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What's Making Us Happy: A guide to your weekend viewing and listening

Jin Sun-kyu as Noh Hyung-soo in <em>Bargain</em> streaming on Paramount+
TVING Co/Paramount+
Jin Sun-kyu as Noh Hyung-soo in Bargain streaming on Paramount+

This week, there was one last Beatles song (sort of), someone, again, made a very horrible decision about a Halloween costume and instantly regretted it, and the actors strike continued.

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

The Official Gilded Age Podcast from HBO

/ HBO
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HBO

The Official Gilded Age Podcast accompanies the HBO TV show, which just began its second season. I started listening to the podcast out of curiosity, and I very quickly got hooked. It is hosted by TCM host Alicia Malone and Tom Meyers from the Bowery Boys NYC History Podcast. They bring so much context to the show — there are all sorts of things that one might miss when watching, but on this podcast, they dive deep into the details. As a big history nerd and as a lover of The Gilded Age, I love this podcast. — Kristen Meinzer

TikTok food critic Keith Lee

I am absolutely invested in the TikTok videos of food influencer Keith Lee.At this point Lee can change the entire trajectory of a restaurant with a single review. This week he's been in Atlanta and he's been met with so much drama — it has the city's restaurant scene up in flames. Atlanta restaurants have so many rules – he's pulling up to these places and they're like: Oh, it's a two-hour wait, or, Oh, your whole party needs to be here, or, Oh, you can't DoorDash, or do takeout orders, or call in on the phone. Keith Lee's thing is that he wants to be a normal person — he doesn't want special treatment. So he shows up to all these places with his family and sees where it goes from there — and he's been met with rules, and drama, and chaos. — Reanna Cruz

Bargain, on Paramount+

I binged all six episodes of Bargain, which is a Korean drama series that's been compared to Squid Game. It's capitalist satire meets disaster epic, and I think the less you know about it, the better. But I'll just say that the first episode begins with a young woman who's auctioning off her virginity to a man in a hotel room. And then that episode ends with an earthquake and the hotel collapsing upon itself, leaving everyone in the building to fight for survival. Each episode is shot to look like it's all one take so it plays like a video game — but you're also constantly switching perspectives of various characters. It's fun, and weird, and dark. — Aisha Harris

Madi Diaz's new song "Same Risk" from her upcoming album Weird Faith

Weird Faith is an album coming out in February and I am so, so, so excited about it – it's from Madi Diaz, a singer-songwriter I absolutely love. She's been in the industry for about 15 years and just a couple of years ago she put out a record called History of a Feeling that snapped into focus the best of everything she's done to this point — she's just getting better, and better, and better. Weird Faith is about being at the beginning of a new chapter. As Diaz describes it, "This album exists between the time you say 'I Love You' and the moment they say it back... or don't." — Stephen Thompson

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

It's hard to believe HBO executives could spend their free time coming up with fake Twitter accounts to attack critics whose reviews they didn't agree with, but we learned this week that that's exactly what they did.

I was so incredibly sad to hear about the death of Matthew Perry this week. He was such an enormously important comedic presence for me, and I admired the work he did to try to share his experiences with addiction to help other people. There was a lot of good writing about him and about Friends this week; you can start here and here. And don't miss this interview.

I was fascinated by this story about "undead brands," which, among other things, answers the question, "What ever happened to Juicy Couture?"


Beth Noveyadapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" for the Web. 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 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Aisha Harris
Aisha Harris is a critic and host of Pop Culture Happy Hour and author of Wannabe: Reckonings With the Pop Culture That Shapes Me.
Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a host, writer and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist and guest host on All Songs Considered. Thompson also co-hosts the daily NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created with NPR's Linda Holmes in 2010. 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.)
Reanna Cruz
Kristen Meinzer