This week, Germany returned looted artifacts to Nigeria, we looked back at the weird, wild and wonderful stories you might have missed, and learned how to be better movie watchers according to film critics. .
Here’s what NPR’s pop culture happy hour team was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.
Blamo! podcast, episode of Avery Trufelman
I listen to this podcast called Blamo! It’s a fashion podcast hosted by this guy named Jeremy Kirkland. There was a recent episode featuring Avery Trufelman. She does the Articles of interest podcast that just released an entire season on “prep” and “ivy.” But during this appearance, they started talking about fashion and clothing and how stupid it is to take advantage of all that stuff – something I thought about a lot. It was interesting to see other people struggling to care about something important – I’m not here to try to say shirts aren’t important, because I think about different types of shirts a lot all the time. But thinking about these things in the context of what’s going on around you in the world is always interesting to me. —Andre Limbong
Paris is burningbroadcast on HBO Max
My partner and I have belatedly, very belatedly, started digging into the treasury of RuPaul’s Drag Race. We fall in love with new people, get irritated with new people, dive into this whole new wing of reality competition.
And along the way, to get a better perspective on the show, I finally sat down for the first time to watch Jennie Livingston’s 1990 documentary, Paris is burningwhich is, of course, a massive cultural touchstone, he influenced Madonna’s “Vogue” and Laid, a show that I really like and obviously had a big impact on drag racing. It’s a really touching, sad and fascinating film. It explores the 80s, New York drag balls and the characters that occupy this world. It’s sad, because of the fate of so many people in this film. Only a small handful of people featured in this film are still alive. But there is also such joy and credibility. …
If you like RuPaul’s Drag Race, if you really celebrate drag culture, as I know our colleague Glen Weldon has been way ahead of me in talking about it on the show for years and years and years. This movie is definitely worth catching up with if you somehow missed it. You can still, at least for now, find it on HBO Max and other streaming services. And that’s great. Where have I been for the past 32 years? —Stephen Thompson
Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Christmas Scrapbook, Sled.
I really like Christmas music. I’m always on the lookout for new Christmas music to enjoy – and it’s hard out there. There’s not a lot of new, new Christmas music being created. I prefer the ones that are a little more silly, or fun, and not so stuffy as the Starbucks-coffee-shop-versions of holiday albums. And luckily for us, Sheryl Lee Ralph from Abbott Elementary School and many, many other things before that blessed us with a holiday album called Sled and kills she does.
This album is actually a bit in the same vein as RuPaul’s Drag Race. It gives us a bit of house music. It gives us a little “adult” and sexy side. It gives us a certain ballroom culture. There are original songs. There are also holiday standards like Little Drummer — which I never liked as a song. It’s just not an interesting song. But she takes little drummer and she makes it interesting.
This whole album is kind of campy. She has an interlude called I like holidays, where it’s just Sheryl Lee Ralph saying, “I love the holidays, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah for you. I love them all.” …It’s great background music…while you finish your wrapping or bake your holiday cookies or whatever, it’s fun. Sheryl Lee Ralph is joy. —Aisha Harris
Crash landing on you
I wasn’t really enthusiastic about a lot of things that I watched, listened to and read. And I was a little disgusted. I was starting to think maybe I had lost my ability to truly fall in love with anything. Luckily our brilliant producer, Jessica Reedy, was there for me and told me this was the time I needed to get into K-Dramas, which she’s been telling me for a while, and other people told me and for a while.
Jessica recommended me Crash landing on you, which is a series that you can find on Netflix. There are 16 episodes. They are about… an hour and a half each. I watched 16 in about three days, which tells you how much it saved me. It’s part of the romantic comedy. This is the story of a woman, a South Korean businesswoman, who goes paragliding and gliding in North Korea and is discovered by a North Korean soldier. He agrees to hide her and they like each other. It ultimately has elements of epic romance. It has political and military elements and shootouts. His family is this wealthy family. So he has a bit of Succession-like an ongoing family intrigue. There’s a bunch of really wonderful friendships in there. He has a small company of guys who work with him who are extremely charming. Also, there is a small group of women living in this village who are like military wives. You get to know them.
I fell in love with it so hard. I loved it. I cried a bunch of times. I kept texting Jessica at different times about things I was crying about. It’s also very funny in places. It’s one of the best mixes of a lot of different genres and a lot of different tones and emotions that I’ve experienced.
And look, I’m painfully, excruciatingly late for this whole thing, let alone this show, which was a gigantic phenomenon in a number of different countries. But it made me so happy and I felt so relieved to react so enthusiastically to something that I find both extremely enjoyable and really well done. It’s a whole. Crash landing on you available on Netflix. If you’re like me, you won’t do anything else, because the next free time you have will be all about that. —Linda Holmes
More Recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour Newsletter
by Linda Holmes
We’ve already done our un-spoilery Glass Onion episode; our spoiler is coming! And to prepare, you can now see the film on Netflix.
I haven’t seen Hallmark’s yet. Hanukkah on rye, but thought I’d highlight it as the thing I plan to watch this weekend, because I’ve heard nothing but good things about it – because, according to multiple sources, the best holiday movie of the season . Hallmark will stream it again on December 24 at noon EST.
I was talking this week about the 1987 compilation album A Very Special Christmasand then bam! The Washington Post came out with a nice retrospective about it.
NPR’s Pilar Galvan adapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment “What’s Making Us Happy” into a digital page. If you like these suggestions, consider subscribe to our newsletter for recommendations each week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple podcast and Spotify.