Why Anything Is Possible on HBO’s Los Espookys

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership.

S2: I think one thing that English speakers think about the show and its Spanish speakers think about the show is that like, oh, this show is kind of weird. I bet it makes perfect sense in the other language. And it sort of does it. So I think setting it in a completely fictionalized place allowed for us to expand that.

S3: Welcome back to Working. I’m your host, Isaac Butler, and I’m your other host. June Thomas.

S4: June. This week you spoke to who? Beatrice, whose voice? We just heard Fred Armisen and Anna for Brager about their HBO show, Lois Spookies. I’m so excited to hear that conversation. But before we get to it, just a drag out the anticipation a little bit.

S1: How are you doing, Isaac? I’m doing splendidly, thank you. I’ve actually been in a bit of a weird world this week as part of my research for an interview that I’m actually going to be doing later this week and which we will hear on this show in August in Chilla. I have been listening to a ton of audio drama in the last week or so. I believe I calculated that I’ve listened to at least 62 episodes of various shows. Why? And I, I absolutely loved all of them. I’m a huge fan of plays and book adaptations and all kinds of creative fictional audio. But as often happens when you do a lot of anything that is not part of the real world in actuality and all of that, I do feel like I kind of lost touch with the real world ever so slightly. Like this morning, a colleague asked me something about a news event and I had to, like, work through a mental inventory of. I had to go through the epic dramas and I had to get through the Indian shenanigans, and then I had to figure out what was going on with the lost planes. And then I finally got to the news. So I know that it affected me, but I have to say, I don’t mind. It was really pretty cool.

S4: That’s great. You know, for the book, I’ve been watching a ton of movies. I have to watch, you know, probably five or so movies a week, which if I were a full time film critic, that would be like, you know, I do that every two days or whatever. But for me, that’s a new experience. I have to kind of move everything in the schedule around, you know, watching a movie and then engaging with it in depth and kind of figure out what the world needs. It’s a very, very strange thing to do. You really are transported to another place. Yes. And it’s nice to be able to escape, but it’s also like. Oh, right. Yes. I still have to parent and I have to deal with my parents and I have to, you know, work on the news and everything like that. So I’m very excited to hear your conversation with Julia and Honor. And Fred, could you tell us a little bit about them?

S5: So as we’ll hear, Lucy Spookies was Fred Armisen brainchild and is written by Anna February EGA who Leotis Fred Armisen is an 11th season veteran of Saturday Night Live. The co-writer and co-star of Portlandia, a star of movies and TV shows, too numerous to name a bandleader and a standup comedian and a far. Briga is a Brooklyn based comedian who has written for the Chris Gethard Show and appeared on Portlandia High Maintenance and at home with Amy Sedaris and Julio TOTUS wrote for Saturday Night Live for Four Seasons, earning an Emmy nomination and a WRGA Award for his work there. And he’s appeared on High Maintenance is a regular on The Tonight Show and Late Night and his solo standup show, My Favorite Shape’s by Hooghly Tortoise premiered on HBO last August.

S4: Yeah, you know, I’ve seen all of their work in other guises, but not the three of them together. I haven’t actually watched Lucy spookies you up a you’re a big fan, right?

S1: No. This is also where I admit that I did not watch Lucy Spookies when it first aired. There’s so banal reasons. One is that I have a very low tolerance for horror and just based on the title, it sounded like it might be scary. And some of the people in the show specifically who Leo told us, an NFL Grigore, that when they do their solo comedy, I think is incredibly smart and incredibly sharp. But it isn’t quite my thing. It’s a bit more absurd than I generally enjoy. But when I finally did sit down and watch the show, I absolutely loved it. It’s amazing. I recommend it absolutely without reserve to everybody listening to this interview. It’s written by Julio and Ana, and it does have some of the magical absurdist elements that I kind of associate with their individual work. But it’s very funny and very sweet and it’s very grounded. And Isaac, it is explicitly about the process of creativity, about having crazy ideas and getting together with your friends and making them happen and maybe getting paid for it maybe. And also, it isn’t all that scary. It’s I would say that scary things spun those, as they call them, are what the group of friends is obsessed with. But it’s kind of a McGuffin in the show, like it’s not scary. It’s about the creating of scares for other people. It’s really about creativity and it’s great.

