Poppe Up! – Friday, January 31

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It’s a mere two days until pop sensation Bruno Mars takes the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime stage, for a highly anticipated performance with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. So, we wonder – who holds the title of Favorite Super Bowl Halftime Performer, for you?:

JT Landry: Beyonce. …wait, were you waiting for a reason? …do you need one? Didn’t think so.

Molly Gentry: The first performance that came to mind when I read this question (other than the obvious Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake fiasco) was the ‘NSYNC, Britney Spears and Aerosmith show from 2001. Of course there were other performers like Nelly and Mary J. Blige (who seems to perform at a plethora of major sporting events, am I wrong?) but these three acts had it all, and that was enough for me.

This particular halftime show was produced by MTV (obviously) and, I feel, catered specifically to me. We had the golden couple of Justin and Brit-Brit on stage TOGETHER, so much denim and pleather, choreographed dancing, and Steven Tyler who is one of the hottest old men I’ve ever seen, still to this day. #NoShame

One question I have now, though, is why did it take almost 7 minutes for Britney Spears to show up? Why were they hiding her and why did they only let her sing “Walk This Way” with everyone else? Other than that, it was flawless.

(Honorable mention goes to The Who from 2010.)

Brooke Rousch: I think I have to go with the 2001 SuperBowl…there was just so much to love: Aerosmith, Britney Spears, *NSync, Nelly, and Mary J. Blige.  This selection is probably heavily influenced by my recent infatuation with the *NSync Pandora station.  The Beyonce / blackout year is a very close runner-up.  This all could change after Sunday, because I do love Bruno Mars!

Haley Bragg: Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty. Yes, JT, Beyonce (with Destiny’s Child) was the sh*****t. Yes, Molly and Brooke, GOOD CALL. Yes, Jen, I knew you were going to say that. But guys – what performance are we still talking about TEN years later? That’s right. Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson and that blasted wardrobe malfunction (and P. Diddy, Nelly and Kid Rock – I can’t decide if I think they love or hate being left out of the conversation.) Performance wise, it was GREAT. But the domino effect it’s had on pop culture as we know it, is fascinating. It led to the invention of YouTube, Facebook capitalized on the controversy by launching within 3 days of the performance, “Janet Jackson” became the most searched term, event or image in Internet history. {source} And I won’t even go into the effects it’s had on media censoring or current levels of acceptance of decency (or indecency, as you will) with pop stars. May I rest my case?

Jen Clapp: PRINCE. Right?!? Is there any other contender? I mean, sure, some people say there was the part where his guitar was seemingly compensating for something, but let’s be honest – of all the rock-god guitar players, are there any that aren’t? Yeah. yeeeeaahhhh. Prince sang Purple Rain and it rained. AND IT RAINED. That has to count for something. Also, everyone on that stage was in platforms. In the rain! THAT has to count for something. ALSO, his halftime show is consistently rated in Top 10 – and even Top 5 – lists. The man is a FORCE. I mean.     I mean.     I mean.     I MEAN.

Video here (sorry, I can’t find a way to embed this): PRINCE in 2007

Also, it should be noted that Prince will appear in Sunday’s episode of New Girl immediately following the Super Bowl, as was adorably pointed out by Grantland’s Rembert Brown (and immediately RT’d by me).

Poppe Up! – Friday, December 27

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State your case for the biggest pop culture story of 2013:

Elizabeth Hyndman: Prince George Alexander Louis was born July 22, 2013. The world watched, via live-video feed, his birth announced by a town crier. The next day, we watched as he left the hospital in the arms of his beautiful parents whom we all love already. We made bets on his birthday. We made bets on his gender. We made bets on his name. And that’s just what the Americans did (those who fought for freedom from the British monarchy).

The Fresh Prince

J.T. Landry: It’s been a wild and wacky year for pop culture (but then, when isn’t it?), and I can’t seem to narrow things down; so, here’s a few. I can never seem to stick to the rules, so why stop now.

