Episode 124: Top Shelf 2017
Published on December 22, 2017
Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.
Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.
Aminatou: I'm Oprah Winfrey.
Ann: And I'm Gayle King.
Aminatou: Oh my god, I'm glad we finally sorted that out.
Ann: Oh I am definitely the Gayle. This is like -- this is 100% true. It has never been truer that you are the Oprah and I'm the Gayle.
Ann: And you know what? Now that we've settled that, I feel really good about it. Like stepping into my Gayleness has been -- is like a directive for 2018 for me.
Aminatou: Listen, Gayle is killing it on CBS right now. I don't know what to tell you.
Ann: I know. I mean that is exactly what you should be telling me because she's on my 2018 Mood Board, be the Gayle.
Aminatou: [Laughs] Today we get to talk about our year-end culture, all the movies, TV, podcasts, music, and art that we liked.
Ann: Ugh, yes.
Aminatou: If you didn't make it out to one of our live shows this year we just released the recordings from Philadelphia and the very, very, very rowdy Brooklyn After Dark show. All you have to do is go to stitcherpremium.com/girlfriend and use offer code GIRLFRIEND to get a free month trial. Hi, Ann Friedman. How's it going?
Ann: Hi! How're you doing?
Aminatou: Girl, how're you doing?
Ann: [Laughs] Ugh. I'm excited to do this episode because it is not about the news.
Aminatou: Me too. It's about all the things we like.
Ann: Doesn't it feel good to just sit down and be like we're only going to talk about things we like?
Aminatou: Yes. That's usually my preferred mode of living.
Ann: Okay. What do you want to start with? TV? Movies? Podcasts?
Aminatou: Let's start with movies because I've been watching movies. I finally got a Movie Pass and I'm like I'm going to be a movie whale now. It's great.
Ann: Oh my god, you're not going to believe this. I in a moment of award season maybe I like to see movies after all stupor was convinced by friends to also get a Movie Pass.
Aminatou: My god.
Ann: Which is such a joke for me, but I'm like maybe I will actually go to some matinees during the day and live my freelance life to the fullest. So I also am hoping to see more movies next year.
Aminatou: I'm really lucky that I get to go to the Sundance Festival every year and so usually that first January is where I see all my movies for the year and then I can't handle it anymore. I'm just like it's too many movies. It's too many movies. Like you're watching three movies a day for ten days. Like it's a lot.
Aminatou: And then I'm movied out, and then I'll watch one thing in the summer. You know, it's like whatever's in the Mar-vel movie universe. I love calling it Mar-vel just to annoy my [Laughs] comic book friends. I'm like "Have you heard of Mar-vel?" They're like "Amina, it's not the ice cream company."
Ann: I was just going to say Mar-vel? That make the whale cakes?
Aminatou: Oh, it's my favorite troll. I'm like the Mar-vel comic universe. So whatever one of those movies is. But this year I went to Sundance, watched all those great movies, and then committed to watching a couple more movies during the year. I like matinee a lot, and it's like freelance life has made that a lot easier for me.
Ann: Totally. Yeah, and also the solo movie-going experience is my preferred movie-going experience.
Ann: During the day is perfect for that too when you randomly have a few hours free but you can't really coordinate it with people. The best.
Aminatou: 100%. Okay, in no particular order, movies that I loved this year: Baby Driver for so many reasons but mostly Ansel Elgort reasons. Kevin Spacey is in this movie but it's kind of perfect because he's like a bad guy, you know? And you're like yes, I hate you already. Like everything worked out and I love the soundtrack. Baby Driver was great. Beginning to end was great. I actually saw it many times in the theater if I'm honest.
Aminatou: Oh, we watched this together, or I guess I watched it one time with you also. [Laughs] Because I saw this also multiple times. The Big Sick.
Ann: Oh yeah, I thought you were going to talk about John Wick 2 but we also saw The Big Sick together. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Oh my god. Oh, yeah, don't worry, we'll get to John Wick. That's getting its own episodes.
Ann: Whew, yeah.
Aminatou: We saw The Big Sick together which is a very, very, very cute and engaging romantic dramedy with Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan who is a forever fav. And I don't know. Like that movie really tugs at me because I feel like so many clash of cultures romcoms usually can be done really, really badly. It's like here are the ethnic people and here are the white people and it's really heavy-handed or whatever. And in this case it really, really tugged at my heart strings. There's a lot of criticism of the movie from East Asian people specifically that I think is worthy to hear but I think I greatly enjoyed this because it's so personal to both Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon, who they were at the movie together. You know, and it deals with illness which obviously is very near and dear to my heart now. But also, yeah, it's like I loved everything about it. Like Holly Hunter, Ray Romano's parents, sold. Thank you.
Ann: And you know, there's also something remarkable about this movie where I think a lot of the criticism resonated with me because it's not a genre; it's like a single movie.
Ann: And so telling one couple's story about the dynamics of two people dating who have very different backgrounds and different races and different families and all of that stuff, it's like when there's not that many movies that reflect that this is a totally common thing that happens all the time, like this type of dating scenario is not weird or abnormal, but it's not like there's a whole genre of movies that address it. You know, it gets really complicated.
And I try to remember that when I think about movies that are . . . like the stuff I tend to get most upset about when I feel misrepresented onscreen, it's often because I'm expecting someone who is very demographically like me to tell my story exactly and I get frustrated when it isn't matching up with my experience. And it's like . . .
