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In Retrospect with Susie Banikarim and Jessica Bennett
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In Retrospect with Susie Banikarim and Jessica Bennett

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Is there a cultural moment from your past that looks different in retrospect? Maybe it’s a scandalous tabloid story seared into your teenage brain or a political punchline that just feels wrong now. It might be a very specific red swimsuit that inspired a decade of plastic surgery (see: “Baywatch”) or the inescapable smell of an entire generation of prepubescent boys (Axe body spray, anyone?). Each week on IN RETROSPECT, Emmy-winning journalist Susie Banikarim and New York Times editor Jessica Bennett revisit a pop culture moment from the 80s and 90s that shaped them — to try to understand what it taught us about the world, and a woman’s place in it.

Talk to us at @inretropod, @susiebnyc and @jessicabennett on Instagram. New episodes each Friday.
34 Episodes
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As we revealed in part one, the 2007 Rutgers women’s basketball team was having a Cinderella season when radio host Don Imus callously dragged them into a national firestorm with a racist slur, effectively stealing their moment. But the women of Rutgers didn’t just go away quietly – they fought back, rising above the noise to tell their story. Susie and Jess are joined again by former Rutgers captain Essence Carson and Emmy-winning journalist Jemele Hill to unpack the aftermath of that sordid episode, and discuss the complexities of who gets to respond in anger when they are publicly targeted, and why. GUESTS:   Essence Carson, former WNBA star, Rutgers captain and current creative executive Jemele Hill, Emmy award-winning journalist FOR MORE: A First-Class Response to a Second-Class Put-Down (NYT, 2007) Imus: Race, Power and the Media (Newsweek, 2007) Don Imus, DJ fired for racial slur at Rutgers players, dies at 79 (ESPN, 2019) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Long before Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese were shattering records and making national headlines, there was the 2007 Rutgers team. The New Jersey players had a Cinderella season, powering their way to the Final Four in an extraordinary triumph. But instead of being celebrated, the young women were attacked – dismissed and belittled in an infamous on-air slur by the popular radio host Don Imus. In this episode, Susie and Jess revisit the moment which sparked a national firestorm – and a much-needed conversation about racism, sexism and women’s sports. They also welcome two women who were there: former Rutgers captain and WNBA star Essence Carson, and the journalist Jemele Hill, who reported on the story in real time. GUESTS:  Essence Carson, former WNBA star, Rutgers captain and current creative executive Jemele Hill, Emmy award-winning journalist FOR MORE: The Imus Fallout: Who Can Say What? (Time, 2007) Trash Talk Radio (by Gwen Ifill NYT, 2007) Take A Stand Against Indecency And Cruelty (by Jemele Hill, ESPN)  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
For a certain generation of girls, the trading of lip gloss was akin to sharing secrets — there was hierarchy, and subtlety, and hidden messages all in one. In this mini episode, Jess reminisces about middle school makeup rituals and what they can tell us about female friendship, while Susie wonders how it’s possible to be so nonchalant about the spreading of germs (lol!). FOR MORE: Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton and… Lip Gloss? (by Jessica Bennett, NYT) Makeup As Meditation, Skincare As 'Girl Therapy' (by Jessica Defino, Substack) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It was the iconic and irreverent magazine that shaped a generation of 90s girls, teaching them about pop culture, fashion and feminism. Sassy was accessible and relatable, willing to openly talk about taboo subjects like sex and teen suicide when nobody else would. In this episode, we chat with the founding editor and perennial cool older sister Jane Pratt about why Sassy still resonates for so many nearly 40 years later.  FOR MORE: My Totally Normal Addiction To Buying Teen Magazines (NYT, 2021) How Sassy Is Tavi Gevinson? (NYT, 2011) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
You asked, we answered! In this episode, Jess & Susie take a trip down memory lane — responding to “in retrospect” moments shared by listeners (you!). From a generation named after Jordan Catalano of “My So Called Life” to Brandy and Monica’s faux-feud in “The Boy Is Mine,” here are some moments from the 90s that you can’t stop thinking about. FOR MORE: Meet Generation Catalano (Slate, 2011) Monica on 25 Years of ‘The Boy Is Mine’ (The Hollywood Reporter, 2023) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Exactly 25 years ago, the blockbuster teen comedy “American Pie” launched the term “MILF” into the stratosphere — that is, Mom I’d Like to F*ck. Jennifer Coolidge, who played Stifler’s Mom, is perhaps still the most famous MILF in America. But… where did that term really come from? Jess and Susie uncover the MILF’s true origin story and how it was shaped by the most raunchy teen sex comedy of our time. FOR MORE:  Review: The Road to Manhood, Paved in Raunchy Jokes and Pie (NYT, 1999) American Pie at 20: The Notorious Pie Scene from Every Angle (NYT, 2019)  Don’t Use This Acronym: MILF in the OED (blog post by Laurel Sutton) At the Super Bowl of Linguistics, May the Best Word Win (by Jessica, NYT, reporting from the annual linguistics convention in 2015) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
And what does that even mean? In this episode, Susie and Jess unpack how ageism has been used to diminish women for generations and their own complicated feelings about aging. FOR MORE:  I Refuse the Graceful Slide Into Cultural Irrelevance (by Jessica, NYT) Don Lemon Regrets Calling Nikki Haley ‘Past Her Prime’ (AP) Michelle Yeoh Is Right – A Woman Is Never ‘Past Her Prime’ (The Guardian) E. Jean Carroll and the Audacity of a Woman ‘Past Her Prime’ (by Jessica, NYT) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
What did a generation of strivers learn about what it means to get ahead from “The Devil Wears Prada”? Was Miranda Priestly, the famed and famously demanding fashion editor at the center of the movie – in many ways the original “girlboss” – an aspirational or cautionary figure? In this episode, Susie and Jess revisit the blockbuster 2006 film and talk about their own careers and changing relationships to ambition. GUEST: Samhita Mukhopadhyay, former executive editor at Teen Vogue and author of the upcoming book, The Myth of Making It FOR MORE:  The Devil Wears Prada Oral History (Entertainment Weekly) The Demise of the Girlboss (New York Magazine) The Girlboss Has Left the Building (The Atlantic) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
How do you turn the classic raunchy teen comedy on its head? Emma Seligman, writer and director of the critically acclaimed, lesbian fight club film, “Bottoms,” and the claustrophobic, indie hit, “Shiva Baby,” talks movie-making, her early aughts inspiration, queer representation on screen and how it’s changing. Guest hosted by Sharon Attia, our researcher and associate producer, who also happens to be Emma’s best friend.  GUEST:  Emma Seligman, writer-director of “Bottoms” and “Shiva Baby”  FOR MORE: Watch “Bottoms”  Watch “Shiva Baby”   Why Emma Seligman Decided to Make a Movie About a Queer Fight Club (New Yorker) The Brains Behind the New Comedy, Bottoms (New York Magazine)  See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
In part one, Jess and Susie revisited a famous episode of The Golden Girls, in which Blanche mistakes the word “lesbian” for “Lebanese.” (“Not ‘Lebanese,’ Blanche. Lesbian!”) Nearly 40 years later, the IKYKY of calling lesbians “Lebanese” lives on – as does the gay legacy of The Golden Girls. Jess and Susie talk to the originator of that joke about the role that The Golden Girls played – and still plays – in gay culture, as well as how that episode fits into the history of LGBTQ representation on screen. Plus: a lesbian-lebanese surprise! GUESTS: Maya Salam, culture editor at The New York Times Drew Mackie, cohost of Gayest Episode Ever FOR MORE: At Long Last, Lesbian Portrayals On Screen Are More Complex (NYT) Mean Girls’ Janice Ian Was a Lesbian (After Ellen) Thank You for Being a Friend: A Gay Golden Girls History (Frontiers) Blanche’s Brother is a Homo, & More Gay GG Moments (Gayest Episode Ever) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
“Not ‘Lebanese,’ Blanche. Lesbian!” The line originated on The Golden Girls in 1986, after a lesbian friend of Dorothy’s came to visit and Blanche mistook her for “Lebanese.” A decade later, Ellen DeGeneres riffed on that same play on words, coming out as “Lebanese” on the Rosie O’Donnell Show shortly before publicly coming out. “Lebanese” lesbians would go on to appear in Mean Girls, on Glee, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race. In this episode, Jess and Susie get to the bottom of what made that joke so enduring… and talk to an actual Lebanese lesbian about what it meant to her. GUESTS: Maya Salam, culture editor at The New York Times Drew Mackie, cohost of the Gayest Episode Ever podcast FOR MORE: Dorothy’s Friend is a Lesbian (Gayest Episode Ever) The Very Slow Rise of Lesbianism On Screen (Maya Salam, NYT) In 1986, Golden Girls Created the Most Enduring Lesbian Joke on TV (Autostraddle) Blanche’s Brother is a Homo, and More Gay Golden Girls’ Moments (Gayest Episode Ever) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
We’re Back!

