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What's making us happy: A guide to your weekend reading, listening and viewing

Ollie, voiced by Jonathan Groff, in <em></em><em>Lost Ollie</em> on Netflix.
Ollie, voiced by Jonathan Groff, in Lost Ollie on Netflix.

This week, House of the Dragon blew up streaming, the Independent Spirit Awards moved towards gender-neutral acting categories, and the Girl Scouts chose their next new cookie flavor.

Here's what the NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

Diary of a Void

/ Viking

It's either this or me talking about The O.C., but I'm working on a piece about a book called Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi. It's a Japanese book, recently translated into English, about this woman who works at an office. And to get out of all the menial, unpaid tasks women are often expected to do at the office, like clean up after a meeting and make coffee, she fakes being pregnant.

Since she gets maternity leave (this book can't take place in America), she has all this time to think about her life and delves into this weird psychosis. She almost starts buying her own lie. It's a fascinating book that I'm really enjoying digging into. — Andrew Limbong

People Dancing in Peppa Pig Costumes

My friends in India posted this video of people dressed like Peppa Pig dancing at, I'm guessing, a North Indian wedding, to this Punjabi Bollywood song.

Well, this is post-colonial, and this is how the colony rights itself. There are these British pigs dancing to this Punjabi Bollywood song, and I've been thinking about it more than I should. — Bedatri D. Choudhury

Lost Ollie

There's a new series coming out on Netflix called Lost Ollie that's a combination of live action and stunning animation. It's just about a lost toy; I think the story is a little bit familiar. Jonathan Groff plays the voice of Ollie, Mary J. Blige is in it, and Tim Blake Nelson plays this sort of Elvis kind of toy character.

It is dark, not really for very young children, but I love all of these dark odysseys across American wastelands with toys. I'm in love with the look of it, I'm in love with the execution of it, and I'm in love with the people who did it. It is a very heartwarming four episodes. — Walter Chaw


I've been trying to speed summer out the damn door and usher autumn in early by getting into folk horror as a genre. It's very harvesty, very autumnal, very earth tones. I recently checked out the film Apostle, which is a Netflix film released in 2018, starring Dan Stevens and Michael Sheen.

It's a period piece set in 1905 in which Sheen and his brothers have set up their own cult, and Stevens goes undercover to rescue his sister from them. It seems to just be a film about the power of messianic belief, I guess. And then it becomes very much something else.

I'm not sure it works, but it works for me because I am tired of summer and I want to start layering again. — Glen Weldon

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

I've been listening to the audiobook this week of Retail Gangster: The Insane, Real-Life Story of Crazy Eddie. It traces the story of Eddie Antar, the man (and the family) behind the New York electronics discounter whose TV and radio ads in the '70s and '80s were both loved and loathed — and whose business practices ultimately landed him in prison for racketeering conspiracy. It's a very good and highly entertaining book, and a very good reminder that the scammers we know now in the startup world have plenty of history to call their own.

Luke Macfarlane is kind of a fascinating actor with a fascinating history (I loved watching him on Brothers & Sisters as well as in many, many Hallmark movies), and David Canfield talked to him this week for Vanity Fair.

This week wasn't the first time I'd seen the Sesame Street classic "Put Down The Ducky," but I'm always happy to see it again, and I'll be darned if I didn't sing it all day long.

Friend of the show Jesse Thorn has a voice appearance on this week's Season 13 premiere of Archer. This is something Jesse has dreamed of for a long time, so make sure you don't miss it.

NPR's Maison Tran adapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" into a digital page. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletter to get recommendations every week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.
Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.
Bedatri D. Choudhury
Walter Chaw
Maison Tran