Aminatou: You're talking about when you watch movies of romcoms of journalists, right? Is that what you're talking about? [Laughs]
Ann: Precisely. There are too many of those. Stop making journalist romcoms because it makes me hate myself. I recently -- I don't even know why I did this but I recently rewatched 13 Going on 30.
Aminatou: Oh my god, a classic.
Ann: A classic of the journo -- journo romcom genre.
Aminatou: [Laughs] The joromcom.
Ann: But all I'm saying is more movies that reflect different ways of experiencing this dynamic, please.
Aminatou: Yeah. You know also the thing I think about when I hear criticisms about that movie specifically, it's not that the criticism is not valid; it's that I believe -- my own opinion -- that the criticism is misplaced, you know? It's like yeah, like Kumail Nanjiani wrote a movie that is true to his experience, right? It's like that's what most people are lucky to do if they make movies. And the problem is that he is unfortunately one of the few Asian people that gets to tell his story on television, right? In movies. And there's so much at stake. It's like one more way that the system fucks it all up. Like what is the solution? The solution is to have many Kumail Nanjianis tell their story and that way his romance with his wife doesn't have this outside significance to everybody else.
Ann: Right. And to be clear, because I feel like we've danced around it a little bit, the criticism of the movie is the women who his mother presents to him as potential dates or potential mates -- the Southeast Asian in the film -- are portrayed in stereotypical ways who are not given their full due. That was the criticism I believe.
Aminatou: Exactly. That they're not rounded-out parents and that his parents also are too strict. That's maybe all true but it's also like this is historian. That's how it happened. The solution is who gets to tell their story, who gets to be the gatekeepers of those stories, and how do we make more of them?
Ann: Yeah. And I would love to see every woman who did not find her experience reflected in that movie given the opportunity to sort of write a book, a film, a show that does reflect it because I'm just like yes, absolutely Kumail and Emily should not speak for everyone who's had this experience ever.
Aminatou: Exactly. What else did I love this year? Call Me By Your Name obviously, like a Sundance fav. The movie is very sexy, has a sexy Armie Hammer, it has a sexier Timothee Chalamet who has shot up in my spank bank considerably.
Ann: Timothee everywhere this year. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Oh, no, Timothee is my man. And you know how I'm so not into younger dudes so this is a very exciting movie crush for me.
Ann: I know. He probably has zero grey hairs. This is very strange.
Aminatou: [Laughs] It's great. But this movie is very sweet. If you haven't read the Andre Aciman book, the novel that it's based on, you probably should. But it's about summer in Italy, this grad student Armie Hammer spends time assisting this American professor and then he connects with the professor's 17-year-old son and they have this summer romance. And it is very beautiful.
Ann: I still haven't seen it because you know I'm always behind on everything.
Aminatou: Listen, Movie Pass. Movie Pass. You've got this.
Ann: It all changes for me next year.
Aminatou: I know. You know how I love to go watch cartoons also. The main reason I love having access to people with children is then I don't have to be the creepy person at the matinee alone. [Laughs] I'm like "Hey, do you think your kid wants to go see Coco?" And then I'll take them. Coco, this Pixar movie, 100% made me cry. It's beautiful. It's like seeing another culture in a movie. It's all about a Dios de los Muertos celebration and it's just about generosity and thoughtfulness. I highly recommend it. It's a beautiful film.
Ann: Yeah, I'm very excited to see Coco. Coco is part of my holiday break plans for sure.
Aminatou: Take your own tissues.
Ann: Yes. I laughed the hardest this year at Girl's Trip by far.
Ann: It was unfettered delight. I only saw it in the theater once which is a regret of 2017.
Ann: It was so nice to have a complete, totally fun, escape things that are annoying and frustrating and bad in the world and just live in the world of these hilarious women for two hours and however many minutes. It was a joy.
Aminatou: We both ugly cried at Lady Bird.
Ann: Oh my god, yeah. As a Catholic school teen from the actual Midwest, not California's Midwest, the actual Midwest.
Aminatou: [Laughs] The OG.
Ann: The OG, who is like two years older . . . so I would've been a high school senior two years prior to when this was recorded. But, you know, I'm similarly white and from a very similar demo and it's probably the closest to my teen years I have seen. I was so, so into it. And, you know, honestly one of the things about this movie that I haven't talked to anyone about yet, there's so many great details about the women and the relationships between the women in this movie but also the depiction of teen boys and the kinds of . . .
Aminatou: Timothee. Timothee. [Laughs]
Ann: Oh my god, Timothee is like stand-in for the kind of not that smart but good at playing smart and kind of manipulative young man that I certainly encountered quite a bit as I was moving through my adolescence and college years. It was very satisfying to see that portrayal. Super, super into Lady Bird. Ugly cried alone in the theater. What part did you cry at?
Aminatou: Oh my god, so many things. Obviously you know me. I'm always on the mother's side in every movie. It doesn't matter. In real life or whatever, I'm like this is what happens when your mom dies when you're young. You're always like the mom is right. I love the push-and-pull between the mother and the daughter. That was really hard for me. The best friendship with her friend and how they have this falling out, and to come together when they go to prom, I full-on cried.
Ann: Oh my god, I cried then too.
