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
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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Monkey See
11:12 am
Fri December 12, 2014

'Top Five': A Good, Not Great, Day In New York With Chris Rock

Rosario Dawson (left) plays Chelsea Brown, a New York Times reporter who spends a day interviewing Rock's character, Andre Allen.
Ali Paige Goldstein Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Chris Rock has been on a tear — a widely shared interview with Frank Rich in New York Magazine, a widely shared guest column in The Hollywood Reporter, interviews with Audie Cornish on All Things Considered, Terry Gross on

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Monkey See
9:41 am
Fri December 12, 2014

The Great 'Parks And Rec' Clip War Of 2014

My friend Alan Sepinwall and I have both written in the past about our affection for Parks And Recreation, the NBC comedy that is not only about to end, but is about to end in a burst of weekly back-to-back episodes that will have it over by the end of February.

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Monkey See
8:44 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Live From Sixth And I

NPR

On Tuesday night, December 9, we gathered at the historic Sixth & I synagogue in Washington for our biggest live show yet. Along with our great friend Barrie Hardymon, Stephen, Glen and I talked about some of our takeaways from the year, from podcasts to great books to the music that wouldn't die.

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Monkey See
9:15 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Holiday Encores Edition

NPR

Here at PCHH HQ (PCHHQ?), we are hard at work preparing for our December 9th live show at Sixth and I in Washington. For that reason, we decided to bring you a couple of encore segments from past holiday editions of the show.

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Monkey See
1:11 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Blood And Bone: The Surprising Sight Of Dead Animals On A Meat Show

Eric Greenspan cuts up some hog on his new National Geographic Channel show.
National Geographic Channel

The Nat Geo show Eric Greenspan Is Hungry is certainly not the first food show to get gritty about the origins and transformations of food; Anthony Bourdain, in particular, has been doing that for years and years. Still, it feels unusual in its pure focus on an established chef/personality — Greenspan — celebrating the ritual of hunting and eating meat.

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Monkey See
10:21 am
Fri November 28, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Kid Stuff And Leftover Outtakes

NPR

It's a holiday weekend for many of us, but we've still got a fresh episode — and a sparkly new panelist in the fourth chair: Guy Raz, host of NPR's TED Radio Hour. When we asked Guy about coming on the show, we learned that pop-culture-wise, he — like our own Stephen Thompson — spends a lot of time sharing stuff with his kids. So this seemed like a good week to get around to Disney's current hit, Big Hero 6. But not just that! We also cover new shows on Amazon, old films Stephen will harass you into seeing, and lots more.

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Monkey See
5:22 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Christmas Bells Are Ringing, And Cable Holiday Movies Are Unrelenting

Candace Cameron Bure and David O'Donnell star in Hallmark's Christmas Under Wraps, which airs Saturday on The Hallmark Channel.
Fred Hayes Crown Media

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 7:36 pm

On today's All Things Considered, my great dream came true: Audie Cornish and I sat down for a chat about Hallmark/Lifetime/UP movies of the holiday season. Do people really watch them? What are they about? Can they save Christmas? You may have read my story a couple of weeks back about being busted watching these movies, so you know that I mean it when I say I watch them and I don't judge.

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Monkey See
8:40 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Foxcatcher' And The Art Of The Trailer

NPR

We're getting into the thick of Oscar movie season, and one of the interesting and curious entries is Foxcatcher, starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo in a film fairly loosely based on a true story out of Delaware in the mid-'90s. (Details here; to the degree history can be a spoiler, that is one.) We sat down this week to talk about the film with our pal, NPR film critic Bob Mondello.

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Monkey See
3:01 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Mike Nichols: Remembering The Ellipses After The Story Ends

Mike Nichols, seen here in 2013, died Wednesday at 83.
Dario Cantatore AP

[At the top of this post, you'll find a discussion from me and my Pop Culture Happy Hour colleague Stephen Thompson about Mike Nichols and his work. Stephen tells a great family story about the impact of Nichols' comedy — give it a listen.]

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Monkey See
12:59 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

What Happens When You Make A Podcast About Podcasts About A Podcast?

Serial, from the This American Life family, is a hit — to the point where it's now got spinoff podcasts at both Slate and The A.V. Club, the latter of which calls its Serial recap podcast the Serial Serial.

The air is getting pretty thin up here, no?

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Monkey See
11:22 am
Wed November 19, 2014

'Grape Salad' Is Not Minnesotan, And Other Lessons In Cultural Mapmaking

Organic grapes are on display at trade fair on Sept. 5, in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 3:15 pm

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Monkey See
2:47 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

'MasterChef Junior': The Secret Ingredients Are Moppets And Empathy

Abby knows better than to lose her concentration while cooking.
Greg Gayne Fox

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Monkey See
5:58 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

A Painful Hollywood Portrait Makes For Great TV On 'The Comeback'

Lisa Kudrow plays actress Valerie Cherish in The Comeback.
Colleen Hayes HBO

In 2005, Lisa Kudrow starred in a little HBO show called The Comeback, a show styled as — get ready for this — the raw footage for a (fictional) reality show about a (fictional) actress named Valerie Cherish, getting her big chance to come back in the (fictional) sitcom Room And Bored. The show was well reviewed but low-rated, and it was canceled after 13 episodes.

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Monkey See
2:36 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

'State Of Affairs': Television From The Precise Middle Of The Barrel

Charleston Tucker (Katherine Heigl) meets with President Constance Payton (Alfre Woodard).
Michael Parmelee NBC

The best and worst thing I can say about the new NBC drama State Of Affairs is the bottom line: if this is the kind of show you like, you might like this show.

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Monkey See
9:25 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Revived Properties And Cultural Dichotomies

NPR

We chose not to assign ourselves Dumb And Dumber To this week. Call it the shortness of life, call it the urgency of busy schedules, call it limited tolerance for catheter jokes — we declined. We did, however, get talking about whether this film, and others that come many years later to try to pump life into an aging franchise, are ever simply too late to the party to be successful.

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Monkey See
9:07 am
Thu November 13, 2014

A Great Director — Who's Also A Woman — Might Direct 'Wonder Woman'

Michelle MacLaren, seen here accepting an award as a producer on Breaking Bad, may direct the upcoming Wonder Woman movie.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 12:06 pm

Michelle MacLaren is a familiar name, or at least a familiar creator, to fans of high-end television: She directed episodes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and other series, she's worked extensively as a producer (including on Breaking Bad), and she's one of a handful of television directors whose presence behind the camera can stir enthusiasm about upcoming projects.

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