“Revenge is a Dish Best Served French” Edition

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S2: I’m Stephen Metcalf and this is the Slate Culture Gabfest Revenge is a dish best served French edition. It’s Wednesday, January 27th, two thousand twenty one. On today’s show, Promising Young Woman is a dark revenge thriller or is it dark? I mean, we are talking dark stars. Carey Mulligan. It’s also pedigreed. It’s a writer director with Season two showrunner for Killing Eve. It’s in theaters now. You can also watch it on Amazon Prime for a fee. And then Netflix has another huge hit in LoopNet French series about a dashing gentleman thief seeking justice on behalf of his beloved but badly wronged father.

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S1: It stars Omar Si. And finally, we discuss a provocative Times magazine piece, The Quest for Nothingness. Can’t wait to talk about nothingness. Joining me today is the deputy managing editor of the L.A. Times, Julia Turner. Hey, Julia. Hello. And of course, Dana Stevens, Slate’s film critic, Dana Stevens. Let’s dive in.

S3: And promising young woman Carey Mulligan plays Cassie, Cassie is 30, she’s super smart, used to be a med student and a good one. Now she lives at home with her parents. She works in a coffee shop. She has basically laid aside every ounce of worldly ambition she used to have, except she is motivated by one thing. She wants to take revenge on men who prey upon women. At night, she goes out to bars, pretends to be falling down drunk, like truly fucked up and helpless. And then she just waits and reliably were led to believe every night a quote unquote good guy comes up and offers to help her out. Of course, the good guy has something completely different in mind. And at a key moment, she reveals to the man that she is totally stone cold sober. In effect, she catches them just before they sexually assault her. As we discover all of these bruises are because of a traumatic event in her own life. Her closest childhood friend, also a med student with her, Nina, was brutally raped and eventually killed herself. She was abandoned by the authorities structures around her. Nobody believed her. Nobody helped her out. What follows is part rom com, part dark, part revenge thriller. It also stars Bo Burnham as a possible actual good guy. It’s written and directed by Admiral Fennell, who is the showrunner for Killing Eve, and she’s also an actress. She’s plagued Camilla, the other woman on the crown. OK, so let’s listen to a clip. Here’s one of those aforementioned scenes where she’s entrapping a supposedly good guy hangnails.

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S4: He said, I need to go home. Oh, holy shit. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. What is this is some kind of psycho or something? Why’d you say that? I just thought that you were drunk. Yeah, really drunk. Fuck. Yeah, well, I’m not, but that’s good, isn’t it? I think you should leave. Oh. Now you want me to leave. No, just. Really high. I’m really fucking high right now. I don’t know what I’m doing. I think you should go. But a second ago, you were determined for me to stay. You were pretty insistent, actually, on the nice. Are you. I thought we had a connection, I guess. A connection. OK. What do I do for a living? Sorry, maybe that was too hard. How old am I? How long have I lived in the city? What are my hobbies?

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S5: That’s my name.

S4: All right, all right, fucking get your fucking point report for me. Say that I’m an asshole, fine, I’m a fucking asshole.

S1: All right, let’s start let’s start with you, this film has a person, a very, very distinctive look. It’s lacquered on the surface. It’s almost candied. It’s highly stylized. But underneath is so much darkness. What did you make of a promising young woman?

S6: Yeah, in the top of the show, Steve, when you were saying this movie is dark, dark, dark, I was thinking everyone is picturing one of those gritty noir, dark movies with, you know, wet, rainy sidewalks and neon. And this is just the opposite in its look and feel. If you’ve watched killing Eve, you might be a little bit familiar with the visual aesthetic, which is, you know, very deliberately hyper feminized, candy colored. You know, the soundtrack is full of Britney Spears and Charlie DCX and everybody’s kind of licking lollipops and wearing floral shirts constantly. So there’s a very stark contrast between the look, feel and sound of the movie and, you know, the subject matter at hand. And that is really seductive. For the first hour or so of the movie, I really went in wanting to like this movie, liking the idea that it was, you know, a female revenge fantasy with this kind of candy shell and loving Carrie Mulligan’s performance. Really fun to see her play, someone who isn’t sweet and earnest, as so many of the characters she plays are. And and this this character, Cassie, is a really fascinating one. But all of that said, I am in no on this movie. I have a fairly strong no. And we can get into some of the reasons about why. Without spoiling the movie, I hope there is a separate spoiler special on Slate about this movie with a conversation with me and Karen Hahn, who’s also on on this week’s Gabfest, where she stands up for it a bit. And, you know, I talk about my reservations, so I don’t want to recapitulate any of that stuff. But I will say that what this movie does with the female revenge fantasy is certainly to subvert it, no question about that. But there was something that really bothered me, I would say even morally bothered me about this movie. There’s a way in which I feel like Emerald. Then the director and writer wants to both subvert the female revenge fantasy and, you know, to to jar her audiences expectations from what they think the movie will be. And also to get the same cathartic satisfaction that you would get from a female revenge fantasy movie. There’s a have your cake and eat it too quality to the end of this movie. That left me with a very sour feeling so that although I think she has set this kind of beautiful moral trap for the audience, there’s something sticky about the way that she wants her character to both escape from it and also be trapped by it. And I realize that that is a tiptoeing around spoilers that I want to try to do, because this movie’s very twists dependent. There’s not just one twist, but a lot of twists that are important to the plot. But I would just say that there are moments that we see our heroine, Cassie, put other people, including other women, into situations that are very morally questionable themselves. And I am not sure that the movie fully deals with the complexity that that introduces into her character. I feel that we’re supposed to be cheering some things on that I was not comfortable cheering on at all.

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S1: Julia, what do you think of this?

S7: Well. I really enjoyed watching it, I mean, enjoy might be a weird word for a movie about such a dark subject, but the combination between the carefully crafted and cleverly deployed kind of Instagram aesthetics of it, which I think are their own comment on the power of cultivated femininity, um, and the sort of amazing. Satisfaction of watching a very, very strong Carey Mulligan performance as she dresses down all these gross men who think they’re good but are actually bad, is is enjoyable to watch. I also think the fact that this movie doesn’t necessarily think vengeance is. A great moral good is, to its credit, to Dana’s point, that the movie tries to have it both ways, though I think that’s a fair critique. I mean, again, we won’t spoil the ending here. But, you know, there are some moments in the twisty ending.