S4: Well, I have not seen the show yet, but that description absolutely sold me on it. So I have to watch it and report back at a later point. Before we begin, though, since this is a show about process, perhaps we can pull back the curtain on our own process. And just mentioned that this was actually taped as a live streamed show with a live audience or as live as an audience can get in these pandemic times. And I know there were some slight technical complications on our end there were we?

S1: We did indeed have some technical difficulties. We take this back in June. You’ll hear me reference pride month late in the conversation. And the spooky part of this particular experience was that we had a lot of technical difficulties. Who? Leo couldn’t hear what Ana said. So it wasn’t an ideal experience. But Ana, Fred and Julio were all incredibly game and gracious. And I think the conversation that we were finally able to have was with the technical travails. But yes, in full transparency, we did have some technical challenges that night.

S4: Well, great. I’m sure despite any setbacks, the conversation will be marvelous. Let’s go ahead and take a listen.

S1: So let’s talk about how losses spookies came into being. Fred, I believe you were involved in the original creative spark.

S6: Yeah, I wanted to do something in Spanish and something that was set in a Latin American country, but it didn’t focus on that. That that had a story that was outside of that. And I just thought something with with the idea of something scary but not scary on screen. More about people who love things that are scary. So it just started from there. And then when Huyen and joined, they sort of made it into what it is that we see. So it was kind of it just came from that and then just developed into something much bigger. And so that was basically the premise of it. I like the idea of a group of four. There’s something about that that I just always seems really cool to watch. And so that they just went from there.

S1: And so, Julio, you are the writers and the show runners as well as being in the show. No, I understand that. Julio, you can’t hear Ana. So you can be completely.

S7: You can say whatever you like because there’s not going to be able to hear me say they’re down by my. Exactly.

S1: So, Ana, I’m wondering, first of all, I know that you’ve written comedy before, but mostly sketches or I think exclusively sketches or like character things. How was it to write narrative? I mean, what’s effectively kind of a sitcom? How was it to switch to that kind of writing?

S7: Well, in some ways it was easy because you just think of it the way you would approach and these sort of comedic piece. And, you know, we just started writing with say, well, what do we think is funny? Here it is. You a bunch of ideas of things that are making us laugh. And then by there, started piecing together what the narrative would look like. And that is often how I approach writing, is just hearing some things that are making me laugh and then find ways to connect them.

S1: Because this is a bilingual show. Did you write in English, in Spanish? Were you both kind of writing in the same language? How did that whole process work?

S8: You know, I can tell you how we do it. I feel like to this day I am not convinced that it is the right way of doing it, but somehow it is. It is the way that we ended up doing it, because the way that, you know, making a television show works, you need you need to show it to the network. And that is sort of like step one. So then we started writing a. In English, knowing that it was going to be performed in Spanish. So it was almost it’s almost like an exercise of having one foot in both. Grounds. Because, you know, we’re typing in English, but in our brain, we can hear it in Spanish and actively make decisions that we know are going to work in Spanish as we speak, type in English. And then the second part of that very strange exercise is translating it back to. What was basically the original conceit, but that was never actually on the page. And then that becomes the the shooting script. But then we have the script, one, which is in English, which becomes the subtitles. Again, this is not a model that I would urge other shows to implement, but it is the way that we do it over here. This book is Headquarters, which is a giant building in Midtown.

S1: Well, speaking of Phyllis Spookies headquarters, one of the interesting things about the show is that we don’t know where it happens. It’s it’s a kind of unnamed place. I believe you’d taped in Tillett. But there are kind of aspects of Mexico. It feels like in some ways. Why did you choose to kind of be in a non place rather than have a specific setting?

S6: It happened little by little. Where the original idea was that I was going to be take place in Mexico City. And as we were as the show started to develop, it turns out we were going to shoot in Chile. Great. So we’re all ready to go. And then we realized that there are Chilean accents, accents from Venezuela or El Salvador or Panama or many different places and Mexico. So it just it was too much to try to keep track of, like, what is what is this place supposed to be? By keeping it a little more just a little more vague, it just opened up the ability to tell the stories and to have the characters just be themselves as opposed to trying to do an accent from one particular place.