Aminatou: Full-on cried. Everything that was like the class, that had to do with class and money in the movie, 100% made me cry and I really identified with that. Like that scene where she tells her mom to write down exactly how much money she cost, I was like I have done that. I have done that exact same thing. [Laughs]
Aminatou: So that's crazy. But also unconditionally love Greta Gerwig. She's like the only white lady who I'm like is allowed to make white people movies. That is 100% fine with me.
Ann: Wow, that is a major dispensation.
Aminatou: It's true. It's true. I'm like this is your world and it's very accurate. Thank you. But I don't know, it also just captures that excitement and disappointment of teenage love so well, like distilled down to a Dave Matthews song in a way that is so -- like your heart just bursts, it's so good.
Ann: I mean it's funny, because I . . . and maybe this is the story of seeing movies that you map it onto your own experience. As someone who never experienced teenage love . . .
Ann: I'm like I experience that movie primarily as a longing to break away movie, like both from family and from where you're from. So the other part that I cried at . . . so I definitely cried when she's like "I like the song and I want to go to the dance." Like women asserting what they want, I was like oh my god, it's so beautiful. Weeping.
Ann: But also the part where she . . . it's like her communication back to her mom after she goes away to college and is basically like "Do you ever just drive around? Drive around town and look out the window and think it's really beautiful?" And I'm like truly driving around with no destination is a defining experience of my teen years, and being like oh, there was something kind of nice and meditative about that is not really a detail that I've reflected on a lot, and seeing that show up was great for me. So if I had had a baby Timothee in my high school maybe things would've been different for me.
Aminatou: God, I grew up with baby Timothees. My god. And I was probably somebody's terrible baby Timothee if I'm honest.
Ann: Oh, no doubt.
Aminatou: I was the only person . . .
Ann: You're either Timothee or somebody's . . .
Aminatou: True. But I was also the only person in my entire high school that was against the Iraq War because I went to a religious high school, so that . . . when he's reading Howard Zen, I was like that was me. It was me smoking cigarettes and reading Howard Zen. I was such a nightmare. It was fine. But guess what? In the end I was vindicated.
Ann: Ugh, forever vindicated.
Aminatou: So crazy. Another movie that was really important for me this year that was really great to see was The Light of the Moon with friend-of-the-pod Steph Beatriz.
Ann: Hmm, tell me about it.
Aminatou: Oh my gosh, it's a really . . . it's a really hard movie but it's beautiful. It's basically about this woman who is raped and the movie deals with how she deals with it and then her and her partner deal with it, so like as a couple. And it's like the first time for me that I have seen a really accurate and honest and very feminist, very nuanced and sensitive reckoning of all of the ways that rape can affect a person's life, even when she's trying like hell to get back to normal. Steph is an incredible actress. I'm 100% in the tank for her. At first I was like oh, great, straight couple dealing with rape. But actually it was a very shrewd way to look at it because of the contrast between her own personal experience and then like kind of how it manifests in their relationship specifically. And all of the kind of sick, cultural attitudes that people have towards rape survivors.
Aminatou: The movie is really, really honest both about things that happen in the bedroom but every aspect of your life also. Bonnie, the character, is really big about resisting being labeled a victim. She doesn't like the support group. All of the victimhood language that we have around sexual assault, and it's done really, really well, and it reminded me a bit about that other -- that movie Elle. I don't know if you saw that. I think that was last year. Was Elle last year or this year? I don't remember.
Ann: I don't know.
Aminatou: But Elle was a very hard movie to watch also. This was really well done and it's a movie that I've recommended to so many friends. It's definitely not a "watch it with 10,000 people" kind of thing but it has opened up a lot of avenues of conversation with people that I've seen and that made me happy. It makes me happy that in the movie both Bonnie and Matt, her partner, are very three-dimensional characters, you know? They're not like caricatures of people who are supposed to be in a relationship. And the thing is rape gets used as a plot point all of the time in cinema.
Ann: Right, often as a dumb throwaway plot point that is not given its due.
Aminatou: Exactly, or just like here is -- like violence against women advances the plot, you know?
Ann: Right, yeah.
Aminatou: Like that sick kind of stuff. But honestly the aftermath is never explored in a detailed and sensitive way and I feel like this movie does that and it's fantastic. Also most of the team who made it is women, which no surprise, you know? So it's just like here's what happens when smart, sensitive women make a movie about a difficult topic.
Ann: Mm-hmm. Yeah, here's my not-surprised face that it was amazing.
Aminatou: Yeah, so I recommend watching that if it's in the theater where you are, otherwise definitely as soon as it comes on one of the many streaming services you should see it.
Aminatou: We watch a lot of TV and movies in this family.
Ann: I know. Listen, so many this year.
Aminatou: I know. Shout out to John Wick 1 and 2.
Aminatou: We love action movies.
Ann: I recently rewatched John Wick 2 and it holds up.
Aminatou: You know the best thing that you said to me is that John Wick 1 is just a vehicle for John Wick 2. [Laughs]
Ann: It's true. I was like wow, now I will never watch John Wick 1 ever again. It's just about John Wick 2.
Aminatou: I do because that's where all his brokenness comes from, you know? And also you kind of need to understand the mafia hotel situation.
Ann: Yeah, I'm not saying you don't need to watch 1 once; I'm just saying once you have the backstory feel free to just have 2 on repeat.
