Episode 40: Transcript

Episode: 40 — Television criticism

Transcription by Keffy

Charlie Jane: [00:00:00] Welcome to Our Opinions Are Correct, a podcast about the social meaning of science fiction. I'm Charlie Jane Anders. I'm a science fiction writer who thinks a lot about science. 

Annalee: [00:00:09] And I'm Annalee Newitz. I'm a science journalist who writes science fiction. 

Charlie Jane: [00:00:14] So today we're going to be talking about TV criticism and what it means to be a TV critic in the era of peak TV and over analyzing everything and everything being political. And we have two amazing special guests in the studio. And why don't you both introduce yourselves?

Nina: [00:00:26] I'm Nina Shen Rastogi and I've been writing about Game of Thrones for Vulture for the last six years. 

Inkoo: [00:00:34] I'm Inkoo Kang. I am a staff writer at Slate. I do not think about science ever, but I'm happy to be here. 

Charlie Jane: [00:00:42] So let's talk about television.

[00:00:45] Intro music plays: Drums with a bass drop and more science fictional bells and percussion.

Charlie Jane: [00:01:12] So, Nina and Inkoo, what do you see as the job of the TV critic in 2019?

[00:01:19] [All laugh.]

Nina: [00:01:20] No pressure.

Annalee: [00:01:22] It's a huge question, yeah.

Inkoo: [00:01:25] I feel like it's a very varied job. Before I was at slate, I was a TV critic at MTV News, R.I.P. and that was about a couple of years ago and it was a very interesting transitional period in TV criticism. Because I think a lot of the ways that a lot of people think about TV criticism, if they are a really avid reader of it as they have this idea of someone like Alan Sepinwall or Matt Zoller Seitz, who at least five years ago spent a lot of their time writing recaps. 

[00:02:00] Nina will, I'm sure, have a lot to say about this, but I feel it could be TV criticism culture has sort of moved past recaps a little bit. I think that you have a lot of critics who sort of do the very journeyman, trades-y sort of TV criticism where you get, I don't know, three episodes or six episodes of a new season and they review what they can of that. Sometimes you will get a full season which was always my favorite because then you can actually comment on the complete arc of a season. And then I think there's a lot of TV criticism that looks at one very particular episode, probably what you would call a very special episode—

 Annalee: [00:02:43] An event episode.

Inkoo: [00:02:44] Without those cheesy ‘80s connotations. And then I think you can have a lot of think pieces about, , this is a significant episode or storyline because X, Y, Z. 

[00:02:58] And so I think one of the great things from a TV critic’s perspective, if you are in a good enough position to do so, you can pick and choose what type of coverage you want to have. From a reader's perspective, I honestly have no idea what people are interested in reading, but I write generally what I'm interested in. 

Nina: [00:03:22] When I think about the role of the TV critic, it's shaped by the fact that I've had a very unique and strange and maybe kind of peripheral relationship with TV criticism in that I was a full-time journalist, but for the last eight years or so, I've had a different day job. And my one kind of consistent critical activity has been writing whenever Game of Thrones was on, writing a weekly piece about it for Vulture.

Inkoo: [00:03:45] Which were really good, by the way. 

Nina: [00:03:47] Oh, thank you. 

Annalee: [00:03:46] Yeah, no, they're really great. Kind of a lifeline if you're watching the show.

Nina: [00:03:50] Oh, thank you so much. That’s so nice. And some of this changed because obviously by the time the show ended, there was not just peak TV, peak Game of Thrones criticism. There was so much coming out every week, but I really thought about it as every week, “How can I help a reader engage more deeply with what we just watched?” Whether that's thinking about, oh let me draw some connections to some episodes in the past. Then you've probably forgotten cause you're not sitting here thinking about this show as much as I am or underlying something that would sometimes stick in my craw about an episode and I'd think , “Oh, What is that? What is that trying to tell me? And that's always what I thought I was trying to do and because it was the same show week over week, I was really thinking a lot about that relationship between what I was trying to put out and who would be reading.

Annalee: [00:04:43] It was interesting when Inkoo was saying , well I don't really know what audiences are getting out of TV criticism when you're kind of interacting with commenters and stuff. What was your impression of what people wanted out of it?

