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. 178: We Say Goodbye to The Americans

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Margaret, Alonso, Karen
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Alonso Duralde
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler

**Warning: This episode contains spoilers from The Americans series finale. If you, like Margaret, want to avoid the spoilers, skip from 7:01 to 14:20.**

This week, Margaret Wappler and Karen Tongson are joined by Alonso Duralde, one of the hosts of the Max Fun podcast Who Shot Ya?, a movie podcast that isn’t hosted by dude-bros. The gang will discuss the finale of FX Series The Americans and the effect of the Cold War on pop culture.

Alonso is all about is all about National Drive-In Day, which is on June 6th but can absolutely be celebrated all month. Margaret is all about Ali Wong’s new Netflix Special Hard Knock Wife , which has gained a lot of attention for being equal parts hilarious, honest and raunchy. Karen is all about the finale of The Americans which - SPOILER ALERT - she and Alonso will discuss in detail.

And in honor the Russian spy drama coming to an end, the team will take a look at what effect the Cold War, nuclear anxiety and cloak-and-dagger politics had on pop culture, both in the modern context and in the 80’s.

With Margaret Wappler, Karen Tongson and Alonso Duralde.

That’s My Jam:

Alonso Duralde - The Police - Miss Gradenko.

Karen Tongson- Sting - Russians

Margaret Wappler - The Smiths - Ask.

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

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Julian Burrell.

Pop Rocket Ep. 177: The Passport Edition

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

This week, Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler and Karen Tongson are joined by Katherine Spiers, host of the podcast Smart Mouth, which asks people about their favorite foods. The gang will discuss international travel and all the best things that come from it, including people, food and pop culture.

Katherine is all about the actress Jameela Jamil, who criticized Kim Kardashian for advertising appetite suppressing lolly-pops, in spite of the wrath that Jamil may incur. Margaret is all about the first episode of Patrick Melrose, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a heroine addicted man whose life is hard to watch, but who is so strongly portrayed that it’s hard to look away. Guy is all about the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary RBG, which he hopes will finally help people understand why she was such an important woman. Karen is all about the the recent series finales, even the ones for shows that aren’t confirmed to return and ended on huge cliffhangers like NBC’s Timeless.

It’s going to be Summer soon and that means peak travel season is almost here! The panel will discuss some of their favorite places to travel abroad, what they look for when they have two weeks to spend in a new location and

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

That’s My Jam:

Katherine Spiers - Charlie Puth - Done For Me.

Karen Tongson- Backstreet Boys - Don’t go Breaking My Hear

Margaret Wappler - Henry Green - Something.

Guy Branum The We Knows Parenting podcast.

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

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Julian Burrell.

Pop Rocket Ep. 176: Baby Got Books w/ Mallory O'Meara

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Mallory O'Meara
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler

This week, Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler and Karen Tongson are joined by novelist Mallory O’Meara, host of the Max Fun Podcast Reading Glasses. The gang will discuss books and reading habits.

Mallory is all about is all about the book Text Me When You Get Home, which looks into the myth that women aren’t meant to be friends with other women. Margaret is all about the podcast The Habitat, which tracks people as they live out a simulated mission on Mars to learn that no matter which planet you’re on, living with strangers will always annoy you. Guy is all about the film The Dressmaker, which he fell in love with the only way he knew how: by reading the Wikipedia article. Karen is all about the surprisingly affecting Netflix documentary The Rachel Divide.

In honor of Summer reading season being on the horizon, the panel will discuss what books, magazines and articles have caught their eye lately. Plus they’ll talk about where and how often they love to read, and Mallory will share one book that she absolutely can’t stand.

With Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler, Karen Tongson and Mallory O’Meara .

That’s My Jam:

Mallory O’Meara - A Perfect Circle - Hourglass.

Karen Tongson- Tears for Fears - Ideas As Opiates

Margaret Wappler - Madonna - Borderline.

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to our Spotify playlists.

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

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Julian Burrell.