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S8: Some of the twists lean towards the vengeance is bad and you shouldn’t pursue it and it will get you nowhere. End of the equation and some of the twists point towards or maybe vengeance is fundamentally successful and satisfying that I could see you having moral questions about Dana and did leave me feeling a little bit queasy. The other thing I’ll say, Dana, to your point about I think the movie, when you look back on it from the end, some of the questionable things that Cassie does are very carefully updated to seem less questionable in the in the final accounting of the film, even if you experience them as questionable at the time. So the movie, I think, is pretty careful to like expunge the dark parts of her seeming record in ways that themselves are also maybe not quite having the full courage of the movie’s conviction. That or seeming conviction that devoting your life to vengeance is kind of a dumb thing to do.

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S1: Right? I mean, with the way one of the ways in which the movie is daring is for a portion of the movie. You believe that the darkest possibilities, those that is the true one and you are in the midst of a really unremitting vision and so forth, and so do the people, may I add.

S6: So to the people who have been duped by Cassie? I mean, there’s there’s sort of a rug pulled and you realize someone hasn’t been at harmed as irreparably as you think. But there’s still a psychological abuse element in believing that they had they they believed it for a considerable period of time.

S9: I mean, I guess it is not easy as a as a heterosexual hetero normative man to watch this movie. And it wasn’t supposed to be so mission accomplished. It it to me, it was kind of a weird cross of like a distaff Dirty Harry with the book Hitler’s Willing Executioners. You know, it’s a it’s it’s a gender reverse Dirty Harry, in that you are meant to believe that these fucking scumbags have it coming. And at some level, I think the ideal viewer of the movie is supposed to be rooting for. This impulse to take this revenge, Hitler’s willing executioners is one of the great sociological works about the Holocaust in that it says you can’t just Bogi. Hitler and explain the Holocaust, nor can you really bogy the Nazis, you really have to talk about an entire culture of deep anti-Semitism and other thing that took centuries to accumulate and then expresses itself in the Holocaust. I mean, this you are not supposed to watch this as a heterosexual white male and derive comfort from any piece of it. And I will say that in that sense, the movie was a complete and utter moral success in the way in which it does comforted me. And does it work as a movie? I’m absorbing the blow. You know, it’s like I’m staggered and sort of recovering from it, but it speaks to some just absolutely brutal truths. And it clearly comes from.

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S1: An honest place on the part of the filmmaker, I can’t I can’t quite begin, I guess is what I’m saying, to even judge it aesthetically. I didn’t enjoy it as movie. I’m not supposed to enjoy it as a movie. Right.

S6: But but, Steve, I would say I mean, all that is well said. And I can’t speak for your experience of watching it. And, you know, obviously the the response of somebody who was one of the class of people indicted by the movie is is a valid one. But I am not sure if I were a councillor for someone who had experienced sexual abuse or had been affected by it in their life, that I would advise for them to see this movie. I mean, not just because of the content warning part, I totally would have to watch hard things, but because I’m not sure that the ultimate moral message of this movie is is one that is very empowering or liberating for people in that position. And again, I don’t want to get into spoilage, but I feel like there is a ism in this character’s drive toward vengeance that that that kind of shuts down on itself in a dangerous way. And the characters in the movie acknowledge that there’s a there’s a scene with Molly Shannon, a really wonderful scene. Molly Shannon playing the mother of the young woman who has disappeared from the narrative for reasons we don’t quite understand. But Cassie’s friend who went through this sexual assault experience years ago and the mother of this young woman is essentially saying to her daughter’s best friend, let it go, move on with your life. You know, this this desire for revenge is consuming you. And we agree with Molly Shannon. Right. But Carey Mulligan’s character ignores her advice and continues to pursue that that revenge. And I am not completely sure that this movie is certain whether or not it wants to lionize her for refusing to let go, you know, sort of Dirty Harry style or whether it wants us to feel that, you know, her her world has closed down too far and that this is has driven her into a place where she shouldn’t be.

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S10: Right.

S7: It sounds like you’re it sounds like one thing you’re reacting to, Dana, is there’s a disjunct between sort of the text of the movie in sort of the structure of the plot of the movie, which suggests that Molly Shannon and we, the viewer, are right and that she should not be engaging this nihilist impulse and then sort of the kind of rhythms and catharsis and like he has of watching vengeance reeked of the movie, which cut in the other direction. Like it’s the fact that the movie seems to be preaching one thing, but in the emotional journey it takes the viewer on actually delivers the other, which is like you get the baddies, like you still get the get the baddies catharsis, which undermines it’s almost like the movie’s not nihilist enough rather than it’s too nihilist, like it doesn’t have the courage of its nihilism.

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S6: Yeah, I think I think you’re right. It’s either not it’s not. It’s either not enough of a revenge fantasy. Alah, you know, I spit on your grave sort of, you know, female revenge style or as you say, is not nihilist enough and doesn’t take its darkness to the to the full extent. And the end really, I feel wants to have its cake and eat it, too, in a way that you can only see when you watch the end to more critiques I have about it, which I think our blind spots that it just kind of barrels past are there’s a total magic black best friend played by Laverne Cox, who is the boss of the Carey Mulligan character in this bakery, very cutesy Cupcake Bakery cafe where she works. And that character serves no purpose other than to, you know, sort of smooth the journey of the beautiful white woman. And I would also say keeping it vague so as not to spoil that. There is one male character among the various guys that Cassie goes to to pick up in bars and and threaten in the way that we heard in that clip, who seems for a moment to offer a promise of being a different kind of man and somebody who might be more generous and honest and offer her something better. And when the rug is pulled out from under that hope by the writer director, I think that that character reverts too quickly to mustache twirling villainy and that he could have been written more complexly so as to make him less of a straw man.

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S7: Yeah, I think a bunch of the villains are written without sufficient nuance or complexity. There’s a scene I don’t think is too much of a spoiler to say in Casy sort of confrontation of the people who did Pnina wrong. She finds a way to terrorize a woman played by Connie Britton, the dean of the medical school, who in Kasey’s view handled Nina’s case badly. And the Connie Britton character like doesn’t even remember it and says there’s so many date rape accusations, there’s two a week. So how could she possibly remember? I know. Isn’t the rapist a nice young man who just gave a speech at the school? Like, that’s just not I don’t know, institutions get these things wrong a lot, but not like that. Like, I bet that in most institutions have several a semester, but not two a week. And I bet the people who adjudicate them like. Do you remember the names of the people involved? Look, I just it felt like such a thinly characterized version of how the system handles these things badly that it undermined the sophistication of the movie.

S1: I think I agree with all of your, you know, critical assessments of the movie as a movie, I would only add that, you know, the power of the movie to someone like me is that it’s attempting to depict the kind of homosocial bonding that men do with one another that allows these acts to happen. And it was. Painfully acute in that regard.