Nina: [00:04:53] Again, I think that that changed. I definitely felt more in these later seasons that people were, I think, like Inkoo said, hungry for things that went beyond the plot recap. They wanted to have maybe language or ways to talk about what was annoying them about those final seasons because it was such a shared and intense annoyance to rage sort of spectrum. 

[00:05:13] So, I definitely think that through the end there was that kind of sense of wanting to just sort of have a space and a time to have a kind of deeper conversation for something they'd spent a lot of time with. I think we're thinking about a lot. I think one of the things that I found really gratifying about the end of kind of doing those Game of Thrones essays was I was an English major. I was in a, I was a Performance Studies Grad student. I like nerding out about this stuff, but it felt like everybody was kind of excited to nerd out about craft and about the relationship between the author and the audience. And so I felt like criticism kind of made a space for that.

Charlie Jane: [00:05:45] You know, it's interesting to talk about recapping or discussing or analyzing Game of Thrones after every episode because that is something that only happens for a few shows nowadays. I feel like there's a few shows that are important enough that everybody really needs to talk about them the day after they air versus what you were talking about Inkoo, of , you get the whole season and you kind of analyze the whole season. I mean what is the most basic unit of TV analysis these days? Is it the season? Is it the episode? Is it the whole show? I mean I'm been around long enough to remember Television Without Pity, which was the uber recap site where we would just, you know, somebody would write a 10 page, literally 10 page analysis of a single hour of television where they would just go through every single minor plot point and just riff on it. It was kind of insane but also a weird guilty pleasure. So have we just completely gotten away from that now? Is it not even meaningful to talk about individual episodes of television unless it's one of these huge shows?

Inkoo: [00:06:40] I mean, going back to your original question, I think I have definitely read and probably written essays that are devoted solely to one scene. I think for example, when Sansa was raped in season five, was it? A lot. You know, that was like three minutes of television maybe, but people really spent a lot of digital ink on that because it was really worth talking about. Mostly to rag on the show which it completely deserves. I forgot your second question.

Charlie Jane: [00:07:10] I mean it’s basically what is the main unit of TV criticism now? Is it the episode? Is it the scene? Is it the season? Is it the whole show?

Inkoo: [00:07:19] I would hope that it's essentially whatever is worth talking about. I think that's the really great thing about TV criticism right now. You have so much content and you can break it down into so many different pieces that it's really nice to have the flexibility to talk about however much of a thing that you want. And hopefully there's a large enough readership base that's interested in, whatever unit you're interested in talking about.

Annalee: [00:07:50] So, can you evaluate a TV show based on one episode or is that kind of , okay, I'm evaluating the episode. But if I want to evaluate the show itself, I need a whole season or I need the entire show before I can make a real critical judgment about its success or…

Nina: [00:08:07] I dunno, I mean I think that, and obviously this is something, I think when you're writing about episode by episode, you think about it a lot, but I think there's lots of different ways to read a text or a show. From, like Inkoo was saying, very small, like a scene or The New York magazine has that series, I Think About This A Lot, which is just about private memes. There's sometimes a single line or a single image. And you can draw that scope, I think, very broadly, right? I've read, to stick it with what I know in Game of Thrones, there've been a lot of great essays about a single scene. And there are also wonderful essays that connect it to a broader social phenomenon or bring in the books as sort of another object for it. So, I think it—I think even if you're thinking about criticism as trying to ascertain whether something is a successful piece of art, which I think is one kind of criticism. You know, I think that can also be sort of done on a moment to moment basis. I don't know.

Inkoo: [00:09:08] And then you can sort of take a whole show into account. I think at the beginning of the most recent season, of season eight, which was the last season of Game of Thrones, I did an essay about Tyrion. And a lot of that was sort of going back to the pilot, seeing how he was presented and then essentially how the show sort of lost interest in who he was because it decided midway through at least that it was going to pursue a different set of thematic interests that had a lot less to do with Tyrion. Of course, the show’s thematic development then sort of collapsed on itself in the last few episodes. But that's another discussion. 

Annalee: [00:09:48] Maybe some TV shows you can really look at them episode by episode and kind of evaluate the success of a single episode. But in other cases it kind of is weird to say, all right, I've watched three episodes. I think this is a great show because I can think of a lot of shows where the first three episodes were awesome. And then by the end of the season I was , oh my God, why did I like this?

