HI FRANDS. We’re all BFFs now, right?…Right? In this episode, we talk about how we make new friends as busy adults, how we sustain relationships beyond grabbing lunch or drinks, and how we build the kinds of communities that give us LIFE. We’re also joined by Girls’ Night In founder Alisha Ramos, who tells us how she built a company around a simple concept: connecting and celebrating women who’d rather stay in.
Book clubs are just magical, first of all, because books are amazing. But, second of all, it creates a really interesting common ground for everyone… You’re all showing up because you read the same thing, and you are starting off with that common thing and you end up picking up little pieces of the other person’s life as she’s describing how she read the book and interpreted it, and then it kind of like takes the pressure off.
—Alisha Ramos, founder of Girls’ Night In
Here’s what we covered (and as always, you can find the full transcript below).Show notes
Did you know that Sara and Katel first bonded over crab fries? That a full 50 percent of the city of Philadelphia knows each other through Jenn? Well, now you will. We also talk about:
Then, we catch up with Alisha Ramos, who tells us how she quit her job last year to start Girls’ Night in, a newsletter for ladies who’d rather skip the party, thanks. Now GNI boasts more than 30,000 members.
We bond over:
Also in this episode:
This episode of NYG is brought to you by:
WordPress—the place to build your personal blog, business site, or anything else you want on the web. WordPress helps others find you, remember you, and connect with you.Transcript
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[Music fades in]
Jenn Lukas Hi! Welcome to No, You Go, [music fades out] the show about being ambitious—and sticking together. I’m Jenn Lukas.
Katel LeDû I’m Katel LeDû.
SWB And I’m Sara Wachter-Boettcher.
JL On today’s show we’re talking about developing relationships and going beyond the quick work lunch or happy hour type of friendship. How do we create deeper connections with people we know and that we want in our lives now that we’re adults, professionals, mothers, activists, multi-taskers—you get the idea. How do we seek out these deeper types of friendships? We’ll also talk with Girls’ Night In founder, Alisha Ramos, about building a community of women, and how she makes space for meaningful relationships in her life. But first on the agenda: hey, Katel, will you be my friend?
KL I would love to be your friend. You know, I remember the first time we really hung out and met. We were both at Converge. We started sort of following each other around to the different things people were doing and I had seen you speak and I was like—I really wanted to hang out with you and it was cool that I met you at a conference because it’s always good to have a conference buddy. And I also remember the first time Sara and I really hung out, it involved crab fries, which is very important to the Philadelphia region. She missed a pottery class, I think? Just to keep talking with me, which I felt super special for, and then I think that just was a natural progression into taking over the world.
SWB Totally! I remember meeting Jenn through conferences and stuff like that but then, one day right after I moved to Philadelphia, I thought, “You know? I’m going to email Jenn Lukas. I don’t know her very well but she seems very cool, maybe she’ll hang out with me.” [Laughter] And I emailed her and, lo and behold, Jenn lived two blocks from where we had just moved in. Like literally two blocks away. And so immediately, you know, we made plans to get together, and I will say that being new to a place, Jenn and Sutter, her husband, were like—you guys were, honestly, so welcoming, and it was so wonderful because I feel like through you we met so many other people. You were very generous with sharing those friendships that you had with us—
SWB —at a time when I think we really needed that. We’d spent a couple of years, you know, moving around and not sure where we were going to land long-term after my husband finished graduate school. And so it was not just that we really connected, but it was also that generosity that I think was so valuable to me. And I really hope that I paid that forward by the time Katel moved to Philly [laughter] and we were sharing crab fries, because I remember sitting there and just being like, OK, we’re not just having professional drinks. We’re hanging out now. It’s on. This is—you know—we’re going to be here for a while.”
JL It’s so nice. Wow. I’m having all the feels, ladies [background “aws”]. It’s so nice and I think the other thing is, you know, we make friends through conferences, we make friends through meetups, we make friends through these activities, and lots of times I think we meet people and then we’re like, “Ah man, I really dug hanging out with them,” but then it doesn’t happen again. Maybe you live someplace else. But I think one of the things that was really awesome with both of you is that we maintained a level of correspondence that when you both happened to move to Philadelphia I was like, “Yes!”