Justin Timberlake’s 20(/20)13
The first quarter of the year saw JT bringing sexy back – but this time everything was bigger (I mean the songs and scope were bigger. Bring it up to the ground floor, Culture Poppers). Two albums filled with some of the most epic and ambitious R&B since Stevie Wonder, including my personal pick for 2013’s song of the year – Mirrors – an 8+ minute opus paying tribute to the love of a lifetime. And that dance break in the final minutes of the video? To die for.
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The Netflix Network
If you had told me five years ago that Netflix would basically become a de facto network overflowing with not only more streaming content than you could possibly hope to consume, but original content (and it’s good!) too, I’d have measured you for your bespoke straight jacket. But then I’d have had to let out the seams because Netflix changed the way millions consume television, from binge watching seasons of Breaking Bad, Scandal and Downton Abbey – in turn drawing countless new fans to the original runs of these shows – to savoring original series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, which more than stood up to regular cable fare. And I haven’t even mentioned Arrested Development.
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Beyonce
Leave it to Bey to stake her claim on pop culture by slapping 2013 with bookends on either side – a heavily hyped and successful Super Bowl halftime show swiftly followed by the announcement of the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour in February, and then, in a masterstroke that NO ONE saw coming, a full-out “visual” album of 14 songs and 17 videos, just dropped into the internets on December 13 in stealth Bey-52 bomber mode.
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Laura McClellan: The return of the 90’s. Girl Meets World. NSync and Destiny’s Child reunited. Most of Buzzfeed’s content. The kids who grew up in the 90’s are finally in positions of authority and are bringing it back with a vengeance. And no one is mad about it. It’s either that or Beyonce’s pixie cut. Or JLaw’s pixie cut. Maybe just pixie cuts in general. THE 90S OR PIXIE CUTS. Ok, I’m done here.

DANIELLE FISHEL, ROWAN BLANCHARD, BEN SAVAGE

Brooke Rousch: Prince George is the complete obvi contender.  I mean people were obsessed with all the details of this kiddo’s birth, me included.  However, I think Jennifer Lawrence is the surprise pop culture phenom of 2013.  Don’t believe me, just hear my case:

A.  Her fall on the steps at the Oscars put her in the same league as Disney Princesses (and also won over America, to boot)….

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B. …and Bradley Cooper AND Hugh Jackman came to her rescue.  (What Disney Princess ever got TWO Princes?!)

C.  JLaw’s adorable freak out over meeting Jack Nicholson made her seem like one of us non-famous types.  This glorious moment was also on the same night as her epic fall. [There are countless other priceless interviews, but this is still one of the best.]

D.  The off-screen relationship with her Hunger Games co-star fuels fans’ hope that maybe there’s something more to their on-screen romance.

E.  Over the course of the year, Jennifer Lawrence became the darling of Hollywood…or really the golden girl.  The world spent over $300 MILLION to see Catching Fire on opening weekend.  This girl IS on fire.2013 proved that JLaw is a pop culture force of nature.  Where she goes, the masses (and money) will follow.

Jen Clapp: First off, can I just say that I never thought there’d come a day when someone would mention Beyonce and Brooke Rousch wouldn’t be involved? Well done, JT. SO MUCH happened in 2013 worth consideration – the royal baby, the Carter family’s domination of inventive ways to release albums, Amanda Bynes going BSCrazier than last year, somehow, the Kardashians using the ENTIRE year play a one-up game. The first half of the year was dominated by a record number of big budget super hero/world destruction movies – providing press junket moments that could be argued for this list, showcasing performers who showed us the same charisma that likely won them their roles (Exhibit A). Now late in the year we have Selena AND Justin “retiring.” All of that on top of Presidential selfies, the death of a global icon of freedom, and more reality show-themed shakeups to mention. HOWEVER, if I had to pick a winner of 2013, I have to go with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

You guys. Ford is a walking disaster, but if given the option, I’d still vote for him before I’d vote for some of the likely candidates I’m going to be given in the next few elections. I feel like everything we experienced in 2013 compounded to make this the first year someone whose story was SO absurd could remain a beloved figure. Consider this: The past decade has seen political figures ridiculed for grammatical errors, sexting, and being generally ridiculous. Rob Ford HITS THE POWDER and wins our hearts. When else could this have happened but in 2013?