Nina: [00:10:12] That was the last show I think I wrote about for Slate, which was the first season of The Killing, which had this particular, everyone was really into it at the beginning. And then by the end everyone seemed to have a collective sense of , what is, what has happened to this show that we had anointed as this, this darling of this season. But I also think that something about episodic television is that it's for the most part created in chunks and it's delivered in chunks, right? 

Charlie Jane: [00:10:39] Seasons, yeah.

Nina: [00:10:39] So yeah, seasons or the week, the episode and the week. And it takes, you know, at least in the model where you're releasing an episode every week. They are in some ways designed to be consumed over a long period of time. And in some ways, the time between things, you know, I feel like is part of the experience of it.

[00:10:58] So I think that in some cases it seems entirely relevant. But then maybe in the same way that we read a Dickens novel now in its entirety and think of it as an entirety, but when it was serialized, like how were people understanding it then? I mean, I think that, to bring it back to Game of Thrones, which I know the best, I mean, I even think about the different ways it felt to be writing about sexual violence in that show when #MeToo kind of happened right in the middle of it. And so those early episodes and the moments that we were consuming them then felt very different than the end. , I remember writing about, I think maybe it was a season three episode, where, does Jaime rape Cersei?

Charlie Jane: [00:11:41] Oh yeah, that was, God, I wrote about that. 

Nina: [00:11:45] Yeah. 

Charlie Jane: [00:11:46] And it was really a upsetting.

Inkoo: [00:11:47] I think we all wrote about that. 

Nina: [00:11:49] Yeah, we all wrote about that. And I remember I also the reaction that I got. I think one of the comments on the piece was, “Oh yeah, I got to that part and then I scrolled up, and of course this was written by a woman.” There was more of a hostility around that kind of argument. And then by the time I got to writing about the last season, there was, there felt like there was much more of an appreciation and understanding that that was something what was going on and it was something we were having to grapple with as we enjoyed the show. So, I do think that kind of chronology and that spread out is at least essential to how I was engaging with that show and how I wrote about that show and how I thought about that show and how I'll think about that show and its multiple seasons as a piece of culture.

Annalee: [00:12:30] Yeah. It's interesting to think about, I think we were talking about Handmaid's Tale a couple episodes ago and how that unfolded historically. Because that was a show that was made during the Obama era and it was made with the assumption that we would kind of continue to have relatively progressive politics in the United States. And then when it came out, it suddenly had this whole different meaning. And as it's gone on, people have gotten kind of fatigued and they don't want it cause they're , it's too dark, it’s too upsetting. Are there are shows that you guys have gotten sick of or that you think are really overrated that critics have just decided are the thing that we need to write about, but you're just , why can't we write about something else that's less well known or…?

Inkoo: [00:13:17] I think that at least within the time that I've been writing about TV, the only other show where I was , why do I have to pay attention to this was House of Cards. Because that show is bad. Like, it's just a legitimately bad show. And I think I binged like four seasons in one weekend or something. I just thought , why am I doing this? Because the show was really bad. And you know what history has proven me correct. 

Annalee: [00:13:49] Yeah. But people did obsess about that show [crosstalk].

Charlie Jane: [00:13:52] They sure did. Yeah. We're going to have a quick intermission and then we're gonna come back and talk about the politics of TV in 2019.

[00:13:58] Segment change music plays. Drums with a bass line including bass drops.

Charlie Jane: [00:14:14] So what kind of themes are you all both seeing in the Trump era on television? How do you see a television show is addressing some of these topics around fascism and racism and sexual violence and so on and so forth.

Inkoo: [00:14:26] I guess I feel with the timetable that most productions run on, we're probably just seeing TV now that was made when the president was an office. And so I feel like it's hard to say. I feel like there is definitely this a blossoming of resistance TV I guess you would call it. I think The Good Fight was a very good example of a TV show that essentially sort of writes to newspaper headlines. But I don't know, I don't want to think about that stuff. What do you think, Nina?

Nina: [00:15:07] I was curious to know what trends you’ve been seeing?