SWB No, but I think it’s important to put that kind of, I don’t know, a little bit more work in, I guess you would say, because we’re not in college anymore. We’re, um, a couple of years outside of college, and one of the things that happens is everybody gets busy with their own lives. You have a partner, maybe, or you have children, and your career gets demanding, and I travel for work a lot. And so it gets harder to match up schedules, it’s harder to find time to consistently see people, and you have to prioritize that, and I’m really glad that I have friends who do prioritize that also because I feel like we always make the time. And we always—you know, we don’t make a big deal out of hanging out, right? Like we make it a consistent thing that we do without having to make it super formal and it doesn’t have to be like, “Oh I’m throwing a dinner party.”
KL Because of our proximity we can kind of do things on the fly which is really cool. And, I mean, it wass so important for me moving from DC to Philly. I knew I knew some people sort of and I had no idea whether I’d be able to be rebuild a network and it happened, I think, so much faster because of exactly what you said, Jenn.
And also I feel like as you get older you sort of know you’re going to be friends with people. The people you know you’re like, “OK, these are just going to be acquaintances or not as close relationships.” You’re a little quicker to be like, “All right [chuckles], I know the camps now.” You know?
JL I think it also helps to never take a scheduling mishap as something that means that we can’t hang out. So I think lots of times with schedules, you’ll ask someone to hang out and they’ll be like, “I can’t,” and then you don’t follow-up. And I think that we all have very busy schedules but we’re never like, “Oh, that must mean that Katel doesn’t want to hang out with me because she’s not available.” And getting over this like — you get these flashbacks from high school of like trying to be friends with people, right? [Laughter] And you’re just like, “No! It’s not that.” And I think that I’m so much more quick to get over that now because I can imagine myself being in the space where I’ve wanted to hang out with people but I couldn’t make it work and it wasn’t that I was avoiding them or doing these things that I feel like we still get self conscious about, sometimes, with building friendships. You know you have to put in that time.
SWB Right. It’s not like, “Oh, I invited Jenn to do something twice and she turned me down both times, so now I won’t say anything again. I have to sit here on my hands and wait for her to call me.” You know? I definitely don’t feel that way. I’m like, “Ok, Jenn’s got a lot going on and—”
KL I’m just going to ask her a third time.
SWB Yeah [laughter]! Third time’s a charm. You know but I’m really glad that we’re all kind of on the same page about this and also able to talk about it because I’ve read all of those studies about how people report that their loneliness levels are really high and particularly as people move into middle-age and that there’s a lot of studies that show that things like the more socially isolated you are, the more likely you are to have health problems, and the more likely you are to actually die prematurely. It’s kind of morbid, but it’s true that loneliness is this really big factor in people’s health that is not that well understood. And the other thing that happens with loneliness is apparently it’s something that’s really common with men. Like men are much less likely to sustain the kinds of relationships that we’re talking about into their middle-age and later and as a result you’ve got these generations of lonely middle-aged who are super isolated. And it’s causing them all kinds of issues and I think that even though that’s more prevalent in men, I mean that’s not something we can ignore for ourselves either because we’re all, like I said, ambitious and busy and have a lot going on in our professional lives that it would be easy to not make time to do that deep friendship stuff. It’d be easy to have that happen and not realize it’s happened until you have been doing it for years and you’re really fucking lonely.
KL Right. This is why it’s important that we make some early plans for the friend compound that we’ve talking about.
JL Oh my god! Yes!
KL And we can invite our husbands, obviously, if, you know—
JL It’s going to be some kind of farm, right?
KL Uh, absolutely. Yes. With a vineyard of some kind.
SWB So the friendship compound is like—it’s pretty much what it sounds like — it’s a large facility, homestead, not sure, where we can all bring all of our besties down and form a new, totally not cult-like [laughter] society.
