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. 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.

Pop Rocket Ep. 181 Unplugged: Declaring Independence from Glowing Screens

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

This week, Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler and Karen Tongson are declaring their independence from screens, push notifications and batteries. That’s right, it’s all about the pop culture that you’ll still be able to experience after the grid goes down.

Margaret is all about The Moment app which displays just how much time you spend on your phone every day, which she hopes will help keep her phone out of her motherhood. Karen is all about LeBron James being signed to the LA Lakers and everyone celebrating something good finally happening for the Lakers. Guy is all about the Amazon Prime movieThe Little Hours which features plenty of effective comedy and just the right amount of Aubrey Plaza.

The group will take an extensive look at modern media that doesn’t require a screen; everything from drawing, tarot cards, The Joy of Cooking, the card game Set and so much more

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 - My Bathroom Is a Private Kind of Place.

Karen - 10,000 Maniacs - These Are Days

Guy - Betty Who - Taste.

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. 180: Dietland is Unapologetically Fat w/ Lindy West

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

This week, Guy Branun, Margaret Wappler and Karen Tongson are joined by Lindy West, New York Times opinion writer and bestselling author of the book Shrill to discuss the AMC show Dietland and one of TV’s best fat characters ever: Plum Kettle.

Lindy is all about is all about the UK show Grand Designs, which offers a respite of pleasantness in the current world of television. Margaret is all about Michelle Goldberg's NYT op-ed We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners, which takes a look at the morality behind Sarah Huckabee Sanders being kicked out of a restaurant. Karen is all about The World Cup, especially the Group that includes Mexico, Sweden, Germany and South Korea. Guy is all about the Netflix series Alex Strangelove a show with a lot of potential…but suffers from the unfortunate issue of being stuck in white suburbia.

The group will take an extensive look at Dietland and the history of fat characters on television. Why is it that even the “good” takes on this archetype often end up feeling incomplete? What would it take for people to get past the message of “body empowerment” when writing stories about fat bout fat people?

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 Lindy West, Karen Tongson, Guy Branum and Margaret Wappler.

That’s My Jam:

Margaret - The Carters - NICE.

Karen - Germans - Cruel

Lindy - Bobby McFerrin - Don’t Worry Be Happy.

Guy - Lizzo - Boys.

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. 179: What's in YOUR (pop culture) Bubble? w/ Jordan Morris and Sudi Green

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Sudi, Guy, Jordan, Karen
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Jordan Morris and Sudi Green
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Karen Tongson

This week, Guy Branun and Karen Tongson are joined by Jordan Morris, writer of the new Maximum Fun scripted series Bubble, and Sudi Green, former Totally Biased w/ Kumau Bell production assistant, current model and current writer for Saturday Night Live. In honor of Bubble the team will discuss which shows and films help create their safe bubble from the rest of the scary world.

Jordan is all about is all about Hearts Beat Loud, a summer film that offers the perfect respite from the deluge of CGI battles on the silver screen. Sudi is all about the book Educated, a memoir from Tara Westover that’s startlingly dark, but compulsively readable. Karen is all about The Showtime series The Affair, which just began its latest season and has all the hetero-disaster-kink that fans of the show have come to expect. Guy is all about the Netflix film Set it Up, a rom-com that’s getting a lot of love online… but he just couldn’t quite get into.

The group will take an extensive look at their personal pop culture bubbles; the things that help define their outlook on life in an unchallenged way. But as this country feels more and more divided, not just politically but in media tastes, what shows and films are there that transcend the borders of the Bubble and unite everyone in their consumption? They’ll provide the answers.

With Sudi Green, Karen Tongson, Guy Branum and Jordan Morris.

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.

That’s My Jam:

Sudi - Rachel Crow - Dime.

Karen Tongson - Huey Lewis and the News - Do You Believe in Love?

Jordan Morris - Rachel Cantu - Love Rush.

Guy Branum - Calvin Harris (with Dua Lipa) - One Kiss.

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. 179: Strike a Pose with Las Culturistas

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Guy, Bowen, Matt, Karen, Margaret
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Matt Rogers
Guests: 
Bowen Yang
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Karen Tongson
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler

This week, Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler and Karen Tongson are joined by Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers, the hosts of the Las Culturistas podcast. The gang will discuss the show Pose which focusses on the Ball culture of 1980’s New York.

Bowen is all about everything going down at E3, especially the long-awaited crossover madness that is Kingdom Hearts III. Margaret is all about Ocean's 8, a film that may be full of missed opportunities, but also has enough iconic moments to make it worth the watch. Karen is all about Hannah Gadsby and her newest show Nanette which showcases plenty of laughs and an explanation for why she’s quitting comedy. Matt is all about the trailer for A Star is Born. Guy is all about the Netflix show Lost in Space a sci-fi show that he says is a perfect example of “Competence Porn.”

The group will take an extensive look at Pose, including which characters they enjoy (and which they can’t stand), how they first learned about Ball culture, and why fans of Ru Paul’s Drag Race might enjoy the show.

With Guy Branum, Margaret Wappler, Karen Tongson, Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers.

That’s My Jam:

Matt Rogers - Shea Couleé - Crème Brûlée.

Karen Tongson- Christine and the Queens - dis-moi

Margaret Wappler - Bryan Ferry - Slave to Love.

Guy Branum - Little Big Town - Summer Fever.

Bowen Yang - Big Freedia - Play feat. Goldiie

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. 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.