Please note: This transcript has been automatically generated.

Jessica Bennett (00:04):

Do you think Wife Swap is going to come after us for this episode?

Susie Banikarim (00:07):

I mean, God, I hope not. I’m Susie Banikarim.

Jessica Bennett (00:12):

And I’m Jessica Bennett.

Susie Banikarim (00:14):

This is In Retrospect where we delve into cultural moments that shaped us.

Jessica Bennett (00:17):

And that we just can’t stop thinking about.

Susie Banikarim (00:20):

Most of the time we talk about the past, and today we’re going to do that also, but we wanted to give you a little more context about how we got here.

Jessica Bennett (00:32):

This show is devoted to looking back at news moments we consumed often as teenagers, but sometimes older, but we’re also working journalists, so obviously we have our own, in retrospect, moments, things that we wish we could have or would have done differently.

Susie Banikarim (00:47):

Yes. I have a lot of those.

Jessica Bennett (00:48):

Okay. And so Susie, one of the things I love about hearing stories from your career is that you’ll just bust out with these facts or little anecdotes about behind the scenes things that happened. I mean, you worked for Diane Sawyer, you worked for Katie Couric, you worked for George Stephanopoulos. You have these war stories, often celebrity based war stories.

Susie Banikarim (01:10):

Yes. I kicked around a long time, so I have a lot of crazy stories.

Jessica Bennett (01:14):

And you’ve produced interviews with presidents. You’ve interviewed Loretta Lynn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, like all of these very impressive things. But one thing I learned only recently about you is that you actually worked at Wife Swap.

Susie Banikarim (01:30):

Yes, yes. My first-

Jessica Bennett (01:31):

The reality show where people swap wives. To be clear.

Susie Banikarim (01:34):

Well swap wives in the non-sexual sense. But yes, I did work on the first season of Wife Swap. It was a British show that had been brought over to the States, so no one had seen it.

Jessica Bennett (01:45):

This was like what, early 2000s?

Susie Banikarim (01:47):

Early 2000s, 2004. And I think the thing is I had worked at NBC, and while I was there, I had done a little tour at Dateline, which is their magazine show. And as part of that, we had done an hour on the Apprentice, and I was really intrigued by reality TV. I always was. It wasn’t as huge. Well, it was huge, but it wasn’t as common as it is now, I would say. So I was kind of like, well, if I’m going to do news about these reality shows, what would it be like to go work on one? I was kind of curious to cross over. And interestingly actually, by the way, is that when I made the decision to leave NBC to go to Wife Swap, this woman, this executive who was very senior to me, said to me, “You’ll never work in news again if you take that job.” They were trying to convince me to stay, and they did it by being mean to me. Someone else said to me, “You’re too ambitious.” These are all the things they said to me.

Jessica Bennett (02:38):

About going to Wife Swap? [inaudible 00:02:42]

Susie Banikarim (02:42):

I was way too ambitious also-

Jessica Bennett (02:43):

But they paying much better is the reality, right?

Susie Banikarim (02:46):

They were paying much better, and they gave me a better title. I was an associate producer on that show, and that woman who told me I would never work in news again, ended up going to Bravo, and that’s where she spent the majority of her career.

Jessica Bennett (02:55):

So she never worked in news again.

Susie Banikarim (02:58):

She didn’t work in news again. Yeah, it’s just funny because there was a real stigma to reality TV at that time. I will say that, and I don’t know why I did it. I just was like, fuck it. I want to see what this feels like. It was a pretty terrible experience, I’d say. I’m not sorry I did it because it kind of felt like being in a war zone. So I learned a lot about how to think on my feet and about how to produce in really difficult situations, but it definitely wasn’t news, and that became clear really quickly. Your whole job was to manipulate the people involved and not just manipulate them in the moment, but to prepare to manipulate them the whole time.

Jessica Bennett (03:36):

Wait, back up for a second. So the people that you are bringing on to swap wives?

Susie Banikarim (03:41):

Yeah, I should probably explain what the concept of the show is just for people who might not have watched it.

Jessica Bennett (03:46):

That includes me.

Susie Banikarim (03:47):

So the premise of the show is that there are two families who are diametrically opposed to each other, very different in different ways. So some of the episodes I worked on was a lesbian couple and an interracial couple who didn’t believe in gay marriage.

Jessica Bennett (04:01):

I see.

Susie Banikarim (04:02):

Or I worked on a racist episode where it was a racist family and a Black family, which now you would not do because it’s putting someone in the most toxic situation. And oh God, the craziest one we did was a family who lived on a bus. The dad had lost his job, taken a Greyhound bus and had turned it into, it was before Tiny homes. It was not aesthetic.

Jessica Bennett (04:24):

It was not hashtag vanlife.