KL I think we found a new direction for the show. I don’t know [laughter].
JL Oh no, we’ve tricked people into something they were not expecting here.
SWB I said it wasn’t cult-like! It’s fine.
KL OK. All right [laughs].
SWB This whole conversation about friendships and sort of like the way that we form connections and keep those connections strong, I think, is a really good way to introduce our guest for today, because I think she’s going to have a lot to say about that, too, and I am so excited to hear it [music fades in].Thanks to our sponsors
JL [Music fades out] No, You Go is proud to be sponsored by wordpress.com. Whether you’d like to build a personal blog, a business site, or both, creating a website on wordpress.com helps others find you, remember you, and connect with you. In fact, we use WordPress here for NYG. You don’t even need experience setting up a website. WordPress guides you through the process from start to finish, and takes care of the technical side. They also have great customer support available 24 hours a day. Plans start at just four dollars a month, and you can always get a custom domain for the life of the plan. Go to wordpress.com/noyougo to get 15 percent off your website today. That’s wordpress.com/noyougo [music fades in].Interview: Alisha Ramos
KL [Music fades out] our guest today is Alisha Ramos, the founder of Girls’ Night In, which started as a newsletter for women who’d rather stay in tonight, something I think we’re all drawn to in many ways, and has turned into so much more. Alisha, we can’t wait to hear about. Welcome to No, You Go!
Alisha Ramos Thanks so much for having me!
KL We’re so excited to talk all about this. Can we kick off by having you tell us a little bit more about Girls’ Night In and just how it came to be.
AR So Girls’ Night In, as you mentioned, started off as a newsletter for women who’d rather stay in tonight, and now it’s become more of a community of women now. What we do is we send a Friday morning newsletter every week to over, I think we’re now at 30,000 subscribers, mostly millennial women across the US and across the globe, and we kind of share smart reads for you to read during your night in or things like recommendations for you to do, whether it’s watching a TV show that we love or a podcast that we’re loving. So that’s kind of how it started and now we’ve gotten this amazing community of women around it from all corners of the globe. We have readers in Charleston, South Carolina, to Barcelona to London and, you know, our mission at Girls’ Night In is to help women relax, recharge, and cultivate more meaningful community in a world that’s increasingly stressful and lonely [KL laughs]. So one really cool thing that kind of sprung up very organically is our book club. So we do a monthly book club meetup in seven cities now. And that’s been a really amazing way for our community to gather and really live out the mission of Girls’ Night In. This kind of community of women that want to create better connections with one another.
KL That’s amazing! I feel like that’s seems like such a beautiful and natural progression of things. What was it about fostering deeper connections than, say, going to drinks or having a quick coffee that you made you decide to kick this into gear?
AR I was looking at how we live our lives today. Like I’m in my later twenties and the idea of going out no longer really appeals to me [laughing][KL laughs] for various reasons. I have a hard bedtime now of like 9:30pm I need to be in bed. But I think our relationships are changing so quickly; society is changing; mental health issues are on the rise; rates of loneliness are increasing in our society that’s always on. Like we are so entangled with technology now that we’re kind of burnt out from all of that. And looking at my habits of how I want to spend my time with my friends, I found myself hosting more gatherings that are intimate and cozy in my home versus wanting to go out. So I think Girls’ Night In encapsulates this whole movement of women who would rather spend the time taking care of themselves and developing better relationships, not just with themselves, but with other women, like their friends. And it’s very timely. When Girls’ Night In started the presidential inauguration had just occurred. There was this kind of overwhelming sense of stress and anxiety among my friends, and I’m sure just like the world in general. So, especially with the news cycle being completely unrelenting, people were searching for a break from all of that and I think Girls’ Night In became the answer for a lot of people. Like they’ll write in and say, “I didn’t know that I needed this, but I definitely needed Girls’ Night In in my life because it helps me remind myself that it’s OK to take care of myself and take a break from everything else that’s going on in the world.”
