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What's Making Us Happy: A Guide For Your Weekend Watching, Listening And Reading

In the new show <em>Reservation</em> <em>Dogs, </em>four Native teens commit crimes to fund their efforts to leave their home in rural Oklahoma.
Shane Brown
FX on Hulu
In the new show Reservation Dogs, four Native teens commit crimes to fund their efforts to leave their home in rural Oklahoma.

It's been a week full of heavy news from the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan to the COVID surges in the U.S. to the destruction in Haiti after a massive earthquake. We hope you're managing in whatever way works best for you. That may mean finding ways to help Afghan refugees or support relief efforts in Haiti. You might also need a break, so we're here with a few things that might offer a respite or a moment of levity.

What to watch

Nine Perfect Strangers, Hulu

Hulu's Nine Perfect Strangers is based on Liane Moriarty's book, produced by David E. Kelley, and starring Nicole Kidman. For all those reasons, it's a clear follow-up to Big Little Lies. This story of nine people who wind up at a ritzy wellness retreat isn't always as compelling as I wish it were, but great performances from a cast that includes Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon and Bobby Cannavale make it worth checking out. -- Linda Holmes

Reservation Dogs, FX on Hulu

I am finding joy in a new television series called Reservation Dogs. It's about four young teenagers in Oklahoma on the reservation who kind of turn to a life of crime and justice. It's directed by Sterlin Harjo, who is a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. It's a teen drama and is completely referential to Quentin Tarantino and the whole history of indie film. It's worldbuilding at its very best, and the young actors are magnetic. — Ann Powers

What to listen to

"Hypnodancer" by Little Big

I am recommending something incredibly stupid that has made me laugh and laugh. It is a band from Russia called Little Big. They have a series of viral videos and they were supposed to be Russia's representative in the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest before it was canceled last year. Their songs are so ridiculous, satirical and loud. They've got a bunch of videos, each more ridiculous than the one before. — Stephen Thompson

"Amaneki" by Sweet William and Ichiko Aoba

One thing that's quieting my brain and giving me reprieve from reporting on Afghanistan all week is a song called "Amaneki" by Sweet William and Ichiko Aoba. It's just very ambient and beautiful. It's like floating away on a cloud. I put in on every night when I go to bed, and it's still playing when I wake up in the morning. I have no doubt it's going to be the top song of my Spotify Wrapped this year. -- Cyrena Touros

Dr. Death podcast, Wondery

You probably know by now whether you like the Wondery podcast Dr. Death or not. It has its own style, its own flavor. If you use it for company while cleaning, as I do, be aware that they've started a new season, and you'll never guess: It's about a bad doctor. -- Linda Holmes

What to read

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I am very late on this, but I just read Sally Rooney's Normal People, and it was very disturbing. I listened to it as a audiobook and it just kept going. It was thrilling. So I am very excited to watch the TV show on Hulu and be even more disturbed. — LaTesha Harris

What else has been making us happy recently?

There's more where this came from! Five days a week, Pop Culture Happy Hour serves you recommendations and commentary on the buzziest movies, TV, music, books, videogames and more. Subscribe here >>

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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.
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.)
Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.
LaTesha Harris is NPR Music's editorial assistant. A relentless jack-of-all-trades, she takes turns writing, editing and producing music coverage. Invested in the culture behind pop, hip-hop and R&B, her work highlights the intersection between identity and history. Once in a blue moon, Harris moonlights as a talking head with no filter.