Charlie Jane: [00:15:10] I watch a lot of superhero shows. I'm gonna just admit it and there was a period of a little while ago when both Supergirl and The Gifted which is the X-Men show that aired on Fox and was just recently canceled. Both Supergirl and The Gifted had almost identical storylines in which there was a kind of militia group that were secret underground, mostly white dudes, hunting. In the case of Supergirl, they were hunting aliens. In the case of The Gifted, they were hunting mutants and there were provocateur characters who were going on television and stirring up hatred against mutants or aliens, in the case of either of those shows. And it was very, and there was a lot of imagery around immigration. In fact, Supergirl introduced this place where aliens who are coming into the United States go, that's basically Ellis island, but it's called something else. It's called Shelly island I think, and it has special machinery that dampens your superpowers while you're on the island so that aliens can be assimilated without having their superpowers go off or something. 

[00:16:07] These really kind of intense themes about immigration and hatred of the other and witch hunts and these kind of militia movements that are spurred on by some kind of Fox News host kind of character. And both shows had pretty much identical storylines, which in both cases ended with tolerance and diversity winning out over these forces of hatred. And it felt like, very much people consciously trying to comment on this moment we're in. There's also been a lot of stuff around sexual violence and, and you know, other kinds of topics as well. 

Annalee: [00:16:40] Yeah, I think on shows that are ongoing, , say, The Good Place, you can start to see themes coming in that are clearly reflecting what's changed politically or socially. So not to give any spoilers for people who haven't gotten completely caught up with The Good Place, but there's a recent episode where they're basically grappling with how capitalism prevents people from being good. And that's a very new kind of theme. It’s been a really, really long time since mass media has had explicit critiques of capitalism. I would say since the 1930s and, you know, or there might be critiques of big business, but it wouldn't be a criticism specifically using the word capitalism. So that I think is really interesting. I think that we're seeing a lot of that. I think we're seeing shows trying to pull in more diverse perspectives and kind of realizing , oh, we don't have any women in the writers room or we don't have any POC in the writer's room. And maybe we should change that. 

[00:17:43] So I do think that even shows that are kind of just going on now that maybe were developed at a different era are changing. And looking at what's getting green-lit now, too. I think it's like Killing Eve opened a door where people were , oh, you could have strong competent women leading a show that's a murder mystery. It doesn't all have to be like Homeland where the female lead has a nervous breakdown every five minutes and it's constantly crying. And so that's what we think of as female power is , oh, it's barely barely able to do it guys. Fuck that. 

Inkoo: [00:18:19] I think we should note that the main innovation of Killing Eve is that you have a master criminal and master sort of investigator who want to fuck each other desperately. And they are both women.

Charlie Jane: [00:18:32] Right? Which is awesome.

Annalee: [00:18:32] Yeah. Because I think we've had that before with two guys who clearly wanted to fuck each other desperately. 

Inkoo: [00:18:38] Sherlock. 

Annalee: [00:18:40] Yeah, Sherlock. Exactly. Oh my God. Yeah. 

Charlie Jane: [00:18:42] Oh my God, yeah.

Annalee: [00:18:42] And so, I mean—

Inkoo: [00:18:45] That is happening in England right now and I'm , how do we bring that here? 

Charlie Jane: [00:18:47] I mean unfortunately, what’s happening in England right now is terrible and awful.

Annalee: [00:18:51] So I mean, yeah.

Inkoo: [00:18:51] Selectively bring stuff. 

Charlie Jane: [00:18:53] So I wanted to ask more about diversity. You know, in particular one of the things that's been happening in the last five years is that their has been a much more conscious effort to incorporate more diversity in television. How is that changing the kinds of stories that are being told? And is there a thing where there's more diversity in front of the camera than behind the camera and is that a problem?

Nina: [00:19:11] I've definitely, as somebody who's been primarily a viewer for the last several years have noticed it and felt it more. I'm Asian American and actually it was almost exactly 10 years ago that I wrote a piece for Slate about how at the time there were suddenly all of these South Asians on TV. And for me as somebody who's half Indian, I noticed it distinctly. And I remember in the interviews that I did with TV writers and actors, a lot of them, one part of it was, was this behind the scenes, A) a lot of the most visible South Asians and Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, had come up as writers. So they also had a hand in shaping how they were shown. You had an increasing number of, because of sort of the history of Asian American immigration, you had more people who, even if they weren't Asian, had grown up with other Asians.