KL That’s—yeah. That’s amazing. It sounds like you’ve had some questions that were kind of cycling around in your head that made you, you know, look into that a little bit more—
KL —and one of them was about disconnecting from tech. I personally find that so challenging. In what ways would you like to explore that with this community?
AR Our February theme is going to be techno self-care. So, you know, technology—we never want to pit technology as the enemy because it can be used for good, it can be used for bad. I think overall we’re all very overwhelmed with technology and media and the news right now and it can be unhealthy.
AR In terms of how to disconnect from technology, the one thing that we are doing as a community is encouraging people to get offline and meet each other [laughing] in real life, especially, you know, for women in their twenties. It’s such an awkward time where—especially where I’m from, in DC, it’s a very transient city. There’s people coming in and out and I feel like we’ve forgotten how to meet new friends and make new connections.
KL [Exhales sharply] right.
AR Yeah, I really don’t know what I would do to make new friends besides go to a [laughing] networking event. It feels kind of awkward.
So one way we encourage our community members to disconnect is to join us at our monthly book club meetings and that’s—
AR You’re getting away from your screen, it kind of feels like you’re doing something for yourself, and it’s a way to, not escape reality—but sometimes! It depends on what you read. It can be an escapist type of ritual. So that in and of itself is a really great self-care tool. But then when you add on top of that the act of gathering around a common book that you’ve read and really enjoyed, you get to create these really cool conversations and connections with each other and that’s the kind of feature that I would hope to build with Girls’ Night In where, you know right now we’re always on Instagram, we’re liking each other photos, but what does being social even mean anymore in this age of social media? I don’t like the future that I see in five to 10 years. We’re really just trying to recreate a more intimate sense of community.
JL Hey Alisha, what kind of books do read at the book club?
AR Our general guidelines are that we read books that are authored by women from diverse backgrounds and we read both fiction and non-fiction. So most recently we read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng which was my favorite book.
SWB I’m in the middle of it right now!
AR Oh my god! It’s such a treat!
SWB It’s so good!
AR It’s so good, yeah. I just savored every word. It was so good. So, yeah, we try to focus on stories that are authored by women who can bring something interesting, something unique that we can discuss as a community. We’ve also read a couple of non-fiction. Like Too Loud, Too Fat, Too Slutty—
AR —by Anne Helen Petersen. That one was a little polarizing actually [laughs] in our community. Some people loved it, some people hated it, but that’s kind of what the beauty of the book club is: we want books that spark conversation.
KL Yeah. I feel like now—I just joined a book club. So maybe I just need to join Girls’ Night In and find one [laughing]—find one to meet up [laughs].
JL Have you found that people that have come to the book club will make plans together afterwards? Like are you seeing that a lot of people are forging friendships from the book club?
AR Yes, definitely. We, at every book club, we basically have to force people out the door [laughing] because they want to continue having conversations and that’s really, really the coolest thing that I’ve seen. So we have private Facebook groups for everyone who has attended a book club for each city. And our New York community—there’s one woman who was like, “Hey, I’m relatively new to the city. I really enjoyed meeting all of you at book club. Would you want to start a potluck dinner thing?” And I think she was—she asked this and I think she was expecting maybe like five people to respond but, I kid you not, like 40 people signed up for this thing [chuckles], and she was like, “OK, woah. I think we’re going to have to now split up into five different friend groups—”
JL That’s amazing.
AR “—to do like a potluck rotation.” So it’s been really cool to see friendships like that and conversations like that start.
SWB Something I really love about that story is that it speaks to the way that like once you kind of tear off the bandaid of making friends, like once you go, “Ok! I’m going to go the book club,” once you’ve done that, then the doors open a little bit and then suddenly it’s a little easier to invite—
SWB —a bunch of women you’ve never met before out to do something. I think sometimes that’s hard when we’re, you know, we’re all busy, everybody has a lot going on, scheduling is the worst. And to try to forge that deeper connection with somebody while juggling all the other things that we seem to do because we’re ambitious and whatnot. It can feel like too much of a barrier. So I love the idea of sort of lowering that barrier for people.
