Pop Culture Happy Hour guests and hosts share what’s bringing them joy : NPR

Tobin Bridge, which spans Boston to Chelsea, Mass.


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Tobin Bridge, which spans Boston to Chelsea, Mass.


This week, Taylor Swift was Person of the Year, a coffee dispute roiled a TV empire, and a gossipy story got even more gossipy (if you like that kind of thing).

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

Razorblade Tears, and other books by S.A. Cosby

Razorblade Tears

I am constantly chasing the feeling of watching a Jeremy Saulnier movie. I love Blue Ruin, I love Green Room, I love Hold the Dark. So I recently stumbled upon the works of Southern noir crime writer S.A. Cosby. He is from Virginia. He is writing these bloody, vengeful thrillers that make me feel like I’m watching a Saulnier film.

The one that I’m reading right now is called Razorblade Tears. It’s about a gay couple who are killed. Their fathers are both ex-convicts, and neither of them accepted their son’s homosexuality. And these dads team up to investigate this case because the cops won’t. — Roxana Hadadi

Assassin’s Creed Mirage and NPR’s Best Games of 2023


I love the Assassin’s Creed games. I played each and every one — even the very bad ones — because the good ones are so rich and so satisfying. The latest is Assassin’s Creed Mirage and it’s return to old-school Assassin’s Creed, which means a lot of the open world RPG stuff is gone. It’s a much more classic stealth game. There is a lot of running away in this game, lots of hiding in haystacks and flowerbeds. The setting of this particular game is 9th century Baghdad, and there’s so much to do and see and learn about. This game is history homework with a lot more disemboweling.

I also want to recommend NPR’s list of The Best Games of 2023, which is this amazing site where you can filter by what you want to play and where you can play it. I’ve already found four games I would never have heard of otherwise. — Glen Weldon

Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage & Reckoning, on HBO


Murder in Boston: Roots, Rampage & Reckoning is a three-part series about a 1989 case in which a guy shot his wife in their car and then claimed that a Black carjacker had been responsible for her death. This set off a manhunt for a person who — as it turned out — did not exist. And that created a terrible environment of police harassment for young Black men. This series is made by Jason Hehir — he made the Michael Jordan series The Last Dance. He’s really good.

They spend the whole first episode talking about race in Boston, the history of housing segregation, the history of school segregation and subsequently busing — and how conditions had been created for a monstrous happening of this sort. What I like about it is it’s much more about everybody else than it is about this guy who killed his wife. — Linda Holmes

Solitary reality series


Solitary is a reality television show that ran from 2006 to 2010. It’s about a group of contestants who are put into solitary pods, completely isolated from each other and the world. Their only interaction with the outside world is sort of a HAL-like supercomputer AI who puts them through their paces and makes them do silly things, like an eating contest, or a walking contest or balancing things. In their private diaries they’re coming to terms with their own trauma and their sense of self-worth. Every year I find time to rewatch these 36 episodes of brilliance. It scratches every itch for me. You can find it for purchase on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Vudu. — Walter Chaw

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

The death of legendary TV producer and writer Norman Lear this week at the age of 101 inspired several lovely remembrances. This one from Alan Sepinwall at Rolling Stone, this one from Daniel Fienberg at The Hollywood Reporter, and this one from Kathryn VonArendonk at Vulture are all well worth your time.

It’s back for another year: The Great British Baking Show: Holidays is upon us.

Beth Novey adapted 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.

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