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.

A new film about Robin Williams begins with his appearance on Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton. Lipton says: "How do you explain the mental reflexes that you deploy with such awesome speed? Are you thinking faster than the rest of us? What the hell is going on?" Williams first makes a goggle-eyed face, but then he falls over sideways, like an embarrassed kid, curling up and cackling. And then, of course, he does precisely the thing Lipton is asking about: a flurry of movements, voices, bits, fragments of thoughts flying by — fragments riffing on his own thinking.

Sacha Baron Cohen has two basic shticks that he uses in his new Showtime show Who Is America?, which premiered Sunday night. One of them works well, and the other one doesn't. Unfortunately, of the four segments in the premiere, he uses the effective strategy once and the ineffective one three times.

Those unfamiliar with Cohen's past work in films like Borat and Bruno need only to know that what he does, in short, is interview (and interact with) people while inhabiting various absurd alter egos. It's a prank show, for all intents and purposes.

Updated 2:14 p.m. ET

To see the best stories inside the Emmy nominations, you often have to look past the ones that often make headlines. The big nomination numbers were raked in by familiar nominees: Game of Thrones was the leader with 22 nominations, Saturday Night Live and Westworld had 21, The Handmaid's Tale 20. In comedy, Atlanta led with 16, but the next two spots went to first-year series: Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with 14 and Barry right behind at 13.

Permit me this short review of Skyscraper, starring Dwayne Johnson, not currently billed as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: If you think there is any chance you will enjoy Skyscraper, you will. If you think there is very little chance you will enjoy Skyscraper, you will not.

Every week, we talk about what we should all do to prepare to tape Pop Culture Happy Hour. For this episode, we're joined by Marissa Lorusso of NPR Music. And when I wrote to Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon and Marissa in advance, I told them this about preparation: "I mean, I assume we've all watched Jeopardy!"

This review of the second-season finale of The Handmaid's Tale discusses in detail what happens in the second-season finale of The Handmaid's Tale.

The sound of the second season of Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale coming to an end was the sound of a balloon, expertly inflated to the point where it seemed about to break, being let go so that it releases its tension in a long, anticlimactic raspberry.

Everything echoes in Sharp Objects, the new HBO eight-episode adaptation of Gillian Flynn's 2006 debut novel. That's not only true of the figurative echoes in the complex tale of family trauma in a small town. It's true of the literal echoes in the sound design. Every room sounds hollow; every house amplifies the rattles and footsteps inside.

It's easy to be skeptical of a documentary about Fred Rogers, who hosted Mister Rogers' Neighborhood on public television for decades. Rogers has achieved, as the film acknowledges, an almost saint-like status, and the mission of Won't You Be My Neighbor? is not to uncover some secret dark side of the man — as far as you'll know walking out, there wasn't one.

Science fiction writer and provocateur Harlan Ellison, who wrote stories including "Jeffty Is Five," "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," and "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream," died in his sleep at home in Los Angeles at age 84. Like many who write short stories and novellas in genres like speculative fiction, the sweep of his career is evident in his collection of awards: Hugo Awards, Nebula Awards, Edgar Awards and many others.

Comfort never goes out of season, so neither do cooking shows. On this episode, we look back on a conversation Glen Weldon and I had with Barrie Hardymon and Kat Chow about the cooking television we know and enjoy. We talk about Top Chef, about Barefoot Contessa, about Chopped and about whether you can actually become a better and more confident cook through TV. Barrie even stops to wonder: does a tomato deserve underwear? (It makes sense coming from her.)

How's your week going so far?

That well, huh? We understand.

Over on our show, Pop Culture Happy Hour, we recently spent an episode talking all about comedy specials, which play a unique role for us in helping hard times feel a little less taxing. Stephen Thompson of NPR Music, Glen Weldon of the NPR arts desk, Mike Katzif of Ask Me Another and I chose two specials each to highlight from the last couple of years.

ABC canceled its lucrative reboot of Roseanne in late May, after star Roseanne Barr published a tweet that compared Valerie Jarrett, a former aide to President Barack Obama, to an ape. ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey called the tweet "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values." It looked like the network was willing to take a financial hit and part with a successful property in the name of, of all things, principle.

Not so fast.

We paused this week to bring you a bit of a respite from the news that's still often incisive, smart, and essential. In other words, we're talking stand-up comedy. You can listen to the show to hear all of the recommendations from me, Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon, and our friend Mike Katzif — and to hear the performers in their own words — but here's the list if you're trying to track them down:

The Tony Awards felt a little different this year than they have recently. It was a year without a Hamilton or a Dear Evan Hansen; there was no one original, out-of-nowhere show that came into the Tony Awards as a pop phenomenon. In fact, all four of the four nominated musicals were adaptations of existing properties: SpongeBob SquarePants, Disney's Frozen and the non-musical films Mean Girls and The Band's Visit.

Anthony Bourdain's Twitter profile just says, "Enthusiast."

The chef, food writer, Parts Unknown host, Top Chef judge — the enthusiast — has died from an apparent suicide. He was 61.

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