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And, if nothing else, it gave us a chance to consider what might have been:

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Poppe Up! – Friday, December 20

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You’re choosing your 24-hour loop viewing for Christmas Eve. What do you choose?

J.T. Landry: Finally. Someone is giving me my own network to program. Also, we will be commercial-free Christmas Eve. You’re welcome. Oh, and I know it’s “loop viewing” but I need to fudge a bit. It’s my network, ok?

12 a.m. – White Christmas
2 a.m. – A Charlie Brown Christmas
2:30 a.m. – Mickey’s Christmas Carol
3 a.m. – The Family Stone
4:50 a.m. – Ryan Gosling Looks Back Fondly on His Favorite Christmas Memories
5 a.m. – The Holiday
7 a.m. – Love Actually
9 a.m. – Miracle on 34th Street (the original)
10:45 a.m. – Christmas Carols with Justin Timberlake
11 a.m. – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
12:45 p.m. – Cookie Decorating with the Cast of Scandal
1 p.m. – More Cookie Decorating with the Cast of Scandal
1:15 p.m. – Cookie Decorating Clean-up with the Cast of Scandal (It’s HANDLED.)
1:30 p.m. – Mickey’s Christmas Carol
2:00 p.m. – A Charlie Brown Christmas
2:30 p.m. – A Very Brady Christmas
4 p.m. – Love Actually
6 p.m. – White Christmas
8 p.m. – Santa Watch with the Cast of Mad Men
8:30 p.m. – It’s A Wonderful Life
10:30 p.m. – A Christmas Carol

Laura McClellan: Duh. A Christmas Story. Plus TBS has already done it for you.

Brooke Rousch: Growing up, my family usually watched A Christmas Story or It’s a Wonderful Life for the Christmas movie marathons.  There are several non-obvious choices I could select such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Just Friends, Meet Me in St. Louis, or While You Were Sleeping; however (if I wanted something to really put me in the Christmas spirit) I think I would go with Elf.  There was a strong case for Love Actually in my brain,  but the endearing innocence of Elf won out.

Elizabeth Hyndman: Christmas Vacation. My entire family still laughs out loud (literally) every. single. time.

Jen Clapp: I always go with A Christmas Story – for at least eighteen hours, anyway. I might sneak in one reel of Elf, one reel of Christmas Vacation and then probably spend some time on the Claymation stories (love that little Elf Dentist), then find a good sports movie (Field of Dreams, We Are Marshall, Hoosiers – not holiday related, but definitely feel good). That’s my Christmas Eve. Leading UP to that, though – LIFETIME  AND ION CHRISTMAS MOVIES ALL THE TIME! If it stars one or more people from the casts of Clueless or Beverly Hills, 90210, even better. Christmas Day? Holiday Inn over and over and over and over, only breaking for It’s a Wonderful Life.

What are we forgetting?

Check back next week when Haley Bragg reviews her favorite made-for-TV Christmas movies!

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Poppe Up! – Friday, December 13

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It’s Friday the 13th, y’all, and the scariest thing is that college football season is almost over. How do you feel about it?

Laura McClellan: Surprisingly considering my feelings towards football in the past (apathetic), I am genuinely going to be sad. Over the last few years I’ve really gotten into Auburn football (I grew up about 20 minutes down the road from Auburn), and this year has been amazing so far. I’m sad to see it go.

J.T. Landry: Honestly, I’m ok with it. Unless my (LSU) Tigers are in the hunt, by December, I’ve moved on to other pastures. I mean, go SEC and all, but I just don’t have much stake in the Championship game this year.

Megan Beam: As a die hard from birth Alabama fan who watched the entire Iron Bowl and still hoped the real Nick Saban would please stand up: football season can go now. I need a moment. BYE.

