Aisha Harris

This week, Baby Yoda flew above the streets of New York at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Ridley Scott's House of Gucci made its debut and the Grammy nominations were announced. Here's what NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

In the middle of Ted Lasso Season 2, a tonal shift that's only been hinted at in earlier episodes renders itself fully visible. It comes during a tense scene between Ted, played by Jason Sudeikis, and Dr. Sharon Fieldstone, played by Sarah Niles. It's a one-on-one therapy session, the second opportunity the steadfast Sharon has had to attempt to break through Ted's fortified armor of wisecracks, aw-shucks platitudes, and hearty, feel-good optimism. (An earlier session ended abruptly, with an uncomfortable Ted bolting from her office within minutes.)

It's time to find something good to watch.

Maybe you didn't have exactly the hot vaccinated summer we were all hoping for. While we can't fix the big stuff, our critics do have good news about staying entertained — and challenged, and invigorated, and curious.

It was such a pleasurable experience being able to finally listen to Aaliyah's One In A Million album from beginning to end this past weekend, her lilting vocals pouring smoothly through my Sonos speakers. This was a moment fans have been waiting on for years, as behind-the-scenes business wrangling has long kept the majority of her relatively small discography off most streaming platforms.

It's been a hot week full of court documents and news drops. And now, we're ready for a calmer and cooler break with time to breathe. And fortunately, we've got recommendations for podcasts, binge-able television and good reading for your holiday weekend.

There are eyes, and then there are Taylour Paige's eyes.

In Zola, a crackling, absurdist road trip movie inspired by a crackling, absurdist Twitter thread, the camera's gaze is frequently drawn to the bodily form – a stripper's smooth, exposed curves; a man's languid, exposed junk; lips being painted a deep cherry red; long, slender fingernails clinking against a window.

Every Friday, the hosts and guests on Pop Culture Happy Hour share the shows, movies, books and music that brought them joy that week. We hope they make you happy, too!

"The balls are how we grieve."

The third and final season of Pose, which concludes this Sunday, began with a loss. Jumping ahead several years to 1994, the show's colorful protagonists are in various states of highs and lows: Angel (Indya Moore) is having trouble landing gigs; Pray Tell (Billy Porter) is dealing with alcoholism and depression; Blanca (MJ Rodriguez) has a new man and is volunteering at the AIDS clinic; Elektra (Dominique Jackson) has found success launching her own phone sex operator business.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

If you are fully vaccinated, you can take off your mask. That is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today. And at the White House, a maskless President Biden declared...

In 2000, MTV dropped the made-for-TV movie 2Gether, a parody about a fictional boy band of the same name and its rival, Whoa. 2Gether consisted of five members, each cast to fit a very specific type, including "the bad boy" and "the heartthrob." The not-a-real-boy-band boy band eventually became real enough – or rather, popular enough – to spawn a short-lived TV series spin-off and a second album, 2Gether Again. They even did a stint opening for Britney Spears.

Say what you will about the quality of Tyler Perry's body of work — and there are plenty of valid critiques to be made on that front — the successful filmmaker's personal contributions to various social causes and assistance to those in need are worthy of praise.

Lately, everyone's talking about trauma. Trauma in news form, trauma in essay form, trauma in Twitter thread form.

When we asked our trusty Pop Culture Happy Hour listeners to vote for the Best Muppet, we knew they'd come through. Over 18,000 votes were cast; over 150 different Muppets received votes.

Yes. Some brave, beautiful, misguided soul voted for H. Ross Parrot. As Best Muppet. That is a thing that happened.

"Okay ... great gowns – beautiful gowns."

Those were the words thrown out by the one and only Aretha Franklin several years ago, when pressed by a journalist to say the first thing that came to mind at the mention of Taylor Swift's name. Think "If you can't say anything nice ..." pragmatically applied to a real-world situation. A shade that will live in infamy and memes.

This essay contains major spoilers for Promising Young Woman and other works including the film Hard Candy and the series I May Destroy You, as well as discussion of sexual assault.

How do you like your revenge served on screen – via torture? In flames? A massive bloodbath?

How about ... via text message?