S6: Yeah, this is I really I’m glad we talked about this, Steve, that was very thoughtful and this is the kind of movie that provokes that conversation, which is all to the good. Even if you’re somebody who falls ultimately the anti camp, as I do, I also really encourage people to see it for Carey Mulligan’s unusual performance. And and because she’s probably going to be getting a lot of acting accolades as the awards season gets underway. And it would be interesting for people to see whether they think she deserves all those accolades, even if she is in a movie that is is less than perfect surrounding them here.

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S1: All right. Well, the movie is a promising young woman. It’s you can watch it on Amazon. It’s in some theaters as well. But check it out. All right, before we go any further, this is typically where we talk business. Dana, what do we have this week?

S11: Yes, Steve, our only business today is to tease our Slate Plus segment, which came up in our planning call last week when we have a call to talk about which topics to discuss. We began the call just chit chatting about the inauguration, which had just happened, I believe, two days before that, and whether we had been able to watch it live and whether it felt real to us yet that the presidential transition had occurred. And and it occurred to us during that conversation that that might make for a good slate. Plus, so we’re sort of talking about the psychic reality of a new presidency and when and how it has hit or is hitting us all. So Slate plus members can look forward to listening to that bonus segment after the show. And if there’s anything you’d like us to discuss in the future, Slate plus segment, you can always send us an email at culturist at Telecom. And of course, if you are not yet a slate plus member, you can always sign up at Slate dotcom culture.

S12: Plus, it only cost 35 dollars a year for your first year. And that will bring you add free podcasts, bonus content like the segment we just described and many other great benefits. Once again, you go to Slate dotcom slash culture plus to sign up for that deal. OK, thanks. Back to the show, Steve.

S3: Leupen is the name of a legendary fictional French character, a gentleman thief who starred about a century ago in a series of pulpy novels written by the writer Maurice LeBlanc. Dupin himself does not appear in the TV show, but in a sense, he’s everywhere here. He’s the inspiration for our protagonist Assange, up a modern day gentleman thief, a debonair trickster who patterns himself on the great lupine jobs. Father, a son’s father, was a Senegalese immigrant chauffeur for a super rich, politically connected family. He was set up and sent to prison for the theft of a very valuable necklace. And thanks to a guardian angel, his son, the youngest son, now our protagonist hero, was sent to a boarding school where he entered the world of privilege. There he moves about both suavely but always as the other, a status that he uses quite cunningly to his own advantage. Now he is out through a series of thefts and deft tricks to avenge his poor father. The show stars Omar Si as a Sundeep. Let’s listen, Lou. We can’t listen to a clip, can we?

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S10: No, we’re not. Francophonie enough at the cultural gabfests. The so good could only listen to a little. Let’s listen to it’s French.

S13: French is so fun to listen to.

S14: Let’s listen to a little clip of all your initial Labadee coming back to Pakistan as well. Yeah, but coming know the visit here. You can see consider Thailand the new convulsively. Obviously, very little to begin with.

S3: All right, well, we’re joined by Karen Hahn, who is the new staff culture writer for Slate. Karen, welcome to the show.

S15: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be on Culture Gabfest for the first time.

S13: Yeah, we’re really excited to have you. And I’m sure the first of many to come.

S10: Yeah.

S13: The fact that this is the fact that the show is Frenches. Interesting, right? It’s the second most watched show on Netflix. I read that it is in danger of surpassing Bridgton and perish the thought Queen’s gambit in popularity. Netflix has never had, as I understand it, a French show cracked the top 10 something. Some magic alchemy. Alchemy has happened here. And I’m curious, Karen, what you think it might be?

S15: Well, as I was as I discussed the series with my editor, Forrest Wickman, we were discussing the fact that Netflix has had increasing success with its foreign series, like Monetized, the Spanish drama series that Netflix bought and has been producing since then has been one of their top properties. And there’s also the new South Korean series, Sweet Home, that’s been not as successful as Lupa and monetized, but still a pretty big splash for the streaming platform. And in the case of Leupen, I feel like it has the advantage of coming out, number one, when we’re all looking for something to watch, especially on Netflix for streaming, because we’re all stuck at home. Number two, it’s just a really well constructed and very fun show. At number three, it’s only five episodes. So it’s not really something that’s hard to binge. And as I’m sure we’ll get into it ends its fifth episode on a cliffhanger that almost makes you mad that you have to wait for the second installment of the series.

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S11: I agree, Karen, that the length of this is part of what makes it appealing to watch is it moves very quickly, so quickly that if you look too closely, you’re going to see a lot of potholes and not completely understand how the seemingly all powerful Ehsaan manages to pull off all the things he does. But it is tons of fun and completely held together by the performance of Amachi, who I guess people have talked about since the Shohat as being a possible contender for the next James Bond. And there is something a little bit James Bond about the character he plays, but there’s also something different, something more vulnerable about his character. I don’t really see him as a bond and feel almost like Amachi, who has by now won the French Oscar. He won the Cezar award for that for the movie The Intouchables a few years ago. I feel like he’d be throwing himself away a bit on a James Bond because he has so much more to bring to this role than just being an impossibly debonair, suave, jewel thief.

S15: Yeah, I totally agree. And I think actually in an interview about lupine, he talked about that where he was like, yeah, this is sort of a James Bond story, but why would you be James Bond when you can be our son? And in part, I think that’s like you just have kind of more freedom to create a character, a fresher character when you’re playing someone like Lupine who was really well known in Europe and in Asia, but maybe not so much, not so ubiquitous, I guess, as James Bond, who has this very set image as the coolest sophist and almost not really fun to hang out with Guy, whereas this character, he’s so charming and so much more fun and he has a lot more light to him. I think I would say and it’s a character that you do want to spend a lot more time around and are more immediately invested in cinema.

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S16: Well, he’s also a character with motives and a back story like James Bond. Why is James Bond, James Bond like why is Jason Bourne, Jason Bourne like? I don’t know. They’re just super like they’re almost robotic in their inscrutability and excellence. And then meanwhile, the flip side of that, suddenly getting a hero or anti-hero origin stories and The Dark Knight and the childhood loss and the vision that is also overfamiliar. And yet somehow there’s like a. I think the fact that he’s kind of discovering his past in real time as we’re watching this series, is part of what makes it appealing, like by the time we meet, you know, that man who’s crusted over with, um, you know, deadend spirit from the fans of his childhood, like he’s already set where, you know, we’re encountering a very alive person whose ideas about his father and his childhood and his, you know, primary pursuit are for being, you know, are changing. I mean, it’s a little bit of a spoiler to say, I guess. But the question of whether his dad is innocent or not is one that’s open for you know, he’s not a kid who’s been trying to prove his father innocence since they were little. And he’s entranced by the idea of of being a thief and a gentleman at the same time, which is an idea that he’s held in his head about his father. So, yeah, there’s just like a vividness and kind of openness to his exploration of both himself and everything else that’s at odds with what we usually see in, you know, like the Ocean’s Eleven. Guys also are not wearing their hearts on their sleeves and quite the same. Right.