Landry Harlan: This has been a rough season for my both my home team, the Arkansas Razorbacks (Woo Pig Sooie!) and my alma mater, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Both could be regarded as the worst teams in their respective conferences and won’t be going to any bowls this season. So, how do I feel? FINALLY THIS PAINFUL SEASON IS OVER. The only thing that redeemed it was the greatest TV moment of the year, the ending of that Auburn/’Bama game. Let’s be real, that was the actual championship game, and it didn’t disappoint! I always preferred watching the pros play anyways. The Sheriff will be taking my Broncos to the Big Game this year, and I can’t wait for them to hold the trophy when it’s over!

Jen Clapp: The end of NCAA CFB season means that I’m pretty done with sports until next August. I mean, I guess I’m into college basketball, but that’s really not true until tournament time. The only thing getting me through is the promise of the Sochi Olympics. Speed skating, skeleton, curling! Roll Tide!

Brooke Keeler: I LOVE college football.  LOVE.   Like, for real!   So I’m always a little sad to see another year come to a close.  I have several teams that I follow for various reasons, like Texas (this is my team, y’all!), Baylor (my bro went to law school there), LSU (I have a LOT of family in Louisiana), Tennessee (this is my husband’s team), and Alabama (I briefly lived in Alabama).   I root for the teams in the order that I listed them, so that will let you know where my allegiances fall if say Baylor played Tennessee.  It has been a disjointed college football season for a multitude of reasons:

1.  Texas had somewhat of a bipolar year.

2.  BAYLOR!!! I had hopes for you in the National Championship game, and you LOST to OSU. [insert Brooke stare down here]

3.  LSU is always a bit of a wildcard, even in the years that they play really well.

4.  Coach Butch Jones has given me hope for Tennessee’s upcoming seasons, but this year was still pretty painful.

5.  Bama…(smh)…oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Maybe I’m kinda okay with this year wrapping up.  And seriously, don’t even get me started on the Heisman candidates for this year.

Poppe Up! – Friday, December 6

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‘Tis the season!

What is your Christmas decorating style – modern, traditional? Classy, tacky? Clear lights, colorful lights?

Haley Bragg: The lights, the lights, THE LIGHTS. I like lights, okay? As I sit in my living room, I’m looking at 5 places with twinkle lights. My current style is mostly informed by what I have in my garage at the moment. That means, lots of burlap, wreathes and of course, lights. I  keep the front of the house simple with just a few wreathes, some greenery and red bows. The sparkle is reserved for indoors. 🙂

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Jen Clapp: I’m probably somewhere between traditional and modern. When I moved into my townhouse a few years ago, I realized that as a single lady living the dream,I was probably in the last years I’d be able to get by with a white tree – so I bought one. For the past six Christmases I’ve had a white tree with white lights and decorations that would charm a twelve year old girl. That’s been on one side of the room. On the other side are all of my family hand-me-down decora tions, which I love, and the kitchen is full of similarly-obtained serving pieces. Alas…thanks to outdoor storage and hot summer temps, my white tree is no longer (white, anyway; it’s a gross beige) and I’m moving on to a green tree. But I’m adding colored lights and sticking with my preteen dream ornaments, so there.

My tree through 2012, basically.

Jen’s tree through 2012, basically.

Laura McClellan: Pretty traditional. I’m a white-light kind of girl. But no themed christmas tree. Ours is a hodge-podge of ornaments–most of them with memories attached. This year is the first year (of 4 Christmases) my husband and I are going to get a real tree because he didn’t want to move our artificial one to our new house and I am PUMPED. (My family is Canadian and therefore doesn’t believe in artificial trees.)

Brooke Rousch: Hmmm…viewing it through a lens of honesty, my style is Minimalist Hodgepodge with a touch of procrastination.  My husband and I mainly have decorations that we’ve inherited, and this is the first year that we’ve attempted to decorate.  Our major purchase (and compromise) was a flocked and [clear] lighted artificial Christmas tree.  Ryan’s heart was broken, because he’s always had a real Christmas tree (which doesn’t jive well with my allergies).  I had my mind set on an all white Christmas tree, because I believe in embracing the artificial element of a fake tree.  Needless to say the flocked tree, mildly appeases us both.  There’s currently a very impassioned discussion about whether or not the tree should include ribbon, tinsel, etc.  It will be a miracle if the tree is actually decorated before Christmas day.

