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Pop Rocket

Pop culture discussion with Guy Branum, Wynter Mitchell, Margaret Wappler and Karen Tongson
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Pop Rocket
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A high-octane weekly discussion of the pop 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.

MaximumFun.org

Jul 3, 2018

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.

Jun 27, 2018

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 Dietlandand 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.

Jun 20, 2018

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 Bellproduction assistant, current model and current writer for Saturday Night Live. In honor of Bubblethe 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.

Jun 13, 2018

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 Racemight 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.

May 23, 2018

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.

May 9, 2018

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.

Apr 25, 2018

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”</a>. 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 Guy Branum, Karen Tongson and Margaret Wappler.

That’s My Jam:

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.

Apr 18, 2018

This week, Guy Branum, Karen Tongson and Wynter Mitchell are joined by Riley Silverman. She’s the lead 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 a 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 sub-text could be.

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

That’s My Jam:

Riley Silverman - Jeremy Jordan - She Used to be Mine

Karen Tongson - Windy - The Association 

Margaret Wappler -  Nat King Cole - Nature Boy

Wynter Mitchell -  Prince - Purple Music

Guy Branum - Mel Tormé - Stardust

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.

Apr 11, 2018

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.

Mar 28, 2018

This week, Karen Tongson and Margaret Wappler are joined by clinical psychologist and actress Megan Auster-Rosen to discuss therapy in film and television shows.

Margaret Wappler is all about High Maintenance on HBO and the show’s weed dealer/confidant The Guy. Megan is all about Parkland student, Emma Gonzalez and her six minutes of silence, dedicated to the victims of the shooting at Stoneland Douglas High School. Karen is all about the NBC drama, Rise, even though it falls into some unfortunate tropes of the white man passing over the qualified woman of color for the job.

The panel will explain their first experiences with therapy in their personal lives. Then, they’ll get into therapy in such movies and shows like Big Little LiesMeet the Fockers, Crazy Ex-GirlfriendThe Sopranos and more. Plus, Megan will give her professional opinion on the benefits and downsides of TV therapy shows like Dr. Phil.

With Karen Tongson, Margaret Wappler and  Megan Auster-Rosen.

That’s My Jam:

Megan Auster-Rosen - Alicia Keys - No one

Karen Tongson - Lovin' Spoonful - Butchie's Tune.

Margaret Wappler - Peter Gabriel - Come Talk to Me

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.

Jan 19, 2017

This episode, Jordan Morris of @midnight and Jordan Jesse Go! sits in for Guy while he is away. Jordan and the gang discuss the upcoming Inauguration, the President elect’s difficulty in securing entertainment, and the different media choices that people from different parts of the country consume. They talk about the red/blue divide in terms of the reality TV choices of particular zip codes around the country. Karen tells us why she’s all about "Blackish” this week, and Wynter sets the record straight about the Golden Globes. And as with every week, the panel tells us what their latest jams are. 

 

With Jordan MorrisKaren Tongson, Wynter Mitchell, and Margaret Wappler

Jams:

Jordan Morris - Love In A Void

Margaret Wappler - In Glendale

Wynter Mitchell - Caroline

Karen Tongson - Overkill

 

 

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to this handy Spotify playlist

 

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

 

Other Links:

Do Gay People Care About John Oliver?

SNL Inauguration

‘Duck Dynasty’ vs. ‘Modern Family’:50 Maps of the U.S. Cultural Divide




Produced by Christian Dueñas and Kara Hart for MaximumFun.org

Dec 21, 2016

On this week’s episode, Guy sits down with the newly assembled Pop Rocket gang and welcomes Karen Tongson to the team! In honor of her arrival, they discuss reboots; and the conversation gets heated! We find out the differences between reboots, remakes, and reimaginings. We also find out what everyone’s favorite reboot is, who has done it best, and why Americans aren’t good at making versions of British shows. And we find out, as we do every week, what everyone’s current jam is, and what they’re all about.

 

That’s My Jam:

Margaret Wappler - Your Best American Girl

Guy Branum - Christmas Is Coming

Wynter Mitchell - Randy

Karen Tongson - Babe



Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to this handy Spotify playlistYou can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

Other Links:

Ricki Lake’s Roach Dress

Randy Rainbow Interviews Donald

One Day At A Time

Produced by Christian DueñasKara Hart, and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org

Dec 14, 2016

This week, Margaret hosts a very bittersweet episode with the whole gang present (Guy via phone). This is Oliver Wang’s last show as a co-host, and the gang is talking about pop culture farewells. They talk about the departure of which characters affected them most growing up, good and bad series finale’s, and the most recent pop culture departures that really got to them. And later, Guy joins the conversation to talk about their latest jams and to say his own farewell.  

P.S. because this show is about **farewells** please note that there will be many spoilers

That’s My Jam:

Margaret Wappler Ragged Wood

Oliver Wang Always In My Heart

Wynter Mitchell A Solid Wall Of Sound

Guy Branum Adventures in Paradise

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to this handy Spotify playlist.

