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. 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.

Pop Rocket Ep. 190 Our Pumpkin-Spiced Fall Preview

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

It’s time, once again, to start deleting programs from our DVRs to make room for new ones. It's almost fall, y'all, which means award shows and the arrival of new network comedies, dramas, dramedies, and what have you. Sooooo Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, and Wynter Mitchell let us in on all the films and TV shows they're most excited about this upcoming season.

Rocketeers, this here preview is the closest most of us will get to an actual harvest. The guys pick over the latest crop of entertainment offerings, including the Murphy Brown reboot, the end of Big Bang Theory, American Horror Story's upcoming convergence of its former Murder House and Coven seasons, the Italian supernatural horror film Suspiria, buzz around Lady Gaga's performance in A Star is Born, and Chloë Sevigny's disappointment over the toning down of the "smash the patriarchy" vibe in her new biopic Lizzie, about Lizzie Borden, notorious for killing her parents with an axe in 1892.

All Abouts

Karen is all about the actor Geoffrey Owens, who played Elvin on The Cosby Show, talking to Robin Roberts on Good Morning America about work, labor shaming, and the false idea that some jobs carry more dignity than others.

Wynter is all about Succession, which is HBO's new drama loosely based on Rupert Murdoch and his family.

Guy is all about Support the Girls starring Regina Hall.

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

That's My Jam:

Wynter - Ariana Grande - R.E.M.

Karen - Genesis- That's All.

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. 189 HBO's Insecure Season 3 w/ LA Times Film Reporter Tre'vell Anderson

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Tre'vell Anderson, Karen Tongson, and Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Guests: 
Tre'vell Anderson

Hop on the PARTY LYFT as we jam out for the long-awaited return of our favorite newlywed Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh. She joins Karen Tongson and frequent favorite Pop Rocket guest LA Times Film Reporter Tre'vell Anderson as they get into their thoughts on season 3 of HBO's Insecure.

The crew touches on the careers of the leading ladies- specifically white privilege problems at Issa's nonprofit We Got Y'all, Issa's side gig as a Lyft driver, and Molly's experiences at her new black corporate law firm. They also talk about which characters they want moved from periphery to center. Do they miss Issa's ex, Lawrence? And do they buy into Molly's polyamorous relationship? Or is she's really just a glorified side b****?

All Abouts

Wynter is all about the horror film Hereditary. Tre'vell is all about the new musical covering the life and times of the Motown group The Temptations called Ain't Too Proud. Karen is all about more Asian American representation in Hollywood via John Cho's new thriller Searching.

That's My Jam:

Tre'vell - Teyana Taylor - WTP

Wynter - DJ AM - Unreleased Mixes.

Karen - Christine and the Queens- 5 dollars

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

With Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, and Tre'vell Anderson.

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

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

Pop Rocket Ep. 188 Crazy Rich Asians (The Movie) with Alonso Duralde & Andrew Ti

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Alonso Duralde
Guests: 
Andrew Ti

We did the book, now we're doing the movie! Goddess Guy Branum and dyke-about-town Karen Tongson are joined by fellow MaxFun host Alonso Duralde of the movie podcast Who Shot Ya? and returning favorite Andrew Ti, host of the podcast Yo, Is This Racist? to talk Crazy Rich Asians.

Listen in to find out who the gang thought had the breakout performances? Did the food porn in the book match up with the food porn on screen? Who would be the leading man in the sequel? Was the movie "Asian enough"? In lieu of our regular segment That's My Jam, Andrew shares one of his favorite Chinese language covers of a Western hit and how he really felt about all the Asian language covers in the movie. Also, the gang offers up some real talk about the movie's celebration of #AsianJoy, the uncomfortable ways that class played out in the film, and colorism among Asian ethnicities.

All Abouts

Andrew is all about Season 3 of the Syfy TV series The Expanse. Alonso is all about the new comedy Support the Girls starring Regina Hall. Karen is all about the social media eruption over the prominent queer-identified theorist Avital Ronell and her alleged sexual harassment of a male graduate student. Guy is all about the other Asian American centered movie you should be paying attention to Netflix's To All The Boys I've Loved Before.

With Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Andrew Ti, and Alonso Duralde.

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. 187 Summer Book Club: Crazy Rich Asians

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

Goddess Guy Branum returns from his book tour just in time for Pop Rocket's annual Summer Book Club. He joins Karen Tongson and Margaret Wappler to finally dig into Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians book trilogy. By the way, the movie Crazy Rich Asians is out in theaters now. Go watch it!

Kwan's trilogy is essentially about the crazy rich people of Singapore, but the main story in the first book Crazy Rich Asians centers around Rachel and Nick-a young couple who've been dating for two years. They're both professors living in contemporary New York. Very much in love- Nick finally invites Rachel to travel to Singapore to meet his family. Curiously, Rachel knows nothing about them and once she gets there realizes that they are insanely, filthy, rich billionaires.