Ep. 175: A Royal Good Time: Englishman Humphrey Ker Joins Pop Rocket to Talk Meghan & Harry

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Guy, Humphrey, Margaret and Andrew
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Humphrey Ker
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Andrew Ti

This week, Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler and Andrew Ti are joined by British actor and comedian Humphrey Ker. The gang takes a look at the biggest transatlantic pairing of the year: The Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Humphrey is all about Eurovision, the global music competition that showcases some of the best singing--and host banter--in the world. Margaret is all about the podcast Cocaine and Rhinestones, which tells the history of country music, warts and all. Guy is all about The Party, a movie he was certain he would hate, but it flipped his expectations in the best possible way. Andrew is all about the cancellation and swift revival of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

The panel will discuss the upcoming Royal Wedding, why this sort of extravaganza captures the attention of a global audience and why it was worth a Lifetime TV movie.

With Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler, Andrew Ti and Humphrey Ker.

That’s My Jam:

Humphrey Ker - Françoise Hardy - Comment Te Dire Adieu?.

Andrew Ti - The Fitness - Day Job

Margaret Wappler - Liz Phair - Fuck and Run.

Guy Branum Mohammed Assaf - Dommi Falastini.

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to our Spotify playlists.

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

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Julian Burrell.

Pop Rocket Ep. 174: Bad Moms

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Edan Lepucki

Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler and Andrew Ti are joined by novelist Edan Lepucki. Together, they’ll take a look at our favorite bad moms, and grapple with how they're portrayed in popular culture. It turns out that being in the golden age of television could also mean the golden age of the portrayal of matriarchy in pop culture.

Edan is all about the novel Blue Bird Blue Bird by Attica Locke, which she says is filled with the best kind of thriller tropes. Margaret is all about the Netflix series The Letdown, a show that features all the joy of motherhood… and just the right amount of its dark side. Guy is all about Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher’s new comedy special The Honeymoon Tour, a three part piece that features one of the scariest and greatest things a comedian can attempt: interacting with the audience. Andrew is all about Childish Gambino’s music video This is America, including the analysis and backlash to the analysis.

The panel will discuss how they feel the portrayal of motherhood in pop culture has evolved over the years, in everything from Fresh Off the Boat and Transparent to Tully and Carrie. Plus, they’ll explain some of the damaging tropes of mothers on TV, and which shows are finally starting to get it right.

With Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler, Andrew Ti and Edan Lepucki.

That’s My Jam:

Edan Lepucki - Gino Paoli - Sapore di Sale.

Andrew Ti - B.B. King & UGK (mixed by AMERIGO GAZAWAY) - Make Love To My Car

Margaret Wappler - Kacey Musgraves - Space Cowboy.

Guy Branum - Troye Sivan - Bloom.

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

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org. Edited by Julian Burrell.

Pop Rocket 173: The Rogue Robots of Westworld...and Beyond

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Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Andrew Ti

This week, Guy Branum, Karen Tongson and Margaret Wappler are joined by Andrew Ti, host of the “Yo, Is This Racist?” podcast. They take a look at HBO’s West World, and sci fi narratives that explore robots with feelings. Season Two just got started and the team is fairly certain it will be just as complicated as the first.

Karen is all about Alexis Bledel in Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, even though it puts a character she cares about through even more difficulties. Margaret and Guy are all about Michelle Wolf’s routine at The White House Correspondent’s Dinner and are very confused about the outrage that’s surrounded it. Andrew is all about Avengers: Infinity War even though he didn’t quite understand the storytelling subtleties of the plot.

The panel will their discuss what they think of West World, its convoluted plot and the idea of sentient robots having feelings.

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

That’s My Jam:

Karen Tongson - Maroon 5, SZA - What Lovers Do

Andrew Ti - The Higher Brother - Made in China

Margaret Wappler - The Pointer Sisters - Automatic.

Guy Branum Kacey Musgraves - High Horse

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to our Spotify playlists.

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

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Pop Rocket #172: In Praise of the Pope of Washington

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

This week, Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Margaret Wappler discuss the finale of the Shonda Rhimes led show, Scandal. The ABC series wrapped up last week and it stirred up all sorts of thoughts from the team on the female anti-heroes on television.

Karen is all about the upcoming Pixar short Bao, which she says is an important addition to Asian representation in popular media (which, let’s face it, is limited). Margaret is all about a recent article about parents raising their children as “Theybies”. Guy is all about the new film I Feel Pretty, a comedy that, while not without a slightly problematic message, shines through with plenty of laughs from Amy Schumer.

