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What's making us happy: A guide to your weekend listening and viewing

L-R Sydney Bell, Charity Holloway, Arianna Davis, Ashley Williams, Jayla Sullivan, Asia Banks, and Kiara Mooring: some of the hopeful women competing to join Lizzo's Big Grrrls
James Clark
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James Clark/Amazon Prime Video
L-R Sydney Bell, Charity Holloway, Arianna Davis, Ashley Williams, Jayla Sullivan, Asia Banks, and Kiara Mooring: some of the hopeful women competing to join Lizzo's Big Grrrls

This week, Milwaukee County Zoo visitors witnessed the birth of a baby boy giraffe, Bear Grylls taught us how to embrace fear, and NPR's readers and listeners shared their wonderful hobbies.

Here's what the NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

Pearl

I'm looking forward to the release of Pearl, which is a prequel to X, shot along with it. But Pearl was already done and in the can, so now we get to see the prequel origin story of the elderly woman character from X and how she becomes the woman you see in that movie.

And I am being made happy by the featuring of Mia Goth, the pushing forward of Mia Goth, and the understanding of Mia Goth as a great leading woman screen talent in this little one-two punch we're getting this year of X and Pearl. More Mia Goth all the time, in more places, doing more things, is a mantra I would like to live by. — Jordan Crucchiola

The Voyeurs and Even the Rich

The Voyeurs on Prime Video is possibly the best thing that I've seen this year. In this movie, a young couple move into a beautiful new apartment and discover that they can see the very voracious sex lives of their neighbors across the street through their wonderful windows. They become a tiny bit obsessed with watching them, and consequences ensue, is what I will say.

What's also making me happy is a show I produced for Wondery called Even the Rich. We started airing our new season called "Will Smith, Fresh Prince to Fallen King," in which we really take a look at Will's life growing up.

We'll also be doing an episode from Jada's perspective, to kind of round out the life that they lived and the psychology of Will Smith, as one would say. If you like Pop Culture Happy Hour, you're probably going to like our show, too. — Cate Young

FBoy Island Season Two and Romance Road Test

There is a very high-brow, intricate TV show on HBO Max called FBoy Island. In season two, just like season one, the women have to decide which of these men are nice guys and which ones are "f-boys." Who do I want to go with? And if I choose the right one, will I win the $100,000? Or will the guy I choose keep $90,000 because he's an alpha boy?

It is so funny. It's exactly all the terrible things that other reality dating shows are, but even better because it has a sense of humor. And you do not have to see season one to follow or understand the intricacies of season two.

I am also hosting a new show with my friend Jolanta called Romance Road Test, a kind of reality show podcast only on Audible. On the show, she and I choose a different relationship hack each episode to try to apply it to our marriages.

For example, in one episode we try to reenact our first dates with our husbands. In another episode, we assemble flat-pack furniture to see if it brings us closer or makes us want to kill each other. — Kristen Meinzer

Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls

When this show dropped on Amazon Prime back in March, I discounted it. I thought it was one of those quasi-documentary promo reels that have been floating around so much. So I just thought, "Oh, I love Lizzo, but I don't need to watch that."

Then it was nominated for six Emmys in the category of reality competition. And I went, "Did I miss that?" Lizzo is hosting a RuPaul's Drag Race-style reality competition to find backup dancers. I had somehow missed that.

This thing upends so many reality competition tropes. You realize that this is not a traditional elimination-based reality show where you get attached to people but then your heart is broken, or everybody's terrible and you just want them to eliminate everybody. The typical reality show-style misbehavior is discouraged.

This show, which I have already watched twice in its entirety in the last two weeks, is fabulous, life-affirming, wonderful, and baudy as hell. It is bodies, bodies, bodies positive, and not for nothing. — Stephen Thompson

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

I greatly enjoyed this Chika Ekemezie piece at Vox about why wigs on camera often look bad. It gets into a lot of really interesting questions including who is represented in wig talk, who has the benefit of budgets being spent on their looks, what expertise is utilized, and whether making a wig look like someone's real hair is even the point.

I know you are out there, you Bluey partisans; here's a piece for you, straight from NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

It's hard to watch because of the subject matter, but there is much to recommend the Apple TV+ series Five Days At Memorial, which is about the days following Hurricane Katrina at a New Orleans hospital where a doctor and two nurses were later accused of intentionally injecting patients with lethal doses of medications. Prosecutors charged Dr. Anna Pou (played by Vera Farmiga) based on their belief that after facing days of desperate conditions and up against an order to evacuate the hospital, she concluded there was no way of safely evacuating these patients and that the only alternative to euthanasia was to leave them behind in the hospital to die alone. Without taking a clear position on whether this happened or not (Pou denied injecting anyone with the intent of causing their death and a grand jury declined to indict her), the series tries to give a fair airing to the impossible situation the hospital faced, and to the systemic and long-developing causes of the disaster there. But it also explores and respects the arguments of those, including some staff and patients' families, who believed and still believe that these injections, if they happened, were a grievous wrong that cannot be justified.

Our friend Priya Krishna over at The New York Times did a fascinating piece with Umi Syam in which they track down, in detail, the reasons why restaurant tabs are going up.

The new Hulu comedy This Fool, which grows out of comedian Chris Estrada's standup, is a broad and very silly comedy that also manages some warmth. All 10 episodes are streaming now, and it's worth a watch if you're looking for something that goes down easy and feels fresh. More details in the review from Angie Han over at The Hollywood Reporter.


NPR's Maison Tran 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.


Amazon is among NPR's financial supporters and also distributes certain NPR content.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
Jordan Crucchiola
Cate Young
Kristen Meinzer
Maison Tran