[00:19:59] So there was a lot of [inaudible], so you had a lot of actors who had done their time in building up credits, sometimes credits that were not the most flattering and woke roles they could have played, but it got them the credits that could then get them bigger roles. So there was a really interesting kind of, and when I reported that 9-10 years ago, there was a really interesting, um, behind the scenes industry element to that. And I'm definitely noticing it much more that. You know, talking about The Good Place, I was , there are two South Asian women on this show? That blew my mind. It was , I was , okay, we have arrived. I say that facetiously, but I've definitely noticed as a viewer who is and who didn't even kind of, I think, realize how hungry I was to see more people and a wider range of…

[00:20:48] , the other big thing about killing you for me is Sandra Oh. I love seeing Sandra Oh.

Annalee: [00:20:52] Yes.

Charlie Jane: [00:20:55] Same.

Nina: [00:20:54] And, Inkoo, I think it was your piece when you wrote about that we now have our own diva in Constance Wu. I mean I think that that’s really meaningful for me as a viewer to see just the numbers and the diversity within the quote unquote diversity. So I feel that very much as a viewer.

Inkoo: [00:21:12] I'm going to start with the Constance Wu thing because I think it's actually very illustrative of the point I wanted to get to. I think everybody more or less knows about the whole Constance Wu controversy where she was really pissed that Fresh Off the Boat was renewed for a fifth season because it was, I think, pretty obvious she was not interested in being on the show anymore. And so she had this Twitter tirade and basically I wrote a piece that was like, well good, because now she is being a diva which we have not had an Asian American version of before. I think a lot of representation sort of happens in these phases where usually the first one is about how respectable and identifiable and relatable these others are. And then you get to a second phase where you’re , well what if they were also a human being with some flaws and then I feel the final phase is , well what if they're also monsters just men or white people. Just FYI, I'm talking with white people, so I’m just letting you know that [crosstalk].

Charlie Jane: [00:22:20] We can be monsters.

Inkoo: [00:22:22] If the whole anti-hero trend in TV that was very popular 10 years ago was a very much predicated on what if this white guy that you immediately identified with was actually kind of a fucking dick. the fact that we are able to have some version of that in Constance Wu, being ungrateful for her Fresh Off the Boat opportunity. That's not the worst thing because know you get to actually have—now you get to actually inhabit the full spectrum of humanity.

Nina: [00:22:57] And it’s not a monsterdom that's connected to the fact that she's…

Inkoo: [00:23:01] Yes. 

Annalee: [00:23:02] Yeah. It’s like it’s full circle in the sense that you know, with those representations in the pre-history of you're describing, where it's like the other is just a monster. It's white people who are, like, Oh, well here's some people of color. Well they're probably monsters. Or they're the maid, whatever. Either way they’re off to the side. And then of course once you have representation happening you can kind of come full circle back where it's like, no, no, I'm a self-made monster. You know, I'm not, this is not a white person who made me, it's, you know, actually just fully inhabiting, you know, a selfhood.

Inkoo: [00:23:34] I feel like we're close to being done, hopefully, with that first phase. The role model phase. And I think the art that really interests me when it comes to representation is the second phase, of the flawed characters. And then the third phase of, you know, a reflection of who I personally am. And so, I am really looking forward to that area being explored at greater length. And I think that we're seeing some of it. I think Mindy Kaling is outstanding in that she basically leapfrogged over the first two phases and just became full-on monster once she created The Mindy Project. Because that character is heinously unlikable and yet she is just like, you.

Annalee: [00:24:21] A relatable monster.

Inkoo: [00:24:21] Yes. And so I hope we get more versions of that.

Annalee: [00:24:27] Yeah, I do feel like Sandra Oh's character in Killing Eve is also kind of a relatable monster because she's really messed up. 

Charlie Jane: [00:24:35] She’s super messed up.

Annalee: [00:24:35] There's a lot of fucked up things about her and that's what's awesome. She gets to just be messy and—

Inkoo: [00:24:41] I also want more hot Josh Chans. You guys watched Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Hot Josh Chan was very close to my heart. 

Annalee: [00:24:49] Yes, so we want to see objectifying men more. A diversity of men. Yeah, just like general characters who are not either a model or a monster. 