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S13: Right. And I would just jump in quickly and say as part of that, that’s sharpening that Karen is his contemporary relationship with his sort of semi ex partner, Claire, played by Ludivine Soniya. She’s wonderful in this part. And as written, the part is also wonderful because it seems to sample quite realistically of the ambivalent nature of marriage or marriage like relationships and the contemporary age. They’re sort of together, sort of not together. Many of the flashbacks are not just to his childhood with his beloved father, but meeting her under these circumstances where she as a white girl, presumably of privilege, certainly racial privilege, sees something in him. He becomes a protector of her, which she resents in ways that are actually quite feminist and forward as a child. She says, I don’t want to fucking shining knight in knight in shining armor. Thank you very much. I think that is a wonderfully written relationship and a show that presumes heavily on the charms of its lead to get past certain enormous plot holes. This is done with real nuance and kind of beauty and realism. It’s a wonderful heart beating at the center of all this.

S15: I thought I totally agree, especially because I feel like the character, the ex-wife, especially when the hero is kind of more of an anti-hero figure, tends to be turned into a sort of shrew, or the character who’s saying, like, you just stop doing this or is otherwise portrayed almost as a villain or very much kind of in the Skyler White mold, where she it’s she’s written as a complicated character, but can often come across to the popular I as a villain. Whereas in this Claire’s attitude is so open and warm most of the time that it’s impossible to try to villainize her for being concerned about what Assad is doing.

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S11: To add one more note about the Frenchness, I will just say that it is such a thrill to see these big corny chase sequences taking place in familiar Parisian landmarks. And the very first episode has this big chase through the Louvre that just involves disguises and I mean a car crashing through the Impey Glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre. And if you have any memories of having traveled in Paris and going to the Louvre, it is just such fun to watch that sequence.

S15: And I think a big part of the Frenchness. And overall, what makes this such a fresh spin on a story that’s extremely old is the fact that Omarska is the lead. He is of Senegalese descent. And the character of Asanti Up is written as being a son of the son of an immigrant from Senegal. And that plays a huge part in his character, where the fact that his father is framed or at least is so easily arrested for this crime has everything to do with the fact that he is a black man and an immigrant, whereas the person accusing him of having stolen these diamonds is a wealthy white man and as a son works as a thief in his adult life. It’s something that his race is something that he uses against the mostly white people that he comes up against because they immediately have these assumptions about who he is and what kind of person he has based on what his race like. There’s a really incredible scene in one of the later episodes where he poses as a police officer and goes into the apartment of a very wealthy old woman and says there’s some thieves in the area. So you should probably give all your riches to me and I will keep them safe at the police station. And her assumption is that because he comes off as so well-educated in her eyes, is that she can talk to him about how these things are. Some of the jewels and stuff are things that they took from. I don’t quite remember the details. Do any of you guys from the Congo, from the Belgian Congo? Yeah, exactly. I mean, she’s like, oh, they like were appreciating these things. So it’s only right that we stole these from them. And then later on, when a police officer starts to doubt that he is who he says he is, he immediately says, like, why are you saying this? Are you are you accusing me of this because I’m black and because you make these assumptions about it and that the way that they use race throughout the series is so interesting and also only something that they can do because Marsi is the main character. Yeah. And I think I can also admire their just the structure.

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S16: I mean, you know, another another potential explanation for this appeal is like how many James Bonds and Sherlock Holmes have been foisted upon the global watching audience. But like there hasn’t been a major global adaptation of this, you know, clearly sturdy, durable, popular and widely known format, but just not quite as widely exploited. Bit of IP. Right. But there’s a version of this show that you make that is not nearly as that is not structured in a way to be quite so engaging with questions of race and immigration in Europe, which obviously have resonances elsewhere in the globe. And that’s incredibly clever, too. I mean, it’s all it’s all just so cleverly constructed to be appealing. It’s it’s there’s a lot to admire just in that, I think.

S13: Karen, I agree with Julia. I mean, it’s it’s it’s craftily designed to please multiple kinds of audiences. And it’s doing so I was I was one of those target audiences. I enjoyed it very much. I couldn’t help classing it in my head with Ted LASO and to a degree, the Queen’s Gambit. There is a new phase in peak TV, it seems, maybe coinciding with the pandemic. The kinds of shows that rise to the top of the charts seem to have a degree of salutary disposability to them. A lightness, if you like. A few years ago, we were still in the post Sopranos like fleabag end of the fucking world. There were a lot of great shows that really did cut quite deep and I wouldn’t class those whatever is true and wonderful about the show. And there are many things I wouldn’t class it with those. Exactly what do you think?

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S15: I guess I would say that it falls somewhere in the middle because for me at least, I think the racial politics and dynamics of the series give it a little more heft than, say, Ted Laza, which I was. I’m saying that as someone who has not watched had LASO and only has a very surface level understanding of it. So pardon. So apologies if I’m wrong in my assumption.

S13: Never. I have to confess on the show that you haven’t seen something as you opine authoritatively about it. That’s number one.

S15: OK, but I mean that part of the show is one of the things that I think makes it stand out from the crowd and also the fact that sort of as we discussed earlier, it is a very new kind of adaptation of an old work, because as we mentioned at the top of the podcast, Omar is not playing the character of our Sam Lupin, but rather Ehsaan Diop, who is a person who is familiar with us on our set, Leupen and in fact, one of the detectives on his team. They are only manages to figure out what’s going on because he’s also a huge arsed Leupen head and I feel like it is taking the genre of adaptations maybe a step further currently because things like James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, I think what we’ve seen is that you can’t kind of keep recycling these apps without bringing something new to the table. Like, I think maybe the most successful but overlooked recent adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes books is the Japanese TV series Miss Miss Sherlock, which turned both Sherlock and Watson into women and tried to see what would happen from that flipped gender dynamic. And in this case, it’s not a direct corollary as mentioned, but something that’s trying to find something new to mine out of this very old material.

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S13: Hmm. All right. Well, let’s put it there, but please come back on the show soon. Karen, thank. I would love to. Yeah. This was really fun. Thank you so much.

