weird, happy adults.
Embracing Joy – NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour
NPR’s podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour is my go-to weekly briefing on pop culture (just as, hopefully, “the work” is yours). The show features a roundtable of culture writers for NPR, hosted by the likeable Linda Holmes. I first found PHCC back in 2015, when they were discussing this very new and at the time little-known show on Comedy Central called Broad City, a show I couldn’t recommend enough when it first started. And here was a thoughtful discussion that I found myself nodding along to as I listened in the car. I was in. These were my pop culture critics.
Of course, PCHH isn’t the only pod out there doing this – Slate’s Culture Gabfest comes to mind – but there’s a different aesthetic to PCHH that’s highlighted right there in the name: Happy Hour. That doesn’t imply the hosts shy away from criticism, there’s plenty of that, but there’s mostly a joyful undertone to the discussions on the pod, with a focus on what they like and enjoy about pop culture, which I find refreshing, because too often, I think, it seems like if we’re not critiquing what we’re consuming, then we’re in some way not being a ‘responsible’ viewer/reader/listener.
Which is true, but sometimes – and I think this is the case with most folks – I just want to watch a Fast & Furious film (a franchise, by the way, beloved by the PCHH hosts) and be entertained, without worrying about the toxic masculine undertones.
In other words: if you don’t pick your battles, then everything becomes a battle, and who wants to live like that?
The final segment of every episode of PCHH is the “What’s Making Us Happy” bit, where the hosts recommend a piece of pop culture that they particularly enjoyed that week – a movie, song, comic, so on. I’ve picked up a lot of great recommendations from this segment alone, so if you’re not so into the pod’s main discussion (which never disappoints, even if they’re chatting about something I’m unfamiliar with), the weekly recommendations alone make the show worth it.
America’s Sweetheart – Little Esther
Comedian Little Esther (aka Esther Povitsky) is one cool chick and an even cooler (read: funny as hell) comedian. I found out about Little Esther when I heard her on Jake Foglenest’s podcast, The Foglenest Files, back in 2013, when he was interviewing her about how she used to “collect hot girls” on her MTV show, Esther with Hot Chicks.
Esther, who is barely five feet tall, is also very cute, and it would be easy for most of her shtick to be about how she is not in the classical sense one of those “hot girls” she is so obsessed with, but she’s careful to make her comedy more than that. Sure, she admits she’s addicted to watching Kylie Jenner’s snapchats and blowing a lot of money at Sephora, but she also talks about gross body habits and weird sex acts and getting older. As a female who likes girly things but also can be gross and panicky about my future, I find her extremely relatable.
These days, Esther has a new show slated to appear on the Freeform network called Alone Together. Produced by Lonely Island, the show is described as “misfits making their way through the vain and status-obsessed culture of Los Angeles, only to find salvation in their male/female strictly platonic friendship.” The show will star Esther and her real life BFF, Benji. Based on the trailer, the show looks promising, which as a longtime fan excites me – I think Esther should be a household name, and I hope her new show will give her the exposure she deserves.