The panelists give us their rundown of the most fascinating themes and threads in the books including: the food, the fashion, colonialism's legacy, money vs. class, tensions between Singaporeans and mainland Chinese, hierarchies among Asian nations, assumptions about Oliver T'sien's sexuality, and then they decide who from the book they'd marry, fuck, kill, (and add to their book club). As if that weren't enough, one of the panelists--and we won't say which one--muses, "Maybe she was dickmatized?" Feel free to guess which one of our esteemed panelists said that in the comments section below.

All Abouts

Margaret is all about the Kevin Kwan's descriptions of Astrid's fashion "it-girlness." Astrid is Nick's cousin who is super beautiful, posh, and interesting. She's every panelists favorite character in the series. Karen is all about the reading list in the second book China Rich Girlfriend that is given to a character who is undergoing an image makeover. The character hires an image consultant who is trying to teach her about all the "right" things to talk about and all the "right" cultural references to use in conversation. Guy is all about the pineapple tarts described in the book in that they represent the very fascinating place of colonialism in Singapore's history. Spoiler alert: Singapore was under British rule for about 400 years. These tarts are an Asian modification of a French dessert that represent nostalgia, warmth, and memories of home, but also symbolize status.

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

That's My Jam:

Margaret - Dua Lipa and Calvin Harris - One Kiss.

Karen - Faye Wong - Summer of Love

Guy - Aretha Franklin - Freedom from Blues Brothers movie

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. 186 Joyful Pop Culture w/ Matt Bellassai and Bari Finkel

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Margaret Wappler, Matt Bellassai, Karen Tongson, and Bari Finkel
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Matt Bellassai
Guests: 
Bari Finkel

This week, Karen Tongson and Margaret Wappler get happy with Matt Bellassai and Bari Finkel, the host and producer of Pineapple Street Media's Unhappy Hour podcast. Today's show is like a Snuggie for one's soul. The panel dishes on the pop culture that brings us pure joy, from songs that compel us to dance, to the spots we gravitate toward on the Internet when we need a dose of adorable. Go ahead, try not to smile when you listen to this episode.

All Abouts

Margaret is all about the Vulture interview by David Marchese with Kathleen Turner. Bari is all about the birthday and career renaissance of the child actor twins Cole Sprouse and Dylan Sprouse. Matt is all about Beyonce and Jay-Z's On The Run II concert. Karen is all about the season 4 premiere of The Food Network's Episode 7 of Chopped Grill Masters.

With Karen Tongson, Margaret Wappler,, Matt Bellassai, and Bari Finkel.

That's My Jam:

Bari - Beyonce - If I Were a Boy/You Oughta Know (live).

Matt Mamma Mia Soundtrack - Mamma Mia.

Karen - Maroon 5 - Girls Like You feat. Cardi B..

Margaret - James Blake - Choose Me.

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. 185: “Eighth Grade” and Awkward Adolescence w/ NPR's Linda Holmes

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Linda Holmes, Karen Tongson, and Margaret Wappler
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Linda Holmes

***Warning - this episode contains spoilers***

This week, Karen Tongson and Margaret Wappler chat it up with pop culture maven and Pop Rocket's own podcast godmother Linda Holmes, the host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour. The ladies revisit that wonderfully awkward time of their lives of Clearasil and body self-consciousness also known as 8th Grade while doing an in-depth exploration of Bo Burnham's debut film Eighth Grade. The movie centers around this socially awkward teen girl who tries really hard to fit it and be popular at school, but can't quite get there. Karen, Margaret, and Linda harken back to the drama of that time in their own lives, and also flesh out whether one of the scenes in the movie should--or not--be labeled a #MeToo moment.

All Abouts

Margaret is all about journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner's latest article in the NYTimes Magazine about Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle brand company Goop and how it went from Paltrow's Martha Stewart-like project to a 250 million dollar company. Linda is all about a new (and disappointing) study on inequality in film out of USC Annenberg that highlights the lack of progress in inclusion in film. Karen is all about Episode 7 of The Affair, specifically the scene that features “sapphic dabbling in a yurt” between Helen (Maura Tierney) and Sierra (Emily Browning).

With Karen Tongson, Margaret Wappler, and Linda Holmes.

That's My Jam:

Linda- Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone.

Margaret - Nine Inch Nails - Down In It.

Karen - Debbie Gibson- Only In My Dreams.