Related: You Go Girly Christmas Tree

Poppe Up! – Friday, November 29

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Like it or not, Black Friday exists. What is your typical Black Friday routine?

Megan Beam: AVOID HUMAN CONTACT AT ALL COSTS. I don’t need/want anything badly enough to leave the house on BlackFriday.

Haley Bragg: Be as far away from mall traffic (of the car and human variety) as possible. If that means that I sit at home and marathon My So Called Life à la Thanksgiving 1996, then so be it.

Jen Clapp: Well, first I wake up around 7:30 or 8:00 and grab coffee. Then I pull out my computer and buy any remaining Christmas gifts online (thanks, Amazon Prime!). Then I continue fulfilling my vow not to leave the house until at least mid-evening. It helps that I’m a committed introvert.

Molly Gentry: Sometimes I do go shopping really early because, as much as I hate to admit it, it can be really fun. But this year I’ll be celebrating black Friday by treating it like any other Friday and going to work. and I’m ok with that because the office will be super quiet and I can watch YouTube videos all day WHILE GETTING SO MUCH WORK DONE.

Elizabeth Hyndman: Shopping–I don’t really go for the crazy deals, but I have a bit of a FOMO. If everyone else is there, I want to be there, too. The people-watching is always amazing. Then, my family always puts up the Christmas decorations and goes to a movie.

J.T. Landry: I don’t necessarily have a set routine that’s beholden to any particular timestamp; but there are usually four components that color the day for me: shopping, leftovers, the movies and the annual Black Friday LSU-Arkansas matchup (Geaux Tigers!), which will sadly see the back end of the shutters this year, since next year’s schedule brings that tradition to a screeching halt.

Laura McClellan: Sleep off all the tryptophan from the day before. Avoid shopping. Crowds give me enough anxiety as it is.

Brooke Rousch: I have a strong aversion to pushy crowds, so here’s my game plan: Sleep as late as possible and watch the news to see what crazy Black Friday incidents occurred.

Poppe Up! – Thursday, November 28

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What Thanksgiving tradition do you look forward to every year?

Megan Beam: Every year attention is drawn in my family to just how ridiculous we all are. And every year (really, at every family gathering, holiday or not)(particularly when a meal is involved), I pull out one of the moleskin notebooks I keep in my purse to mark down the verbal atrocities that are spoken over the table in front of a crowd. Either ridiculous one liners that no human person with any sense would speak in a public arena or entire conversations that I feel 99.99% sure no one else is having over their family meals. But I say all of that to say that the tradition to which I look most forward on the holidays is the moment my mother looks at me and says, “Are you going to write that in your silly little book?”

And chances are that yes, yes I am.

Haley Bragg: First of all, you’re not going to find someone more sentimental than me. So, when it comes to tradition, I’m all in. If things slightly waver from tradish (yep), there’s a chance I’ll get a little misty-eyed – but outside of the usual turkey and dressing (my Grandma’s dressing, y’all), we’re a pretty tradition-less crew on T-Day. There’d be hell to pay if I couldn’t spend it with my family, though. And for the first time in 10 years a long-standing football tradition, the Battle for the Golden Egg, returns to Thanksgiving Day. #HAILSTATE

Jen Clapp: I definitely look forward to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year (I admit to mainly being on the lookout for celebrities wearing Canadian tuxedos, which always make a shocking number of appearances) but, and I just want to be transparent with this, it’s all about the FOOD. Tradition is something the Clapps follow pret-ty well, and holidays are no exception. For as long as I can remember, we’ve had the same Thanksgiving meal – turkey and ham, dressing (slightly burnt), rice and giblet gravy, sweet potato casserole, three bean casserole, cranberry sauce (I skip on past this), strawberry congealed salad, thin biscuits and then a ridiculous amount of desserts, one of which is a banana cake. That’s Thanksgiving AND Christmas – the meal so nice we eat it twice! This year I’m mixing it up a little and going to the coast for the holidays. Hey…if you have to break from tradition, REALLY go all out – boiled shrimp and cocktail sauce (confession: I’m really in it for the cocktail sauce) FOR DAYS.

