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

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Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Jack Dawkins in The Artful Dodger.

John Platt/ Hulu


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Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Jack Dawkins in The Artful Dodger.

John Platt/ Hulu

This week, things got dicey for Elmo, people just kept on being weird about Taylor Swift, and we we said goodbye to the great, great, great Chita Rivera.

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

One Direction – A Fan Story

The members of One Direction — Liam Payne, left, Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Zane Malik and Niall Horan — in London in December 2010.

Ian Gavan/Getty Images


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The members of One Direction — Liam Payne, left, Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Zane Malik and Niall Horan — in London in December 2010.

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

One Direction – A Fan Story is a BBC podcast hosted by Maddie Grace Jepson, written and produced by Gráinne Morrison. It is a beautiful retelling of the rise of One Direction from the view of a now grown-up Directioner. It has eight episodes, each no longer than 20 minutes. It’s so well-produced – it’s sound-rich, high-energy, and full of archival tape. I love that the BBC put really great production into documenting what was a visceral, emotional thing in a teen’s life And it’s really interesting to hear it from a British perspective. — Candice Lim

The Artful Dodger

YouTube

The Artful Dodger on Hulu is a spinoff of the 19th-century Dickens novel, Oliver Twist. For those who are unfamiliar, Oliver’s friend Jack Dawkins (aka “the Artful Dodger”) is a pickpocket. In the novel, he introduces Oliver to the book’s antagonist, Fagin. This show takes place about a decade after the novel — Dawkins has left behind his life of crime, and he’s in Australia using his nimble fingers for good as a surgeon. Fagin shows up and lures him back into crime. It is a Victorian-era period drama set in Australia, and kind of a romance – it includes scheming, plotting, capers, and a reminder that there was a time when minor surgery was life-threatening. It stars Thomas Brodie-Sangster, David Thewlis and Maia Mitchell – and it’s very good.— J.C. Howard

Leo Reich: Literally Who Cares

YouTube

Leo Reich’s standup special came out in December. His standup persona is he’s kind of a preening, self-obsessed, young queer man who is convinced of his own trailblazing importance. He’s kind of playing up this whole youthful disaffection thing — he’s wearing it like a coat. It’s a pointed critique of exactly that kind of influencer culture vibe. He’s playing dumb very smartly in the way that people like John Early and Kate Berlant and Joel Kim Booster used to — that whole hot idiot vibe. There’s also music, so there’s just enough Bo Burnham in there kind of peeking around the corner. I’m trying to sum up his vibe by comparing him to other people, because I very much do not want to spoil a single one of his jokes. They are solid, they are extremely well-written, they’re well delivered. So I’m looking forward to a lot more from this guy. — Glen Weldon

Jet Lag: The Game

YouTube

Ordinarily I find YouTuber energy to be Too Much, but I have gotten sucked in to a wonderful series on YouTube and Nebula called Jet Lag: The Game. They basically take a territory of the world and turn it into a board game. Think, like The Amazing Race, with two teams competing against each other to go from one place to another, but with other variations: There is a version where they play Connect 4 by traveling to actual states in the U.S. They play a 72-hour game of tag across Europe. It is sort of a travelogue combined with a strategy game combined with YouTubers capering around doing silly challenges. I’m completely sucked in and really enjoying this. — Stephen Thompson

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

I greatly enjoyed the novel Interesting Facts About Space by Emily Austin, which came out this week. It’s a story about a NASA (or NASA-like) engineer and true-crime obsessive with an entertaining and unusual interior monologue. (If you want more about everything I’ve been reading, including a bunch of stuff that’s coming out this week, I rounded it all up over at my own site.)

The Netflix documentary The Greatest Night in Pop, which looks back on the late-night recording of “We Are The World” in 1985, is a whole lot of fun. Bruce Springsteen is generous and reflective, Huey Lewis explains how he was asked to fill the shoes of Prince, and you find out about at least one singer who may have had a little too much to drink.

Carole V. Bell wrote a piece for NPR looking at a set of new Jane Austen-inspired Hallmark adaptations, including a take on Sense and Sensibility with a mostly Black cast. There are some fascinating notes on the history and production of the film.

Friend of PCHH and NPR’s TV critic Eric Deggans wrote up a guide to figuring out which streaming services to subscribe to — a public service!

NPR’s Elizabeth Blair wrote about a White House arts summit that’s worth keeping an eye on.

Take note that the Grammy Awards are on Sunday night, and Stephen will be up late to help bring you a PCHH episode as well as some written reflections. As they would say on Succession, “We Hear For You.”

Beth Novey adapted 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.



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