Aminatou: It's true. It's true. They'd better be making a John Wick 3 because I have Movie Pass now.
Ann: Oh my god, also quick movie update, I did watch Die Hard as promised.
Aminatou: Oh, tell me.
Ann: My assessment is not a Christmas movie.
Ann: My assessment was a totally delightful action movie that delivered everything it promised except for being a Christmas movie.
Aminatou: Oh my god. You know what, Ann? There are two types of people in the world: the people who think Die Hard is a Christmas movie and the people who are wrong. So it's cool. It's cool.
Ann: I'm not even going to rise to that bait. You should just be happy I watched it at all. [Laughs]
Aminatou: No, you should be happy you watched it. [Laughs] No, it's such a good . . . it's such a good troll. Is it a Christmas movie if it happens at Christmas?
Ann: Yeah, I feel strongly about this.
Aminatou: I am knee-deep into so many Christmas movies and I realize that actually when it's not an action movie like Die Hard the message of every Christmas movie is if you want it hard enough you can get a husband at Christmas.
Ann: Oh my god.
Aminatou: I was like I can't believe that I had never connected those dots before.
Ann: Totally. I mean there's got to be some Christmas movie that's actually called A Husband For Christmas or something.
Aminatou: Hold on, I'm Googling it now.
Ann: I'm Googling it too.
Aminatou: Yeah, remember, didn't I just send you the one?
Ann: Is it called A Husband For Christmas?
Aminatou: It's called A Husband For Something. Yes.
Ann: Oh my god.
Aminatou: Yes, it's A Husband For Christmas. It's the Jamie Foxx one. Yeah, the one I was just texting with you about.
Aminatou: I was like wait. I was like we didn't invent that; it literally exists.
Aminatou: She has like a British villain husband. It's great.
Aminatou: I love lady villains so . . .
Ann: I mean the upshot of every romcon journo movie is if you're working too hard in your journalism job you should return to the unloving arms of your schlubby boyfriend and marry him.
Ann: And, yeah, Christmas movies are all maybe you'll find a husband wrapped under your tree.
Aminatou: I'll settle for Christmas.
Ann: Oh my god.
Aminatou: That's literally what they all are. This is stupid. But anyway, I'm really looking forward to watching more TV and movies next year.
Aminatou: It's good. I finally get to live out my fantasy of -- you know how we always say "Whenever I have a long illness and I get to watch all the TV I've been waiting . . ."
Aminatou: When I have surgeon that's literally what's going to happen for me, and I am so overwhelmed with choice I don't even know where to start.
Ann: Oh my god, blessed.
Aminatou: Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed. There's too much content.
Ann: Are you making a list? A playlist?
Aminatou: I'm making a list. Top of my list is Real Housewives of Beverly Hills because Camille Grammer also had endometrial cancer and I'm like I feel like I'm going to understand you on a very visceral level now.
Aminatou: And also Beverly Hills Housewives has always been -- it's been my hole.
Ann: Your . . .
Aminatou: My franchise.
Aminatou: So my hole in the franchise, so I'm really happy to fill that in. I'm going to start Vanderpump Rules from the beginning because I missed a couple of seasons there in the middle and then everything else is fair game.
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Ann: You want to talk about TV?
Aminatou: Oh my god, too much TV.
Ann: I mean why don't you just pick two TV shows? I know you've seen them all. I feel like I can only name two that I watch.
Aminatou: I can't pick two. That's too cold. Okay, I watch a lot of The Good Place which I fucking love. The Good Place is great, and that's my happiest. It's like I just hadn't had, you know, like a sitcom that I checked in on every week in a long time and this does that for me, so recommend.
Ann: I totally just watched season one and I am . . . so I'm not caught up but I actually know about the show. Woohoo!
Aminatou: Season two, it gets even better. It's great.
Aminatou: And then Brooklyn Nine-Nine with Steph Beatriz again. This whole show is about Steph really.
Aminatou: But Brooklyn Nine-Nine was a show that I always watched when I was on a plane.
Ann: Oh, it is a good plane show actually now that you say that.
Aminatou: Yeah, I'm always like "I'm going to catch up on all of these." And then finally I was like I enjoy this show too much for it to be a plane activity. I'm always guffawing so hard, it's the best. Terry Crews is amazing. One of my favorite episodes this year I think is called Moo Moo and it's like Terry Crews is harassed when he's off-duty by a white cop and he struggles about whether to report the incident and he gets all this conflicting advice.
Ann: Very 2017 real.
Aminatou: Very 2017, but also how can you humanize policemen? You know, everybody on the show is firing on all cylinders. It's great. Those are my two comedies. Otherwise I think we enjoyed watching Handmaid's Tale because it was too real, right? Right? It was so real so it was like whatever.
Aminatou: You had to see it. And also I like watching Nathan for You. The finale is crazy. Maybe I'll make you watch that next time I see you.
Ann: I'm dying to see Nathan for You. I have not seen it but it's also on my holiday list.
Aminatou: You would actually like -- I know I give you a lot of recommendations, but sometimes I'm like oh, I would take everything off the table and say you should watch Nathan for You.
Ann: Okay, but can we just talk about the branding? When I see that little thumbnail of a kind of smug-looking white guy in a suit . . .
