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

Sheryl Lee Ralph accepts the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series for <em>Abbott Elementary</em> onstage during the 74th Emmy Awards.
Patrick T. Fallon
/
AFP via Getty Images
Sheryl Lee Ralph accepts the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series for Abbott Elementary onstage during the 74th Emmy Awards.

This week, the National Toy Hall of Fame announced its finalists for this year, NPR hosts share what movies they're excited for this fall, and Quinta Brunson made history at the Emmys.

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

Sheryl Lee Ralph winning the Emmy

I absolutely sobbed watching her speech. She is such a talent — she's one of those journeyman actresses who has been around for decades putting in the work, doing incredible things in Black cinema, and not being recognized for her work.

To see her get up on that stage and get her moment in the sun was just incredible. I loved it so much. — Cate Young

Kenan and Kel reunion at the Emmys

For every situation that makes you want to write off the Emmys completely, like The Underground Railroad not winning a single Emmy, to circle back to Thuso Mbedu and Sheila Atim's last big project The Woman King, is a moment like Kenan and Kel reuniting at the Emmys.

For a young person who kind of grew up in the late '90s and early '00s, Kenan & Kel on Nickelodeon was a foundational show. You always kind of heard rumors about the potential rifts in their friendship over the years. Like, you know, were they talking? Were they not talking?

So to see such an unfiltered, joyful moment between them just felt so pure, and I'm kind of hoping this might be a sign of them working together in the future. I don't need a Good Burger 2, it could be anything. — Marc Rivers

IAmTonyTweets' Little Mermaid song on Twitter

The Little Mermaid trailer for the new Disney "live action remake" – I don't know how much is actually going to be live action, but whatever – dropped a week ago. It stars Halle Bailey, who is a Black performer, and it's great to see Ariel being played in that role.

I have some quibbles with the trailer because it's super dark, you can't really see anything, and the special effects look terrible. But I will say in the wake of that trailer dropping, an old clip from earlier this summer started circulating from an online personality creator who goes by @iamtonytweets on Twitter.

It's basically him donning various wigs to play both Ariel and Ursula in the scene of "Poor Unfortunate Souls," but he remixes it. It just shows the creativity that Black people have, especially when taking things we grew up with that used to be super white, making it really fun and putting in our own spin on it.

I doubt that the movie is going to be as good as this minute-long tweet, but who cares? — Aisha Harris

The 1,000th Tiny Desk Concert with Angélique Kidjo and discovering musician Madison Cunningham

The closing credits of The Woman King have a song that features guest vocals from Angélique Kidjo, the great legend. She is the subject of our 1,000th Tiny Desk Concert, which we published this week.

But speaking of the Tiny Desk Concerts, I had a discovery myself watching a wonderful singer and guitarist named Madison Cunningham, who put out an album last week called Revealer. It is so, so, so beautiful.

She is such a subtly kickass guitarist, and this record contains one of the most beautiful, tear-jerking ballads I've heard in a really, really long time called "Life According To Raechel." — Stephen Thompson

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

Mandalit del Barco has a new NPR series on Latinos in Hollywood. Listen to the first piece here. (You can also read. But I do recommend hearing the audio she gathered!)

It's an unusual recommendation, but here goes: I don't know how I got on the topic of the 2009 CBS murder mystery series Harper's Island, but after Twitter helped me remember what it was called, I had a great deal of fun visiting its Wikipedia page and reliving one of the most truly bonkers network shows I can remember — including the episode titles.

We got wonderful, wonderful news this week, which is that dear friend of PCHH Brittany Luse will be the new host of It's Been A Minute, which of course was the former domain of dear friend of PCHH Sam Sanders. We could not be more excited, and I commend to you the episode in which Brittany and dear friend of PCHH Eric Eddings (look, we have a lot of friends, okay?) talked about winding down their essential podcast For Colored Nerds as they begin new chapters.

As if that weren't enough internal news, the great Alt.Latino was relaunched this week with Felix Contreras and new host Anamaria Sayre, who our listeners also know from conversations about Bad Bunny and West Side Story, among others.

BUT WAIT. As Stephen mentioned above, this was also the week that the Tiny Desk celebrated its 1,000th — yes, 1,000th — concert. They've come a long way, truly.


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.

Cate Young
Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
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.)
Maison Tran