 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 Christian Dueñas and Kara Hart for MaximumFun.org

Dec 1, 2016

This is our 100th episode! In honor of this, Guy, Margaret (via skype), Oliver, and Wynter talk about pop culture families as a way of paying tribute to the Pop Rocket family that has formed over the past two years.  Guy finds out which pop culture family the gang wishes they were a part of, and which TV and movie families represented their own. Then, they talk about the best pop culture families composed of friends (**Spoiler: Friends isn’t one of them**). Then, as always, we find out what the panel’s current Jams are and what their individual pop culture obsessions are.

 

That’s My Jam:

Margaret Wappler - Plastic

Oliver Wang - Better Things

Wynter Mitchell - Looking Up Through You

Guy Branum - The Andy Cohen Diaries

 

 
 

 

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to this handy Spotify playlist.

 

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 Christian Dueñas and Kara Hart for MaximumFun.org

Nov 23, 2016

 This week, Guy sits down comedians Solomon Georgio, Kara Klenk, and Riley Silverman to talk everything cooking shows. Who is everyone’s favorite celebrity chef? Who is the panel’s least favorite? Why do they like Top Chef more than Chopped? And who is Fanny Cradock and can she be the British grandmother I never knew I needed? All of this plus everyone’s latest jams and pop culture “All About’s”.

With Guy Branum, Solomon GeorgioKara Klenk, and Riley Silverman.

 

That’s My Jam:

Guy Branum - Come Sail Away

Solomon Georgio - Side to Side

Kara Klenk - Just Like Fire

Riley Silverman - Heaven On Their Minds 

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to this handy Spotify playlist.

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

Other Links:

Fanny Cradock’s Christmas cooking special

Mini Food

Drew Droege as Chloë Sevigny

 

Produced by Christian Dueñas and Kara Hart for MaximumFun.org.

Dec 16, 2015

The team celebrate 50 episodes with a look back at the pop culture of 50 years ago. With Guy Branum, Wynter Mitchell, Margaret Wappler and Oliver Wang.

Jams: 

Wynter Mitchell - Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham and the Pharaos and California Girls by The Beach Boys.

Oliver Wang - A Change is Gonna to Comel by Sam Cooke

Margaret Wappler - It’s Not Unusual by Tom Jones

Guy Branum - I’m Looking Through You by The Beatles

Each week we'll add everyone's jams to this handy Spotify Play List.

You can let us know the media you consume when faced with difficult times in our Facebook or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

Dec 8, 2015

The team sits down to share their thoughts on Spike Lee’s new movie Chi-Raq which uses the premise of women withholding sex from their men to stop a gang war. They also touch on their favorite Spike Lee films.

With Guy Branum MaximumFun.org (http://www.guybranum.com), Wynter Mitchell (http://wyntermitchell.com), Margaret Wappler (http://www.margaretwappler.com) and Oliver Wang (http://www.margaretwappler.com)

Favorite Jams

Wynter Mitchell Someone Great by LCD Soundsystem

Oliver Wang TOh Girl by The Chi-Lites

Margaret Wappler Mr. Telephone Man by Erykah Badu

Each week we'll add everyone's jams to this handy Spotify ListSpotify playlist.

You can let us know the media you consume when faced with difficult times in our Facebook or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

Dec 2, 2015

 

The team talks about their favorite holiday jams from traditional to contemporary. .

 

With Guy Branum <a href="http://maximumfun.org">MaximumFun.org</a>(http://www.guybranum.com), Wynter Mitchell (http://wyntermitchell.com), Margaret Wappler (http://www.margaretwappler.com) and Oliver Wang (http://www.margaretwappler.com)

 

Holiday Favorite Tunes

 

Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping

 

Vince Guraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here

 

Fiona Apple’s Frosty the Snowman

 

John Lennon - War Is Over

 

Wham - Last Christmas

 

Barbra Streisand - Jingle Bells

 

The Pogues - Fairytale of New York

 

The Maccabeats - Candlelight

 

Run DMC - Christmas in Hollis

 

Matisyahu - Miracle

 

Wings - Wonderful Christmas Time

 

Juice Crew - Cold Chillin Christmas

 

Rufus Wainwright & Sharon Van Etten - Baby It’s Cold Outside

 

The Temptations - Silent Night

 

Nat King Cole - The Christmas Song

 

Billy Elliot Broadway Soundtrack - Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher

 

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - White Christmas

 

Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas is You

 

Destiny’s Child - 8 Days of Christmas



Favorite Piece of Holiday Culture

 

Guy Branum - Avacado Nog, Rug Rats Chanukuh & The Ref

Wynter Mitchell - Surviving Christmas, The Holiday and Bridget Jones Diary

Oliver Wang - The Yule Log on Netflix,

Margaret Wappler - Elf, Smoked Turkey w/ Chutney Sauce & Star Wars

 

Each week we'll add everyone's jams to this handy Spotify playlist.

 

You can let us know the media you consume when faced with difficult times in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

 

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