Linda Holmes

Linda Holmes writes and edits NPR's entertainment and pop-culture blog, Monkey See. She has several elaborate theories involving pop culture and monkeys, all of which are available on request.

Holmes 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.

Holmes was a writer and editor at Television Without Pity, where she recapped several hundred hours of programming — including both High School Musical movies, for which she did not receive hazard pay. Since 2003, she has been a contributor to MSNBC.com, where she has written about books, movies, television and pop-culture miscellany.

Holmes' work has also appeared on Vulture (New York magazine's entertainment blog), in TV Guide and in many, many legal documents.

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Monkey See
9:32 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Broad City' And Required Reading

NPR

On this week's Pop Culture Happy Hour, we're joined from Boston by PCHH's official enthusiastic librarian, Margaret Willison. We begin with a conversation about Broad City, the Comedy Central show that recently kicked off its second season (you can see the event Stephen talks about right here). We talk about some of the show's influences, some of what makes it special, and some of the ways it pushes against the boundaries of typical television.

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Monkey See
5:39 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Some Glittery Favorites From The Miss Universe National Costume Show

Chanel Beckenlehner, Miss Canada 2014. This is the one that's been getting all the press. Drink it in, people. The scoreboard is attached.
Patrick Prather Miss Universe Organization

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 9:40 pm

One of my favorite bonkers displays of the year is the National Costume Show at the Miss Universe pageant. I don't watch the pageant, I don't care who wins, I don't think any of the countries are funny, I don't think any of the cultural references in the outfits are funny, but the costumes are hysterical, and this is basically the joyful, glittering, headpiece-wearing Olympics Of Gaudy Excess, and I could not be more on board. The captions have all the info you could ever need and then some.

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Monkey See
1:57 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

'Parks And Recreation' Shows The Beating Heart Of Its Great Love Story

Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler play the platonic friends at the very beating heart of Parks And Recreation.
Ben Cohen NBC

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 8:56 am

The wedding of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) was one of Parks and Recreation's greatest moments. So was the wedding of April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt). But Tuesday night, Parks spent the second half of its hourlong double episode on its greatest love story: the friendship of Leslie and Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman).

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Monkey See
3:24 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

An Uneven But Auspicious 'Nightly' Opener

Larry Wilmore brought The Nightly Show to Comedy Central on Monday night.
Stephen Lovekin Getty Images for Comedy Central

It's perhaps not surprising that the strongest part of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on its debut Monday was the part that looked the most like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, with which it shares considerable DNA. Wilmore opened with an observation that the Oscar nominations are "so white a grand jury decided not to indict them," acknowledged Selma and said the words "Eric Garner" and "Ferguson" in the teaser before the show open even rolled. (What was on Colbert's show the "pre-eagle" moment.)

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Monkey See
5:26 am
Sat January 17, 2015

Can A 'Whitney' Biopic Beat Watching Whitney Houston?

Yaya DaCosta as Whitney Houston in Lifetime's Whitney.
Jack Zeman Lifetime

The high bar that a biopic about Whitney Houston has to clear is essentially this: Is it better than just watching YouTube videos of Whitney Houston singing? Does it somehow tell you more, open her up more, explain her legacy more? Because honestly, all it takes is watching her sing to understand why she was as beloved as she was, from her arrival as a 21-year-old phenomenon through her The Bodyguard superstardom and the shocking news that she had died the night before the 2012 Grammy Awards.

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Monkey See
10:04 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Selma' And Dramatic License

NPR

This week's show — which was taped before Thursday's Oscar nominations — is focused on Ava DuVernay's drama Selma, and we're happy to be joined by our pal and Code Switch blogger Gene Demby, who also recently wrote a terrific piece in Politico about what he talked about as a new civil rights movement. It made sense, we thought, to make sure he was with us to cover a movie about the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

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Monkey See
9:26 am
Thu January 15, 2015

At The Oscar Nominations, It's A Good Year To Be An Idiosyncratic Man

In Birdman, Michael Keaton (a real-life former Batman) plays a former movie superhero who's trying to get a grasp on his career.
Atsushi Nishijima/ Fox Searchlight

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 1:26 pm

[At the top of this post, you'll find a discussion I had with Stephen Thompson, my Pop Culture Happy Hour co-panelist, about the Oscar nominations. Tomorrow's full PCHH episode more fully covers the film Selma.]

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Monkey See
3:03 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Small Batch: The Golden Globes

NPR

Stephen Thompson and I meant to sit down together Monday to talk about Sunday's Golden Globes, but a few weather and other issues intervened, so we got cracking this morning, now that our delirious Golden Globe Fever has subsided. We touch on the wins for Transparent and Boyhood and give a quick review of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's hosting. But be aware: on this week's full episode of PCHH, we'll be doing a deep dive into Selma, so if you're wondering where that chatter is, we're working on it.

