What's making us happy: A guide for your weekend reading and viewing
This week kicked off not with a bang, but with a series of turbulent tweets announcing the winners of the Golden Globes, after a year in which the awards have been mired in controversy. The soundtrack to Encanto reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts, and the Library of Congress announced the 2022 Gershwin Prize winner: Lionel Richie.
Here's what NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.
Remembering Dwayne Hickman
The death of Dwayne Hickman, who was Dobie Gillis on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis back in the 1950s and 60s, made me go down this rabbit hole of looking at old video clips of him in shows like The Bob Cummings Show, which was also called Love That Bob. Wonder why I liked it, right? As a nine year old, I just thought that was the greatest thing in the world.
I watched four or five episodes of it recently, and to say it takes me back is an understatement. It's just sort of a return to my youth as we begin in 2022. — Bob Mondello
Grand Crew on NBC
Insecure, sadly, has left us and ended. But we're already seeing the fruits of Issa Rae's labor, in Grand Crew. It's a new show on NBC created by Phil Augusta Jackson, who wrote for Insecure, along with shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Key & Peele.
This is a show that is, like Insecure, set in L.A. and about a group of friends – but Grand Crew is a little bit more heavily focused on male friendships. It has a lot more Happy Endings, How I Met Your Mother vibes, in the best way possible. One of the main characters in the show is Noah, who is played by Echo Kellum. He frequently wants to be in a relationship, and when his relationships end, his whole life falls apart. He is a mess. Nicole Byer plays his sister, and they just have so much chemistry. It's really fun. I hope it sticks around. — Aisha Harris
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders
This is basically a class in the classic short story as a form.
It focuses on the craft of it all, the how and why on a line-by-line basis: How you create and maintain tension; how things like the lengths of your sentences and paragraphs manipulate your reader's mood; what describing something with different kinds of imagery does to your reader's imagination. And ultimately, how you've got a responsibility, as an author, to anticipate your reader's expectations and then confound them in a way that's still satisfying.
Saunders does this by presenting a bunch of short stories by four Russian authors: Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev and Nikolai Gogol. On one level, it's a pale male talking about how great these other four pale males are. But it is a class in the essentials, right?
And it's a hugely impassioned and talented writer basically geeking out about something with a great specificity, a great usefulness. It never comes off as condescending or elitist or entitled, because he just really wants to share the techniques that these writers employ with you. — Glen Weldon
70s Dinner Party: An Instagram account
There's this Instagram called 70s Dinner Party. It looks back at food, dining and hosting trends of the 70s. The account posts pages from old cookbooks and Good Housekeeping-type magazines, where they tell housewives and homemakers how best to entertain hosts.
I didn't grow up in this country, but there's lots and lots of Jell-O salads – which, not to yuck anyone's yum – are so gross. My favorite one is called "24-hour vegetable salad." If you're running out of dinner ideas, if you're ever like "I'm so bored by what I eat," this is the Instagram page for you. — Bedatri Choudhury
NPR Kroc Fellow Mia Estrada adapted this Pop Culture Happy Hour segment into a digital page.
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