The panel will their discuss what they think of Scandal; everything from the finale, how closely they’ve watched the show since it started and where Olivia Pope fits in with the pantheon of women anti-heroes on TV.

With Karen Tongson, Guy Branum and Margaret Wappler

That’s My Jam:

Riley Silverman - Jeremy Jordan - She Used to be Mine

Karen Tongson - Joe Jackson - Steppin’ Out

Margaret Wappler - Sampha - (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.

Guy Branum Kacey Musgraves - High Horse

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to our Spotify playlists.

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

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Pop Rocket #171: SHHHHHHHHHHH...a quiet place

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

This week, Guy Branum, Karen Tongson and Wynter Mitchell are joined by Riley Silverman. She’s the head writer of the Max Fun podcast, International Waters. They discuss A Quiet Place, John Krasinski’s horror film about a family trying to survive a post-apocalyptic world where monsters kill anything that makes sound.

Karen is all about the video for Janelle Monáe’s new music video for the track PYNK, which she says may have established her as a force in queer performance and art. Guy and Wynter are all about Beyonce’s Coachella performance, which may have single-handedly made the music festival relevant again. Riley is all about the movie Blockers, a comedy that she says feels refreshingly scripted.

The panel will their discuss what they think of A Quiet Place, including whether it has a positive portrayal of a character with a disability and explain their theories about what the film’s subtext could be.

With Karen Tongson, Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler, Wynter Mitchell and Riley Silverman.

That’s My Jam:

Riley Silverman - Jeremy Jordan - She Used to be Mine

Karen Tongson - Windy - The Association

Wynter Mitchell - Prince - Purple Music

Guy Branum Mel Tormé - Stardust

Pop Rocket #170: The Cult Episode

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

This week, Guy Branum, Karen Tongson, Margaret Wappler and Wynter Mitchell are joined by LA-based artist Akina Cox to discuss the Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country and cults in pop culture.

Karen Tongson is all about Killing Eve on BBC America, which features the return to TV of the beloved Sandra Oh. Wynter is all about The Zen Diaries of Gary Shandling on HBO, Judd Apatow’s love letter to one of the best and most complex comics in history. Akina is all about Ron Chernow’s biography of Ulysses Grant, which is guaranteed to NOT have not be adapted into a musical. Margaret is all about Junot Diaz’s New Yorker article about the trauma he experienced as a child. Guy is all about John Sherman’s Buzzfeed article about Love Simon’s shortcomings as a movie featuring queer characters.

The panel will their why cults have become such a fascinating subject in entertainment, including Far Cry 5, Wild, Wild Country and more. Plus, Akin will share her experience of growing up in an actual cult and her thoughts on some of the modern famous charismatic religious figures.

With Karen Tongson, Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler, Wynter Mitchell and Akina Cox.

That’s My Jam:

Akina Cox - SASAMI - Callous

Karen Tongson - Jens Lekman -To Know Your Mission -

Margaret Wappler - Nat King Cole - Nature Boy

Guy Branum Rex Orange County - Loving is Easy

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to our Spotify playlists.

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

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Pop Rocket Ep 169: Seeing the World Through Roseanne-Colored Lenses

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Official Pop Rocket pin of the 2018 MaxFunDrive
Show: 
Pop Rocket

This week, Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler and Karen Tongson watched the Roseanne reboot and they have feelings about it. Strong feelings.

Margaret Wappler is all about Glynn Washington’s podcast Heaven’s Gate which features interviews and stories of surviving members of the deadly cult. The final season of The Americans
kicked off last week with the episode Dead Hand and Karen savors the way it used music. Guy is all about the Netflix show On the Block.

With the Roseanne reboot smashing all kinds of viewing records, the panel weighs in on what it is about the show that gives it such a broad appeal. They also look at why Roseanne is problematic and why the show’s take on gender non-conformity may not be as culturally relevant as the show’s setting would have audiences believe.

With
Guy Branum
Karen Tongson
Margaret Wappler

That’s My Jam:

Margaret Wappler - Vacationer - Magnetism

Karen Tongson - Indigo Girls - Everything’s Alright

Guy Branum - Dem Beats - Todrick Hall

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to our Spotify playlists.

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

Produced by Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.