Pop Rocket

Pop Rocket is a high-octane weekly discussion of the culture we all love to love. Join host Guy Branum and panelists Wynter Mitchell, Karen Tongson and Margaret Wappler for smart, funny, sometimes sweary chat about everything great in entertainment. Combining comic, journalistic, academic and digital media expertise, the Pop Rocket team will keep you up-to-date on what's most exciting in pop culture this week.

Pop Rocket Ep. 200 Our 200th Episode!

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler

This week Pop Rocket celebrates its 200th episode!!! To commemorate this auspicious occasion, Karen, Margaret and Wynter take a look at how each of them has evolved from the quaint, carefree days of 2015 to the unrelenting hellscape that is 2018. Remember the blue dress? Sorry, remember the white dress? They'll reminisce about that fun moment in pop culture, talk Taylor Swift then and now, and how much things have changed in terms of trans visibility from back in 2015 when Caitlyn Jenner sat down for an interview with Diane Sawyer on 20/20, and the strides we've made since then.

In addition, Guy takes us with him to the seaside town of Mendocino and lets us eavesdrop as he attempts to talk to his mother Deb and his niece Olivia about the pop culture they are currently consuming.

All Abouts

Margaret highly recommends There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange.

Wynter is all about Michelle Obama’s new book Becoming, but in audiobook format.

Karen’s into Survivor 37: David vs Goliath.

That's My Jam

Wynter - Rihanna - Bitch Better Have My Money

Karen - Carly Rae Jepsen - Party for One

Margaret - Lower Dens - To Die in L.A.

With Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, and Margaret Wappler.

Did you know that you can now call and leave voicemails for the show? You can! If you want to comment on an episode, give us any feedback or just call to get advice from a panel member, the number is: (530) 237-4108

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria.

Pop Rocket Ep. 199 Hip Hop, Pop, and Mental Health w/ Clarkisha Kent

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Margaret Wappler, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, Clarkisha Kent, Karen Tongson
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Clarkisha Kent

Kanye West’s rambling, pro-Trump speech on SNL late September may have surprised casual observers, but by that point, his fans had heard both his outrageous statements and his frank talk about mental health for months. Charlagmane tha God lamented his canceled TimesTalk with Kanye on Instagram as a missed opportunity, writing, "Normalizing being mentally healthy is a conversation that I really wanted to have with Kanye because he's been so vocal about his own mental health struggles. Unfortunately, I think to have that conversation with him right now would not be productive and a total distraction from the point of the convo which is to eradicate the stigma of mental health especially in the black community."

Well, we’re going to have that conversation today and we're joined by Clarkisha Kent, film and pop culture critic- known to some as a "professional hater." The panelists discuss rapper Mac Miller's death, Chris Brown's history of domestic violence, and Jay-Z's openness about lacking the necessary emotional tools for marriage, among other things.

To be clear, we are not medical professionals.

All Abouts

Margaret is all about Lucy McBath. Lucy is the newly elected Representative of Georgia's 6th Congressional district. She is a national spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which she joined after her son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in what is believed to be a hate crime.

Karen is all about Sharice Davids. She's one of the two Native American women elected to Congress in the midterm election and represents Kansas's 3rd district.

Clarkisha is all about the Twitter beef between herself and other black critics and Rebel Wilson over Rebel's claim that she is the first plus-sized woman to lead a romantic comedy.

Wynter is all about Season 4: The Dream Door of the Syfy channel's horror anthology TV show "Channel Zero."

That's My Jam

Margaret - Jamie Isaac - Doing Better

Karen - Ariana Grande - thank u, next

Clarkisha - The New Respects - Something to Believe In

Wynter - Tori Amos - Cornflake Girl

With Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, Karen Tongson, Margaret Wappler, and Clarkisha Kent.

Did you know that you can now call and leave voicemails for the show? You can! If you want to comment on an episode, give us any feedback or just call to get advice from a panel member, the number is: (530) 237-4108

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria. This episode was engineered by Christian Dueñas.

Pop Rocket Ep. 198 The Very First Pop Rocket Seal of Approval

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Karen Tongson

The Pop Rocket Seal of Approval

Before registered parliamentarian Guy Branum takes an extended leave for some much-needed relaxation at home and abroad, the panelists came together to consider, once again, whether they would be able to award the first-ever Pop Rocket Seal of Approval.

