Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop-culture blog, Monkey See. She has several elaborate theories involving pop culture and monkeys, all of which are available on request.

Holmes began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living-room space to DVD sets of The Wire and never looked back.

Holmes was a writer and editor at Television Without Pity, where she recapped several hundred hours of programming — including both High School Musical movies, for which she did not receive hazard pay. Since 2003, she has been a contributor to MSNBC.com, where she has written about books, movies, television and pop-culture miscellany.

Holmes' work has also appeared on Vulture (New York magazine's entertainment blog), in TV Guide and in many, many legal documents.

What if you were trapped in the middle of a traditional addiction narrative forever?

In a traditional fictional addiction narrative, the addict begins the story able to coexist with the addiction, if indeed it even has emerged. The addiction deepens, loved ones discover it and there is a single lowest point. Then there is a surrender by the addict and a willingness to get help. Or, sometimes, there is not, or there is another fall and then there is death.

"You're bouncing off the atmosphere."

Early in director Damien Chazelle's First Man, this is one of the cautions given to Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) during his pilot training, years before he walked on the moon. That idea of the barrier between Earth and space, the violence of making the journey through it and the almost mystical experience of being on the other side of it forms the spine of the film.

It's hard to make a show about high school football in 2018, even seven-plus years after the end of Friday Night Lights. FNL was so revered, so satisfying, so good, that a show that asks us to care about 17-year-old running backs faces a steep climb.

Fall is often the most intense movie season of all. Awards contenders begin to come into focus after the Toronto International Film Festival, while comedies and thrillers continue to hit screens. We got to see a lot of upcoming films at TIFF — below you'll find write-ups of 15 movies we really enjoyed and a heads-up about nearly 40 notable releases.

A Star Is Born begins with Bradley Cooper, as successful country-rock singer Jackson Maine, doing his uninspired but high-octane brand of guitar work in front of a screaming audience of fans. When he's done, drunk and exhausted, he pours himself into a big black SUV, now alone with his nearly empty bottle, his flushed face, and his lungs that sound like they're filled with ash. He is in rough shape.

On Sunday's CBS Sunday Morning, Ted Koppel reminisced about the many profiles of media giant Ted Turner that have aired on the network, beginning all the way back in the 1970s, when he hadn't started CNN but had bought Atlanta's baseball and basketball teams. Now, about to turn 80, Turner told Koppel about his diagnosis of Lewy body dementia.

Goodness feels so freaking quaint sometimes.

But goodness is indeed what The Good Place, which returned for its third season Thursday night on NBC, is about. It is about people trying to be good — and it's also one of the silliest, cleverest, smartest comedies on TV.

[This is where I tell you that "spoilers," so to speak, abound, in that we're going to talk here about the things that have already happened on this show up to and including the third-season premiere.]

When Murphy Brown premiered in 1988, Murphy's personality, full as it was of stubbornness, ego, brilliance, defiance, independence and a lack of concern with being liked, was a revelation. Her existence, her very presence on television as a recovering alcoholic who had stopped drinking but had no desire to stop being what other people considered "difficult," was inspiring. She was confident, and she was loved. She was impolite, and she was great at her job. She was loud, and she was the hero.

Television and film set in dreams and hallucinations struggle with the fundamental limitations of the rational mind. Too often, what people experience as visions in TV and movies aren't strange enough. They're slightly bent, but not as off-balance as real dreams and hallucinations tend to be.

Rarely has the opening of an awards show felt as inauspicious as the first 10 minutes or so of Monday night's Emmy Awards. An opening number called "We Solved It," making light of the idea that Hollywood's meager progress toward greater diversity constitutes a meaningful resolution to the issue, featured a number of appealing TV personalities: Saturday Night Live's Kenan Thompson and Kate McKinnon, Tituss Burgess of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Kristen Bell of The Good Place, RuPaul, Sterling K. Brown of This Is Us, and Ricky Martin.

The 2018 Emmy Awards are airing Monday night on NBC beginning at 7:30 PM. How can you remember they're on NBC, should you forget? Well, for one thing, the hosts are Saturday Night Live cast members and Weekend Update co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che, two guys who fit more into the category of "the Emmys will be good for them" than into the category of "they will be good for the Emmys."

The first question was whether Jesse Eisenberg would make a good John Bender. Who, after all, does Jesse Eisenberg think he is?

Sunday night at the Ryerson Theatre in Toronto, director Jason Reitman continued what's becoming his Toronto International Film Festival tradition by staging a live reading of a well-known film script. (He directed similar readings in Los Angeles for years.) Reitman brings actors who are at the festival to promote their new films, and he borrows them for an evening to sit on stage and reinterpret something that many in the audience know well.

Television is more year-round than it used to be, but fall is still a time when broadcast, cable and streaming services drop a lot of premieres. How to keep track of it all? NPR's television and pop culture team has assembled a handy list of shows to keep an eye on. Some of these aren't available for us to watch yet — but we've included shows that look promising.

So from broadcast prime time to bingeing Netflix in your jammies, here's our take on the most intriguing shows coming to you this fall:

The debate about whether romantic comedies are — or ever were — dead is an old one by now. In fact, I wrote about it five years ago.

