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

Emily Blunt as Lady Cornelia Locke in <em>The English</em>.
Diego Lopez Calvin
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Amazon Prime Video
Emily Blunt as Lady Cornelia Locke in The English.

This week, we cast our votes, watched a total lunar eclipse, and found a piece of the wrecked 1986 space shuttle Challenger.

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

The Carmichael Show

I am admittedly late to the Jerrod Carmichael train. My earliest introduction to him was a stand-up he did on some sort of for profit or telethon. I remember thinking, "who is this guy?", but I never really followed him after that. And then, of course, I saw Rothaniel last year and was very affected by it. I laughed and teared up. It was interesting watching him perform like that. Several people recommended that I check out one of his earlier works.

Recently, I was able to watch The Carmichael Show because it's on Peacock. It is a sitcom, laugh track and all. It has an all-Black cast which includes Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish, Loretta Devine, David Alan Grier, Amber Stevens West, and of course, Jerrod Carmichael. I really enjoy the show. They cover a lot of topics that I'm interested in, but in a very "sitcommy" way.

The show elevates a lot of different Black voices. It presents the spectrum of Blackness in a conversation. There are barbershop Black folks, church Black folks, intellectual Black folks. And all of those folks are coming together and having a conversation about what it is to be Black amongst other things. The sitcom is 22 minutes long. The show is very well executed and despite typically finding laugh tracks annoying, I find myself laughing along with it because the actors are funny. Ronald Young Jr.

The Ultimate Field Trip episode of One Year podcast

One Year is a show we produce at Slate. Every season of the show is a different year and they dig into things that happened during that year. They have a season on the year 1986 which had an episode called, The Ultimate Field Trip. The episode looks back at the Space Shuttle Challenger. In the episode, they interviewed a bunch of the people who applied to teach in space but were not chosen. They had gone through all the training with the crew of The Challenger (which eventually died). It's a version of the story I've never heard before. I'm a big space travel nerd. I'm literally planning to go to space camp next year, finally making that dream come true. It's also just a beautifully non-narrated work, which is hard to come by. If anybody had made this episode, I would be recommending it. I thought it was just a stunning piece of audio. Daisy Rosario

Stephanie Williams' work for Marvel Comics & The English on Prime

Comic book cover with a Black woman in futuristic clothing with a colorful modern cityscape in the background.
/ Marvel
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Marvel

My friend Stephanie Williams is beautifully adding to the canon of the character Nubia, who was originally the twin sister of Wonder Woman. However, she's changed that origin story and it's amazing and beautiful. Before you count all of the Nubia comics on one hand, now she's got like two or three volumes. Stephanie is working on the new "Shuri" comic book series, which will be out right after this Black Panther movie comes out. So, after you see Black Panther, if you're thinking, wow, I really love this journey Shuri's on, you should check out Stephanie Williams' new comic book on Shuri continuing that journey. But in the meantime, go buy Queen of the Amazons. It's available wherever you get books. It is so much fun. It introduces queer and trans characters to the world of Themyscira. It is so fun and beautifully drawn. Joelle Monique

The English

The English is a six-episode series that premieres this weekend on Amazon Prime. It is a bloody, pulpy, hugely satisfying revenge Western set in 1890, just as the frontier is closing down. It takes place during the brutal era of conquest that was the reality of the Old West. In public imagination this era has become this romantic notion of BS rugged individualism. It looks fantastic. It's funny. It's bloody. It's kind of dark, kind of diet Cormac McCarthy. It doesn't hollow you out and make you want to lie in a ditch for a day because it is also weirdly romantic and it's got this really strong narrative backbone that's going to keep you watching. I love it. Check out the first episode. You will know 10 minutes in if it is for you. It is for me. Glen Weldon

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

Lindsay Lohan as Sierra in <em>Falling For Christmas.</em>
Scott Everett White / Netflix
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Netflix
Lindsay Lohan as Sierra in Falling For Christmas.

Steven Spielberg made his way to Fresh Air this week to talk about his new film, The Fabelmans.

Friend of the show Kumail Nanjiani has a video over at Buzzfeed where he is interviewed while playing with kittens, and the funniest thing about it is that he keeps lowering his voice so as not to bother the kittens, and if you need something soothing and calm after this week, I highly recommend it.

We're going to be talking about holiday movies on the show soon, so if you want to get a jump, Lindsay Lohan's Falling for Christmas is now available on Netflix.

We're going to be talking about Yellowstone on the show as well, so when it premieres on Sunday, maybe you'll be catching up! (Remember: Airs on Paramount Network, streams on Peacock.)


NPR's Pilar Galvan 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.

Ronald Young Jr.
Daisy Rosario
Joelle Monique
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.
Pilar Galvan
Pilar Galvan (she/her) is a reporter whose work focuses on the intersections of media and culture. She is passionate about film, music and sports. She recently graduated from Yale University where she double majored in anthropology, specializing in ethnomusicology, and art, concentrating in digital media. She previously worked in digital media at art institutions including MoMA PS1 in Queens, NY, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Portugal.