Ann: There's nothing about that that's ever made me want to click on it, so it requires a personal recommendation.
Aminatou: Trust. It is not a show that I believed I would ever see, and in fact it's like I watch it and I don't really talk about it. It's very much a very personal experience, but also . . .
Ann: Wow, you're a quiet fan.
Aminatou: Oh yeah, very quiet fan. Can broadcast it but also I die every single time.
Ann: Oh my god, okay. So I loved . . . basically when I looked at what I watched this year, it was shows that were created by very funny, like very on-point women where they are at the center of the plot and kind of the universe of the show. So like Insecure, Chewing Gum, and season two of Maria Bamford's Lady Dynamite.
Ann: Where all three . . . you know, and they're very different. I would say kind of on a spectrum from funny but situated in real life to like totally, barely situated in real life and fantastical, all three of them gave me so much joy. I also very much loved the mushroom trip episode of Broad City.
Ann: But you know there's something about escapist TV, but the fact that it's so specific to the women who created it. Like in each of those cases I'm just like yes, please bring this unique set of details about your life to bear on the show and just totally recreate your universe and don't feel like you need to speak for every woman with mental illness or every woman who has your background ever.
Ann: You know what I mean? And it was so great to see the stuff getting made. I just revel in it. Which doesn't mean I love every single episode equally, but as a body of work, I'm like yeah, let me sink into the world of some other woman who is hilarious and amazing.
Aminatou: That's perfect. I'm into it.
Ann: And then I did -- yeah. I mean and it's like Handmaid's Tale is a hard one to characterize because it's like did I love watching it? No. [Laughs]
Aminatou: No, but I was fully engaged watching it because there was an eerie parallel to the world we're living in. But also if I'm honest I think that part of the reason that I enjoyed Handmaid's Tale and most of the other television that I didn't talk about that I enjoyed this year is I just like watching TV that is made by women, you know? It's just the contrast is so stark. You can almost always tell when there's a woman cinematographer, there's a woman DP, you know? You're just like oh, it looks and it feels different; the gaze is different. You know, and also like yeah, we're living in a time where more women have those opportunities and so you get to see how different the work can be, right? And how different the stories can be.
Like going back for example to many of the conversations that we've had about harassment, the guy who ran the Amazon movie studios for example who was chased out, one of the things that he turned down was Handmaid's Tale. He was like this is not a good fit here. Another thing he turned down is Big Little Lies.
Ann: Didn't he also cancel Good Girls Revolt? Did I hear that?
Aminatou: Yes, and he cancelled Good Girls Revolt. You know, it's so fascinating to then see the backdrop and the politics of how a lot of this stuff gets made also, right? You're just like oh, interesting that somebody who thought that all of this was garbage or was not good enough for where he was at turns out to be fantastic TV.
Ann: It turns out the world is full of women like you and me who are immediately clicking on it and don't have to be convinced unlike, sorry, Nathan for You by a friend.
Ann: I'm just immediately like yes, I do want to watch a show that's built around a compelling woman always immediately.
Aminatou: Yeah. You know, and I think that whenever people are like "How do feminists -- like why are you listening to hip-hop or why are you watching this violent TV?" or whatever, you know, all these fake strawmen arguments, I think that actually part of being a feminist who watches entertainment is knowing the politics behind the shows that you're watching and giving a chance to shows that are made by people who technically don't get the same opportunities to make this kind of stuff at scale. It's like let's be real, TV and movies, all of that stuff is capitalism. [Laughs] Let's be honest. But traditionally women and people of color have not gotten a chance in that arena. And then, shocker, when they do it turns out they make things that are either fine or sometimes really amazing.
Ann: Totally. And the idea too that the audience for stuff -- women and people of color and queer people are at the center of the storytelling, not just as a character or whatever. The idea that you're not a woman, you're not used to having to pay attention to them as fully complex agents and characters, like that's maybe a muscle that you have to own, right? And hone.
Ann: The idea that some of us are used to -- some more than others, definitely some people more than me -- are used to watching a character whose experience does not resemble yours and still being interested and still feeling empathy and still getting into the story. And I think part of what's going on is the more stuff that's made with a perspective that is outside the mainstream, the more people who are of the mainstream are challenged to identify with it. And, you know, hey, that feeling of "I don't want to click on this because this person doesn't look like me," clearly I'm not the only person who experiences it but maybe if all the thumbnails are like oh, well shit, I'm running out of choices of white men in suits and ties, I'm going to -- you know, no shade to your favs . . .
Ann: You know, I'm going to have to click on something else. That's amazing. Flood the zone.
Aminatou: You just have to realize that people who don't look like you, you know, they're also complex people with their own stories to tell. Like if we're perfectly honest, no story is new. It's like listen, it's either a tragedy or a comedy. That's just the way everything in the world works.
Ann: Wait, what? No, I'm just kidding. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Figure it out, somebody gets married and happy at the end or somebody dies. That's how storytelling works. And so look at me, Aminatou Shakespeare.
Ann: I know. You're so beautiful.
Aminatou: But also it's just it's so stupid to think that you can see . . . that you don't want to experience somebody else's world. And I think that's what I enjoy so much about watching diverse television or whatever is you get transported -- and this is to my point about why I liked Coco so much -- a Pixar movie about Mexican-American traditions. Zero of them apply to me. The cartoon part doesn't apply to me. I don't know anything about Dia de los Muertos. Like whatever. But it's so delightful to just learn about somebody else's culture through empathy and watching and just being transported. And I'm like why do white people not want more of this all the time? God knows you need it more than anybody else.