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. 184: "Who is America?" w/ "UnREAL" Creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro

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Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Margaret Wappler, and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Sarah Gertrude Shapiro

We've got a SUPERSIZED Pop Rocket for our first-ever Friday release, so strap yourselves in! This week, Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, and Margaret Wappler are joined by TV powerhouse Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, co-creator and executive producer of the Lifetime drama UnREAL.
The crew discusses the good, the bad, and the ugly of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's new Showtime series Who Is America. Not unlike his previous series, Da Ali G Show, which aired on HBO in the early aughts, Cohen continues his controversial schtick of interviewing people in character while trying to get them to humiliate themselves all for our viewing pleasure. They draw the connections between Cohen's comedy and Sarah's show UnREAL. The fourth and final season of UnREAL recently came out on Hulu.

Jonathan Gold

First, the crew pays tribute to the late, great Los Angeles food critic Jonathan Gold. Gold was the city's unofficial ambassador whose reviews propped up great restaurants on the verge of going out of business, gave a spotlight to forgotten histories, but more than anything taught Angelenos to be less afraid of their neighbors.

The Pop Rocket Seal of Approval

Two weeks ago Guy created the Pop Rocket Seal of Approval and quickly submitted its first nomination: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. This week we had enough of a quorum to hold our first-ever vote. Guy, Margaret, and Karen each weigh in with the pros and cons of awarding this prestigious honor to The Rock, and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro comes in hot with her own opinions (but no voting rights). Will The Rock earn Pop Rocket's first ever Seal of Approval? Find out!

With Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Margaret Wappler, and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro.

That's My Jam:

Margaret - Demi Lovato - Sober.

Karen - Lisa Loeb - Stay (I Missed You).

Sarah- Nina Simone - Ain't Got No, I Got Life (Live).

Guy - Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey - The Middle .

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. 183: "Sorry to Bother You" w/ Kevin Avery

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Margaret Wappler and Kevin Avery
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Kevin Avery

***Warning - this episode contains major spoilers***

This week, Guy Branum and Margaret Wappler are joined by Bay Area comedian and two-time Emmy winning writer Kevin Avery. He was head writer on Totally Biased w/ Kamau Bell, staff writer on Last Week Tonight w/ John Oliver and writer on The Jim Jeffries Show. The gang is deep diving into Boots Riley's new movie Sorry to Bother You. Guy, Kevin and Margaret discover that, like Sorry to Bother You's Cassius Green, they all worked as telemarketers. Plus Guy reveals the film's best actor and Kevin tells us about the time he asked Boots for help on a short film.

All Abouts
Margaret is all about Bhad Bhabie- a troubled Florida teen turned rapper based off of a performance on Dr. Phil where she was a guest with her mom. There's this really smart analysis of the Bhad Bhabie phenomenon in the NY Times by Jamie Lauren Keiles who breaks down what she means for the entertainment industry.

Kevin is all about not being about Drake's latest song and the dance challenge it spawned that's sweeping the nation: In My Feelings. The challenge even got Will Smith dancing on a bridge.

Guy is all about the hard-working, talented, and badass Korean-Canadian actress Sandra Oh, who has had to work twice as hard to get half as far in entertainment. She's finally getting her due as the first woman of Asian descent to be nominated for an Emmy in the category of lead actress for Killing Eve.

With Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler, and Kevin Avery.

That's My Jam:

Margaret - The Coup - 5 Million Ways to Kill a C.E.O.

Kevin- Justin Timberlake - Higher Higher.

Guy - Years & Years - All For You.

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. 182: HBO's Sharp Objects and The Wappler Test

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

This week, Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler and Karen Tongson discuss HBO’s Sharp Objects. It’s based on the Gillian Flynn Novel of the same name and is about a woman, Camille Preaker, played by Amy Adams, who returns to her childhood home to combat her personal demons and look into a number of unsolved murders.

Margaret is all about Won't You Be My Neighbor?, the Fred Rogers biopic that’s guaranteed to conjure up feelings of love and kindness even in this divisive time. Karen is all about the second season of the Netflix series GLOW, especially the eighth episode, which may be the show’s crowning achievement. Guy is all about the video game Fobia on Steam, which finally gave him the type of gaming that he can embrace.

The group will give their thoughts on the HBO series Sharp Objects, including why Amy Adams works so well playing a real person. They also discuss what makes the HBO television production model work so well, and why that might change in the future. Plus, they’ll introduce some new elements to the podcast: The Wappler Test and the Pop Rocket seal of approval.

The Pop Rocket 2018 Summer Book Club is a go! We’re reading Crazy Rich Asians. Join the Facebook group and get in on the conversation.

With Karen Tongson, Guy Branum and Margaret Wappler.

That’s My Jam:

Margaret - Kiira - Messy.

Karen - Swingout Sister - Breakout.

Guy - Pitbull - Free Free Free.

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 Julian Burrell.