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

Dionne Brown as  Queenie Jenkins in the show <em>Queenie</em>, based on the novel by Candice Carty-Williams.
Dionne Brown as Queenie Jenkins in the show Queenie, based on the novel by Candice Carty-Williams.

This week, Pat Sajak saw his last spin, we heard about a musical it's surprising we didn't already have, and the prequels just would not end.

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

Queenie, on Hulu

Queenie is a dramedy based on a novel by Candace Carty-Williams. The series stars Dionne Brown as a mid-20s Londoner having her young adult life crisis – she breaks up with her long-term boyfriend, her career is not going the way she wants it to, she has a very dysfunctional family. The first three episodes felt like a retread – an overly familiar version of like Insecure, or Survival of the Thickest – a young Black woman trying to figure out her life while everything's going wrong. But by the fourth episode, the show taps into themes that I think are a lot more specific in viewpoint – especially around this idea of confronting the past. Stick with it, because I think it really finds its groove midway through. — Aisha Harris

“Kill The Lights” by Alex Newell with Nile Rodgers

My grandmother died last week, so it’s been a difficult time figuring out how to grieve from afar. Most of my family is back in Trinidad, and it's just me in LA, processing this news on my own. I’m not so good at that, so instead I revisited an old Spotify playlist that I made ages ago that is just a bunch of disco songs from Alex Newell. And yeah, I just danced to it all week. One of the songs that's really been helping me through is “Kill The Lights.” It's so bright, even if you're really, really sad you're going to tap your feet to it. It just gives me a tiny boost of serotonin. — Cate Young

The Plot, by Jean Hannf Korelitz

/ Celadon Books
Celadon Books

While I was on vacation I read a 2021 book called The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz. It has a sequel (called The Sequel) coming out in October. In The Plot, Jake is a novelist who has not been able to build much of a literary career for himself. He's teaching at a writing program and he finds out that a student of his has a great idea for a novel. So Jake takes that idea and turns it into a phenomenally successful novel for himself – and lives in fear of being found out as a fraud. Don't read anything about The Sequel if you haven't read The Plot, because that will spoil The Plot. — Linda Holmes

The new teaser for Wake Up Dead Man: A Knives Out Mystery

I am not usually a big teaser trailer guy. I am not a fan of the long, slow trickle of promotion. But they did drop a teaser trailer for a 2025 movie that I am so happy about in advance. It is called Wake Up Dead Man – it’s the next Knives Out movie from director Rian Johnson. I'm going to love this movie forever just as I love Knives Out and Glass Onion forever. These mysteries are such a perfect mix of comfort food and comedy and cleverness. And it’s so much fun to have something to completely, unabashedly look forward to. — Stephen Thompson 

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

Whether or not you have ever taken an interest in Netflix's perplexing Love Is Blind, you may find something fascinating in Kathryn VanArendonk's reporting in Vulture on the show's process and its inherent contradictions — and the legal allegations against it.

I did a good amount of reading on vacation, and one of the things I read, at the recommendation of writer Mark Harris, was the novel Everybody Knows. Mark described it as "A HUGELY nasty, dark, and effective showbiz-inflected L.A. noir thriller that knows what it's talking about." I entirely agree. I'd also point out it would make a heck of a double-bill with Maureen Ryan's instant nonfiction classic Burn It Down, which is newly in paperback.

I hope you are reading Maris Kreizman's work at Lit Hub if you are a books person or even if you're not; her latest banger is a very smart, simple take on why books should have credits.

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.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
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.)
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.
Cate Young
[Copyright 2024 NPR]