S1: Four years anesthetic mode of nothingness has been ascendant, so writes Kyle Chaika in the New York Times Magazine in his provocative piece, How Nothingness Became Everything We Wanted. He goes on to say, Nothingness has been ascendant, a literally nihilistic attitude visible in all realms of culture, one intent on the destruction of extranet in all its forms, up to and including noise, decoration, possessions, identities and face to face interaction. Julia, you are an editor. This is a in one sense, a great piece, right? It has a very bold thesis, encompassing design. Gaist in the broadest possible, you know, most deeply ambitious sense. Did it make its case? What do you think?

S7: Nope. Did not write this article. I’m very excited to talk to you guys about it because I know Dana had read it and thought it had some good meat to it. And I would certainly agree that it’s thoughtful. It’s clearly the product of someone who’s been thinking about these forces and trends for a long time, and it puts its finger on something real. And it is not like a hastily sketched. I notice three things and here’s a trend story. So it’s certainly a work that merits thinking about an engagement, its essential thesis. And you guys who perhaps like it more than me should amend this summary if I get it wrong. Is that. We’re so overstimulated by social media content and political chaos that we yearn for nothingness, which the author briefly finds endemic in, um, sensory deprivation tanks, which, you know, it says Stevenson has written about for Slate, have been a trend for the last five, 10 years. Um, and then and then and this is the part where my little editor, Spidey sense starts to tingle. And then he conflates like vast set of trends as evidence of our. Desire for obliteration, negation and nothingness that I am not sure actually qualified, among them, the trend of liking succulence, the desert, parched plants rather than flourishing jungle plants. I don’t know. They’re still plants. You still have stuff in your apartment. You still got to keep the succulent alive. White cloth is somehow a nothingness beverage because it’s not beer or wine, but it’s its own brand and its own trend. And it’s like alcohol. That’s sweet. It’s a reincarnation of, I don’t know, wine coolers like is white collar nothingness. I don’t think we close nothingness. Then there’s a whole succession of observations about aesthetics that people like simple Japanese pottery, that people are obsessed with Marie Kondo. The people like open plan loft spaces, that people like Evelin, all of which is supposed to, I think, too easily conflates minimalism with nihilism. And I don’t think minimalism is the same thing as nothingness. It’s wanting fewer, purer things. It’s part of the like eternal swing between maximalism and minimalism in the in our tastes and what we acquire. But still, fundamentally, we’re nothing. We’re feathering our nests with stuff. It’s just a different type and amount of stuff in different shapes. So I found the assemblage of evidence of nothingness to be way, way, way, way, way wicked broad in a way that then undermined the overall argument to me. But I’m curious. I’m dying to hear, Dana, what it was about this that really sparked a spark to light for you.

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S11: You know, I don’t know. I think that I was just surprised that I liked this. This was being somewhat touted on Twitter. Some certain day is the think peace of the day. And I thought, oh, this is going to be one of those cobbled together trend pieces that takes. Well, you seem to think it is that some degree, but that takes a few different, you know, TV shows, products, you know, marketing campaigns and tries to tie them together into a grand unified theory. But because a couple of writers and cultural observers whose opinion I respect were saying this is a good article, I started reading it and I actually thought that it pulled off that trick, that rare trick of finding something in Kuwait and culture that I had been noticing and thinking about and being somewhat disturbed by for months and certainly since the pandemic started. But to some degree before that. And this is a person, Kyle Cejka, who was writing about this this topic about, you know, minimalism as a cultural trend way before the pandemic started, but then started to weave some kind of post pandemic crazes into this nothingness argument in a way that just felt sensorially right to me and and that I to some degree, shamefully kind of recognized myself in. I mean, I think that here’s a paragraph I’ll read to you that includes some of the things that Julia just rejected as belonging in this this grouping. But that, to me seemed almost like a portrait, a consumer portrait of what the last 10 months have felt like. This desire for nothingness reaches its most literal manifestation in the sensory deprivation fad. That’s the floatation tanks that he kicks off talking about. But it can be found in more subtle forms elsewhere, the omnipresent decorative succulence capable of surviving neglect. And Julia, I would answer that the reason succulence gesture toward minimalism is just that there non-plan to people’s plants. Right. They’re supposed to be easier to keep alive, though. I know that I have managed to kill cacti in the past. The gently textured wabi sabi ceramics that provide an aspirational hobby for the Instagram generation that I know less about functionalist beige monochrome outfits from Evelin or Unico. I do identify with that and I feel like a certain part of me since the pandemic has wanted to adopt this kind of bland prison like uniform to sort of get through the sameness of the days, the clingy softness of athleisure and cashmere sweatpants which have sold out during the pandemic. That’s something we talked about earlier in a segment on pandemic fashion. Elaborate skincare routines involving pale layers of moisturisers successively shellacked over the body provide an almost literal barrier. We seal ourselves inside ourselves.

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S10: The late 2010 spense of CBD is like a mental moisturizer for making sure you are making your argument like you could just as easily be. Like moisturizer is a sign of our abundant materialism and our self involvement.

S17: And like we’re putting layer upon layer, we can’t stop. There’s so many layers like how does that become an increasing in two men rather than a lavish self-indulgence?

S11: But I think this piece makes the argument that, you know, consumerism and nothingness have have started to converge. And a really chilling point that he makes, which occurs to me all the time, is I order things to make it through the pandemic, is that we are kind of walling ourselves into the safe softness. Right. I mean, I myself am guilty of having ordered cashmere sweatpants to try to treat myself during the pandemic and, you know, various other products having to do with self care and soothing. And as we do that, Amazon workers are risking their lives to pay. Things up in unsafe warehouses and send them to us. I mean, I just felt like this is not just a shopper piece or a consumerism piece. I think that he is trying in the book that he’s writing. I’m sure this will get more and the scope. But I think that he is trying to link some of these inward looking self care practices to this larger kind of economic dystopia that we find ourselves in at this moment.