We’re Back!

2024-01-2601:34

Get ready for more In Retrospect! From the dramatic dethroning of the first Black Miss America to the enduring legacy of four caftan loving Golden Girls, we’ve put together a whole new batch of episodes about the retro pop culture we all love – and love to pick apart. So dig up your leg warmers and break out the Aquanet, season 2 drops next week!See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It was an era bookended by Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky. It gave us MTV’s “boxers or briefs,” popularized the MILF, and spawned the first-ever “sex tape.” But what did 90s culture really teach us about love and sex? Jess is joined by sex educator and bestselling author Emily Nagoski, whose new book, Come Together, is out this month.   Guests: Emily Nagoski, sex educator and bestselling author  Further reading: She wrote a bestseller about sex. Then her own sex life fell apart. (NY Times) Come Together by Emily Nagoski (her new book) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
If you’re looking for a little comfort this holiday season, look no further than a classic Hallmark Christmas movie. There you’ll find an uncomplicated world of quaint small towns covered in snow, magical family moments with hot cocoa and single girls looking for love in all the right places. Why are these films so popular despite their somewhat retrograde ideas about what everybody wants? In this special holiday episode, Susie will explain to Jess why she watches these sweet, simple movies despite - or maybe because of - how silly they often seem. In Retrospect is taking a little break for the holidays. Thank you for listening to our first season and look for new episodes starting Feb. 2, 2024! FOR MORE: How Hallmark Took Over Cable Television (The New Yorker, 2019) Nobody Told Hallmark Channel That Cable Is Dead (New York Magazine, 2023) Christmas Under Wraps Trailer (Hallmark Channel/YouTube, 2014) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Why Didn’t She Scream?