Charlie Jane: [00:25:00] So Inkoo, I saw a piece you wrote I guess last fall where you were kind of arguing with something that Wesley Morris had written about the purpose of criticism and this idea that criticism based on representation is the lowest level of criticism or that it's not useful and you were kind of taking issue with that. 

Inkoo: [00:25:16] I think what he specifically was saying, it was this kind of meandering piece, but I think when he was trying to say was that essentially because the priority of representation is so, for most, some people are having trouble saying that a show, a black show, let's say, like Insecure, which is the example that he used that people were afraid to say negative things about Insecure. Which, like, have you been on Twitter? There's tons of people saying X, Y and Z about Insecure. And so I was really annoyed with that piece because he gave one piece of example, which is basically he went to a dinner party and basically his friends or whatever said that people. His friends said they were a little hesitant to say anything negative about Insecure.

[00:26:07] I gave a counter example on my piece and that was basically about Crazy Rich Asians, which definitely also got a lot of really positive press and then a very significant chunk, I thought, of people attacking it from whatever angle that they were interested in. So, I think one of them was sort of about how the movie overrepresents the Chinese population of Singapore at the expense of non-Chinese peoples in Singapore, which I thought was a great point. I don't think it's super relevant to the movie on a certain level because it's not really about Singaporean society. It's about the 0.1% of Singaporean society and a lot of that is Chinese. 

[00:26:59] My point being, even if you have a super big events representation moment like this, people aren't just saying whether it's good or bad based on representation. People are able to really get a lot of different ideas into a piece. And I think the thing that I really was heartened by with regard to Crazy Rich Asians, even though I was so sick of Crazy Rich Asians thinkpieces after a certain moment, was that you could really see all of these really diverse perspectives coming at the movie and sort of judging it based on not the criteria of is it good for Asian Americans, or whatever. But sort of coming at it from a bunch of really different, fascinating angles. 

[00:27:42] And I think that was something that the Wesley Morris piece missed because the representation conversation, at least with regard to Crazy Rich Asians was not about whether the movie was good or bad for Asians, it was about , well how this is movie deal with gender or class or Singaporean society, or whatever. And the fact that we are able to even expand the conversation to that level, I think, is thrilling because we haven't really had that before until the last, I dunno, couple of years. 

Nina: [00:28:16] And I think that to go back to this idea of, you know, what is criticism in this political age? I think not just Trump, but also just in this area where you have so many more voices. We have so much more awareness of what is problematic and what might be problematic. And we've, I think those of us who are extremely online or are extremely into reading TV criticism, kind of understand that. And so I think that some criticism that I really love can sometimes help me understand different things I'm trying to hold in my head at one time around a piece like Crazy Rich Asians. It was incredibly powerful for me to see that on screen, you know, Asians in love with Asians, the glamor of an Asian community and society, while also having a real queasy feeling about the sort of levels of capitalism and luxury on display. And I think that criticism in this political moment can kind of help us understand how those things relate, which I also think is a big part of understanding art in the kind of post-#MeToo, or current #MeToo movement. How do we think about the artist and the art and our relationship and our reaction to it. It's all kind of in a soup and I think we're all more aware of that.

Inkoo: [00:29:27] I think #MeToo is also a really great example of how, I guess, because we have so many websites and we have so many writers, this ongoing confrontation of is sexual assault bad? But rather it was a series of conversations about the different manifestations that sexual assault can take and what are the sort of power dynamics that we should be on the lookout for. And so it's nice that we can get into the nitty-gritty. 

Annalee: [00:29:57] The nuances of it, yeah.

Charlie Jane: [00:29:58] Right.

Annalee: [00:29:58] I was thinking as you guys were talking about a couple of other examples, like Always Be My Maybe and also, okay this is going to sound a stretch, but I'm going somewhere. Also the HBO show Looking, which I don't know if you guys saw that, but both of them are shows that are set within a minority community, but they both deal with class really interestingly. And I feel that because there's this sort of, okay there's this understanding that like, okay, so Always Be My Maybe, their characters are Asian American, but there's this huge class difference between the two characters and that somehow feels more visible.

[00:30:36] But I feel it's something about intersectionality allowing us to talk about types of identity that we haven't really talked about before. And Looking, I thought was really interesting in that way too because it's set within the queer community in San Francisco, particularly the gay male community and issues around class come up and issues around race come up a lot in ways that you almost never see outside a Jane Austin movie where everybody's talking about who's going to inherit what and who has what kind of money and is this a match that's economically viable? And all the men in that show are super aware of who's rich and who isn't, and what does it mean to date a poor boy versus a rich boy? 

