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What's Making Us Happy: A Guide For Your Weekend Watching, Listening And Reading

William Jackson Harper and Jessica Williams in <em>Love Life</em>.
Sarah Shatz
/
HBO Max
William Jackson Harper and Jessica Williams in Love Life.

This week, Big Bird got vaccinated, Netflix dropped the new season of Gentefied, and McDonalds announced a Mariah Carey-themed menu for the holidays.

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

Where the Devil Don't Stay: Traveling the South with the Drive-By Truckers, University of Texas Press

This is by the music journalist Stephen Deusner — it's sort of a band biography combined with an examination of the author's own southern-ness and the band's southern-ness. Drive-By Truckers have really, really influenced my thinking about what the South is as a cultural entity in addition to a geographic destination. If you were turned off, particularly by the band named Drive-By Truckers, let me refer you to the essay Now, About The Bad Name I Gave My Band by Patterson Hood, one of their two singer-songwriters. He wrestles with the name. Everyone agrees. Not a good name, but it is a great band. – Chris Klimek

How to Play The Guitar and Y by Elvis Costello, Audible

To me, Elvis Costello has always been to pop music what Martin Scorsese is to cinema: he is a world class practitioner and artist, but also a historian, curator, preservationist, and educator. I really appreciated this 90-minute music lesson mixed in with a little autobiography, a little criticism, a little commentary and little snatches of music. – Chris Klimek

Love Life, HBO Max

I think what Love Life does that other romantic comedies don't do is show how your love life actually pans out. There are situationships. There are problems. There are sparks. There are people that you kind of like but the timing is never right. Season two stars our good friend, William Jackson Harper, also known as Chidi from The Good Place. The writing, the acting, everything about this show is just so on point for me. It's just so specific and so Black. – Ronald Young Jr.

Mav Karlo / Menno Versteeg

I got to go to my first show since being vaccinated. I was going to see Islands, but their opener was terrific.

They were performing under the name Menno Versteeg, which is the name of the lead singer and songwriter. He's only released one EP under that, and it's just covers. But last year he released two albums under the name Mav Karlo. When I got my record from him, he crossed the name Mav Karlo out and he wrote in Menno Versteeg. So obviously I was like, "Who is this international man of mystery?" Whether he's going to be Menno or Mav, I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed them. I look forward to watching them play for many years to come. – Margaret Willison

The Shrink Next Door, Wondery

Before there was The Shrink Next Door, which starts Friday on Apple TV+, there was the podcast version. The story is about a psychiatrist who essentially took over the life of one of his patients, who was a wealthy man who had a house in the Hamptons. It gets very complicated. The psychiatrist inserted himself into the guy's business and family and persuaded him to break ties with most of the people he was close to.

The podcast is hosted by former New York Times columnist Joe Nocera. It's not too long, and I understand why it motivated the TV show. – Linda Holmes

NPR Kroc Fellow Mia Estrada adapted this Pop Culture Happy Hour segment into a digital page.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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.
Ronald Young Jr
Margaret Willison
Mia Estrada
Mia Estrada is a 2021-2022 Kroc Fellow. She will spend the year rotating through different parts of NPR, including the Culture Desk, National Desk and Weekend Edition.
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