A year ago the official Twitter account of the Federal Bureau of Investigation tweeted, "Today, the FBI honors the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." It was accompanied by a photo of the FBI Academy's reflecting pool, where a quote from King is etched in stone: "The time is always right to do what is right."

There are films that invite the viewer in by emanating an energy so lush and warm that you long to continue living in that world even after the runtime has ended. I get this feeling whenever I watch one of Douglas Sirk's 1950s melodramas that, despite holding up a mirror to serious themes like racism, classism and Puritanical social mores, offer a kind of comfort and splendor in their Technicolor richness and grounded translations of mid-century American pathos.

Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) wants her Coca-Cola, or she's not gonna sing. Never mind that this recording session during the sweltering Chicago summer of 1927 is already running behind because she and her mini-entourage arrived to the studio an hour late. No matter that tensions are already simmering among her four-piece band, and that her manager and music producer are at their wits' end trying to cut this blues record.

No Coca-Cola, no Ma Rainey's voice.

It has been a momentous year for everything we consider TV.

A pandemic, civil rights reckoning, streaming war and presidential election shook up the industry in a dozen different ways. It blurred lines between genres, platforms and story forms, while also encouraging us to develop our own, deep rabbit holes of favorite media. So when our team of four critics sat down to figure out what we liked most onscreen this year, we each had a lot of stuff on our lists no one else did.

A cardinal sin too many biopics indulge in is checking off the beat-by-beat life excerpts, ignoring a specified vision for depicting their real-life protagonists in favor of broad strokes. Mank, directed by David Fincher and based on a screenplay written by his late father Jack, is no such kind of biopic, thankfully. Inspired by Pauline Kael's spicy (and since widely discredited) New Yorker tome "Raising Kane," which argued Herman J.

There's nothing quite like an intricately designed Mariah Carey lyric. You know it when you hear it, because it involves a kind of vivid wordplay so utterly specific that you can't help but find yourself conjuring images in your own head of blissful romantic entanglements, earnest yearning or the doldrums of deep, intense heartache.

In the dreamy deep cut "Underneath the Stars," for example, she describes a rendezvous with a lover:

One summer night, we ran away for awhile

Laughing, we hurried beneath the sky

The most gripping moment in the HBO miniseries The Undoing involves the most natural of things. It happens in the first episode, between a bunch of wealthy Manhattan moms planning a fundraising event for their hoity-toity private school, and Elena (Matilda De Angelis), the noticeably younger and conventionally hot new mom whose fourth-grade son got in on a scholarship.

In the Hulu horror-comedy Bad Hair, a black woman's weave is more than just a weave. It's a status symbol. It's the key to a promotion. It's ... possessed by an evil spirit intent on sowing chaos?

Likewise, Bad Hair itself is more than a social satire. It's a visual and thematic pastiche of movies like The Fly and Rosemary's Baby. It's a loving sendup of black American pop music in the 1980s. It's a workplace comedy.

The opening credits sequence of Netflix's latest teen melodrama Grand Army is brief, but a perfect distillation of the show's modus operandi. During a montage depicting various young characters' faces, a moody, pulsating thump accompanies a siren's wail. From episode to episode, a different set of phrases flashes across the screen; in the second episode, those phrases are "F—k the f—ing patriarchy," "I'm scared" and "zero tolerance." Grand Army, it says in just a few seconds, is about existential fear in the face of institutional oppression.

Does it even matter that it's fall? We're stuck inside much of the time, anyway, and new TV shows come at us all year round. Well, yes, there's reason to celebrate precisely because of how the pandemic disrupted things. Broadcasters couldn't develop new material, thanks to production being halted. So, viewers watched more streaming services. Even HBO, FX and Showtime were forced to push back some of their best material to ensure they could get through the long summer.

On her 2001 album Britney, Britney Spears declared herself "not a girl, not yet a woman." In that sleepy ballad, the then-19-year-old pop star and sex symbol stressed her need for more time to grow up while cautioning you, the listener, against trying to protect her. "I've seen so much more than you know now/ So don't tell me to shut my eyes," she croons in her signature guttural, Britney-like way.