S1: But, you know, one of the things that makes me think of that, you know, a place where there are lots of different accents, lots people from different places, that kind of sounds like America. Did you ever think about setting the show in the States?

S8: No, I think I think of the three of us are going. Huh?

S7: I mean, it couldn’t get a shot at someone’s closing.

S8: No, I think they honestly, I don’t think there’s a right answer and a wrong answer. But I feel that I think one thing that English speakers think about the show and that Spanish speakers think about the show is that like, oh, this show is kind of weird. I bet it makes perfect sense in the other language and it sort of does it in and it sort of exists in this limbo that we have created. So I think setting it in a completely fictionalized blazed allowed for us to expand on that, because then if you shoot it, the minute you decide that it takes place in a real place, then you have to adhere by the rules of that place in a way that was seen as exciting to us as just like making up a country.

S1: The show is basically realistic, but there are these a lot of supernatural and kind of surreal elements that are baked into the premise, like Andress, who Leo’s character can basically control time and space and and can see the future and can teleport and tutty. I mean, basically can do anything. And also, at the same time, nothing. But I’m sort of curious, Anna, why you wanted to have that magical element to the show.

S7: I mean, it wasn’t something that we had thought about explicitly, like let’s have a magical realism element. We just were writing and wanted to be able for anything to happen. And, you know, having it based on what is more or less seeming normal place, but allowing all these bizarre things or supernatural things to happen without anyone saying that it’s weird or and having to be explain why I’m dressed can see through the jam, as you can see through the gem. And everyone knows that and it’s accepted. Is that weird? Yeah, it just allowed us to do whatever we wanted without having to create some sort of rigid set of rules that a lot of, you know, I think you see when when there’s certain, like sci fi world to take very precise rules and ours is just like anything can happen. Is that how you felt, who you are?

S1: Did you kind of want to limit the magic or did you feel, as Anna does, that there were that it effectively was without limits, that you could do whatever and it would be just fine? Or did you kind of want to have some rules about it?

S8: If that is what Anna said, I agree, I. Because the quote unquote magic on it, it’s not really magic. It almost feels more like like literary devices rather than weird things that happen because it becomes really like the oddities on the show. They go unexplained. And I feel like they go unexplained because you’re not to dwell on them. You know, it’s not like like a comic book movie or like like a Harry Potter movie or something where you like they’re like these like little rules that you have to learn in order to understand the world. And because, as you know, as soon as you start making a little rules, then you you’re like painting yourself in a corner. Whereas here it’s like, you know, the second we decide that it’s funny for us to do this thing. He can just do it. And it’s there’s a freedom that comes with it that I think is reflected in. And Fred and I as individual work where things happen, but they happen because it’s fun for them to happen and sort of our our interior is one of the to happen rather than than like creating this, like, little box.

S1: Fred, you as the kind of person who dreamt up the idea. Are you all did it together? I suppose Teco was always you. But yours is not a magical character. Your TECO is very down to earth. But he also does have some strange things, like he impersonates a famous artist. Do you see him as a realistic character or also someone with magical or whatever? We’re calling them elements, real lipstick.

S6: But there is one little magical thing that we didn’t we weren’t able to shoot. But there are things that he talked about that he’s able to do, like park two cars at the same time, like he’s got a sort of intuition. And for season two, we’ve got a scene where he does something. That’s all. It’s a sort of more intuitive. But there’s a little teeny little bit of magic when it when it comes to parking something. It’s almost like he could really do it with his eyes closed. And he I think he just sort of like, you know, he just can envision and where a car could fit a weave. We’ve it’s been in the and the writing stages of the show. We haven’t really quite done it. But it’s it’s there. It’s sort of. But he’s basically realistic, though. He’s more in the real world.

S4: We’ll be back with more of June Thomas’s conversation with the creators of Lotus Spookies after this.

S1: One of the things we’d love to do with this show is help solve your creative problems, whether it’s a specific challenge about your work or a big question about inspiration and discipline. Send them to us at working at Slate dot com. Even when we can, we’ll put those questions to our esteemed guests.

S4: June, since the rest of this interview touches a bit on the actual characters and premise of the show, I thought maybe we could just take a brief moment and you could describe for newbies like myself who the characters are, what the show’s about, what’s going on in the world of Lozier spookies.

