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

Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams and Raul Julia as Gomez Addams in <em>Addams Family Values</em>.
Paramount Pictures/Cinematic Collection/Alamy Stock Photo
Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams and Raul Julia as Gomez Addams in Addams Family Values.

This week, Michelle Obama gave us her sage advice, we put our roller skates on, and learned what makes us dance.

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

Dawnlands by Philippa Gregory

Book cover of a warmly lit woman with a bonnet on with a gold plant overlay.
/ Atria Books
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Atria Books

This is so on-brand I'm almost embarrassed. Philippa Gregory has a new novel, and she is, of course, the doyenne of historical fiction. She wrote The Other Boleyn Girl and "70 million books" about the Tudors. Dawnlands, the third book in her Tidelands series, came out last week. It is set during the English Civil War, with the king and parliament at loggerheads. These novels focus on the lives of women during this period. It details what it was like to be a woman who had zero power. I love the period. I love these books. I love that she has turned away from the narratives of the Queen Elizabeths and Marys so much so that I should be really into The Crown right now. But I'm just not feeling it. Give me Tidelands, give me slapping petticoats against ankles and bleeding hands and show me how to make a loaf of bread. Anyway, I loved it. I highly recommend these books to people that are not Tudor obsessives. – Barrie Hardymon

Addams Family Values

So one of the things about being a millennial who is chronically online is that you learn a lot of things by osmosis and you kind of absorb them. One of the things that I absorbed was Addams Family Values, and I somehow thought that I had seen the film because I had seen every single meme about it. Turns out I have not in fact seen the film, but I watched it this weekend for the first time, and it is honestly the most iconic thing I have ever seen. I cannot believe that the Internet tricked me out of this wonderful film for so long, and I cannot deal with it. It is so incredible. It is absolutely wonderful to see these high camp performances. I really love all of those types of films from that period. Death becomes her. And like all of the films, like I, I love that genre of just like, we're going to do something absolutely insane and you're going to love it. The film is so ridiculous. It's just the most fun thing that I've seen in a really long time. I really enjoyed getting to add that to my repertoire of film understanding, and I had a blast and I can't wait to watch it again. – Cate Young

Wind of Change

My daughter suggested that we listen to the podcast Wind of Change in the car, which I very happily imbibed two summers ago. I think it was when it came out, I think it was the summer of 2020 to give you a little bit of background. It's hosted by a New Yorker writer named Patrick Radden Keefe, he's exploring this idea that maybe, just maybe, the CIA was involved in the writing of the song Wind of Change by the German band Scorpions, which is unbelievable. It's roughly eight episodes plus some bonus material. It is just delightful on every level. I had tried to get my kid into it a couple of years ago, and she wasn't quite primed for it yet. But now she's the peak age for conspiracy theories, Cold War history, and the deep, deep weirdness of the music industry, that I thought she had absorbed through me and my husband. It is so worth your time. It's been available for a couple of years now. I am having just the best time revisiting with her. – Anastasia Tsioulcas

Turnstile Peanut Butter Jelly Time

This week they announced the Grammy nominations, and there were three surprise nominations for a wonderful Baltimore hardcore band that I think I've recommended on this show before called Turnstile. Another thing that is making me happy is something that happened on Twitter. Occasionally Twitter can still make me happy. The band Pool Kids came up with an idea which was executed by a Twitter user named Eric Gonzalez who goes by @tacoplug. @tacopug created a mash up of Turnstile's song Holiday and the song Peanut Butter Jelly Time. Great band. Great idea. I still think Peanut Butter Jelly Time is hilarious, sometimes what's making you happy is just a simple, dumb song. – Stephen Thompson

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

Amy Adams as Giselle and Maya Rudolph as Malvina Monroe in Disney's live-action Disenchanted.
/ Disney+
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Disney+
Amy Adams as Giselle and Maya Rudolph as Malvina Monroe in Disney's live-action Disenchanted.

Fans of Disney's Enchanted will perhaps be curious about the new Disney+ release Disenchanted, which we'll cover on the show shortly. I can't exactly give it a strong recommendation, but it does reunite much of the cast (including Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey), and it does include the very best thing about the original movie. What's that, you ask? It is James Marsden being very, very, very weird in the most delightful way.

We also have a show about holiday movies coming up, and if you want to prepare for that, I do recommend Spirited, the Will Ferrell/Ryan Reynolds musical on Apple TV+, and Falling for Christmas, the Lindsay Lohan Christmas romcom on Netflix. Neither is a masterpiece, but both are probably exactly what someone who sits down to watch them will be looking for.

You all know by now that I am a reluctant but faithful follower of the Below Deck franchise, so I feel obligated to share that there is now Below Deck Adventure, which follows a whole new crew of people on a whole new boat in Norway.


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.

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

Barrie Hardymon
Barrie Hardymon is the Senior Editor at NPR's Weekend Edition, and the lead editor for books. You can hear her on the radio talking everything from Middlemarch to middle grade novels, and she's also a frequent panelist on NPR's podcasts It's Been A Minute and Pop Culture Happy Hour. She went to Juilliard to study viola, ended up a cashier at the Strand, and finally got a degree from Johns Hopkins' Writing Seminars which qualified her solely for work in public radio. She lives and reads in Washington, DC.
Cate Young
Anastasia Tsioulcas is a correspondent on NPR's Culture desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including the trial and conviction of former R&B superstar R. Kelly; backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; and gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards.
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.)
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.