S1: Well, there there’s a phrase in the piece that we haven’t mentioned yet, which I think is an important piece of the puzzle here, which is the public sphere. So I would restate his thesis in a slightly different way, which is that to the extent we’re living in the age of social media, social media, those two things that are opposed to one another, but then in that opposition, keep one another in a kind of, I think, perverse equilibrium. One is famo you’re just constantly aware of the lives of others in a way that you weren’t before and therefore you feel as though you’re missing out, which can be quite psychically destabilizing. And the other is and yet keeps you coming back to social media. Right. You feel as though relinquishing it would be to somehow annihilate yourself or disappear from the world of the public sphere, whereas the traditional public sphere, in part thanks to social media, is crumbling. Obviously, a combination of the Trump presidency, which was a joke presidency as it culminated in the siege on the capital, which whose pregnant symbolism I need hardly to enumerate, but also covid where the government completely failed us. And we’re locked in our homes for substantially longer than we needed to be under substantially more danger. And with covid, Fumo fell away substantially or changed. And we were just the front and center thing was that our public world was crumbling. And so, of course, there was this natural tendency to hunker down. I mean, you had to write perforce you had to in order to stay safe, withdraw into your own world. But this is this is a version of Christopher, this culture of narcissism. I mean, I sort of sort of think we’re cycling back around to the public psychosis of the 1970s, which is that the essentially the public landscape is no longer adequate to the kinds of longings and need for meaning that we bring to it. And so everyone is now going in this inward journey. But as Lasch pointed out quite perceptively, you can’t just go inward. We’re effectively social animals. To the extent that you look for meaning purely within yourself or within tiny domestic spheres, you’re not going to find it. It’s it’s inherently a frustrating, painfully frustrating search. And the other thing I’d say that that the article is is I think. Perceptive about is that this that it’s capitalism itself for being so pervasively inauthentic and so motivated by someone else’s cynical motive for profit, that sends us in search of authenticity. But then, of course, capitalism being so incredibly cunning, satisfies it by through certain kinds of commodities tailored to seem authentic or satisfy the quest for authenticity. So the more you try to escape, the more you need to escape. It’s kind of a you know, it’s kind of a vicious cycle that just feeds on itself. And what I thought was most perceptive about the piece, in addition to the idea that the crumbling public sphere is doing this to us, is that the is that we’ve that cycle of of needing to escape, finding that you can’t so needing to escape more, so buying more things that symbolize less. You know, I wish he’d just been more pointed about the fact that that that, you know, that’s just another version of commodified happiness. It doesn’t matter whether the whether the the the impulse is one for plenty or nothing. It’s equally vacuous either way. Why he uses the word we endlessly. Julia, that’s the frustrating thing. And I kept reading it and saying I’m not included in that way. That’s ridiculous. I’m not trying to buy my way to nothingness. Like, come on, it’s a trend piece.

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S8: I do I do think I do think that the piece could be sharper if it were more focused on. The consumerization of minimalism, as it relates to I mean, maybe he can dial it on this in book form. But I just think minimalism and nihilism are not the same thing and like exactly that.

S17: It really, really, really needs like that really needs to be nailed down like that. Conflation bothered me then just to to pound my familiar old techno feel like drum like. He’s also very dismissive of the way in which technology facilitated some senses of connection at the beginning of the pandemic. I mean, he’s very clear throughout that this is a line of thinking he was pursuing pre pandemic and then the pandemic seemed to exacerbate it all. Um, you know, but but the fact that we’re all stuck in Zoome pods, I mean, all we both both loaded terms here. And that is, to his credit, part of the point of the essay. Um, but like, you know, those sort of half hearted friend Zoom’s at the beginning of the pandemic were using technology for actual human connection. And yes, it was a simulacrum of real human connection. And also it was a lifeline like and, you know, the sort of major ways in which I would argue technology has facilitated strengthening the voices of. People who were not typically heard through more narrowly controlled forms of media have given rise to like much more kind of political engagement, understanding of the widespread illness and the depredations of police misconduct, you know, have helped facilitate some of the protest movements. I mean, obviously, the country is in a tumultuous and divided place. But technology is not merely an incoming device. It is a communication device. And people are using it in various ways right now that I think the essay also glossed over in ways that bothered me. And I will say I think your point, Dana, that this observation of how the inequality of the ways in which the pandemic has affected people in American life is. A crazy and profound and huge thing to reckon with and understand, especially if, like me, were fortunate enough to have been able to live a very pandemic safe life, you know, how does one feel connected to the parts of society that one is insulated from? I think seems like part of the impulse motivating, motivating this essay in this line of thinking. And how is capitalism trying to pull us into just being cocooned is also interesting and worth thinking about. But, you know, maybe it’s just the brevity of the forum here, but I did not quite think this hit all its marks.

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S1: Before we the moment passes, can I please point out the incredible superfluity like of words that I used? And Julia just hit me right back with the minimalist version of. Yeah, nihilism and minimalism aren’t the same thing. I loved it. That was that was nothingness personified.

S11: That’s my nickname. It may be the case that Sheika doesn’t completely distinguish properly between those two trends, but I do think that he has something interesting to say about both minimalism and nihilism. And maybe it’s the nihilism part that I related to most. I mean, this is hardly the first trend piece I’ve seen about Marie Kondo and, you know, people living in storage containers and all of these minimalist trends that have been everywhere in our faces for so long, since far before the pandemic. But something about the way he moved toward trying to describe the nihilism that we’ve all retreated to post pandemic, the fact that all we can hope for anymore is to just sort of, you know, have a really good heating pad to get us through the day in which we watch society crumble on our screens outside of our doors. I felt like some of the existential bleakness of this moment and how we have tried to materially cushion ourselves against it to whatever degree we can, you know, including the sour dough baking crazes and, you know, whatever other sort of cosiness trends have flourished during this time, that there was something really smart about that.

S18: I agree that it feels like a sketch for something larger. I would read the book that comes out of this. And yeah, again, I think I probably just encouraged us doing this piece on our topics call this week. Just because it’s rare that a piece like this makes me put together stuff in a way that I hadn’t put it together before. And I wonder if any other listeners will feel those connections to when they read it.

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S12: Hmm.

S1: All right. Well, the pieces in the Times magazine, it’s called How Nothingness Became Everything We Wanted by Kyle Chaika. We we were very stimulated by it, but split maybe on its virtues. Check it out and tell us what you think. OK, moving on. All right, now is the moment in our podcast when we endorse Dana.

