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Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Transparent' And Pop Culture Debuts

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For a couple of lovely weeks in October, our dear pal Ari Shapiro — who has long since forgiven us for making him watch the VMAs and Olympus Has Fallen for a prior episode — was back at NPR HQ to host Weekend Edition. While we had him here, we grabbed him up for a conversation about Transparent and pop culture debuts.

If you haven't seen Transparent, the basics are these: It's a ten-part family comedy-drama starring the super-great Jeffrey Tambor as a transgender woman named Maura navigating her transition with her sometimes awful adult children. Written by Jill Soloway, it was made available on Amazon streaming all at once a few weeks back, and we all very much enjoyed it (sorry if that's a spoiler). We talk about the large number of terrific actors who have terrific roles (including Friend Of NPR Carrie Brownstein), the show's subtle treatment of gender identity and sexuality both inside and outside Maura's story, the music that Stephen really loves, and lots more. (Vox also published a fine and deep interview with Soloway this week; I recommend it if you're interested in her thinking and her process.)

Our other topic this week is the pop culture debut, which — naturally — requires a chat about just what constitutes a debut, since most people, if you want to find the very very very beginning, start with something little enough that you've probably never seen it. But we wind up chatting about albums, novels, TV shows, and more.

As always, we close with what's making us happy this week. Stephen is happy about a Tumblr he loves and about a new NPR Music project you should definitely check out. Glen is happy about some new comics that he figures are here none too soon. Ari is happy about a book-buying binge designed to protect him from British spellings. I am happy about all kinds of things — a great essay we ran at NPR, a great album I heartily recommend, and my compulsion to fantasy-cast a movie I'm really, really hoping will be very funny.

Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: me, Stephen, Glen, Ari, producer Jessica, and our pal Mike.

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Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.