Without an acting Nominating Committee Head to sift through listener suggestions on Facebook and Twitter, this time the panel decided to consider the names of only the most committed Pop Rocket listeners--those who cared enough about voting that they called in to make their case. One listener even called TWICE.

Special thanks must go to everyone who called in. Your grassroots efforts to influence the panelists worked. Names that might have been dismissed out of hand if merely tweeted, were taken much more seriously.

So, who will get to update their IMDB page awards section with a Pop Rocket Seal of Approval win? And might this episode feature a DOUBLE nomination? It might!

Here is the full list of names submitted to the panel for consideration. They are listed in the order their calls were received: Tina Turner, Kristen Bell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kelly Clarkson, Robyn, Carly Rae Jepsen, Angela Lansbury, and Terry Crews.

So who is the first-ever PRSOA recipient? You’ll find out.

Jam Abouts = All Abouts + That's My Jam

Karen - Les Misérables: New York 1987 Original Broadway Cast - One Day More

Wynter - Michael Jackson - Leave Me Alone

Margaret - Willie Nelson - Vote 'Em Out.

Guy is all about the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix, which is darker and sexier than the original show about the half-mortal, half-witch teen Sabrina Spellman.

With Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, and Margaret Wappler.

Did you know that you can now call and leave voicemails for the show? You can! If you want to comment on an episode, give us any feedback or just call to get advice from a panel member, the number is: (530) 237-4108

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria.

Pop Rocket Ep. 197 Halloween & the Horror We Love

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell
Guests: 
Karen Tongson

**Note: Next week the panel will cast their votes to award--or not--The Pop Rocket Seal of Approval. You still have an opportunity to influence the panelists. If you want your voice to be heard, literally, call the Pop Rocket hotline and make a case for the person you want to win, and why. Call: (530) 237-4108**

Jamie Lee Curtis is smashing box office records, and the Pop Rocket panel APPROVES. In this episode, Guy, Wynter, Karen, and Margaret share their favorite scares, from new shows like The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix and the CW's Charmed, to the latest season of American Horror Story: Apocalypse. Plus, they tackle the important questions, such as, “What Stephen King movie is the best?” and “What is it really going to take for Jamie Lee Curtis to kill Mike Myers?” And they lament that we are still awaiting a Halloween novelty song to top Michael Jackson's Thriller.

All Abouts

Wynter is all about the Lifetime TV psychological thriller/romance You, which stars Penn Badgley and delves into themes of stalking, obsession, social media, and sociopathic detachment.

Margaret is all about Girl Talk's 2010 album All Day, which is the only album that will get Silas to sleep these days.

Karen is all about an impassioned voicemail she received from Tina Turner devotee Nick White, who made an exceptionally strong case to award the very first Pop Rocket Seal of Approval to Tina Turner.

Guy is all about food writer Samin Nosrat's Netflix show Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.

That's My Jam

Karen - ANOHNI - Hopelessness

Wynter - Chaka Khan - Like Sugar

Margaret - Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind - The Shining Main Title Theme.

Guy - The Go-Go's - Vacation

With Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, and Margaret Wappler.

Did you know that you can now call and leave voicemails for the show? You can! If you want to let us know who you think should receive the first Pop Rocket Seal of Approval, or just call to get advice, the number is: (530) 237-4108

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria.

Pop Rocket Ep. 196 Bad Times at the El Royale w/Drea Clark

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Drea Clark, Margaret Wappler, Guy Branum, and Karen Tongson
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Drea Clark

It’s 1969. Four guests check into the El Royale Hotel: a priest (Jeff Bridges), a vacuum salesman (Jon Hamm), a singer (Cynthia Erivo), and a hippie (Dakota Johnson). They all - save one - have something mysterious going on behind the scenes and the hotel itself is not what it appears to be. When they check in, there’s a storm a-brewin'.

Join Guy, Karen, Margaret, and producer/film festival programmer/Who Shot Ya contributor and now Pop Rocket guest Drea Clark as they pick apart Drew Goddard’s neo-noir ensemble Bad Times at The El Royale. They get into the movie's twists, turns, non-linear construction, Cynthia Erivo's breakout performance, and how it's kind of like Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, but not nearly as macho.

