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

Brenda Song plays Princess Akemi in<em> Blue Eye Samurai.</em>
Netflix
Brenda Song plays Princess Akemi in Blue Eye Samurai.

This week, David Letterman paid a visit, Fargoreturned, and another comedian returned to the same old material.

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

"Farrah Fawcett Hair" by Capital Cities, ft. André 3000

"Farrah Fawcett Hair" by the electronic duo Capital Cities is almost a decade old and I'm just now discovering it. It's actually kind of timely because the song features André 3000 who just announced a new albumof instrumental music. The song is just a list of random good stuff – like "how infants with baby breath yawn in your face" – with a killer saxophone break. It's kind of like if "We Didn't Start the Fire" was thematically coherent and actually a good song. This is a good song. You can dance to it. You can rock out to the saxophone break. It'll make your day. — Aisha Harris

Blue Eye Samurai, on Netflix

I really love Blue Eye Samurai on Netflix. It's an anime series made by a married couple, Michael Green and Amber Noizumi. It's set in the Edo period in Japan when the borders were closed to outsiders. It takes on these ideas about what it means to be mixed race, about immigration. All the voice actors are racially correct; all the little things that I've grown more and more passionate about in the last several years — this series honors them. Kenneth Branagh plays maybe the most evil character I have encountered in any medium for several years – he's so good as a voice actor. I just started watching the show and it's beautiful — I didn't expect to love it as much as I do. — Walter Chaw

Ghosts UK on CBS

Last week, as a companion to the delightful sitcom Ghosts, CBS started airing reruns of the U.K. sitcom Ghosts, which the U.S. version is based on. Ghosts is a very charming show in which a couple comes to own a big, spooky haunted mansion. After a near-death experience, the wife finds she can commune with the ghosts who occupy and haunt the property. Part of what is so delightful about these two shows is that while they share a basically identical premise, they are completely different characters. Each one has its own well-rounded set of foibles and powers and goofiness. I love the idea of networks and streaming services dipping into the waters of TV produced in other countries and sharing those shows with U.S. audiences. — Stephen Thompson

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

Slate's Joel Anderson, who hosted an entire excellent season of the Slow Burn podcast about the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, wrote this week about the recent lawsuit against Sean Combs and why the allegations didn't surprise him. I strongly recommend the piece, which is thoughtful and, like the podcast season was, great at providing necessary context to a big story.

Mike Birbiglia has a new special on Netflix called The Old Man & The Pool. Like all his work, it's impeccably structured, very funny and very personal.

I've been watching a lot of old episodes of House, starring Hugh Laurie as the Sherlock Holmes-ish doctor who diagnoses different offbeat diseases every week. With the pretty major caveat that the show ran in the early aughts, and the misanthropic House's racism and sexism and other offensive comments would probably not make the cut today, it has certainly been a fascinating opportunity to see what a mystery/procedural show looks like when it's not about the police.


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.

Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Walter Chaw
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.)