Ann: Right. And there is also -- like there are different ways to enjoy stuff, right? I can enjoy something like Lady Bird in part because it's so reflective of my experience, and enjoy lots of other things I've consumed this way precisely because it is not reflective of my experience. And I'm learning about how people who are not exactly like me live in the world. I struggle to understand why that is not attractive to people, but I hear you.
Aminatou: It's like storytelling is delightful, and the more somebody does not look like you, doesn't have the same experiences as you, can bring you into their world -- and you just get it, you just 100% understand it because guess what? A lot of life experiences are pretty fucking universal. It's fascinating. It also will be fascinating to see how now that so many men in movies are losing their jobs and being replaced by women, what that will look like. I'm like somebody now do #metoo but for race so that we can get along with the work of just freedom.
Ann: I mean 100%. Ugh. 2018 goals.
Aminatou: Can I tell you one TV show that is not new but I've newly rediscovered? Like I watched it a lot growing up and it's back in my life because I have a VPN and I steal British TV.
Ann: Tell me.
Aminatou: Is this thing called Come Dine With Me which is this cooking program in the UK but they have versions of it everywhere in the world. And so you get like four or five amateur chefs and they compete against each other to host a dinner party with other contestants and I think you get a budget of like 125 pounds and if you win you get like a thousand pounds. Like low-stakes British TV shows.
Ann: Ugh, forever low-stakes British TV.
Aminatou: The Great British Bake-off, it's Xanax, right? Everybody is delightful; the food is great; it's like low-stakes. Then I realized, I was like oh, there was definitely a French version of this when I was growing up. I started looking up all the different Euro versions of it and it's like the exact same format of show and all the name titles are amazing.
Ann: Oh, tell me. Tell me.
Aminatou: Like in Belgium it's called Come Eat/Dinner's Ready, in Bulgaria it's called The Icing on the Cake, in Chile it's called The Divine Dinner, in Estonia it's called Dinner For Five, in Finland which has been my favorite version it's called Rate My Dinner in Finland.
Aminatou: In France it's called An Almost Perfect Dinner which is hilarious. I'm like they're already negging you about things not done.
Ann: Wow, France. Wow.
Aminatou: Yeah, in Germany it's called The Perfect Dinner. In Hungary it's called Dinner Battle/Fish on the Cake which I don't understand. On, and in the Netherlands it's called Tastes Differ.
Aminatou: It's just it makes me so happy. Oh, I wrote them all down. Oh, in Serbia it's called Come to Dinner. In Slovakia it's Without a Napkin. In Poland it's called Cooked and in Norway it's 8:00 at My Place.
Ann: Oh my god, that's so sexy. Norway!
Aminatou: It's so good. But it's literally like the exact same format of show. I'm watching these things in every language. Some of them don't have subtitles, so I literally -- I'm like I don't speak Slovakian and I still let it run in the background and it has been . . . oh my god, Come Dine With Me, it's literally been my mental health savior for the year.
Ann: Oh my god, yes.
Aminatou: It's so good. And the narration is very sarcastic which I wish I understood all these other languages.
Ann: So do they each have their own hosts and are the hosts known food personalities in every country?
Aminatou: No, the British one is like Dave Lamb who's just a comedian. The other countries, I have no idea. But, you know, I don't know who the premier food personality of Norway is but they all look like locals.
Ann: Wow. [Laughs]
Aminatou: You know, reality TV is very evil but sometimes it's very great and this is one of the great uses of it.
Ann: I love that. You're making me remember that someone recommended a Japanese cooking show to me when I was in Australia that all these ladies I was hanging out with there watched, and I never looked it up, but it was like oh my god they were super, super fans. And it's also one that's been syndicated. I love the idea of like . . .
Aminatou: You mean the one that we all watch? Iron Chef? [Laughs]
Ann: No, not Iron Chef. Please, it's definitely a different one.
Aminatou: Is it the Cooking With Dog one? Because that one is like . . .
Aminatou: Okay. It's like the dog -- this is like a host that's a dog and it's pretty amazing. But I think that one is on YouTube only.
Ann: Wow. So I don't know, I'm going to have to send these ladies some emails and figure it out because I was just going to make the bigger point though that I love cooking shows as the viral global hit. Every country getting its baking show and its Dinner for Five show. It's something I really take a lot of comfort in. I'm like oh, yeah, eating is universal.
Ann: And can be culturally adapted. Also just low-stakes competition. I love it.
Aminatou: Low-stakes. I am only here for low-stakes TV shows. I'm like what's the best thing you can win here? $50 gift card to Amazon? Let's go.
Ann: Oh man.
Aminatou: This is it.
Ann: I've told you my favorite low-stakes TV before, right? It's so on-brand it's shameful.
Aminatou: Wait, what?
Ann: Flea Market Flip. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Oh my god, Ann, I'm so happy for you. That's great.
Ann: It's so embarrassing. Gina, you have to cut this.
Aminatou: No, it's not embarrassing at all.
Ann: It's my favorite thing to watch in a hotel.