Susie Banikarim (04:27):

Yeah, no hashtag vanlife. It was just this weird situation where they were living in this Greyhound bus that he, I guess, tricked out with a woman whose husband was a funeral director. So it was just these very weird, you were trying to find kind of quirky weirdos who then would swap wives, and the premise is that the wives swap and for the first week in the new home, they live by the rules of the mom who is in that family. And then they get to change all the rules for the second week. And then at the end they come together and they find common ground. They all meet together and they’re like, “There’s some benefit to what you do and some benefit to what I do.”

Jessica Bennett (05:05):

And were they paid for this?

Susie Banikarim (05:06):

Well, that’s an interesting thing about Wife Swap. So when I did the show, the families only got paid $5,000 for 10 days of shooting. So it wasn’t really two weeks. That’s the first thing because it’s expensive to shoot a lot of days. And the point of the show was conflict. Because it hadn’t aired in America before we were selling it to people, there was a casting team, but as APs, we worked on casting as well. We were selling it to people as a documentary, and it had won a BAFTA, which is the British equivalent of an Emmy. So we were like, this is a serious documentary about people experimenting with other ways to live, and there’s so much this family can learn from you. You’re so amazing. So your job, once we identified a family, the casting team identified a family. They would send out the AP, which would be me in this case.

Jessica Bennett (05:57):

Associate producer.

Susie Banikarim (05:58):

The associate producer. And my job was to basically butter them up. These were women who for whatever reason, and sometimes men, sometimes we do dad swaps, or in the lesbian case, obviously it was a woman and a man who swapped or a woman and a woman. But with the man. These were people who didn’t get a lot of attention, were often people who were desperate to feel seen, which is why they wanted to be on this TV show. And your job was to act like literally everything they did was fascinating because as the AP, your job was to write the rule book because when they showed up at the house, they would get this book and it would have all the rules they had to live by before the rule change. And it was your job to write it. And so you’d literally be like, “How do you make breakfast? Tell me everything about how you clean the house”, just showering this person with attention that they weren’t getting. And I think everyone would be really seduced by that on some level.

Jessica Bennett (06:51):

Yes. I mean what you’re describing is not that different from what you do in an interview when you want someone to open up.

Susie Banikarim (06:57):

Yes. Although I will say that the difference is we were sort of told, do whatever it takes, say whatever it takes. As journalists, we have ethics, so there’s some things I’ll say and some things I won’t. I won’t ask someone to do. Something I think is unethical. We were just told to come back with a signed contract, no holds barred. So we would go out with these really thick contracts. And actually I kept some of my files from that first season just because I thought it was an interesting time in my life, and I found one of these contracts, I went looking and it’s 23 pages long, and one of the craziest things in it is that if the families violate the contract in any way, so if they refuse to participate in a scene or they quit the show at any time for any reason, it says that they would owe the production company, which was RDF Media or the Network $5 million.

Jessica Bennett (07:49):

For the $5,000 they were getting.

Susie Banikarim (07:51):

Yeah, I mean it’s just crazy because they were basically saying the damage to them was worth $5 million, which by the way, is way beyond what it would’ve cost to make the episode. But the actual language is that it would result in substantial damages and injury to the producer and/or the network, the precise amount of which would be extremely difficult or impracticable to determine. And so I guess even though it’s difficult, they came up with $5 million as the estimate for fair compensation, which is insane, and also unlikely that they would’ve tried to enforce this, but these people had no way of knowing that.

Jessica Bennett (08:32):

Do you think Wife Swap’s going to come after us for this episode?

Susie Banikarim (08:35):

I mean, God, I hope not. First of all, Wife Swap off isn’t around anymore. I think the most recent version of it was in 2020 on Paramount Network.

Jessica Bennett (08:42):

Okay, fine.

Susie Banikarim (08:42):

But also, I don’t know. I mean, I feel like things were different. I mean, that’s sort of what this show is about. The world was different. Reality TV was much more manipulative. I think there are some things you just wouldn’t get away with in the same way today. This was one of my only two jobs in reality TV, and then I went back to news.


The other thing you can do in these shows is you can literally splice answers. We would change word by word someone’s answer if we needed to. You can do whatever you want. You can manipulate it completely. So when you work as a producer in TV news, if you’re out on a shoot, you can’t ask someone to do something they don’t do naturally.


You can’t be like, “I want you to get out of this car or walk to this place and go there.” On reality TV that’s all you’re doing, and you’re making them do it over and over again. Actually, a really good show about this if people are interested is this show Unreal that was on Lifetime that was written by a former Bachelor producer and watching it was wild because I was like, oh, this is exactly what it’s like, except for the murders, there’s some murders in that show. But other than the murdering, it really did feel like a documentary about producing reality TV.


And so I worked on this show. It was a really brutal experience. You’d go out with these contracts and your job was basically to get them to sign it without reading it. Literally just, “Page through, just initial here. No, it doesn’t, none of that. It’s just legally, it’s like, don’t worry.”