AR Absolutely! Definitely! And like book clubs are just magical, first of all, because books are amazing. But, second of all, it creates a really interesting common ground for everyone. Like you’re going in and it’s not like a scary networking event where like, “Oh my gosh! What am I going to say? What am I going to ask people?” You’re all showing up because you read the same thing and you are starting off with that common thing and you end up picking up little pieces of the other person’s life as she’s describing how she read the book and interpreted it and then it kind of like takes the pressure off a little bit—of trying to make small talk, which I personally really dislike.
I’m a very highly introverted person and I think as a result I would rather have those deeper conversations with people and skip the like, “Oh yeah, where are you from?” “How’s the weather?” “The weather’s really cold.” So I think having that commonality and as a discussion starter has been really, really cool.
KL Yeah I really want to know how have you kept Girls’ Night In on even keel as it’s grown so quickly? How are you leaning on your friends and other Girls’ Night In-ers to help with that?
AR I mean Girls’ Night In is very new in my mind. I quit seven months ago, in June. So it still feels like it’s in its very early, early stages. So as a result like I basically don’t sleep or I—well there was a good period of time where I was not getting a [laughing] lot of sleep, essentially. But now I’m getting definitely better at delegating, finding people who are way better at doing things than I am — which has been probably the key part of keeping this thing going. I do work with a lot of really talented individuals who help me with editorial, the community side of things, we have amazing book club hosts in all of our cities, partnerships, like technology, everything. So it’s been really cool to grow Girls’ Night In from just me to this team of really awesome people who help out.
KL Yeah, absolutely. So speaking of making that move from what you were doing before Girls’ Night In, it’s funny: I’ve read you describe yourself as a Type A person needing to have a plan for everything and [AR laughs] to me that’s like, I raise my hand and I’m like, “Hey, hello! That’s me.” Do you remember the moment you decided to jump into that and start something new even if it meant you might not know exactly what that was going to look like?
AR I didn’t have that one day or like a-ha moment where I knew that I wanted to do this. So Girls’ Night In—I had the luxury of the fact that I started it as a side project while I had a full-time job. So that kind of gave me a cushion of like, “OK, I can do this and see if it becomes a thing and then I might make the decision, but if it doesn’t, then I’m OK. Like I can keep my job.” So I launched it in January and then kept it a side project for six months or so and it kept growing and growing and eventually—I don’t know if you’ve ever done like a full-time job with like a side hustle or something, but eventually you get to a point where you’re just like [laughing], I’m really tired of doing my full-time job. I get off at 6, and then you go into like your second shift of doing the other thing from 6pm to god knows when, like midnight or 1am. And that’s really unsustainable, like physically or it was for me at least.
KL Yeah for sure.
AR The second thing that helped me understand that like, “Oh, maybe I should take the leap,” is that I started to get really amazing feedback from people and I would hear from my friends who live in California or New York that they were having a conversation with a random stranger, somebody that they just met, and they would say, “Oh, have you heard about this newsletter called Girls’ Night In? I just signed up,” and I think that really helped me understand, “Oh, this could become a really big thing if somebody I’ve never met in California is talking about it—
23:40 KL That is so cool.
AR “—and actively sharing it with their friends.”
KL That’s yeah — that’s amazing. Cool. Can you give us a little sneak peek at what’s next for Girls’ Night In?
AR Our newsletter is our main product right now. So I’m focusing on building out the right team for that, more solidifying our editorial strategy around that, and just growing our audience and growing our brand I think will be a key focus for the next couple of months. You know everything we do ladders back—or should ladder back to our broader mission of helping women relax, recharge, and cultivate community. So we did do a little experiment with launching our own products and, you know, my background is as a web designer. So designing physical products was actually really, really fun for me. So I think you can expect to see some more things along those lines and then the third piece is I personally have gotten so much out of our community in real life through the book clubs and that has been just so fun to grow and watching the reaction to the book club has been amazing.
