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
8:34 am
Fri May 29, 2015

David Oyelowo Flies Solo In HBO's 'Nightingale'

David Oyelowo stars in Nightingale.
Joseph Cultice HBO

Inevitability has a crucial role in lots of good dramatic works, and every good use of it gives lie to the idea that it's definitionally incompetent to create anything "predictable." From the opening minutes of Nightingale, a new film airing on HBO Friday night starring David Oyelowo (Selma), there is only thick dread about what is going to happen to Peter Snowden, the only character on screen for the nearly 90-minute running time.

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Monkey See
9:24 am
Mon May 18, 2015

'Mad Men' Ends, Singing A Familiar Song

Jon Hamm as Don Draper.
AMC

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 1:48 pm

[This discussion of the Mad Men finale gives away all kinds of information about the Mad Men finale, so if you don't want to know things about it, please stop reading.]

The hippies were probably inevitable.

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Monkey See
8:48 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Pitch Perfect 2' And Summer Movies

Pitch Perfect 2
Richard Cartwright Universal Pictures

This week's show came to you a little late, because that's how much we wanted to drag our pal Petra Mayer of NPR Books to see Pitch Perfect 2 with us before we taped.

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Monkey See
11:14 am
Tue May 12, 2015

Black Widow, Scarce Resources And High-Stakes Stories

Scarlett Johansson plays Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff in Marvel's Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
Jay Maidment Marvel

[This post about the plot and characters in Avengers: Age Of Ultron discusses the plot and characters in Avengers: Age Of Ultron.]

We were never going to avoid gender politics with a character named "Black Widow."

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Monkey See
10:16 am
Mon May 11, 2015

What Is Upfronts Week, Anyway?: 5 Questions Answered

The limited information of upfronts week: This is John Stamos in the new comedy Grandfathered, coming to Fox. In it, he apparently hangs out with this baby!
Jennifer Clasen Fox

What's upfronts week, anyway?

Upfronts week is when the broadcast networks, in this order and in general, (1) make final decisions about canceling or keeping existing shows, (2) unveil their schedules for the fall and spring seasons, and (3) present their new shows to advertisers to kick off their ad sales. In other words, "Look at this beautiful show! Wouldn't you like to put your beautiful commercial right between the first and second acts?"

What do we know about new shows at this point?

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Monkey See
9:00 am
Mon May 11, 2015

The End Of 'American Idol'

Ryan Seacrest (from left), Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban
Matthias Vriens-McGrath Fox

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 1:23 pm

[Note: Listen to the audio above to hear a conversation I had with Pop Culture Happy Hour team member Stephen Thompson about the end of the show.]

Ahead of its fall programming presentation to advertisers in the afternoon, Fox announced Monday that the 15th season of American Idol, which will begin in January 2016, will be the last.

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Monkey See
1:28 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

'Grace And Frankie' Looks At Life Unexpectedly Alone

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the Netflix series Grace and Frankie.
Melissa Moseley Netflix

Originally published on Sat May 9, 2015 8:48 am

The opening credits of the new Netflix comedy (maybe comedy-drama) Grace And Frankie lay out the show's high concept using the song "Stuck In The Middle With You" and a set of wedding cake toppers. You see two couples, then two couples with kids, then the husbands kissing, then the abandoned women falling through the broken cake.

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Monkey See
12:25 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

'I Am Big Bird' Finds An Artist Under The Feathers

An archival photo of Caroll Spinney at work.
Courtesy of Robert Furhing

The film I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, which focuses on the life of puppeteer Spinney, avoids a few common pitfalls in the biographical documentary. It doesn't occupy its entire running time with people saying how amazing Spinney is or with testimonials to the importance of his work. It doesn't return to the same analyses of the effects of Sesame Street on children that have been offered a million times before. It doesn't explain over and over how puppeteers merge with their characters.

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Monkey See
10:01 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Amy Schumer Puts Her Own Looks On Trial

Front row (from left): Chris Gethard, Nick DiPaolo, Vincent Kartheiser. Back row (from left): Henry Zebrowski, Paul Giamatti.
Comedy Central

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 12:59 pm

On the fantastic advice podcast Judge John Hodgman, one of the things Hodgman always says in getting litigants to relay their stories is that "specificity is the soul of narrative." Specificity is also the soul of parody, as we saw Tuesday night on Inside Amy Schumer.

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Monkey See
10:20 am
Mon May 4, 2015

'Mad Men' Skates Across A Changed And Changing Landscape

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in Mad Men.
AMC AMC

Sunday night's Mad Men was the antepenultimate episode of the series – a word we don't get to use enough, but one that can be surprisingly significant in television. The second to last episode is often (rightly or wrongly) understood and analyzed as finale table-setting, so this third to last episode is sometimes the last that feels like the regular show. And for Mad Men, it seemed to serve as a crystallizing hour for the themes that the show has returned to over and over, reaching no conclusions about those themes but turning them over and over in its narrative hands.

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Monkey See
11:08 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Free Comic Book Day And Rabbit Holes

NPR

Another year, another Free Comic Book Day!

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Monkey See
4:21 am
Sat April 25, 2015

The Hard Work And Close Bonds Of Competitive College A Cappella

Voices In Your Head, from the University of Chicago, performs their competition set. In the front, you can see Kari Wei — she's the one with the pitch pipe around her neck.
Joe Martinez Photography

Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 11:36 am

It's been many years since I did my three semesters of college a cappella, but it remains a genre of performance for which I have enormous affection. In 2012, the arrival of Pitch Perfect meant that suddenly, I knew a lot more people who even knew what a college a cappella was.

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Monkey See
1:30 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Food In Pop Culture And Going Back To College

NPR

Just a very quick post this week while I work my way through my emotions about the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.

On the show this week, we're joined by our pals Gene Demby and Kat Chow to tackle the issue of food in culture, including cooking shows that feature great cooks, cooking shows that feature lousy cooks, and cooking shows that actually make us better at cooking. We talk about food for the soul and food for the glutton, and we learn a fascinating biographical tidbit about Kat.

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Monkey See
7:54 am
Sat April 18, 2015

George Lucas Sneezes, And Other Moments From His Talk With Colbert

George Lucas and Stephen Colbert talked on Friday at an event at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Grant Lamos IV Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 12:37 pm

It's fair to say George Lucas is a person who has had a lot of attention paid to him.

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Monkey See
3:32 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

The Challenges Of War At A Distance

Ethan Hawke and January Jones in Andrew Niccol's Good Kill.
Lorey Sebastian Clear Skies Nevada LLC/IFC Films

The opening moments of Good Kill, a new drama starring Ethan Hawke and written and directed by Andrew Niccol (who also directed Hawke in Gattaca), almost eerily resemble the opening moments of American Sniper. A man watches and tries to interpret the movements of a woman and child who don't see him, deciding whether to kill them. This man, however, isn't concealed nearby. The woman and child are in Afghanistan and the man is piloting a drone from an air conditioned trailer on a military base in Nevada.

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