It is a truth universally acknowledged that there are just not enough hours in the day to consume all of the “can’t miss” movies, TV shows, and books out there... not to mention sports, plays, comedy, and music! I could quit my job to become a full-time media consumer, but I still wouldn’t put a dent in any of my massive to read, watch and listen lists. Staying up to date with pop culture can feel unpleasantly futile. Sometimes it just feels easier to turn on Netflix and queue up an old episode of The Office rather than try to keep up.
I’ve found that listening to NPR’s podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour is a great way to alleviate my Too-Much-Media, Too-Little-Time stress. On this weekly show, a trio of tuned-in NPR reporters are joined by a rotating guest host for a brief, off-the-cuff discussion of a new album, buzz-worthy television show, or trending media genre. The hosts are funny, likable, and persuasive. Sometimes their excitement inspires me to step away from my beloved reruns and try a new movie or show. Most of the time, just listening to their lively - and usually spoiler-free - commentary is enough to make me feel just a bit more connected to what's new.
Whether you are a pop culture junkie or dabbler, if you like listening to Pop Culture Happy Hour, you probably enjoy smart, funny books that take even your guiltiest entertainment pleasures seriously. Try one of these suggestions:
If you can't get enough smart thoughts about pop culture, try Song Exploder, How Did This Get Made?, or The Popcast. If you decide you can't let go of your reruns, you might consider a trip down the rabbit hole of episode recap podcasts. In these, dedicated hosts spend hours analyzing their own pop culture obsessions, episode by episode. My favorite? Gilmore Guys, who celebrate and obsess over all things Gilmore Girls.