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

John Goodman stars as Eli Gemstone, the patriarch of a not-so-pious evangelical family in <em>The Righteous Gemstones.</em>
Ryan Green
John Goodman stars as Eli Gemstone, the patriarch of a not-so-pious evangelical family in The Righteous Gemstones.

This week we bid farewell to Pee-wee Herman, we saw some big support for striking actors, and we learned a thing or two from Bluey.

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


I read a great X-Men comic book recently called X-Terminatorsby Leah Williams and Carlos Gómez. It is a pretty self-contained X-Men romp. Dazzler — everybody's favorite mutant — breaks up with her boyfriend, and she and her friends go out drinking. The boyfriend shows up at the bar and it turns out he was a vampire the whole time. They get taken to an underground fighting ring ... at some point, monster trucks get involved. It's really crazy and really fun, with gorgeous art. You don't need to know a ton about X-Men continuity to appreciate it. It's the most fun I've had reading comics in a long time. — Jordan Morris

The Righteous Gemstones

The Righteous Gemstones is a series created by Danny McBride about a televangelist family who are not as pious as they should be. I really love Danny McBride — I think his comedies are very funny. It's been compared a lot to Succession in that the three siblings — played by McBride, Edi Patterson and Adam Devine — fight and insult each other and generally sort of hate each other, but also love each other, of course. And this third season, I think, just did a really good job expanding the world, reiterating the idea that to be faithful is to be empathetic and to be selfless. I interviewed Walton Goggins (who plays Uncle Baby Billy) about this season — he's one of my favorite actors working today. — Roxana Hadadi

"Great Wind" from Gabriels' album Angels & Queens

Angels & Queens is Gabriels' first full-length album. They're a British American trio, Jacob Lusk, from Los Angeles, is an amazing lead singer. It's been described as sort of neo-soul by some critics, but it strikes me as an album that's also gospel, also jazz. "Great Wind" is one of the songs from the album that I really love. It's otherwise a kind of brooding and heavy record. But this is a quite, optimistic, triumphant kind of song. — Bilal Qureshi

Remembering Paul Reubens aka Pee-wee Herman

Paul Reubens, who died of cancer on Sunday at age 70, was best known for creating and portraying the character of Pee-wee Herman. The art that he made — in all its bonkers queerness — has just become such a big part of the pop cultural firmament of my family. Glen Weldon wrote a gorgeous remembrancetalking about how Pee-wee represented childhood in a way that was really different from a lot of other depictions — capturing not only the sense of wonder and playfulness, but also the obnoxiousness that I think is so endearing.

I really recommend: Take a little time this weekend and revisit some of his work — Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Pee-wee's Playhouse, Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special. There's just so much joy and silliness and strangeness in it. It's just so loud and weird. And for all of us who grew up loud and weird, we owe him such a huge debt of gratitude. — Stephen Thompson

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.

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Jordan Morris
Roxana Hadadi
Bilal Qureshi
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.)
Roxana Hadidi