Well, it's safe to say Netflix giveth and Netflix taketh away.

Only a week after the Grand Takething that was Insatiable, the streamer brings along To All The Boys I've Loved Before, a fizzy and endlessly charming adaptation of Jenny Han's YA romantic comedy novel.

If only the worst thing about Netflix's Insatiable were its lazy portrayals of fat people or its tone-deaf deployment of sexual assault and abuse as comedy or its embrace of racist tropes or its portrayals of people with Southern accents as dumb hicks or its white-hot conviction that same-sex attraction is either inherently hilarious or a teaching moment.

Oh, if only.

The new NBC series Making It has two reasons for being.

One is to grab a little of the upbeat, you-can-do-it energy generated by competitive cooking shows – The Great British Baking Show especially – and expand it to other areas of crafting. The other is to give viewers some solid hangout time with the stupendously amiable hosting pair that is Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. All put together with some staples and glue, it's a lovely, if very low-key, summer watch.

This week, Discovery celebrates the 30th anniversary of Shark Week. Do you understand what that means? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

Well, not nothing. It means that if you are under 30, Shark Week has existed since before you were born. You have never not known Shark Week! On the day you were born, someone could have said, "Boy, I'm really looking forward to Shark Week next year." And the other person would hopefully have squinted and said, "Are you?"

I have this dog. His name is Brian, and he's a whippet, plus some other skinny-dog ingredients. He looks like this.

A new film about Robin Williams begins with his appearance on Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton. Lipton says: "How do you explain the mental reflexes that you deploy with such awesome speed? Are you thinking faster than the rest of us? What the hell is going on?" Williams first makes a goggle-eyed face, but then he falls over sideways, like an embarrassed kid, curling up and cackling. And then, of course, he does precisely the thing Lipton is asking about: a flurry of movements, voices, bits, fragments of thoughts flying by — fragments riffing on his own thinking.

Sacha Baron Cohen has two basic shticks that he uses in his new Showtime show Who Is America?, which premiered Sunday night. One of them works well, and the other one doesn't. Unfortunately, of the four segments in the premiere, he uses the effective strategy once and the ineffective one three times.

Those unfamiliar with Cohen's past work in films like Borat and Bruno need only to know that what he does, in short, is interview (and interact with) people while inhabiting various absurd alter egos. It's a prank show, for all intents and purposes.

Updated 2:14 p.m. ET

To see the best stories inside the Emmy nominations, you often have to look past the ones that often make headlines. The big nomination numbers were raked in by familiar nominees: Game of Thrones was the leader with 22 nominations, Saturday Night Live and Westworld had 21, The Handmaid's Tale 20. In comedy, Atlanta led with 16, but the next two spots went to first-year series: Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with 14 and Barry right behind at 13.

Permit me this short review of Skyscraper, starring Dwayne Johnson, not currently billed as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: If you think there is any chance you will enjoy Skyscraper, you will. If you think there is very little chance you will enjoy Skyscraper, you will not.

Every week, we talk about what we should all do to prepare to tape Pop Culture Happy Hour. For this episode, we're joined by Marissa Lorusso of NPR Music. And when I wrote to Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon and Marissa in advance, I told them this about preparation: "I mean, I assume we've all watched Jeopardy!"

This review of the second-season finale of The Handmaid's Tale discusses in detail what happens in the second-season finale of The Handmaid's Tale.

The sound of the second season of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale coming to an end was the sound of a balloon, expertly inflated to the point where it seemed about to break, being let go so that it releases its tension in a long, anticlimactic raspberry.

There's a good chance that I try to absorb too much stuff, culturally speaking. I try to keep up with TV, and movies, and at least some books, and I read other people's criticism, and then there's news, and also I now spend a lot of time looking at pictures of other people's dogs. (I have a reciprocity agreement with All Internet Dog People. They look at my dog walking a stick down the streets of D.C.; I look at their dogs sleeping or wearing clothes or looking balefully at the camera.)

Everything echoes in Sharp Objects, the new HBO eight-episode adaptation of Gillian Flynn's 2006 debut novel. That's not only true of the figurative echoes in the complex tale of family trauma in a small town. It's true of the literal echoes in the sound design. Every room sounds hollow; every house amplifies the rattles and footsteps inside.

It's easy to be skeptical of a documentary about Fred Rogers, who hosted Mister Rogers' Neighborhood on public television for decades. Rogers has achieved, as the film acknowledges, an almost saint-like status, and the mission of Won't You Be My Neighbor? is not to uncover some secret dark side of the man — as far as you'll know walking out, there wasn't one.

Many Americans had little exposure to Australian actress/comic/writer Hannah Gadsby before a few weeks ago. Maybe they had seen her in Please Like Me, an Australian comedy series in which she had a supporting role. But statistically, they probably hadn't.

Science fiction writer and provocateur Harlan Ellison, who wrote stories including "Jeffty Is Five," "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," and "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream," died in his sleep at home in Los Angeles at age 84. Like many who write short stories and novellas in genres like speculative fiction, the sweep of his career is evident in his collection of awards: Hugo Awards, Nebula Awards, Edgar Awards and many others.

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