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What's Making Us Happy: A Guide For Your Weekend Watching, Listening And Reading

Every Friday, the hosts and guests on Pop Culture Happy Hour share the shows, movies, books and music that brought them joy that week. We hope they make you happy, too!

Sexy Beasts trailer, Netflix
Sexy Beasts is described as "a new dating show where real life singles sport elaborate makeup and prosthetics to put true blind date chemistry to the test." They really undersold it. These really hot people are dressed up like pandas, and ox, and beavers, and baboons, and the devil. In this one trailer that's like 80 seconds long, you see a panda ask an ox if he has health insurance. You see a beaver say the words "ass first personality second." You see a baboon kiss a she-devil.

That's all in 80 seconds! It made me so happy. I will never watch this show. It marks the true end of like the golden era of TV; I think it's really bad for TV writ large. But the trailer was funny and I loved it and it made me happy. – Sam Sanders

Kalo Moss as Gabriel in <em>The Little Prince(ss), </em>written and directed by Moxie Peng.
/ Disney
Kalo Moss as Gabriel in <em>The Little Prince(ss), </em>written and directed by Moxie Peng.

Launchpad Short Films, Disney+
Launchpad Shorts is a project Disney did where they offered resources to a set of filmmakers from underrepresented groups to make short films. The one that I want to highlight is called The Little Prince(ss) and it's about two young Chinese American kids, one takes ballet and loves pink and plays with dolls, and the other plays basketball and is into sports – and they become really dear friends. But what the film is really about is the way that Gabriel – he's the one who takes ballet – that his parents support him. There are some wonderful filmmaking choices that I think really drive home what it means to a kid to be supported – what it means to hear a parent love you and stick up for you.
– Linda Holmes

Esmerelda, Quasimodo and the gargoyles in <em>The Hunchback of Notre Dame,</em> 1996
Disney Enterprises Inc. / Getty Images
Esmerelda, Quasimodo and the gargoyles in <em>The Hunchback of Notre Dame,</em> 1996

" 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' at 25: An Oral History of Disney's Darkest Animated Classic," by Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm.com
In 1996, when I was a wee child, I recall seeing the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame – it's one of those forgotten films within the Disney canon. It's celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and because of that, we've gotten a few retrospectives. One oral history I would love to point you toward is written by Josh Spiegel. It has so many of the major players. It's very long, but it's totally worth it. There are so many really interesting tidbits like the fact that Michael Jackson almost got involved with the music. It's not all just happy reminiscing; some of them talk about how they feel like they missed the mark in some ways, either tonally or visually. It's really interesting to just hear them talk about the successes and failures. – Aisha Harris

David Hornsby, Charlotte Nicdao, Jessie Ennis, Rob McElhenney and F. Murray Abraham in <em>Mythic Quest.</em>
/ Apple TV+
David Hornsby, Charlotte Nicdao, Jessie Ennis, Rob McElhenney and F. Murray Abraham in <em>Mythic Quest.</em>

Mythic Quest, Apple TV
I just discovered it. Ads were popping up on my screen – "This is a great workplace comedy" – I said, "let me check that out!" So advertising worked. It's about a video game development company and workplace shenanigans and the relationships between these characters. There were just some touching moments this season that made me actually cry. The second season finale is coming up soon. – Ayesha Rascoe

And a couple more bonus picks from Linda:

Starstruck, HBO Max
This is a charming romantic comedy created by and starring comic Rose Matafeo. It follows a young woman who discovers that the guy she just hooked up with is a famous actor, and how that complicates their efforts to get to know each other. There are only six episodes, a little under a half-hour each, and the show is a real pleasure.

Dream Girl: A Novel, by Laura Lippman
This is the story of a writer who, while laid up in a hospital bed after a freak accident, begins receiving calls from someone who claims to be the lead character in his most famous book. The ... fictional lead character. It's full of swerves and surprises, and I can honestly tell you I had no idea where it was going.

Jean of the Joneses, Amazon PrimeAt the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016, I saw a terrific family comedy called Jean of the Joneses, from director Stella Meghie. It's about a family and their secrets, and there's a delightful romantic comedy piece, and for years, it wasn't possible to stream it. Now, it's on Amazon Prime. Enjoy the movie that made me complain about its unavailability for five years!

"Jean Smart Never Went Away," by Rachel Syme, The New Yorker
I love a good conversation with a great actor, and this conversation in The New Yorker between Rachel Syme and Jean Smart certainly qualifies.

There's more where this came from! Five days a week, Pop Culture Happy Hour serves you recommendations and commentary on the buzziest movies, TV, music, books, videogames and more. Subscribe here >>

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