We’re now at the point where people get frustrated if they can’t get a ticket to one of our book clubs because they sell out pretty quickly [chuckles]. So we definitely want to make sure that we can expand the book clubs in cities where maybe the demand is really high and look at how else we grow that side of things.
KL Well I have one final question for you, and it’s how are you going to relax and recharge this week?
AR I recently watched the movie I, Tonya and I loved it so much that I might go back and watch it again [laughs]. I also have been binge watching The Crown on Netflix—
AR —and I really love historical dramas so that’s been—it’s just such a good show to binge watch and just chill out. And I’m also kind of revamping my skincare routine right now. I’m a huge beauty junky. So I’m doing a lot of research in trying to find the perfect moisturizer for the winter. So yeah lots of skincare and lots of The Crown.
KL That sounds excellent.
SWB I can’t wait to hear about that best skincare for the winter because I tell you what [AR laughs]: it has been dry and cold and—
KL Yeah. We’re all struggling here.
AR Yeah. [KL laughs] we’ll write something up.
KL We will definitely read that. Thank you so much for talking with us today.
AR Thank you.
KL It was really great to hear a little bit more about what you’re up to and, yeah, thank you so much! [Music fades in.]
AR Yeah, of course! Thanks so much for having me.
JL [Music fades out] I kept thinking when Alisha was talking about the book club that would help what we were talking about in the bonus episode where you were finding a lack of books to read, right Katel?
KL Yeah. That was so fun. I was thinking about it the other day because thanks, listeners, for listening to that because I got some really nice recommendations for books to read and it has actually really inspired me to really do this. So I am buying those books, I even found the crumby charger to my Kindle. I’m going to really do it for real. So I’m very excited and it was really nice to hear these recommendations from different friends who have very different, I think, interests and likes.
SWB Yeah, if you didn’t listen to our bonus episode: one of the things that came up is that Katel admitted she hadn’t read a book except for the ones that she’s physically publishing for a little while and she was feeling a little bit bummed about that. So I’m excited to see what you read. Do you have a book that you want to pick up first?
KL I think I’m going to pick up Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan because I’ve just liked her work, and I didn’t really realize that there was something new from her. So that was really cool.
SWB Yeah, yeah, I mean oftentimes I’ll read a book by an author and I’ll be like, “Ooh! That was pretty good,” and then their next book is the one that really gets me. That’s something I really found with Celeste Ng, the author of the book Little Fires Everywhere that we talked about in Alisha’s interview. I read her first book and I thought it was pretty good, but the second book has been just amazing. And so hopefully you’ll find the same with Jennifer Egan.
JL I love the conversations that people have around books. I mean just looking at the two of you right now: you’re getting really excited when you’re talking about it and so that’s what I think is so neat about things like book clubs is it gives you — it’s an instant conversation starter. And I think it’s interesting to think about is the way that we could build friendships. It’s weird I’ve heard this but I never realized it before: becoming a mom is like an instant conversation starter, which is weird and it doesn’t like—I thought it would’ve felt forced, because people have told me that before, but it’s not. Whenever you have a passion about a book or like a complaint about a diaper, there’s just something to talk about with someone. And I love these ideas of not being scared of that. That you’re like—happen to just be in the same sort of population, but being like, “This is a way for me to start talking to someone.” You know, trying to find those groups. Someone just was telling me—my friend Beth was just saying that there’s now a Tinder for moms [yup mm hmm]. But you know it’s hard if you’re in areas where you’re finding it hard to meet other moms, or finding it hard to just meet other women, or finding it hard to meet people that also love the same books that you do. How do you do it? Right? So as much as like, I’m like, “Wow, that’s crazy they made that.” I mean if it’s a way for you to connect with people, then I think it’s really cool.