S19: What do you have, Stephen? Speaking of coziness and hugger, I have a baking related endorsement. I’ve been on this kick lately of trying to find the easiest possible recipe for various things I want to eat because I’m at that stage of pandemic cooking where I want delicious food, but I do not want some sort of sour dough starter situation where I have to mind something for days at a time. And over the holidays, I had this craving to make tiramisu one of my favorite desserts. But all the recipes that I could find online involved things like separating eggs and whipping egg whites into stiff peaks and double boiler’s and cheese cloth bags. My sister and I were texting about this saying the minute cheese cloth bag is mentioned in a recipe, I instantly closed the tab. There’s no way I’m making that up. But I finally found it very, very easy and very flexible tiramisu recipe, which I’ve already made once, and I plan to make several more times. In fact, I think that our producer, Cameron Drus, is probably going to get one of my excess tiramisu because I want to keep practicing it. The recipe is just called easy tiramisu, and it’s on a recipe site called Taste Better from Scratch. It doesn’t require any cooking, it doesn’t require any eggs. So it doesn’t have raw eggs if that’s something that you don’t want to eat. And it basically can be whipped up in about 10 minutes, not including the killing time, you then put it in the fridge to chill for an hour or two to to set. But the actual amount of time you will have to spend dealing with ingredients, I guarantee will be under 15 minutes. It does require two slightly difficult to get ingredients, mascarpone cheese, which you can find. I think it most cheese shops are at a nice grocery store and ladyfinger cookies, which are a little bit harder to find. But I have a substitute to suggest if you can’t get classic Ladyfinger cookies because you’re not near some sort of fancy Italian deli that would have them and you don’t feel like making them, you can use Stella Dora, which is that very cheap Italian brand of cookies. They have a cookie called the Margueritte that basically is a ladyfinger to so assemble those ingredients and some whipping cream and some cocoa powder. A couple other simple things. And you can have delicious restaurant quality tiramisu within an hour of deciding that you want to make it. It’s so good. So, yeah, easy tiramisu on taste better from scratch dotcom. And I’m interested to hear if people make it and what variants they bring into it. I threw some eggnog into mine because I had some leftover from Christmas and that was great. You could grate oranges on the top, you could do all kinds of different flavor hacks, but the basic tiramisu itself is just perfect.

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S7: Julia, what do you have? I’ve got a good read. A good read for you.

S8: I just the the stresses of life right now as they add up have turned my bedtime reading more and more towards just mysteries and thrillers that are written well enough. One can stand reading them, but are not really literature. I guess I’ve been traveling around a little bit, but I have discovered the work of Ruth, where a British thriller writer, mystery writer and her most recent. Novel, one by one, is a take on Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, but set at a Swiss ski chalet or maybe French ski chalet where some kind of tech startup is having a retreat and then to chalet employees or serving them.

S17: And then people start to die one by one. Plus, there’s an avalanche and it’s just great. I read it in like two nights, gobbled it down. And if that sounds like your bag, it probably is. And I would I would encourage you to seek it out.

S1: Oh, that sounds really good. These are written recently.

S17: Yeah. She’s been writing like one a year for the last five years, it seems like, and also I think was a pretty prolific young adult novelist under a slightly different name, maybe for a while before that or possibly simultaneous to it.

S8: Her first book in this vein five or six years ago was something called In In a Dark, Dark Wood, which was a New York Times bestseller. But but I started with the most recent one, having found it on some year end good thriller lists and it satisfied.

S17: So one by one, take it take an Agatha Christie template, modern it up with some tech satire, stick it in France and I’m their delicious.

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S1: And Ruth where A.R.T. Yeah. Fantastic. OK, well, I’m going to endorse the thing I mean, I I’m searching around for and I just decided to give up and confess the thing that I most enjoyed this past week, which I’ve been rereading, of all things for something that I’m writing. I’ve been rereading what I think is the definitive biography of Michelle Fuyuko, the French philosopher. It’s by David Macy. Macy, why? It was republished two years ago, I think. Twenty eighteen year and a half, two years ago by Verso. Beautiful edition, paperback edition. It’s a big book, but it’s not foreboding. It’s not daunting. And it really explains who he was, what year he came out of in France. It’s kind of a fascinating life.

S9: You know, child of the upper bourgeoisie was gay at a time when being gay was criminalized, um, refused to follow in his father’s grandfather’s maternal grandfather’s footsteps and become a doctor was obsessed instead with why some people are doctors and some are patients, specifically why some people are psychiatrists and some people are mentally ill. Did not believe that that was a sufficiently non arbitrary distinction not to philosophize about it. Kind of backed into philosophy. Um, uh, you know, just joined up with the French literary Milia, as well as the super punctilious, hierarchical French academic structure. I mean, Macey’s just has a totally lucid patient explanatory but not doofuses style at all, but gets you deep into this world that produce this rather extraordinary figure who arguably really remade our conception of ourselves as moderns and post-modern. So, uh, it’s really well done. It’s just a wonderful book. It’s called The Many Lives of Myself Who by David Macie Makua. And I’ve been just totally buried in it for a second time. All right. Thank you, Dana.

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S1: Thanks, Steve. Thanks, Julia. Thank you.

S2: You’ll find links to some of the things we talked about today at our show page, you can email us, we like it at Culture Fest at Slate dot com. We have a Twitter feed. Interact with us on Twitter at Slate. Colthurst, our producer is Cameron Drus. Our production assistant is Rachel Allen. The composer of our theme song is the wonderful Nick Brittelle. For Dana Stevens and Julia Turner, I’m Stephen Metcalf. Thank you so much for joining us. We will see you next week, I hope.

S17: Hello and welcome to the Slate plus segment of the Slate Culture Gabfest. Today, we are going to talk about one week later the fact of Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46 president of the United States and whether or not the fact of that fact has sunk in yet after four years of a frenetic, chaotic and what otherwise wild Trump administration.

S8: Dana. Who’s the president?

S17: It’s like the amnesia test, what year is it and who’s president right to see if I have dementia or not.

S19: Right. You have to ask me who the current president is.

S18: I mean, this came up because, you know, as I said at the top of the show, we were kind of chatting in our last group phone call about what Wednesday had felt like, what part of it we had seen or not seen live, and what effect that had on our grasping of the concept that the transition has actually happened. I mean, for me, the moment that the transition was supposed to happen psychically in my mind was the performative speech act of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris taking the oath live. And that was important to me to watch live the same way that on the night that they were officially announced as winning whatever night in November that was, that, you know, the count finally went over to them, remember? And then they had that little acceptance speech event. We watched that live. My family and I, all three of us, a rare thing to do, sat down and watched a news event live on the TV. And it felt really real. That was the moment of an a day for me of great joy, as I had just been wandering around the streets of New York, you know, dancing to various pop up bands all day. And to come home and hear them making that speech in a somewhat formal atmosphere made it feel real. So that was the moment that I really wanted to see on Inauguration Day. And then, goddammit, it happened 10 minutes early, which I’m still miffed about. I understand that, you know, for whatever reason, they couldn’t time that that speech. Exactly. But having heard that, he became president at 12 01 and that had been pressed, you know, in the media for months, ever since the election, I just sort of assumed that it was like the Oscars, that you’d turn it on at noon and the festivities would be starting around then. But no, I sat down with my daughter to turn it on. The festivities were already underway. Joe was halfway through his speech. He was already president. Kabila had taken her oath already. Lady Gaga had sung already. A bunch of the stuff had already happened. And as a result, I got on this strange temporal track where it took me several days to slowly accept that he was actually president and that these were not just pieces of theater that had been engineered for YouTube clips afterward. So I guess I would still say that it’s sinking in. But I think one of the first ways that I knew personally in my body that it had happened is that the night he became president, the night after those inaugural festivities aired on TV, I slept really, really well. I slept something like nine hours and woke up in the morning, not, you know, lying in bed, fantasizing about visiting horror on various members of the sitting administration. So maybe it was it was sleep that needed to seal it into my brain. At any rate, it made me realize for future such events, hopefully there will never be one as high stakes as that, but that something about that live performance event witnessed at the same time as everyone else is witnessing it is something that makes things feel real to me and that I need to go to whatever trouble I need to go to to figure out that I witnessed it at that moment.

