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

Richard Gadd in <em>Baby Reindeer </em>on Netflix.
Netflix
Richard Gadd in Baby Reindeer on Netflix.

This week, musicians pushed back about ticketing, TikTok was the subject of legislation, and Gatsby was on Broadway.

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

Baby Reindeer, on Netflix

Baby Reindeer on Netflix is absolutely insane. It's about a guy who meets a woman who starts stalking him. I do not want to spoil it. It is making me happy and also stressing me out. I think everyone should watch it if you have the space and time. I have a lot of thoughts about it that I've been trying to work through but I enjoyed it. Sometimes you need to sit through something that's going to keep your heart rate at 160, you know? Why not? — Ryan Mitchell

The podcast Who Killed the Video Star: The Story of MTV

There is no Gen-X complaint more overdone than "they don't play videos on MTV anymore." So I didn't think there was anything left to say about that, but that was before I started to listen to a podcast called Who Killed the Video Star: The Story of MTV. This podcast really gets into the history of MTV's original model and its limitations. It goes through how originally, when they were not playing Black artists on MTV very much or at all, MTV's response was: That's not our format. The audience won't respond to it. So then Michael Jackson's "Thriller" comes out and they are completely wrong, and it's the biggest thing in the history of MTV. The whole thing is hosted by former MTV VJ Dave Holmes (no relation) who has also been a panelist on Pop Culture Happy Hour. He just understands pop culture of my exact vintage in a way that very few people do. It is such a good show. — Linda Holmes

Chappell Roan's Tiny Desk Concert

Last fall, pop singer Chappell Roan put out a record called The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess. It is joyful and funny and has beautiful, heartfelt ballads on it. I had the privilege of booking and producingher Tiny Desk concert — the set captures the range of her sound because it's funny, it's quiet, it's warm, it's silly. So what is making me happy is the massive, meteoric, heart-swellingly wonderful rise of Chappell Roan. — Stephen Thompson

Playing retro video games on an Anbernic console

I love retro gaming. So I bought the Anbernic RG35XX H. There are a lot of devices that are sold online that you can play a lot of old games on. But this one doesn't require the amount of setup that a lot of those do. As someone who enjoys these games but doesn't actually engage with them as often as I would like, I think I finally cracked the code — and the code was to get the right size device that has the right amount of power. It's been a lot of fun. — Daisy Rosario

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

I wrote four years ago about my love of simulator games, including Planet Zoo, which I was playing on a PC despite my general preference for console gaming, because that's all there was. WELL. I am excited to tell you that Planet Zoo is now available for consoles (as of just a few weeks ago), and I am playing the heck out of it on my PS5. I love the orderliness of it, I love the cute little animals, and I love the part where I yell in my living room, "WHY ARE MY FLAMINGOS SO UNHAPPY?" The best. Real zoos may be controversial, but a conservation-oriented imaginary zoo is a delight. (Also out now: House Flipper 2, the new edition of my favorite game where you clean up and rehab houses.)

I'm a big fan of both Padma Lakshmi and writer Helen Rosner, so I unsurprisingly enthusiastically recommend this terrific profile in The New Yorker.

It's rare these days to have much that's good to say about the finances of a publication you treasure, but the surprise news that The Onion was sold to new owners who actually seem to like it was very heartening.


Beth Noveyadapted 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 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ryan Mitchell
Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She 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.
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.)
Daisy Rosario
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