Why Didn’t She Scream?

2023-12-1524:511

Why didn’t she fight back? Why did she stay? For as long as abuse and sexual violence have existed, there have been questions about how victims are “supposed” to act in their aftermath. In our last episode, we explored the public vilification of Robin Givens but there was more to say. This week, Susie and Jess chart our national obsession with “perfect” victims — and why that obsession persists. Plus, Jess talks about  E. Jean Carroll’s assault case against Donald Trump, which she covered for the Times. FOR MORE:  Why Didn’t She Scream? And Other Questions Not to Ask a Rape Accuser (New York Times, 2023) What People Misunderstand About Rape (New York Times, 2023) Robin Givens on Domestic Violence: 'Why I Stayed' (Time, 2014) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Robin Givens’ honesty about her violent marriage to Mike Tyson led to a nasty backlash. In the aftermath of that explosive interview with Barbara Walters, Givens was portrayed as an evil gold digger who, as the tabloids put it, had become the “most hated woman in America.” But Givens endured, filing for divorce and rebuilding her life despite the vitriol. In this episode, Susie and Jess examine that cruel public reaction, what it teaches us about America’s misunderstanding of domestic violence at that time and the role that race played in it all. Guest: Salamishah Tillet, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and professor of Africana Studies and Creative Writing at Rutgers University FOR MORE: ‘Boomerang’ at 30: Think of It as the Robin Givens Rom-Com (New York Times, 2022) Robin Givens on Domestic Violence: 'Why I Stayed' (Time, 2014) Ms. Magazine Cover: Battered Wives (1976) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
In 1988, the actress Robin Givens and her husband Mike Tyson, the heavyweight champion of the world, gave a television interview to Barbara Walters addressing persistent tabloid rumors that their marriage was violent. In a stunningly honest moment, Givens admitted, with Tyson by her side, that she was tormented by her husband's physical abuse. In this episode, Susie and Jess revisit that interview, the vicious public response and what it revealed about what it means to be a victim in America. FOR MORE: Mike Tyson And Robin Givens Are Interviewed Amid Rumors (ABC News) Robin's Sad Song (People, 1988) The Woman America Loves To Hate (Sun Sentinel, 1988) Through the Storm: Robin Givens (Essence, 2020) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The men in the office called them “Dollies,” and they had had enough. In 1970, 46 women who were not allowed to be writers sued Newsweek magazine for gender discrimination – paving the way for generations of women journalists to follow. Jess reflects on discovering that story when she was a young staffer at Newsweek four decades later, and how it led to her first book, Feminist Fight Club, which was inspired by those women. Plus, Susie asks what’s changed for women reporters today.  FOR MORE:  Are We There Yet? Forty Years Later, Revisiting a Landmark Sex Discrimination Suit (Jessica Bennett, Jesse Ellison and Sarah Ball, Newsweek, 2012) The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace (Book by Lynn Povich) Good Girls Revolt (Amazon TV series based on the book) Feminist Fight Club: A Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace (Book by Jessica Bennett) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
In Part 1, Jess and Susie dissected how a salacious Newsweek report about women’s likelihood of getting married sparked a national panic. Here they share their own views on marriage – and unpack what we’d make of that silly story today. (If you haven’t listened to Pt 1, we recommend starting there!) Guests: Sharon Attia, associate producer for IN RETROSPECT and resident young millennial FOR MORE: Revisiting Newsweek’s ‘More Likely To Be Killed By a Terrorist Than Marry’ Story (The Atlantic, 2016) ‘I Don’t’: The Case Against Marriage (Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison, Newsweek, 2010) Modern Love: Missing the Love Boat (Jessica Bennett, NY Times, 2012) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It was a 1986 cover story with a claim that spread like wildfire: A single woman over 40 was “more likely to be killed by a terrorist” than to get married. Jess and Susie unravel the origin of that salacious report — later retracted — and dissect how such a line went from reporter’s notebook to reference point in films such as “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally.” Plus: How that Newsweek story inspired Susan Faludi to write her blockbuster feminist classic, Backlash. Guests: E. Jean Carroll, journalist, longtime Elle advice columnist and author of “What Do We Need Men For?”  Susan Douglas, professor of media studies at the University of Michigan and author of “Enlightened Sexism” FOR MORE: Single, Female, and Desperate No More (NY Times, 2006) Revisiting Newsweek’s ‘More Likely To Be Killed By a Terrorist’ Story (The Atlantic, 2016) Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi (1991) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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