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. 203 Bravo’s Dirty John & Our True Crime Obsession w/ Sarah Kessler

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Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, Karen Tongson, Sarah Kessler
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh
Guests: 
Sarah Kessler

We're getting down into the down and dirty story Dirty John, the new Bravo show based on the LA Times and Wondery podcast of the same name. Joining us in the discussion this week is media scholar and TV critic Sarah Kessler who happens to also be married to our very own Karen Tongson. Dirty John is the true crime story about Debra Newell, a successful Orange County businesswoman who seemed to have everything going for her except when it came to love. In her middle age, she began online dating and met this guy who her two daughters found extremely shady. Obviously, throughout the course of the limited series starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana, she and we find out why.

We take a deep dive into what it is that titillates and draws us into the dark and disturbing world of true crime. The panel takes a look at podcasts like Teacher's Pet, Serial and Bear Brook, among others, as well as shows such as Making a Murderer, Lifetime’s A Woman Scorned and the sensational, made-for-tv accounts of the most notorious serial killers. What does true crime tell us about women and what does it tell women to watch out for? Find out!

True Crime Podcasts Discussed:
Serial
Bear Brook
Teacher's Pet
Atlanta Monster
Star 80
Fall of a Titan: The Steve McNair Story
In the Dark
Crime & Scandal: Chris Watts

True Crime Film & TV Titles Discussed
A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story
A Deliberate Stranger
Snapped

All Abouts

Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh is all about the interpersonal dynamics at play at H.W. Bush’s funeral.

Sarah Kessler is all about My Brilliant Friend on HBO based on the bestselling series by Elena Ferrante.

Karen Tongson is all about a recent stand-up set she saw of Aparna Nancherla.

That's My Jam

Sarah Kessler - Stereolab - Outer Accelerator

Wynter - Grace Jones - Slave to the Rhythm

Karen Tongson - Juliana Hatfield - A Little More Love

With Karen Tongson, Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, and Sarah Rebecca Kessler.

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. 202 Holiday Horror w/ Ricky Carmona

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

It's well known in the Rocketeer community that our host this week, Wynter Mitchell-Ragnarok, is a huge horror buff. She watches two to three a week, and she is running out of horror flicks to watch on all the streaming services. Send her your recommendations! In the meantime, Wynter forced Karen, Margaret and Who Shot Ya?’s Ricky Carmona to subject themselves to some of her favorite movies from the holiday genre, such as Black Christmas, Silent Night, Deadly Night, and their sequels.

Our special guest this week is the hilarious Ricky Carmona, the host of the Maximum Fun movie podcast Who Shot Ya? and he's also a staff writer on the Comedy Central TV series Tosh.0.

All Abouts

Margaret is all about ROMA, a new film by acclaimed director Alfonso Cuarón. The movie is heavily based on his childhood in Mexico City in the 1970s and his family's live-in housekeeper.

Karen has a backhanded All About on Netflix's bro-y, new food competition show The Final Table.

Ricky is all about Adam Sandler's latest stand-up comedy special also on Netflix called 100% Fresh.

Wynter is all about season 1 of the USA Network crime drama The Sinner starring Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman.

That's My Jam

Margaret - Phosphorescent - New Birth in New England.

Karen - This Is Me (Reimagined Remix) - Keala Settle, Kesha & Missy Elliott

Ricky - Sounds of Blackness - Optimistic

Wynter - Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band - Great to Be Here

With Wynter Mitchell-Rohrbaugh, Karen Tongson, Margaret Wappler , and Ricky Carmona/a>.

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. 201 Our Awkward Thanksgiving Show

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

Happy Thanksgiving, Rocketeers! We at Pop Rocket are thankful for you, our listeners. For the purposes of this episode, Wynter will be playing the role of Margaret’s sister who always criticizes her stuffing recipe, while Karen is the gay aunt who sold Wappler a bunk Subaru.

There was a lot of tension in the studio, and everyone was walking on eggshells. Will our panelists be able to make it through a discussion of awkward family gatherings without bursting into tears? Will Wynter be triggered by a clip of The Family Stone? Will Margaret angrily scream, “Eat the fish, b***h!”? The panel dissects some of their favorite awkward moments--on screen and off--and try to figure out why we’re so captivated by angry, obnoxious relatives. If any of you out there have concerns about fraught dinner conversations over turkey, stuffing, and sides, the panelists are here for you!

All Abouts

Margaret alerted us to a fine piece of writing from New York Times critic Amanda Hess, who laments, “nothing ever ends anymore and it’s driving me insane.” If you’re overwhelmed by sequels, prequels, reboots, and overlapping universes, she’s a kindred spirit.

If no one spots Wynter out in the wild over the next two weeks, it’s probably because she’s playing her newest video game obsession Red Dead Redemption II.

Karen recently discovered the new ABC sitcom Single Parents starring Taran Killam, Leighton Meester and Jake Choi.

That's My Jam

Karen - Shawn Mendes - Lost in Japan

Wynter - Michelle Obama - Becoming

Margaret - Barrie - Michigan

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. 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.