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

Claire Danes and Zazie Beetz in the Max mini-series <em>Full Circle.</em>
Claire Danes and Zazie Beetz in the Max mini-series Full Circle.

This week Barbie kept on rolling, the strikes continued, and it was a bad week for a guy named Scooter.

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

How To with John Wilson on HBO

The HBO show How To with John Wilsonis currently airing its third and final season. It's put together with footage and sort of man-on-the-street interviews around New York City. Every episode begins with a theme like "How to Clean Your Ears," "How to split the check." But like, no episode is ever that simple --they quickly kind of spiral out into these poetic, mini-documentary films. They just ran an episode about "How to Watch the Game" and it begins with Wilson trying to get into sports, but then it ends up with him connecting with a group of men who collect vintage vacuum cleaners. So that's just like a little taste of where these episodes go. I'm really sad that the show is in its final season, but watching it right now has been making me very happy. — Hazel Cills

A Memory Called Empire and A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

/ Tor Books
Tor Books

A Memory Called Empire and A Desolation Called Peace are a sci-fi duology by Arkady Martine. They're about colonization, and language, and institutional memory. I don't want to spoil too much of it, but it is basically focused on an ambassador from a tiny space station that has managed to maintain its independence from this far-reaching empire who has to go to the heart of this empire to figure out what happened to her predecessor. It's gorgeous, and sad, and hopeful. I'm telling everybody I know to read them. — Christina Tucker

Full Circle on Max

Full Circle is a mini-series on Max that kind of flew under the radar — but the pedigree here is fantastic. All the episodes are written by Ed Solomon — who was behind Bill & Ted and Men in Black — and it's directed by Steven Soderbergh. It's a thriller where a ransom kidnapping goes wrong and the various parties connected to it find their worlds collide and clash, and it stars CCH Pounder as the head of a crime ring with connections to Guyana. Jharrel Jerome is her nephew who's eager to prove his worth. On the other side of things, you have Claire Danes and Timothy Olyphant playing a wealthy couple, and Dennis Quaid playing a celebrity chef and Claire Danes' dad; the whole family has secrets. And Zazie Beetz plays a detective who's going to just go rogue and do everything on her own. It's a really great end of summer watch. — Aisha Harris

Taking kayaking lessons

I learned how to swim about a year and a half ago during the pandemic. (I grew up very much an indoor kid who was raised by television and movies.) Now that I've learned how to swim, I took solo kayaking lessons. I didn't realize how accessible it actually was. It's an entirely new world that has been opened up to me. I want to encourage anybody who, like me, might have come to this stuff late to try it, even though it can be really daunting and scary. It has just been such a wonderful experience for me. I highly recommend getting on the water. — Daisy Rosario

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

I was quite charmed by You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah, a tween comedy on Netflix starring Adam Sandler's daughters and wife, as well as Idina Menzel — and Adam Sandler himself. It's a pretty gentle, silly, only very lightly raunchy family movie that takes both the idea of a bat mitzvah and the idea of best friends pretty seriously.

I'm currently reading and enjoying Once More With Feeling, a novel by Elissa Sussman, whose first book (Funny You Should Ask) I also very much liked. It's about a former pop star whose semi-scandalous past (in which she broke up with her boy-band boyfriend) resurfaces when she gets the chance to be in a new musical.

Have I been watching Suits? I have been watching Suits. Do I understand why everybody is suddenly obsessed with Suits? Kind of! Are we going to talk about it on the show soon-ish? Yes.

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.

Christina Tucker
Hazel Cills
Hazel Cills is an editor at NPR Music, where she edits breaking music news, reviews, essays and interviews. Before coming to NPR in 2021, Hazel was a culture reporter at Jezebel, where she wrote about music and popular culture. She was also a writer for MTV News and a founding staff writer for the teen publication Rookie magazine.
Daisy Rosario
Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.