Molly Gentry: I’m not big into Thanksgiving. Blasphemy, I know! I just look at it as a day or two off of work with some really great food for lunch. I’m Thankful every day, you guys! I mostly look forward to the ability to put up Christmas decorations without being judged for putting them up too early. If it was up to me, I would have put my Christmas tree up a couple of weeks ago. Ok, I guess it is up to me, but I need to do some cleaning before I decorate for the Christmas season, alright?

Elizabeth Hyndman: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. I am adamant about this. I do not miss it. There’s just the right amount of nostalgia and pop culture and holiday cheer and tradition. My bucket list includes seeing it in person.

J.T. Landry: Well, I have a couple. The first is, of course, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Is it cheesy? Yes, but it’s Thanksgiving, and there’s bound to be cheese somewhere on the table anyway. And while I’m already in full-out holiday swing, the arrival of Santa at the climax of the parade is the true kickoff to Christmas. My other tradition is going to the movies. By Thanksgiving weekend, the holiday movie season is well underway and there’s a glut of releases that it’s necessary for any self-respecting Culture Popper to see. My Thanksgiving weekend movies this year are Frozen and Catching Fire.

Laura McClellan: I’m really all about the turkey when it comes to Thanksgiving. And leftover turkey sandwiches with stuffing on them. I love legit turkey and get it like twice a year, so this is a big deal for me. Oh yeah and being thankful and stuff.

Brooke Rousch: Let me share a little Brooke factoid.  Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday. Don’t get me wrong.  Christmas is great, but there’s just something wonderful about Thanksgiving.  The traditions of my family are pretty simple.  The day usually involves scrumptious cuisine, time with family/friends, college football, an afternoon nap, and maybe a movie.  But it’s the simplicity that I LOVE. There’s no pressure to buy the right gift, or the stress of holiday budgeting, etc.  Just a day to enjoy some of my favorite things.  Plus Thanksgiving has inspired some great TV episodes, like the multiple Thanksgiving moments on Friends, the Hanks Giving episode on New Girl, and oh so many more. What’s not to love about this grand November day?!

Poppe Up! – Friday, November 22

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Every Friday, join us for Poppe Ups!, a weekly roundup of contributor views on a variety of topics. This week, we’re appreciating some of our favorite pop culture sites and podcasts.

Question: What is your pop-culture go-to?

Megan Beam:
I am notoriously only trendy by accident. These are my only real go-tos:
BuzzFeed
The Berry
The PopCast
The Nerdist

Haley Bragg:
PrintEntertainment Weekly. I read every issue, even (and often) weeks after they arrive on my doorstep.
Web: I routinely check in with Sepinwall (HitFix), Andy Greenwald (Grantland) and the team at TV Line.
Podcasts: Grantland podcasts,The B.S. ReportHollywood Prospectus (THE BEST) and Right Reasons (One word: JACOBY); The Nerdist

Jen Clapp:
There are so many! Grantland is probably my oldest love, but I am currently obsessed with Head Over Feels. I went to college with one of the writers, and found the site through Doctor Who channels. I don’t watch all of the shows that HOF covers, or even understand all of the pop culture references, but I literally LOL at their tweets and posts and look forward to hearing what they have to say.

Molly Gentry:
I love me some Vulture.com and EW.com. They’re my go-tos.

Landry Harlan:
AV Club for everything!

Elizabeth Hyndman:
The PopCast!

Brooke Keeler:
Pinterest!

JT Landry:
avclub.com, vulture.com, NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast

Laura McClellan:
Websites – EW.com, Pop Culture Brain; Podcasts – Nerdist, Popcast