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The Bugs Are Screeching, And Other Reflections On Time

Pop Culture Happy Hour
by Linda Holmes
Welcome to the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter! Every week, we bring you a fresh mini-essay about something that’s on our minds, whether it’s an old show that feels new again or something in the news that we can’t stop thinking about.

We also feature fresh recommendations for your reading and viewing in the days ahead, and gather up all our work from the week — in writing and on the microphone — in one place. And if you’ve ever wondered where you can find links to all the things that we feature in our signature What’s Making Us Happy This Week segment, look no further: We round them up right here.

So get ready for a weekly read that we hope will leave you navigate your week and build on what you hear on the show.
Welcome! It was the week when we said goodbye to Eric Carle , creator of a very famous hungry caterpillar. It was the week when a lot of people watched The Eternals trailer. And it was the week when we found out that Kelly Clarkson’s show will be put forward as the new resident of a soon-to-be-vacated timeslot.

Opening Argument: The Bugs Are Screeching, And Other Reflections On Time

As you’ve probably heard, the Brood X cicadas who burrow underground and emerge every 17 years have recently come out to play in some parts of the country. While I don’t want to brag, I have to say roughly 25 percent of the national population of them seem to be in my yard. They love the tree in the front yard, the screen on the screened porch, and especially my recycling bin. (Apparently, they’re attracted to anything I might accidentally touch with my bare hands.)

A couple of days ago, they started coming down my chimney. Down my chimney! Actual giant flying bugs! This was the point when I concluded that this was not the fun kind of weird anymore. It was the “oh, here I am at the beginning of this horror movie” kind of weird. This is on top of the fact that there is a high-pitched hum outside every day as a result of their apparently needing to yell back and forth to each other “I HAVE EMERGED AFTER 17 YEARS!” and “OH HEY ME TOO!” and doing it in the form of a song that sort of sounds like a cricket crossed with a chainsaw, except it’s a billion crickets crossed with a billion chainsaws.

Naturally, this got me thinking about the passage of time, particularly in light of the Friends reunion that aired this week. There are times when I look at a show like that and think, “Wow, that was a long time ago.” But I’m not sure how that’s affected by the fact that almost nothing goes away anymore. I continue to believe one of the reasons why people had a lot of fun talking about The Nanny when it came to HBO MAX is that it had actually receded from memory in a way that a lot of things never do.
Daniel Davis, Fran Drescher, Charles Shaughnessy and Lauren Lane starred in the hit sitcom The Nanny, which aired on CBS from 1993 through 1999.
CBS via Getty Images
The Nanny , as it were, is a cicada. It goes underground (not really, it was in reruns, but it was underground relative to streaming services, so bear with me) for a long time, and then it emerges. Uh, screaming. Friends, on the other hand, coincidentally was gone for exactly 17 years before this reunion. Friends is on actual cicada time! Gen X, Brood X … you see where I’m going with this, right? But Friends didn’t seem like it had ever been gone. You’ve always had access to it if it was the kind of thing you cared about.

Imagine if cicadas came down my chimney every year. Imagine! I would not tolerate it. I would put up some kind of cicada barrier so that they couldn’t get in. I would also probably move. To Mars. But because they come and then they go away for such a long time, I am able to find in my heart a certain tolerance for their scattered exoskeletons and their screeching and their occasional appearance actually clinging to the living room curtains, where they should not be. If you go away and I get a chance to miss you for 17 years, maybe I’ll be a little bit more okay with your quirks when you return. Maybe I’ll be more psyched.

What I’m saying is that cicadas are lucky they’re not on Netflix. That’s the point.

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We Recommend:

Before we get started, we’re still taking your votes on the best and worst Friend on Friends, plus your favorite three auxiliary Friends. (Your Gunthers, your Janets, your Mikes.) Vote at npr.org/friends !

NPR has an excellent, excellent new podcast called On Our Watch , produced with member station KQED. It takes advantage of a law that unsealed records of internal police investigations, and to say it’s riveting and disturbing would undersell how riveting and disturbing it is.

Please go watch this guy play the guitar while his bird sings along . It sounds like one of those internet things, and I suppose it is, but please don’t deny yourself this pleasure.

I haven’t seen the HBO film Oslo yet, but I did see and admire the Broadway play it adapts, about the Oslo accords. The leads are Ruth Wilson and Andrew “Hot Priest” Scott, and I’m curious to see how it turns out.

When you think about the best baseball plays that have ever happened — and by “best,” I mean “strangest” — please spare a thought for the wild entry from this week’s MLB, and don’t miss out on the Pirates’ radio call .

What We Did This Week:

Lupe (Victoria Moroles) and Sunny (Kuhoo Verma) are snubbed at the pharmacy when Lupe needs a morning-after pill.
Brett Roedel/Hulu
On Monday, Stephen sat down with Alex Ramos to talk about Olivia Rodrigo’s album Sour.

On Tuesday, Aisha and Joelle Monique checked in with the new season of Master Of None .

Wednesday gave me the opportunity to sit with Stephen to talk about his annual ranking of the season’s Saturday Night Live musical performances, from the top to Morgan Wallen. But by all means, don’t just listen to the episode. Read the whole, very entertaining thing .

On Thursday, Stephen continued his musical week with a chat with Haeryun Kang in which they offered a very brief overview of K-Pop, well beyond BTS.

And Friday’s show brings Glen and Aisha together with Cyrena Touros and LaTesha Harris to talk about the new movie Cruella, which brings two great Emmas together on screen.

I wrote on Thursday about the Friends reunion, which I thought was … better in some aspects than others.

I also wrote about the excellent new film Plan B , which is on Hulu as of this weekend.

And don’t forget to find Stephen over at NPR Music doing New Music Friday.

What’s Making Us Happy:

Every week on the show, we talk about some other things out in the world that have been giving us joy lately. Here they are:

Stream your local NPR station.
Visit NPR.org to find your local station stream.

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