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Monkey See
2:23 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

The 20 Greatest Things About This Amazing 'The Boy Next Door' Trailer

Jennifer Lopez in The Boy Next Door.
Suzanne Hanover Universal Pictures

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 4:43 pm

While at the movies this weekend, I saw what may be the funniest trailer of the year, albeit not on purpose. It is for the thriller The Boy Next Door, starring Jennifer Lopez and opening Jan. 23. It called out to me. It wanted to be shown. It loves your mother's ... well, you'll see. Here are the 20 most awesome things in this trailer in chronological order.

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Monkey See
2:57 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

A Few Caveats About The New World Of Television

Transparent creator Jill Soloway (second from left) with actors Jay Duplass, Jeffrey Tambor, and Judith Light. Soloway and Tambor won Golden Globes on Sunday, a first for Amazon.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 5:31 pm

Sunday night's Golden Globes honored television that feels different from what we had before in both content and business model. High honors went to, among others, House Of Cards, a Netflix drama starring an established movie actor; Transparent, an Amazon comedy-drama about a transgender woman with adult children; and Jane The Virgin, an offbeat CW show embracing the telenovela format and featuring a marvelous young lead who is also a woman of color.

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Monkey See
11:31 am
Mon January 12, 2015

What Those George Clooney Jokes Know About Red Carpet Culture

Actor George Clooney and his wife Amal looked pretty good on the red carpet.
Jason Merritt Getty Images

At Sunday night's Golden Globes, Tina Fey said this about the new wife of award recipient George Clooney: "Amal [Alamuddin] is a human rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an advisor to Kofi Annan regarding Syria, and was selected for a three-person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip. So tonight, her husband is getting a Lifetime Achievement Award."

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Monkey See
3:27 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

C'mon, 'Glee': Bring It Home

Rachel (Lea Michele) seeks advice from Will (Matthew Morrison) in the first part of the two-hour Glee season premiere, airing Friday night.
Tyler Golden Fox

It's wrong, I think, to say that Fox's Glee was only good at the beginning. It's certainly been inconsistent. It's certainly struggled with new cast members once the original group moved on.

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Monkey See
9:27 am
Fri January 9, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: In One Year And Out The Other 2015

NPR

Sure, lots of people make predictions at the beginning of every year. And lots of people make resolutions. But how many people are willing to go back, play tape of themselves making those predictions and resolutions, and evaluate their own rightness or, more often, wrongness?

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Monkey See
10:46 am
Thu January 8, 2015

'Parenthood' And The Strange Case Of The Missing Family Drama

Peter Krause as Adam Braverman and Monica Potter as Kristina Braverman on NBC's Parenthood.
Colleen Hayes NBC

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 4:13 pm

NBC's Parenthood, loosely based on the 1989 Steve Martin film, returns Thursday night for its final run of four episodes. Produced by Jason Katims, who's beloved by critics for helming television's version of Friday Night Lights, the show ran for six seasons and leaves a curious question behind: What happened to the network family drama?

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Monkey See
12:23 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

'Empire': A World Of Unbuttoned Shirts And Dishy Music Stories

Jamal (Jussie Smollett) welcomes home his mother (Taraji P. Henson), but she has about as much more on her mind as this look makes it seem like she does.
Chuck Hodes Fox

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 1:04 pm

Empire comes to Fox with an interesting pedigree: It was created by Danny Strong (who's written multiple award-winning projects for HBO) and Lee Daniels, who made Precious and The Butler — both films with a sheen of prestige, but both films to which people reacted in complex ways. It stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, who are both past Oscar nominees. The executive music producer is Timbaland, who's worked with all kinds of folks, including Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake.

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Monkey See
1:48 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Small Batch: 'The Bachelor' Farms Iowa For Fresh Meat

Carly tries a song to charm The Bachelor, Chris Soules, on the premiere of ... well, The Bachelor, obviously. This really happened, see? We weren't lying.
Rick Rowell ABC

From the time we started Pop Culture Happy Hour, Stephen Thompson and I have occasionally heard a plaintive cry: "Why do you guys mention The Bachelor?" And it's true: we do. It comes up from time to time as a strange example of perplexing television, but we would never let it run roughshod over an entire episode.

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Monkey See
10:02 am
Mon January 5, 2015

From Patton Oswalt, A Movie Memoir That's Best Outside The Theater

Brad Barket Getty Images

The best of comedian and actor Patton Oswalt lies in his ability to truthfully observe what is small but important. That's true in his comedy, but it's true in his writing, too. Here he is in his new memoir Silver Screen Fiend, talking about his desperation to make an impression in his first movie role, a tiny part in the Kelsey Grammer comedy Down Periscope:

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Monkey See
11:31 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Billy Joel, Popular Song, PBS, And Needing A Piano

Billy Joel
Courtesy of Myrna Suarez

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 2:36 pm

I don't know when people started to think they could successfully make fun of you for being a person who grew up listening to a lot of Billy Joel — and perhaps still does — but they can all forget it.