S1: Good call, Isaac. So LOSSA Spookies are a group of four friends, all very different types of people from different backgrounds and social classes. There’s Renaldo, played by Bernardo Belasco, who is sweet and kind and charming. There’s Ursula, played by Cassandra Chang Growthy, who is really serious and down to earth. Ursula’s sister, Tattie, who’s played by Anna Fabrica. Is she really kind of defines description’s? She’s really not of this world. She is the absolutely absurdist element in the show. Incredibly funny. And then there’s Andras, played by Julio TOTUS, who is an extremely rich and privileged and gay heir to a chocolate fortune. He is not kind of a sympathetic character in many ways. And yet when the four of them come together, it is kind of like a magical assembly of different types of people who come together and really make a perfect team. And then Fred Armisen is Renaldo’s Uncle Teco. So unlike the rest of the gang, he lives in Los Angeles and he, too, in his own very different and distinct way, is incredibly creative. In his case, his great passion and gift is for parking cars. So he works for a valet company, Beebee. And so he’s kind of off on his own. But he also interacts with the core four. But losses spookies, they get together. They have a kind of a business, although it’s just kind of getting going as a business to create a spongers, which translates roughly to like scare’s or shocks. And so, for example, they stage an exorcism so that an older priest can kind of outshine this younger, charismatic colleague that is getting all the kind of cool points or they set up like kind of haunted house for a slightly complicated inheritance scheme. So basically, they’re incredibly creative and incredibly committed. And this is really the kind of show where when you kind of explain what’s going on, it just kind of makes you scratch your head. But trust me, it works.

S4: As you well know, June, I trust you inherently. Indubitably, I don’t know some word. Let’s rejoin your conversation, hear more about their creative process.

S1: Working is a show about creativity, and one of the things that’s really striking about loss is spookies, is that the four of them and also Teco in his own way, are really dedicated to creativity. I mean, Renaldo renounces relationships because he’s just so obsessed with making his horror’s making his scare’s. Is that something that you also all feel that you that it’s just so important to you that your creativity, that you make other sacrifices? Actually, I’ll make an a reply to that question if I can.

S7: I mean, to an extent, I think we’re all very dedicated to the work we do because we love doing it. And if it wasn’t our job, it would still be something that we’re doing in our lives. But I think, unlike Brent, although I have healthy boundaries for when to say this is my time and this is work time. But even if I’m not working, I still, you know, write and do other creative things just because it’s what I have always done.

S1: And I’m when I was reading your biography before, like, it’s not normal to do so many things. Do you also kind of see yourself in in the young people of lesser spookies who have this dedication and this obsession with trying creative projects?

S6: Definitely, you know, it’s some it’s almost like it seems like it’s like workaholism, you know, like wanting to work all the time, but it’s every one of these endeavors is artistic. So I just feel like while we can while I can do. Absolutely. I just enjoy it. I just like it. But there’s the show to me or that group is more also about optimism in being in a group. So sometimes when bands get together, there’s no logic to why they should have a hit record. Like we’re just this weird band, but let’s just keep going. Let’s just stay together and maybe somehow we can turn this into our job. And then sometimes that does happen. So it’s more about that. It offers an optimism about something that doesn’t even make practical sense.

S1: Yeah. And the needs, the four of them to for it to work. It is Pride Month and I’m you know, so I’m obliged to to ask a question about something LGBTQ related. And since Helio, it’s your turn. I’ll ask you this question like there is something really striking about how just casually queer the show is, you know, couple of the characters, but also everyone’s just cool about it. Does that feel kind of aspirational? Does that feel like it reflects Latin America today? What was the message you were communicating with that?

S8: Well, as with the the aspect of Latin American representation in the show, there really was no agenda for a message. I think that we made the show that came out of us, and it is a Castro like queer show because Anna and I are both casual, we queer. You know, it’s what I like about it is that that aspect of it is one of many, many, many aspects that makes the show what the show is. It’s not sort of like a reverse TED talk where it’s like, OK, these are the points that we want to make about these kinds of people and OK. So I guess we need a character that’s like that and a character that’s like that. It’s like, no, we we sort of. It’s a very playful show and it’s very true to who we are and what wire to make. And it’s a vessel for the sensibilities of the three of us. And in that mix, there’s this other thing. And you know, why is André’s gay? Well, I don’t know. Is it seem fun to play that for you?