SWB Yeah I think that that’s something that Alisha was definitely talking a lot about was this difficulty of making and sustaining friendships as an adult. I think something like a book club is a great way to do that, but other ways that I’ve definitely found is getting involved in something local or something political. I know that that can be a great way to get to know people. But it’s also, you know, it takes a little bit to get comfortable with getting out there and getting beyond that initial spark of conversation where it’s like, “OK, we support the same candidate.” Or “We both have a kid.”
Or “We both like the same book.” But going from that to being like, “OK, we need to get into that substantive conversation where we really connect,” is not always easy. But the more that I try to open up a little bit and allow it to happen, I feel like I get better at it. It’s a habit you can learn or a skill you can learn.
JL Yeah, when my son was born I was feeling very much like I had a lot of friends with kids, luckily, who I can ask their advice but no one was exactly at the same age as my son. I’m on a message board, it’s a Google mailing list for local moms or local parents in the area and sometimes people will start mom groups or parent that you can meet up and they’ll be like, you know, “Winter Moms,” “Spring Moms,” stuff like that. And there hadn’t been one when Cooper was born. But, so, a few other people expressed interest and I was like, “Well I guess I’m starting this.” And I remember thinking like, “Oh good, I won’t have to start something,” but then when it wasn’t there, I was like, “Ok, I’m going to start it.” And I mean it was just a meetup at a coffee shop nearby, once a week. But you know you just put it on the board, you say, “Here’s where we’re meeting.” And you start a mailing list and you know once you get over the fact that you have to just make that initial effort, you can do it pretty fast, and then show up, and meet people, and from there I’ve kept in touch with a few people but stayed like really close with two moms. And like that of course didn’t happen magically but one of the things I loved leaving there one day Rachel, my friend, was like, “Do you want to just meet up and take a walk someday?” And I was like, “Yes, I would love to walk with you someday.” [Laughter] And I just thought it was so cool that she asked. And that’s the whole thing is just getting over that fear —
SWB It’s weird, right? To feel like you risk rejection in the same way that you wouldn’t want to tell somebody you were interested in dating that you like them. It kind of feels the same. Where’s it’s like, “Do they actually want to be my friend?”
KL Right, yeah.
JL Go for it!
KL Yeah, go for it.
SWB What the hell else are we doing with our lives? Well I think it’s about time to move into what is, I don’t know, maybe my favorite segment? Which is of course The Fuck Yeah of the Week.Fuck Yeah of the Week
So I have a Fuck Yeah for the week that I hope you all are excited about. My Fuck Yeah is the upcoming reboot of Murphy Brown [yes!][oh my gosh!] starring Candice Bergen. I don’t know how many of you listening were Murphy Brown fans back in the day. I, as a child, in the nineties, was definitely a Murphy Brown fan. I liked her kind of tough-as-nails persona. She was a news anchor, and she wasn’t taking shit from anybody. But there was a huge hubbub over Murphy Brown when the character on the show was going to have a baby out of wedlock. And Dan Quayle got real upset about that, and there was a whole discussion about sort of the morality of single motherhood and choosing single motherhood as being something that was somehow inherently evil. And it was quite something. I’m super hyped to see what this reboot does with that entire concept because one hopes we are a lot further along now in terms of how we conceive of parents and what makes a family and what’s OK for a family to be than we were in the nineties. Although, at the same time, I think about all of the kind of sexist shit that that show was really tattling and I’m like, “Man, we’re still kind of right in it, though!”
KL Yeah, we totally are. I remember watching that show and thinking that was one of the first times I had seen a character like that—that I could actually have seen myself becoming. And I know that I mean it was sort of in like a dreamscape kind of thing [laughs].
SWB No, no, no! Whenever we say Murphy Brown I do picture you [laughter].
KL It’s just—you kind of were like, “She’s smart. She has her shit together. And she’s also going to have a family. And why not? Why couldn’t I do that?” I hope that that was a lot of people who felt that way. It’s so fucking awesome that it’s coming back.