All Abouts

Drea is all about a long read article from The Texas Monthly called The Love Story that Upended the Texas Prison System about the alliance and romantic relationship between a lawyer and an inmate that ultimately brought attention to a nationwide scandal and disrupted the system of abuse of prisoners in Texas.

Margaret is all about the second season of the Slate podcast Slow Burn, which covers the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton.

Karen is all about The LA Dodgers pulling ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers (as of last Wednesday) in the National League Championship Series.

Guy is all about Glenn Close's performance in her new movie The Wife.

That's My Jam

Karen - Trashcan Sinatras - All Night

Margaret - Alvvays - In Undertow.

Drea - Tierra Whack - MUMBO JUMBO

With Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Drea Clark, and Margaret Wappler.

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria.

Pop Rocket Ep. 195 A Star is Born

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Guests: 
Karen Tongson

This week gay America received so much, but in particular, A Star is Born starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, who also directed the movie. Guy, Wynter, Karen & Margaret--aka the full panel--got a chance to watch, cry, and be torn apart by the story of a lady who gained the world, but lost the man that she loves.

On this episode, we go over the history of this film and all the remakes, share predictions on whether The Academy will hand out statues to Lady Gaga and/or Bradley Cooper, or if they'll have to settle for the less-prestigious adulation from foreign journalists. Plus, Karen pushes back on Sam Adams's Slate article, which argues that "the movie's battle between rock and pop, authenticity and artifice, and art and commerce is outdated at best."

All Abouts

Wynter is all about the new Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis and the kerfuffle over Curtis's views on gun ownership on Fox News.

Karen is all about NBC's new primetime airplane sci-fi thriller, Manifest.

Margaret is all about the Twitter beef between Lana Del Rey and Azealia Banks over rapper Ye formerly known as Kanye West's MAGA-ness.

Guy is all about Katmai National Park & Preserve's Fat Bear Week competition.

That's My Jam

Karen - Barbara Streisand - Evergreen (Love Theme from "A Star is Born" 1976)

Wynter - Lady Gaga - Why Did You Do That? (A Star is Born Soundtrack)

Margaret - Judy Garland - Over the Rainbow (The Wizard of Oz: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack).

Guy - Cher - Waterloo

With Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, and Margaret Wappler.

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria.

Pop Rocket Ep. 194 We Hate the 80s and Brett Kavanaugh Edition w/Ted Alexandro

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Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, Karen Tongson, Margaret Wappler, Ted Alexandro
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Guests: 
Ted Alexandro

***Trigger Warning - This episode contains discussion of sexual assault. You may want to sit this one out if hearing this kind of discussion is likely to do more harm than good.***

Current events have us (and many others) reconsidering the way high school and college relationships were depicted in the '80s, particularly in romcoms and raunchy sex comedies. Margaret Wappler hosts our discussion this week with Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, and our guest, actor, and comedian Ted Alexandro who has a new comedy special Senior Class of Earth.

The panel revisits supposedly harmless, goofball adolescent comedies and considers how they may have influenced the way a whole generation views consent (and yes, we are talking about rape culture). Does a culture that permits youthful experimentation -mistakes and all- open the door to complacency about assault?

All Abouts

Wynter is all about an article in GQ by author Marian Bull that explains how men can talk to women in their lives about all the triggering stuff in the news involving the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Karen is all about Chris, the new album by Christine and the Queens (aka Heloise Letissier), in particular, the song: Comme si.

Ted is all about celebrating his one-year wedding anniversary with his wife, Madalyn, who joins him in Los Angeles this week to promote his album Senior Class of Earth.

Margaret is all about Matt Damon's performance as Brett Kavanaugh on SNL.

That's My Jam

Karen - Selena Gomez - Back to You

Wynter - Little Wayne - Uproar (Official Audio) Carter V

Ted - Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity

Margaret - Noname - Self.

With Margaret Wappler, Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, and Ted Alexandro.

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria.

Pop Rocket Ep. 193 Our TV Shows You Should Binge-Watch Right Now Episode

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh

The autumn TV season has officially begun, and let's be honest, there is TOO MUCH stuff to watch out there. If you're feeling overwhelmed, fear not. The Pop Rocket panel has lots of binge-worthy shows to recommend, and a couple new shows they think you should skip.

One panelist will tell you why they loved Netflix's Maniac, and another who couldn't make it through the season. If you're curious whether Amazon Prime's The First is worth your time, Tongson's got some opinions. They'll cover Bojack Horseman, National Treasure, Ozark, The Sinner and more.