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S7: Can I just speak up briefly here before we turn to your thoughts on the Steve to point out that one of the most marked forms of content on the Internet in the digital journalism era is the what time does the Super Bowl start post? And it became kind of like a cliche of media journalism to tease sites for instead of doing, quote unquote, real journalism, putting up like cheap CEO bait, like what time does the Super Bowl start? But I did not miss this moment, Dana, because that morning I wrote it, Googled, What time does the inauguration start?

S17: And I learned that the proceedings started at eleven fifteen. And I had also assumed that they started at noon. So I watched the whole thing thanks to the Internet and service journalism, which is undervalued and accessible via SEO, which is not entirely evil. So brief journalism sidebar. But Steve, does it feel real to you?

S1: I think I must still be suffering from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.

S9: I mean, I don’t I, I, I think one of the horrible legacies of the many horrible legacies of the Trump years is that, you know, these highly performative speech acts, these ceremonial moments are meaningless. They meaningless because half the country regards them as fundamentally or some huge percentage of the country regards. This is fundamentally illegitimate and a theater without the actual authority, you know, of of democratic, you know, rightness behind them. And in that sense, there’s a TBD quality to this one. I mean, I think there’s always a moment where the transition can be quite momentous and it takes a while to sink in. That was certainly true going from Bush to Obama. But there’s something else here, which is we just fundamentally don’t know whether there is a sufficiently shared epistemology about the status of Joe Biden as president for him to be able to actually lead the country, you know, with him at the center of the narrative, though, this could just be, you know, the. Inability to get out of the Trump dominated news cycle, psychological inability on my part to get out of the Trump dominated news cycle. Nonetheless, I do think in this instance there’s a fundamentally unanswered question that is typically in American democracy, in the history of American democracy is fundamentally answered in November is still weirdly unanswered now, which is, you know, how much is how much is the, you know, essential question of is he really president going to remain cynically left? Unanswered in order to compromise his ability to govern. So there’s this part of me that feels all of the same relief that Dana feels. That the authoritarian boob is gone, but there’s another part of me that thinks the movement that bears his name is still active, dismayingly widespread and does not regard the current president as the president.

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S8: Yeah, I mean, I, I was exchanging text messages with a friend and referred to the Trump administration as over and then corrected myself as well come a quote unquote over because I think, you know, all of the forces that made Trump popular and made his ascent possible and made the transfer of power far from assured, still exist and do not seem widely discredited.

S7: And I think that that and maybe not the the actual specifics of the transfer of power ceremony or part of what. Creates a feeling of unreality about the present moment. I will say, just as a journalist, you know, and having observed the ways in which the Trump administration was hostile to hostile to both journalists in journalism and the kind of idea of the journalism having civic value, one moment that was striking to me was watching the Jen Psaki press conference the first day or two and just seeing a. You know, this is sort of the marvelous boringness of it, like a press spokesman who made a good faith effort to answer questions, generally suggested that her goal and the goal of the people in that room was fundamentally aligned in trying to get accurate information to the American people, even if they might disagree about how to do it. And then as the press conference went on, watching her be kind of needlessly slippery in an old, boring way and like and like like the old kind of Washington weasel leanness or it’s just like, you know, I think Jen Psaki got a question early on in that first day about the timing of impeachment and whether Joe Biden would, you know, go to Congress to suggest anything about that. And it took her five minutes to not really say anything. And then and kind of a half hearted. No. And it’s like just say no. Like the sort of boring, excessive politics with which old fashioned Washington politics was conducted was both. I don’t know. It was like being transfixed by something incredibly mundane and that I was struck by my response to that. Like, I could not watch enough of that press conference. But it’s also, again, it’s the it’s the not, quote unquote over like all of that. Deft. It’s, you know, old fashioned slipperiness instead of the kind of blow it all up action movie version of the Trump administration’s relationship to the press, um. And glazed people over, I don’t know, created in some ways, created the circumstance, the fact that politicians always sound like politicians is one of the circumstances that created an opening for Trump to speak more directly and, you know, often unhinged the, uh, to the American people. And so just watching that those forces reassert themselves has been kind of fascinating and, you know, is a part of the feeling of the difference between the Trump administration being over and being only, quote unquote, over. I also it was moving to me as a woman to see Kamala Harris inaugurated. It’s still just crazy that we’ve never had a woman hold either of those offices and now we do. And I love seeing that. I’m curious, Dana, whether you watch that with your daughter or do you, Steve, I hope those of you with not the only people with daughters care about women stuff. I know that’s one of the great fallacies of the world right now, but I’m curious how you guys and how your daughters felt about it.

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S19: I mean, once again, it was not watching it live kind of killed me. You know, when you have a 14 year old who’s in the middle of their school day and is extremely distractable, she was willing to go back and watch Gaga with me because she’s a huge fan of Lady Gaga. And that was, to me, unquestionably the most moving part of the ceremony.

S11: But I don’t think she watched Carmela got get sworn in with me. I had to watch it alone. And something about just, you know, Googling those things and finding them one by one on the Internet. I mean, they could be staged, you know what I mean? Not to start a conspiracy theory, but somehow not having witnessed it en masse in order in real time with millions of other people kept me from having the moment that maybe it sounds like you had with Carmela and that I wanted to have during during both takings. That was going to be my moment. That was going to be my cry. Raise a glass. It’s finally over. You know, I will have whatever emotional reaction I’ve been waiting to have for four years, and it still hasn’t happened. I don’t know. I think I need to get into a floatation tank and take some ketamine or something and get back to that moment and make it happen again.

S1: The moment I won that I watched with my daughters was the, uh, the the Delaware event, which was just kind of almost like a rock concert vibe to it was very celebratory. And they were they were extremely, extremely moved and I have to assume empowered by common stories. So that’s been big in our household. Absolutely.

S7: All right, well, thank you so much, Slate plus listeners, for traveling all the way through to a new administration with us and for supporting Slate and its journalism. We’ll talk to you soon.