weekday traffic — will create havoc. But one way or another, Seth Meyers is hosting the Emmy Awards on Monday night, and there are a few races that will be interesting to watch.

Sunday night, women gave the most memorable performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, and Stephen Thompson and I got together to chat about the provocations of Nicki Minaj, the royal Beyonce and more.

You can check out the video of all the performances for yourself, from the triple threat of Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj to the 16-minute Beyonce-stravaganza that closed the show.

We had an absolutely fantastic time Tuesday night at the Bell House in Brooklyn doing the first-ever Pop Culture Happy Hour from New York. Everyone was wonderful, everyone was hugely supportive, and we were joined by our producer emeritus Mike Katzif for our roundtable discussion of the things we've loved this summer and the things we're excited about for fall.

[This piece contains plot details from Let's Be Cops. It is not a movie about its plot details, but there you have it.]

The word is out on the buddy comedy Let's Be Cops, starring Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson — both enormously charming actors on Fox's New Girl. And what is the word? That the movie is not good, and the movie is rather atrociously timed, given that we are not in a place in the news cycle where people are enormously amused by stories about goofball police officers threatening people with nonfunctioning guns.

When Stephen and I talked about Boyhood, one of our side conversations was about our bafflement that it was rated R, and this week, joined by Code Switch's Kat Chow, we dig a little deeper into that question. Are ratings really information for parents, or are they still judgments on the morality of your creation? Is there anywhere to go past what a past documentary already explored?

Stephen Thompson and I took a few minutes today to talk about the comedic work of Robin Williams, who passed away Monday (preliminary reports suggest suicide, though the investigation is ongoing) and whose TV comedies, standup specials and movie roles we have watched and loved for many years.

We're settling back into our regular schedule post-lots of travel and post-Comic-Con, and we find ourselves in the studio this week with Chris Klimek to talk about the runaway success of Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy. We talk about the movie's shaggy charms, its savvy development, and why it gives me joyful reason to gloat over past avowals of loyalty.

The latest indignity seemingly imposed by commerce upon art is the news that the cable movie channel Epix would air, in addition to the original black-and-white version, a color version of Alexander Payne's Nebraska, which was nominated for Best Picture earlier this year and stars Bruce Dern and Will Forte as a father and son on a somewhat discursive road trip nominally aimed at retrieving a cash payout to whi

Have you ever heard a cheerleading squad do one of those call-and-response bits where they say, "Seniors yell it!", and then the seniors yell, "Fight! Fight", and then they say, "Juniors yell it!", and so forth? Top Chef brand extensions are kind of like that: All-Stars yell it! Dessert chefs yell it! Veterans yell it! Healthy chefs yell it! Former contestants yell it!