S1: Yeah. That makes me think of something else, though, that, you know, you guys were writing the show and you didn’t give yourselves the most sympathetic characters. I mean, Andress is so wrapped up in himself and, you know. Yeah. Where is he now? Oh, my God. Renaldo is the sweetest character on television and no one’s been as nice. Now, though, Ursula is like she’s such a great role model. She, like she will teach you how to get paid. But undresses. He’s just wrapped up in himself and touches.

S8: Just so you know. You’re thinking. I was actually thinking how or I mean, Ursula is very close to Diana that I know. And I think that right now, though, I actually see some of me in Granada and in sort of his optimism and his. I think that now looks like parts Fred parts me. It’s just like sort of like the better part of everyone. But I think that Anna loves playing dummies and I really enjoy difficult people.

S1: So that that’s that’s how that whereas Teco, Fred is like again, he’s so sweet. He’s so put upon. He will like, get along with anyone and make anything work. Like, he also is kind of a paragon, almost like. Like that kind of person would just be walked over six times a day.

S6: Yes. And he’s got like a little bit of fear in him, too, because he wants to do the right thing. So there’s like he’s just sort of as anyone who’s, like, trying to, you know, wants to do a good job. He’s got a little bit of, like, worry about just getting it right, especially with parking cars. But we kept it pretty simple with him. There’s I don’t think he goes any deeper than that. Tarty as a character. Well, first of all, undresses the character. And I it’s I do still see him as a good character just because he works with and he’s part of the chocolate family. There’s something about chocolate families that is so it’s just like that’s good for the world chocolate families, you know? So he sees he’s part of a greater good in a way. And Totti, I can’t put it into words of what makes that character so great. But every it just every time I see Tatya, I just. Is full on happiness, you know.

S8: Yeah. That is sort of like in the school of like a Buster Keaton or like a Charlie Chaplin almost. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. How do you see her, Anna?

S9: I see that the as someone who is incredibly optimistic in many ways and has to a fault, assumes the best in people and has no self-awareness and no sense of who she is either into all of her identity is just sort of like, like a collage of references and things that she’s like, oh, this is what women act like. It’s Marilyn Monroe. This is what romance looks like. It’s like a movie. It’s, you know, everything’s very literal to her. And I think she’s very kind and naive to a fault in ways that sometimes make her seem like a dummy they call the asset.

S1: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask about season two. Can you give us any sense of where the show was when you had to stop filming, if indeed that’s what happened? What’s going to be in season two?

S8: Just break it down where the show was geographically, factually? It was in Chile. It was in Santiago, Chile. And, you know, we made the right decision in obviously the passing. And we’ll we’ll resume when it’s safe. You know, the thing I was thinking about in terms of the gradient of what’s essential and what’s nonessential, I think we are safe to say farther down the nonessential part of the society in terms of what Season two is going to be like. I’m really excited. I’m really excited for when we resume. I think that we we expand on the casual audiences that make this world the world. And I am excited that this is bookie’s get to hang with Teco more. I will just just to give you a hint that the moon will be very important to this season and it will will Tutty have any new jobs or does she have just like a permanent job with lots of spookies now that he keeps just finding little finding little trenches to dig for herself falling in? I think I think you can rest assured that they will continue to be the party that you that you know and love.

S1: Well, thank you so much for making us The Spookies, which is such a wonderful show that I have no watched more than twice and could watch again tonight. So thank you so much.

S8: That’s so sweet. This was so lovely. Thank you for having us. Thank you.

S4: June, that was such a great and entertaining conversation, and I really enjoyed hearing about their process. I was particularly struck. I have to say, since we’ve talked so much about limits being a source, if not the big source of creativity, how much work they’ve done to avoid creative limitations and avoid setting rules for themselves. They’ve set the show in a fictional country. There’s magic in the show, but they don’t do any of that kind of world building, rule building stuff that can kind of take over sometimes and really nail you down. You know, the supernatural stuff just works. However, they want it to work in the kind of great magic realist tradition. What did you make of that?