Aminatou: Listen, there are always diamonds to be mined at yard sales, Ann.
Aminatou: You would be really good at that show. Would you be a contest on it if you could?
Ann: Listen, it's a little too furniture-based. If it were about altering clothing items that had been flea market foraged I would be a strong contender.
Aminatou: You would reupholster the shit out of a chair though.
Ann: I mean my days of getting a staple gun and trying to reupholster a chair are done. I now pay for professional services.
Ann: But yes, I have had those moments and yeah.
Aminatou: You know a TV show that you would appreciate, I don't believe it's on the air anymore, but it was called I Brake for Yard Sales.
Ann: Wait, what? How am I just now hearing about this?
Aminatou: It might still be on YouTube or something but it was like, god, that woman Laura Spencer -- she's like a reporter -- but this was I guess like her side gig. And I remember I used to be obsessed with this show.
Ann: Well, she . . . wait, I believe she hosts Flea Market Flip.
Aminatou: Is it the same Laura Spencer? Oh yeah, you're right, it is the same lady. It is the same lady. I always thought it was somebody else.
Aminatou: That's how she got her start.
Ann: It's basically, yeah, 100% like that. I'm going to check out I Brake for Yard Sales. Honestly it's like when you haven't aged into Antiques Road Show yet these are the shows. It's like starter shows before you're old enough. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Oh my god, Ann, this will be your pivot in life. I can't wait until you're hosting an HGTV thrifting show that's all about clothes.
Ann: Oh my god. I feel like some other women and people have already locked down this market but I appreciate your confidence.
Aminatou: There's room for all of us.
Ann: You know what? I don't have to monetize all my hobbies.
Aminatou: [Laughs] No, I have to monetize all your hobbies.
Ann: [Laughs] I know, if this family ever wants to retire I'm going to need you.
Aminatou: Oh my god. I'm like write down all your hobbies, please.
Aminatou: Did you listen to any podcasts in 2018?
Ann: Oh my god, I actually listened to some podcasts.
Aminatou: Tell me your favs.
Ann: You'll be shocked to learn. Okay, we have not discussed this but one of my favorite single episodes this year was Janet Mock interviewing Kris Jenner.
Aminatou: Oh my god, so good.
Ann: In large part because unlike profiles of Kris Jenner which I've read, which I've been like fine, I feel like Janet really connected to her and got this full arc of her as a businesswoman and how that connects with her family. It seemed to both go beyond the momager label and take her skill set seriously but also be a light-hearted and fun conversation. I loved it. What else? I loved the Student Loan series on Death, Sex, and Money, and I think sometimes I struggle with the episodes that are kind of cut together lots of different stories but that is one that worked and felt very timely. And I also thought the season of Invisibilia was really good. It was something that I didn't -- like until I went back and looked back at oh, what was I recommending to a lot of people, I found myself talking about it a lot. Like when I listened to it I wasn't like wow, my life has changed. You know, sometimes you're reading something or listening to something and you're like this is huge. It was more like a slow like huh, I keep thinking about the reporting that they did in this season a lot. So all of that. And then plus I have to especially recommend to all of the other white ladies who are listening the Seeing White series from Seen on Radio, for everyone really who is interested in the history of America, but I think that definitely not everything was brand new to me but it's synthesized and sort of laid out in a way that I really appreciated about the history of whiteness at work in America. So that is a strong rec as well.
Aminatou: Love it.
Ann: What about you?
Aminatou: I did not listen to podcasts this year.
Ann: You listened to Shit Town.
Aminatou: [Laughs] I hate you. I listen to Shit Town but I'm not going to recommend it because that's like recommending the Olympics to someone, you know what I mean?
Ann: That's true. I'm just saying don't tell me you didn't listen to podcasts this year. [Laughs]
Aminatou: No, it's true. You know the podcast that I probably listened to the most this year is The Heart from PRX. They've done some amazing, very intimate series this year. The new mini season was called No and it's all about exploring personal boundaries and consent and sexual coercion and all told through the host and her own experiences. Yeah, but it was very visceral and very real. The Heart always gets me. It's like the one show that I listen to and I'm always like eyes wide open, ears wide open, and then crying at the same time. Yeah, and it's that great mix of personal storytelling and reporting at the same time. So for sure if stuff like this triggers you I would say that it's very hard to listen to but it's also like it's done in a way that's really nuanced and that is really clear-eyed and even for me as somebody who is the victim of sexual assault it was really important to listen to.
The other series that they did earlier this year was on child sex abuse also, and I think it was three episodes. It was again done really, really well, talking about really hard things, using really precise vocabulary, and doing a 360 of telling the story from everybody's perspective and why it's an important topic to talk about and having accountability.
Aminatou: So I always recommend The Heart to people because radio at its best is very intimate and what's more intimate than a show called The Heart? It's heavy but it's good. I continuously enjoy listening to The Read. It's probably the place to check in for when you have pop culture holes for everything else, like Kid Fury and Crissle are amazing and that's a mainstay for me. Yeah, I would say those are the two things I listened to the most this year.
Ann: So good. I mean there's obviously so many things too that I'm forgetting here. There's something too about especially single episodes of stuff I really liked. I actually made a note for myself next year to share single episodes of things that I'm loving, you know?
Ann: It's a hard thing to remember with podcasts. Obviously we love it when people tell their friends to listen to this show and I'm like duh, I should be doing it for the stuff I like too more often.
