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Linda Holmes

It's not just Hamilton.

Musicals have always had a built-in advantage as cultural products. Individual songs can translate and build interest via cast albums or Tony telecasts in a way that's very difficult for plays to emulate. A lot of kids grow up on musicals like Grease and Annie -- and, yes, now Hamilton — while early introductions to plays, however great, might make them seem impenetrable or like homework. (I'm looking at you, William Shakespeare, and doing so lovingly.)

Note: This piece discusses the plot details from the sixth-season premiere of Veep.

Our team is just back from a wonderful live show in Chicago — thank you all for coming! — with W. Kamau Bell as our special guest and Sam Sanders in our fourth chair. (Both were wonderful.) We'll have audio from that show in your feeds later, but this week, we've got a special edition.

First up, we bring you a segment Glen Weldon did with our buddy Gene Demby of Code Switch about diversity in comics. It originally aired on the Code Switch podcast, but we thought we'd bring it to you here as well.

We're all back at the table this week, and we're joined by our library consultant, Boston pal, and wearer of colorful clothing, Margaret H. Willison. First up, we all listened to the new podcast S-Town, which has again raised the profile of narrative podcasts. This one, in seven parts, is about a man who wrote to This American Life to air his complaints about his small Alabama hometown — and that was only the very, very beginning of a complex story.

Tale as old as tiiiiiiime ...

By which, of course, I mean "tired people return from South By Southwest."

But in any event: this week's show kicks off with a discussion with our pal Katie Presley of Bitch Media about the live-action version of Disney's Beauty And The Beast. How are the candlesticks? How's the new music? And, as Katie wonders, is there adequate eroticism within the Beast, compared to the cartoon Beast who set Katie's young heart aflutter so many years ago? And what's the Les Miz-iest part of the Beast's new tune, anyway?

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