S1: You know, if I had heard their answers before seeing the show, I think I would have kind of scoffed or dismissed it as like retrofitting, not having thought out the mythology. But again, it works. The magical element sort of creeps up on you in a really winning way. And, you know, without getting too deep in the weeds, it also feels like a really good way of kind of expressing or suggesting the role of talent. Some people have a gift for invention or whatever, and it isn’t really definable. It doesn’t really meet rules. Does it work every single day? Doesn’t work all the time, but it is a difference and it’s something that sets them apart. And the magic feels that way. It doesn’t make sense. It shouldn’t really work the way that it works. But it does.

S4: Yeah, absolutely. And I also loved this kind of connect the dots process that Anna for Brager mentioned that rather than trying to move linear leave from a plot. You know, what’s the story? Let’s go from being A to B, B to BTC, which is kind of, you know, when Megahed Abbott was time at her process with the index cards. It’s not that. Instead, it’s what makes me laugh. What are the things that are making me are going to make me laugh in this moment or what are the list of things I find funny? And then let’s figure out how to connect the dots between them. It just shows that there’s lots of different ways to do this thing. We call writing for television. Obviously, you’re not writing half hour paranormal situational comedy, but when you do write Jun, do you start with the isolated ideas? Are you very much a one foot in front of the other? You know, I have to write the first sentence that I have to write the second sentence like what is your process and what do you think is the effect of these sort of different kinds of processes on the end result?

S1: Well, my own process is not one that I would necessarily recommend to anyone else. I always seem to get lost in creating very ornate lead that I would say eight times out of ten gets thrown out. But I also I’ve tried like, why didn’t I just skip this terrible torture that always gets cut anyway? Like, I can’t. But I it’s I guess it’s kind of how I get into things. Again, not recommended, but it just seems to be that the habit that I’ve gotten into and I do think that habit is really a big part of the writing process. It’s a muscle memory. And so you it’s too bad sometimes that you do things that you wish you wouldn’t and that you need to try to stop. But nevertheless, if it works, it works. And it I do think it’s relevant in Locy spookies because in their own comedy, Julio or Anana are both really observational, like onas performances are often just her, like being another human being. You know, not an particularly interesting person necessarily, but just absolutely inhabiting another person. It’s kind of hard to say, actually. I grew up all over the place. I come from a military family. So might say I’m a military brat. Well, the military part is undeniable. The wrap party can make a pretty good case against them. And on a microscopic level, with that sort of intense scrutiny, I don’t know. Like as I said before, it can be a bit overwhelming. Coolio, too. He works often the same way. I like his HBO special. My favorite shapes, like superficially at least it’s him talking about shapes. For those of you who don’t know, a square is roughly the shape of a door. But not quite. It’s a little bit more complicated than in order. But when you marry or when they marry that kind of observational talent with narrative, it it’s just really interesting. And as I’ve said it multiple times, like this show is just this really fascinating connection between absurdity and what seems very basic, very down to earth, a kind of combination of those things. And I should also mention, since I happened to tell yet, that there is in the middle of all this craziness, some very piercing political commentary, like, for example, Julia’s character, Endris. He’s incredibly rich and he has magical powers like he can teleport or, you know, freeze the ocean, but he can’t get into the United States because he can’t get a visa like that is really great. And I don’t know how replicable their processes are, my processes, but in their case at least, it definitely works.

S10: Well, that’s great to hear today, June. We have an advice question from a listener that I thought was pretty interesting. She writes, Dear working, I have a problem relating to my new job in a publishing house, which I started about a month into lockdown. I still haven’t met my co-workers or been to the office, and we’ve all been working remotely. I’m not sure if it’s these circumstances without the creative spark of collaborating in person or if it’s due to the general sad state of the world. But I’ve been feeling really flat and down. Concentrating has been hard and I haven’t been at all productive in my new role. I’ve suffered from depression in the past and this feels very similar. The company hired me because I’m known for moving quickly and having high energy. But since I began, it feels as if I’m knee deep in molasses and I’ve hardly made any meaningful progress in 2.5 months. I might be projecting, but I feel as if the company is disappointed with my performance so far. My question is this. Do I talk to my new boss about my mental health issues? She is a fair minded and sympathetic person and I believe we should be more transparent and open about issues of depression and anxiety. So why do I feel cautious about raising this? What would you do? Cheers and warm wishes. Publisher. In name only June. I want to hear what you have to say first, because between the two of us, you’re the manager here. So what do you think?