Aminatou: I know. For sure.
Ann: What have you been listening to?
Aminatou: Music. I'm a Top 40 hoe. I gave up on being a cool music person when my apartment was burglarized in 2012 and I didn't have all my indie music playlists anymore.
Aminatou: It was before the cloud but I was like that's when I gave up and I'm like if it's in the Top 40 billboard I like it. That's where I am. I like everything.
Ann: I love that. I listened to so much Lizzo this year when I did the "What did I listen to?"
Ann: It was like me and the hamster cage addicted. Whenever I was feeling sad I was like more Lizzo, more Lizzo, more Lizzo.
Aminatou: Aww, Ann, that's great.
Ann: So personal thank you to Lizzo for improving my year. [Laughs]
Aminatou: I can't wait until you interview her for CYG and you get to tell her.
Ann: Oh, please, don't think I haven't already sent the request. I can't wait. And also just someone who is doing a lot to be a force of positivity and posi vibes and using music to that end. I have not been blessed to see her live, but you know, just when friends post clips of her shows or the whole Internet presence, the whole package, the complete package, I love you.
Aminatou: Look at you, you're a stand. I like it.
Ann: I know.
Aminatou: I love when I get excited enough about an artist to feel that way. That's great.
Ann: And then there was a lot of stuff I liked and listened to in the kind of oh, this is an emotional default, like I like this. The Perfume Genius album from this year I loved.
Aminatou: I just went to see Perfume Genius.
Aminatou: It was an amazing show.
Ann: Yes, so incredibly talented. And then also the Kelela album this year I listened to lots and lots which has not been out as long, so who knows, maybe I'll be at Lizzo level love by this time next year.
Aminatou: [Laughs] I love it. You know how every year I just make a playlist that's the name of the year?
Ann: Yes. I always subscribe.
Aminatou: And I dump all the songs that I like in there. There's something very calming and soothing about it because now I just let Spotify drive playlist making for me. I'm like I enjoy the daily mixes. I enjoy any time they're like "Hey, this is an artist you would like, or here's your discovery playlist." Outsourcing that part of my life, it has been very effective.
Ann: I feel like I outsource much of that part of my life to you, not to Spotify. That's how I know Dua Lipa, like you.
Aminatou: Oh my god, 100% a Spotify jam. Being pretentious about music is a thing I'm so happy I left behind.
Ann: Left in your 20s?
Aminatou: Oh yeah, I left that in my 20s and I'm like I don't care. I'm like if it's good enough for the Billboard Top 100 it is good enough for me. What's up, Demi Lovato? [Laughs]
Ann: Can you make your 2018 playlist just be called What's up, Demi Lovato?
Aminatou: Done and done and done. Listen, she did some of her best work this year. It's great.
Aminatou: Okay, I think we've talked enough about all the things we liked this year.
Ann: Oh my god, we liked so many things. I love doing this episode every year, you know that? One of our best traditions.
Aminatou: Let's do it every week next year. [Laughs]
Ann: Oh my god. If only the world would stop being annoying and terrible so we would only be able to talk about posi cultural things, I would love that.
Aminatou: It's true. It's like the world is terrible about a lot of things, let's be real, but in my own life I just want to make more of a practice of talking about the things that I'm enjoying because the thing that is very apparent about art during bad political times is that it's very good. So we might as well be enjoying it more.
Ann: Yeah. And I think it is also important to talk about because I know I've had so many conversations with friends who are artists and I feel this way in a slightly different way about the work that I do where it feels like you shouldn't be making art that isn't explicitly about the political moment or that isn't specifically resistance art or whatever. And I think that something that I need to remind myself all the time is oh, I love art that is based on joyful experience or that is not . . .
Ann: That is art for art's sake. And I think that that is also important in political, especially if the people making it are . . .
Aminatou: Right. And being joyful is political resistance.
Ann: Oh, completely, and I think it's just really hard sometimes to internalize that message when you're like oh, I'm making pretty art or pop music or things that aren't immediately saying impeachment now.
Aminatou: Right. Like we need to be making airport protest signs, you know?
Aminatou: [Laughs] I'm like I'm sorry, I bought art supplies this year. We are all artists now.
Aminatou: I own cardboard. So yeah, I get it that it's hard, but also this is how they get you, you know? So supporting friends who are artists and supporting people who share your values and politics who are artists, but also looking at communities whose art you usually don't participate in is probably something that is really important moving forward.
Ann: Completely. And just, I don't know, thank you to the artists who have kept doing their thing because I also know that that's not easy either to probably tap into this joy and tap into that creativity at this moment.
Aminatou: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Okay, top shelf 2017 we out.
Ann: 2017 out. [Laughs] I mean not quite yet. There's like one episode left in the year but whatever.
Aminatou: There's one more episode left, but you know. You know.
Ann: Let's go binge some TV.
Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, you can download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts, or on Apple Podcasts where we'd love it if you left us a review. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at callyrgf. You can subscribe to our monthly newsletter The Bleed on the Call Your Girlfriend website. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. Our theme song is by Robyn. All original music is composed by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs. Our logos are by Kenesha Sneed and this podcast is produced by Gina Delvac. Okay, see you on this here Internet. See you on Al Gore's Internet next week.