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What's Making Us Happy: A guide to your weekend listening and viewing

This was the week when they postponed the Emmys. It was the week when box office success brought renewed interest in the fact that Barbie will have lots of company. And it was the week when we remembered a great voice.

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


Scott Garfitt / AP

Themovie that's sweeping everyone is Barbie and I have made that my entire personality for the next few weeks. Pink, everything. No, it was the most unexpected film for me this year. Everyone keeps telling me, "this is such a feminist movie." But I'm like, "no, it's just reality." It's just telling it like it is. I really appreciated the story that [Greta Gerwig] told, and it just really impacted me as a woman, as a mom, as a writer, and really think I'm more than what I was made for. -- Laura Sirikul

Praise Petey

Praise Petey is an animated comedy series that just started streaming on Freeform. It's about a young New York woman who takes over from her father as head of a bloodthirsty religious cult, but with a very millennial, girlboss energy and a lot less ritual murder. It has very good jokes and a spectacular voice cast: Annie Murphy, John Cho, Alfred Molina, Christine Baranski, Stephen Root. This show was made for me. -- Glen Weldon

Sinéad O'Connor

I wish this were something that was making me happy, but I didn't want this episode to go by without praising the legacy of Sinéad O'Connor, the wonderful singer who died this week at 56. She dealt with a lot of trauma and controversy in her life but I want to talk about her music. A lot of the coverage has focused on "Nothing Compares 2 U," a Prince song that she turned into a massive hit in 1990. She had amazing music before and after that. In particular from her first album, The Lion and the Cobra, the single "Mandinka." I was I was 15 in 1987 when the song came out and it absolutely blew my mind.

I also wanted to point out a song from 2014 from the album I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss, called "Take Me to Church." It was very sad to revisit it in the aftermath of her death, because this is a song about fighting. To hear her embracing growth, I think speaks to a lot of what her lifelong search was all about. She was hopping from ice floe to ice floe. It reminded me to stop and celebrate the music that she made, which was really important. -- Stephen Thompson

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

I had mixed feelings about the Max series Full Circle, but I have nothing but positive feelings about the great work Kathryn VanArendonk did at Vulture digging into why Dennis Quaid has a French braid in it.

Frequent PCHH panelist Chris Klimek is hosting a new podcast for Smithsonian magazine called There's More To That, which brings to bear the resources of the Smithsonian to look at history and the world. The first two episodes are about — what else? Barbie and Oppenheimer.

Laura Lippman's new book Prom Mom tells the story of a couple of high school kids who experience a tragedy and then encounter each other again many years later. I don't want to say too much more about it than that, but it both fascinated me and surprised me over and over.

Barbara Campbelladapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" for the Web. 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 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

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.
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.)
Laura Sirikul