What's making us happy: A guide to your weekend reading and viewing
This week, we revisited Roald Dahl books, confused a balloon for a statue, and took a closer look at male friendships.
Here's what the NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.
Trailer for Class of '07
What is making me happy at this very moment is the trailer for the apparently forthcoming Amazon series, Class of '07, starring Emily Browning and Caitlin Stasey. It's an Australian series about an all-girls school that is having their 10-year reunion, I guess in 2017, because they were Class of '07. An apocalyptic wave hits where their reunion is, and they are stranded. It turns into fun Yellowjackets and fun Lord of the Flies with 2000s music and memories and in-girl fighting. That is tailor-made for me and 100% my jam.
— Jordan Crucchiola
There is a show on FX that just came back for its sixth and final season called Snowfall. I had heard a lot about this show from a lot of friends, and I never got around to watching it. Earlier this week, I started on season one and finished it in about 12 hours. I just binged straight through. It's a very compelling show with lots of Black folks. I enjoyed the setting and the characters. It reminds me of Breaking Bad, Narcos and The Wire in some ways, but it's very effective with its storylines, and I'm interested in what happens next to each of these characters. I think some other comparisons you can make to this show are actually to shows like The Dropout in that as you walk in, as the audience, you kind of know the ending of the story is going to be dark and bleak, but the glamorous beginning is very interesting to watch.
That being said, there's a trigger warning, because at times it's a very violent show. There's a violent act that occurs on and off camera, and if you watch it too closely, the glamorous beginning can be seen as glorified drugs and drug dealing in a way, because these people are inventing crack. They're looking at it as this wonderful product that they're going to make billions of dollars off of. But it's a very compelling show and lots of fun to watch.
— Ronald Young Jr.
Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat and Tears
What is making me happy this week is a book called Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat and Tears. I just started listening to the audiobook. It is written by Michael Schulman and takes on the entire history of the Academy Awards. When I first started it, I was like, "Do I really want to go back to the entire like creation of the Academy?" But I kind of did. Like I said, I am still at the beginning of this book, but he was on Fresh Air recently talking about the book, so you can hear him talk more about it. I've also read some excerpts that get into the La La Land-Moonlight thing and a bunch of other stuff. I think the book comes right up to very recently. If you are, as I am, a person who both likes to and has to watch the Oscars, the fascination with this process and what it originally meant and what it means now is absolutely worth exploring. I'm super excited to read the rest of this book.
— Linda Holmes
More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter
by Linda Holmes
I was fascinated by this Dan Kois piece in Slate about what happens to a restaurant when it gets a great review and business comes in a gush. It turns out it's quite a mixed blessing.
An update: In December in this space, I wrote about how I had picked up some LEGO sets on Black Friday just to see whether I found that activity relaxing. After some false starts, you may be glad to hear that I completed my Apollo 11 lunar lander. Guess what! It's very relaxing.
I haven't yet listened to the new podcast from Serial, The Coldest Case in Laramie, so I can't recommend it in the same way I can with some things. But I do feel like it's noteworthy that one of the most recognizable brands in audio is back.
NPR's Teresa Xie 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.
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