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Monkey See
10:08 am
Fri January 2, 2015

The Madly Uneven 'Downton Abbey' Turns Its Eye From Money To Sex

Allen Leech as Tom Branson and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary.
Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Masterpiece

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 2:12 pm

[This piece assumes you've seen the first four seasons of Downton Abbey. As to the fifth, it avoids specific spoilers, but does talk about themes and threads enough that you might be 20 percent less surprised by a couple of developments. It's the best balance I could strike.]

Let us get this out of the way right off: Particularly after its first two seasons, Downton Abbey has been enormously uneven. It's satisfying in some moments, dull in others, and always prone to falling so in love with a particular story beat that it cannot move past it.

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Monkey See
9:07 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: From Sixth And I, Quizzes And Questions

NPR

In early December, we had a live show at the Sixth & I synagogue, the first part of which you've already heard. But sometimes, we like to top off our live events with a little bonus madness, so that's what's on tap this week.

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Monkey See
10:43 am
Wed December 31, 2014

'The Apprentice' Is Dead, Please Stop 'The Celebrity Apprentice'

Yup. That's Ian Ziering, Johnny Damon, and Kevin Jonas on The Celebrity Apprentice. And in the spirit of this dopey show, somebody using his phone.
Douglas Gorenstein NBC

It's hard to remember that The Apprentice was sort of fun once.

NO, DON'T LEAVE.

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Monkey See
8:33 am
Wed December 31, 2014

In 'The Rosie Effect,' An Unusual Romantic Hero Perseveres

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 2:54 pm

It's not an unfair generalization, I don't think, to say that identification with characters is fundamental to contemporary romantic novels. Most — not all, but most, by the numbers — are written for an audience of women, and they're emotionally centered on the romantic quest of a woman, often accompanied by another quest of some kind for career fulfillment, a peaceful relationship with parents, or the putting aside of past mistakes.

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Monkey See
10:50 am
Tue December 30, 2014

In 'Huckleberry Finn,' A History In Echoes

Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 3:47 pm

Is there anything left to say about Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn?

That is the question that animates big parts of Andrew Levy's Huck Finn's America: Mark Twain And The Era That Shaped His Masterpiece, a richly researched, copiously annotated, fascinating argument that in all the debates over the book's treatment of race and despite its position as both a widely banned book and a widely assigned book, we tend to miss some of the most important things it teaches.

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Monkey See
8:03 am
Fri December 26, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Into The Woods' And How To Make A Franchise

NPR

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 2:09 pm

We at PCHH are not together this week for the holidays, as we are scattered hither and yon, literally from coast to coast. But before we scattered thusly, we sat down with our friend (and film critic and musical theater aficionado) Bob Mondello to talk about Disney's new adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods, starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and lots more.

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Monkey See
4:08 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

50 Wonderful Things From 2014

Jenny Slate and Jake Lacy in Obvious Child.
Courtesy of A24

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 12:36 pm

I am not a great maker of lists. Unless pressed, I will make exactly one each year, and this is it.

This is a list of 50 of the wonderful things that wandered through my field of vision in 2014. It is not a definitive list of the best things. It is not merely subjective but sublimely subjective. It leans away from (but doesn't entirely avoid) what's been most highly praised and what seems to have been most rewarded.

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Monkey See
11:11 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Top Five' And The Art Of The Mixtape

NPR

This week's show brings our pal Audie Cornish into the studio for a conversation about Chris Rock's comedy Top Five. We get into the balance of industry satire and romance, the particular variety of raunchy comedy the film favors, and how his deft handling of the agony of junkets contrasts with the actually impressive round of interviews Rock has done surrounding the film.

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Monkey See
9:53 am
Fri December 19, 2014

A Different 'Annie,' But Still A Good Kid

Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhane Wallis star in the latest incarnation of the musical Annie.
Barry Wetcher Sony Pictures

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 12:19 pm

The sun'll come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun

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Monkey See
5:07 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Sarah Koenig On Serial: 'I Think Something Went Wrong With This Case'

Adnan Syed
Courtesy of Serial

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

It's hard to believe that not only was there no Serial six months ago, there was no Serial three months ago. The hugely popular podcast, a spinoff production of This American Life, didn't even premiere until early October, but since then, it has made its way with great speed into worlds from Sesame Street to Funny Or Die.

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Monkey See
12:05 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Yes, Serial Is True Crime — And That's OK

Sarah Koenig will, on Thursday, host the final episode of the first season of Serial.
Meredith Heuer

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:11 pm

As The Conversation About Serial reaches a fever pitch in certain circles, those of us behind Code Switch and Monkey See have been talking quite a bit about the show.

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Monkey See
11:23 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Watts Going On: The Gaudy Excess Of 'The Great Christmas Light Fight'

The Fuller family's Christmas light display in Clayton, N.C.
Brownie Harris ABC

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 12:11 pm

Perhaps you are familiar with the oft-quoted wisdom of (allegedly) Coco Chanel that when a woman gets dressed and believes she's ready, she should take off one accessory before she leaves the house.

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