All Abouts

Wynter is all about the tea behind Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram, departing Facebook, which bought the photo-sharing app six years ago.

Karen is all about basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar's latest gig: staff writer on the new Veronica Mars.

Guy is all about the new Netflix romcom Nappily Ever After starring Sanaa Lathan.

That's My Jam

Karen - SWV (Sisters with Voices) - Right Here

Guy - Troye Sivan - Seventeen.

With Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, and Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh.

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria.

Pop Rocket Ep. 192 The Pop Rocket Seal of Approval - Is It Rachel’s Time to Bloom? Plus Destination Wedding

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler

We’ve got another full panel! This week, Guy, Wynter, Margaret, and Karen tackle the ornery romcom Destination Wedding, starring Gen X darlings Winona and Keanu. Does their star-power shine bright enough to carry an entire film wherein they’re the only two people with dialogue? Has Hollywood discovered how to effectively harness their charm and charisma? You’ll find out as the panel weighs in on these questions and more.

The Pop Rocket Seal of Approval

The full quorum convened to vote on another nominee for the Pop Rocket Seal of Approval. Listeners will remember that the last time a quorum was convened, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson did not receive enough votes from the three panelists present--Guy, Karen & Margaret. He was denied the award based on damaging GOP convention and Ballers-related critiques. In this episode, the panelists vote on whether to grant the accolade to Crazy Ex Girlfriend star and creator Rachel Bloom. Will her boundary-pushing musical-making hustle and sexualization of the hot, Asian bro win the judges over?

Jam Abouts = All Abouts + That's My Jam

Wynter is all about André & Sarah - the sixth episode in the Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen Amazon series Forever.

Karen is all about the new Paul Feig film A Simple Favor starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, and Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding.

Margaret is all about the 3rd season of HBO's Insecure.

Guy is all about the adorably cute YouTube video series Kids Try by HiHo Kids.

With Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, and Margaret Wappler.

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria.

Pop Rocket Ep. 191 2018 Summer Jams

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Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, and Margaret Wappler
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler

Between the VMA's and Yom Kippur, we've got our own version of the high holidays here at Pop Rocket: The SUMMER JAMS episode! We will anoint OR NOT anoint the title of Song of the Summer to the most banging artist of the past few months. And yes, the band is back together again. The full panel - Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell (don't forget) Rohrbaugh, and Margaret Wappler - put on their Grammy judge hats and measure up the best cuts from music makers this past season.

What criteria make a tune a summertime anthem? Is it the dance beat? The song's ubiquity? The convertible factor? A dark city feeling? Does the magic of Cardi B's "I Like It" rest solely on its sample of Peter Rodriquez's I Like It Like That? Is Zedd, Marren Morris, Grey's "The Middle" too much negotiation and not enough sex, love, and urgency? Find out which song made Silas get down like no one was watching and which panelist has a knack for converting jams into pet cat lullabies. Shout outs also go to honorable mentions and listeners' suggestions that didn't quite make the cut.

All Abouts

Margaret is all about Mandy Moore's newly remodeled mid-century modern home in Pasadena.

Wynter is all about TV writer and producer Linda Bloodworth Thomason's op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter where she channels a glowing fury and details the misogynistic bullying she faced from disgraced former CBS CEO Les Moonves. Les Moonves, Go fuck yourself!

Karen is all about the post-BBC reboot of The Great British Baking Show.

Guy is all about Cynthia Nixon's appearance at the old school, crusty Brooklyn gay bar The Metropolitan before the New York Governor Primary.

With Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, and Margaret Wappler.

Summer Jam Finalists:

Cardi B - I Like It

Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey - The Middle

Ariana Grande - R.E.M.

Maroon 5 - Girls Like You

Lizzo - Boys

Years & Years - All For You

Migos - Walk It Talk It

Drake - In My Feelings

Drake - Nice For What

Calvin Harris feat. Dua Lipa - One Kiss

Troye Sivan - Bloom

Summer Honorable Mentions:

Big Freedia feat. Lizzo - Karaoke

Years & Years - If You're Over Me

Matt Rogers - Be A Bitch To Your Friends (This Pride)

Aloe Blacc - Brooklyn in the Summer

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

If you haven't already, follow us on Instagram.

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Shana Daloria.