[00:31:13] And I feel like in Always Be My Maybe, that's a huge piece of what's going on as she comes back to town. She’s like, well, I’m super fancy. And this guy is just, what? He's installing air conditioners. 

Charlie Jane: [00:31:24] He's kind of a quote unquote loser. 

Annalee: [00:31:27] He's working class. He's not even a loser.

Charlie Jane: [00:31:27] But he’s a loser because he’s—

Annalee: [00:31:30] Because he's working class. 

Charlie Jane: [00:31:32] No, because his music career has never taken off and he doesn't take the initiative to go play at the fancy bar across town. 

Nina: [00:31:37] It is this interesting at yeah, does ambition change class or change the way you think about class or status? 

Annalee: [00:31:42] Yeah.

Charlie Jane: [00:31:42] Yeah, he's working class, but also he doesn't have any ambition. 

Nina: [00:31:47] Yeah. 

Charlie Jane: [00:31:47] He has that song where he talks about, I started at the bottom and I'm still at the bottom.

Annalee: [00:31:52] I loved his songs. I think that was the best part of the movie.

Charlie Jane: [00:31:54] The best part of the movie, yeah, for sure. 

Charlie Jane: [00:31:55] I’ve been listening to them a lot on YouTube.

Annalee: [00:31:58] But yeah, so I have—

Inkoo: [00:31:59] Fun fact, I have also punched Keanu.

Charlie Jane: [00:32:01] Really, you punched Keanu Reeves? What was the context of you punching Keanu Reeves?

Annalee: [00:32:05] Yeah, we need to know.

Inkoo: [00:32:06] I was kidding.

Charlie Jane: [00:32:06] Oh no, okay. I would believe you, I mean, I don’t know.

Annalee: [00:32:09] I was like, this is gonna be the greatest podcast ever.

Charlie Jane: [00:32:13] Yeah, seriously.

Annalee: [00:32:15] The secret story. I’ve heard he’s really nice though. So like, maybe…

Inkoo: [00:32:16] I’ve also heard that.

Annalee: [00:32:18] You might, there might be some people in TV you would want to punch. I could make a list, but we're not going to talk about it right now. 

Nina: [00:32:24] But yeah, I do love the anointing of Keanu Reeves as our new internet boyfriend. 

Charlie Jane: [00:32:28] Yeah.

Nina: [00:32:28] It’s very satisfying.

Charlie Jane: [00:32:30] I think it's better than Ryan Gosling, you know? I mean, I’ll just say it.

Annalee: [00:32:34] Oh yeah.

Charlie Jane: [00:32:34] He's a better choice. 

Annalee: [00:32:35] Plus, like, you know, he saved puppies. That's the whole point. And in those, you know, anyway, whatever. 

Charlie Jane: [00:32:41] So, thanks so much for joining us. Nina and Inkoo, could you tell us where people can find you online? 

Nina: [00:32:46] Yeah, you can find me on Twitter at @NinaShen. 

Inkoo: [00:32:49] You can find me also on Twitter @InkooKang. 

Charlie Jane: [00:32:53] So thank you so much for joining us, Nina and Inkoo. This is such a great conversation and we're so grateful to have you here. 

[00:32:59] You've been listening to Our Opinions Are Correct. Thank you so much for listening. If you want to support us, we have a Patreon at Patreon.com/OurOpinionsAreCorrect. We also are on Twitter @OOACpod and on Facebook as OurOpinionsAreCorrect, and you can subscribe to us on Stitcher and LibSyn and Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts and everywhere else.

Annalee: [00:33:19] All the places with podcasts.

Charlie Jane: [00:33:19] And if you like us, please leave a review. It makes a huge difference. We really appreciate it. 

[00:33:24] Thanks so much to our sound engineer, Veronica Simonetti at Women’s Audio Mission. Thanks to Chris Palmer for the music and thanks to you for listening. We'll be back in two weeks.

[00:33:32] Bye!

All: [00:33:32] Bye!

[00:33:33] Outro music plays. Drums with a bass line including bass drops.

Annalee Newitz