SWB I mean I’m not always necessarily a fan of these reboot series, you know? I tried to watch the Will & Grace reboot on the plane the other day. I mean I was curious. I didn’t really expect it to be great. So I turned it on on the plane and then about 30 seconds I was like, I don’t think I can handle this because the [sighs]—the representations of gay people did not feel like they had evolved at all in the intervening years, and I think that that’s what really hit me. That this way of talking about, you know, queerness 10 years ago or whatever—or 15 years ago—that maybe seemed progressive then, or seemed new to be able to talk about it at all, felt very dated and felt very out of sync with the realities of all of the queer people’s lives that I know.
And so I was like, “This is just uncomfortable and also just not funny.” So I’m not necessarily somebody who thinks everything needs to be rebooted and I hope that the Murphy Brown reboot goes well. But I’m just excited for a new generation of people to learn about Murphy Brown and to look up to somebody who is so badass.
JL What other shows would you want to see rebooted?
SWB OK, so I want to see a Designing Women reboot, and that’s another one where—you know we watched an old episode of Designing Women recently and it had some amazing stuff in it, the premise of that particular episode is that the ladies were considering taking on a client to redecorate their—
SWB Brothel, yeah. So, um, there was a lot going on. There were some differing opinions about whether or not prostitution was good or bad, or OK for women or not Ok for women. And I think at the time that show was seen as being pretty progressive and really pushing the envelope on a lot of women’s issues, and similarly to Will & Grace you would find if you listened to a lot of those episodes that there would be some attitudes that feel pretty out of sync now. But the idea of there being this sassy group of women who come from really different backgrounds and have some pretty different perspectives and who are also pursuing their professional lives together—the idea of that being an ensemble cast, I think, makes a lot of sense.
JL It’s interesting to think about these shows that have reboots. It’s like they almost want a reboot as a chance to redeem themselves. If they look back and cringe at some of the stuff now and I find myself thinking about this a lot. Like, what am I saying now that in 20 years I’m going to be like, “I can’t believe I said that.”
SWB Shit! I think about that all the time: about stuff I’m saying I’m going to regret in like 20 minutes [laughter].
JL That’s also true. But like thinking about things that they’re redoing now. Like they’re remaking the movie Overboard. And I don’t know if you remember the movie Overboard—
KL [Gasps] what?!?
JL Right? Because at first when I thought about this I was like, “Oh I loved the movie Overboard,” but then when you get back into it, it’s essentially like a two-hour movie about like roofie-ing someone. It’s awful. Basically Goldie Hawn gets a concussion, loses her memory, and Kurt Russell convinces her that she’s his wife to take care of the children!
SWB There’s a lot of like real normalization of very rapey ideology that goes on in a lot of these movies and that’s—it’s both reflecting what was accepted in the culture at the time and also kind of driving that. That reinforces such outdated, but also just plain abusive, attitudes. And I hope that we get more and more honest about some of those problems. Like it’s not to say that you can never watch some eighties movie again, but I think that that when we do we need to be like, “Wait a second.“ You know one thing I’m really thankful for is the continued education I get to have from people with different backgrounds, different perspectives than I have who are allowing me to see how much I didn’t used to see, right? How much media I would just kind of passively consume without realizing what was at play. And so the more that we have these kinds of conversations and we talk about what’s going wrong, the more effectively we can both critically analyze the media of the past, and then also push for better representation in the future.
JL Fuck yeah Murphy Brown!
KL Fuck yeah.
SWB Fuck yeah Murphy Brown! I’m going to get myself like a blazer with some shoulder pads to celebrate [yes!][fade out].Outro
SWB That’s it for this week’s episode of No, You Go, the show about being ambitious and sticking together. If you like what you’ve been hearing, please go ahead and give us a rating or even a review on iTunes. No, You Go is recorded in our home city of Philadelphia, and our theme music is by The Diaphone. Our producer is Steph Colbourn and you can find us online at noyougoshow.com or on Twitter @noyougoshow. Thanks to Alisha Ramos for being our guest today. We’ll be back [music fades in] next week with another new episode [music ramps up to end].
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