S1: You know, it’s hard to say what would you do? Because it everything is so dependent on the company, the culture. And I don’t know the specifics of this one, obviously, but I think in any considerate workplace where management cares at all about the staff, everyone understands that nothing. Ah, no one is working or doing anything, really. In a normal way right now. I also will say though, that I absolutely understand the letter writers uncertainty and maybe even reluctance to say something. I think everyone, except maybe people who work in like state unemployment offices are worried about their employment status. So I get the just kind of I don’t know the uncertainty. But there is also a heightened concern for mental health, a kind of more of an awareness right now. And unless letter writer, your gut is telling you that saying something might lead to even greater anxiety, I would recommend that you do say something to your manager, I suspect. Apart from anything else, that thinking through what you’d say might help you process it. And as someone who is a manager, I would also say that it would be helpful if you could spend a little time coming up with potential strategies. I don’t think this is something where you can think of a potential solution. But doing that kind of thinking and doing that kind of work about what could help you, what could help you feel better, what could help? Heal you? That would be good managers are often horribly overworked themselves. So the more help you can give them, the more helpful they can be. And I would add that given that this is a relatively new job at me, seems like you have a really you really respect your manager. But if you haven’t yet bonded with them, you might want to talk to H.R. because they often are the best source of information and resources like they have all that stuff down. And that might be a really good help right now.

S4: I think those are all really, really great points. So I only offer this in the spirit of yes, anding everything Joon said, because I think it’s really, really smart. But the first thing I would say is just not that I necessarily think you are, but please, please, please do not beat yourself up for how you’re feeling and your lower level of productivity and your kind of molasses like state. Everyone is feeling some degree of what you’re feeling right now. A couple months ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who’s an editor at a publishing house, and he said, I can’t do any editing right now, like the in-depth work with the manuscript that editing takes. I’m just really struggling with that. So I’m doing everything else in my job. That’s not the in-depth work of the manuscript right now. Just waiting till I can really do that again. You know, so you are not alone and hopefully you don’t feel alone. And so I think that part of what is important beyond the job stuff and June’s had all sorts of helpful things there, is that you’re finding opportunities outside of your workplace to socialize how you are feeling and discuss it so that you will feel less alone about it, so that you’ll see how other people are handling it, etc., etc., so forth. So if you don’t have people you can talk to about it, the more that you can work at that, I think is really important. Particularly it might. Since you say that you’ve experienced depression in the past and this feels a lot like that, you might want to consider if you don’t already go to a therapist to start going to a therapist and talking to them. I go to a therapist who I see once a week over Zoome It’s been extraordinarily helpful in keeping me on track with my job and with my life. I absolutely swear by it. And also, I’m not saying this is what you’re doing. To be clear, because I don’t know you. But if part of the issue is simply that you need that kind of outlet, that you need that kind of socialization, it might be misplaced to go get it at the workplace. I don’t know. But I think June is right that in preparing to have a conversation with the people around you, which may include your boss or someone at H.R., you’ll learn a lot about what’s actually going on and what you feel able to do about it. And so that that will be important. You may also just tactically speaking, want to do some kind of testing the waters friendly thing that is not about like, hey, I’m struggling in this way, but just like her, it’s harder to get stuff done in a day than it was before all this or, you know, whatever. There’s casual ways that you can kind of test the waters before having a more serious conversation as well.

S10: Publisher in name only. Thank you so much for writing us, and I hope that this was helpful.

S3: And to the rest of our listeners, we hope you’ve enjoyed the show. If you have, please consider signing up for Slate. Plus, sleepless members get benefits like zero ads on any Slate podcasts, bonus episodes of shows like Slow Burn and Dear Prudence. And you’ll be supporting the work we do here on working. It’s only thirty five dollars for the first year and you can get a free two week trial now at Slocomb slush working plus.

S4: Thank you so much to Fred Armisen, Pouliot Taurus and Anna for Brager for being our guests for this week. And as always, an extra special thanks to producer extraordinaire Cameron Drewes.

S3: We’ll be back next week for a conversation between Ramona Lamb and Adrian Tolmie. Until then, get back to work.