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

Janelle Monáe attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, Calif.
Arturo Holmes
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Getty Images
Janelle Monáe attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, Calif.

This week we saw some sheep, sang some songs, andplayed some Zelda.

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

The Soundtrack Show

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iHeartRadio

What's making me happy this week is this podcast called The Soundtrack Show.This is a podcast that goes deep into analyzing film scores. It's written and hosted by this guy named David Collins, who I believe is a sound designer and a voice actor. It's back with a multipart series about John Williams' score for E.T., and it's like transcendently good. This show just ... I am, like, exploding head emoji the whole time I'm listening to it, because he goes so deep on music theory and orchestration and how the music supports the storytelling, and how this music relates to music and other films. ... And the E.T. series, I would say, is a great point to jump in, because it is just one of the all-time great film scores. And I actually saw John Williams conduct his own music with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra a couple of months ago, and he played a little bit of E.T. and I just, like, floated into space. I was so happy to hear it.

- Wailin Wong

Reservation Dogs

Devery Jacobs as Elora, Paulina Alexis as Willie, and Zahn McClarnon as Big in <em>Reservation Dogs</em>
Shane Brown / FX on Hulu
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FX on Hulu
Devery Jacobs as Elora, Paulina Alexis as Willie, and Zahn McClarnon as Big in Reservation Dogs

What is making me happy this week is that FX released their summer premiere schedule, and what I currently care about most is the third season of Reservation Dogs.And I say that because I'm writing about Reservation Dogs right now and I'm revisiting the second season and it is just taking me on such a roller coaster of emotion.

These four friends are just really going through it in Season 2 as they continue to deal with like the grief of losing their fifth friend member as they deal with sort of growing up, getting jobs, trying to figure out if they want to live on the reservation for the rest of their lives or if they want to move away. So there's all that like really nuanced writing and acting that is happening within this ensemble.

But there are also these episodes that... because they've established this world of Oklahoma, and because they've established these characters, the show is willing to get weird and silly. So there's a standalone episode about the aunties of this community. There's an episode about the police character played by Zahn McClarnon. And I think it's really worth catching up on Seasons 1 and 2 because Season 3 is coming in August, and I just think it's one of the best shows on TV.

- Roxana Hadadi

Delusions of Grandeur and Weight for It

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Spreaker

What is making me happy this week are two podcasts. The first is called Delusions of Grandeur. It is a "Star Wars" Novel Recap podcast. It is about the "Star Wars" novels that have been released from the canon as of 2014, when Disney got rid of all of that backstory that a lot of people grew up with. Hosts Emily Gadek and Kelly Hardcastle Jones are actually going through some of their favorites, and they're recapping each book and just talking about the vastness of the "Star Wars" universe.

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iHeartRadio

And the second one is one that's a little closer to my heart. It is called Weight for It.It is a podcast that I have written and produced that is coming out later this summer, and it is about navigating a fat phobic world in a fat body, and what that's like. It's telling the stories and unpacking the details, looking for love, finding an airplane seat, all of the little indignities that come every day with living life in a larger body. I'm very excited. It comes out on August 5th, but the trailer and feed is up now, so go subscribe.

- Ronald Young Jr.

The Act of Pleasure

Well, what's making me happy this week is that my crush, my girl, Janelle Monáe is back. She's back as a musical artist. And look, she's been doing her thing and acting for the last several years. She was in Glass Onion, of course. And look, she's a multi-hyphenate. She can do pretty much anything she wants. But I've missed her in the music scene. And now she's back with a new album that's coming out in June called The Age of Pleasure. It's her first album in five years since Dirty Computer, and her new video slash song,"Lipstick Lover" ... it's hot. She looks great. She co-directed the video along with Alan Ferguson. It looks like a home movie from the 1960s and 1970s. The fashion is on point. It's definitely not safe for work, but I love it. I love how she's kind of flourished and, you know, become even more open about her sexuality. I also just think the song is really great. It's got big summer vibes.

- Aisha Harris

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

By Glen Weldon

Eurovision was last Saturday. I wrote a preview for it. Next year, Peacock will likely broadcast the semi-finals on the Tuesday and Thursday before the finals, as it's done for the past two years, and I'd highly recommend watching them. They add so much context to the Grand Final when you can compare a country's Saturday performance to the one they did to qualify. Be the insufferable guy at your Eurovision watch party who says things like "She blew the whistle note!" (Norway) or "In the semi, he went up an octave on 'hu-man TOUCH!' but here he just whispered it. That's either too much partying or too many nerves" (Australia).

We'll talk about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom in an upcoming PCHH episode, but for now just know that I'm over here making my kludgy Tinkertoy rafts that barely float and thinking myself a skilled engineer while other folk are constructing tanks and mechs and internal combustion engines. (Kidding about the engines, but seriously – give it a week.)

Oscar season is over, the Tonys may or may not go on, but Eisner Award season is forever. Lots of great comics in these nominations, hie thee to your local comic shop with this list as a guide.

Amid the fervor around Succession's upcoming finale, and the dark, dark magic that is being wrought on Barry as it comes in for its own landing, another HBO Sunday night show is keeping its head down, doing the good work, and delivering quietly spectacular episodes. Don't sleep on Somebody Somewhere, people.

The Best Show with Tom Scharpling is great, and this episode features some of the cast and crew of Jury Duty (also great!) and SCTV's Joe Flaherty (the greatest)! Scharpling gets to tell Flaherty about struggling to stay awake on Friday nights so he could watch SCTV, and how it seemed targeted to his specific comedy sensibilities. Tom speaks for a great many of us.


NPR's Tilda Wilson 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 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Wailin Wong
Wailin Wong is a long-time business and economics journalist who's reported from a Chilean mountaintop, an embalming fluid factory and lots of places in between. She is a host of The Indicator from Planet Money. Previously, she launched and co-hosted two branded podcasts for a software company and covered tech and startups for the Chicago Tribune. Wailin started her career as a correspondent for Dow Jones Newswires in Buenos Aires. In her spare time, she plays violin in one of the oldest community orchestras in the U.S.
Roxana Hadadi
Ronald Young Jr.
Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Tilda Wilson
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