Jessica Bennett (10:23):

Do you remember any of the people that you had signed that, do you think about these people?

Susie Banikarim (10:27):

Oh God, yes. Yeah, one of them, I kept in touch with the lesbian mom who switched into the family I was in Texas. She was a lovely person. We stayed friendly for years. I think we’re still Facebook friends. I don’t know, I’d have to look her up. But you did feel, at least I felt, really terrible a lot of the time you were there to get them to say things you knew were going to be embarrassing for them to say, and you went out with a script, but they didn’t know that. So you have story points you had to hit and you had to convince them that those story points were happening naturally. I mean, that’s what a good producer did. A bad producer would just be like, “I need you to say this”, and just bully them into saying it. But our job was to be like, “God, wouldn’t it be nice if these kids had a horse that seems like something you’d like, right?”


And then two days later you’d be like, “Didn’t you say that the kids should get a horse to learn responsibility?” And then suddenly that would be in the rule changes. It was this really weird way in which you were pulling strings all the time. So what happens is a lot of the times as the AP, you’re responsible for the children. For me, that was the hardest part because their parents sign up for better or for worse.

Jessica Bennett (11:36):

Do they always have children?

Susie Banikarim (11:37):

Yeah, it just wouldn’t have worked as well for two people who didn’t have kids because you needed the extra dynamics of a family. And those kids, I mean, sometimes they were really young, like six or whatever, but all the way up into teenagers and they didn’t get a vote. This was often done by their parents who wanted the attention or thought it would make them famous or whatever they thought.


And so a lot of the storylines required you to manipulate the children into saying something. And so the one I think about the most was this mom who had a really difficult relationship with her teenage daughter. And we knew from the pre-interviews that she had told her daughter she hated her, which is just as a mother, I’m sure that’s a really terrible moment, a moment of weakness like you regret, but not something you want broadcast on national television. And it was my job to get the daughter to tell me that on camera, and I did. And I mean, it didn’t feel good. I would come back from those shoots and just shower and just sit in my apartment. I was just like, this is so awful. It would take days for me to detoxify from that. And it was a really toxic environment in general.


Our executive producer was kind of awful to us. On top of that, we were working 20-hour days. We were also being manipulated and sort of tortured. So you were doing this thing that you felt was terrible, and then you would go home and you would try and recover before you got sent out again in three weeks or whatever the turnaround was.

Jessica Bennett (13:04):

You were telling me recently that there was something on TikTok with a woman who was one of these kids.

Susie Banikarim (13:11):

So I recently came across this TikTok, and it’s why I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, is there’s this woman, Heidi May, who is a TikTok content creator. And she was a kid on Wife Swap. She was a different season for me. So I only worked on the show one season, and then I got out of there. I was like, “This is the worst experience of my life.” And this girl was featured in season six. She was in a family, like a traveling show. They had a family show and they lived in an RV. And she talked about what a horrible experience it was for her and how traumatic it’s been for her to deal with the things that came up in that show and how she felt really tricked by it. So the story was they did this very family-friendly, wholesome, conservative show. And then they traded places with this family who was obsessed with low riding, which is like a car culture I don’t know anything about.


And they were really into dressing, I mean this is not my, but the way it was described was dressing like sluts, basically. She was like, “I don’t let my daughters wear shirts that have anything revealing.” And the other mom was like, “My ta-ta’s are going to be at the whole time.” It was just this really, and those are the families you wanted on a show that’s all about conflict. Obviously the people you want are people who are a little unhinged, ideally. I’m not saying they were all like that. Some of them were lovely.


So she tells this story about how she had shared at some point during pre-production that one of her triggers was feeling lonely because her family’s on the road all the time and she doesn’t have a lot of friends. And then in her very first fight with the other mom, the mom brings this up. Sort of nowhere she says, “Do you really think having a friend is seeing someone for 30 minutes once a year?” Or whatever. And then Heidi May, the girl says, “Well, I think having friends are people who care about you.” And then the other mom turns to her and says, “They don’t care about you”, which is just a really mean thing to say to a teenage girl. And also they’ve used something that she thought she was telling producers-

Jessica Bennett (15:16):

Right? Okay, so they’re feeding this information to the other mom.

Susie Banikarim (15:21):

Right. I mean, that’s the job. When you work on a show like this, your job is to direct the story. They think it’s happening organically, but you have story points you have to hit. So in this case, they’re feeding this information to get the conflicts they need.

Jessica Bennett (15:35):

I mean, I guess I knew that happened on reality TV, but when you describe it that way, it’s so overt.

Susie Banikarim (15:41):

Yeah. And I think the other thing is the first season where I worked, they hadn’t seen the show, but as the season started to air, it got a little easier to produce on some level because they knew they were supposed to fight. So at least there was a little bit more understanding of what they’d gotten themselves into. But for the initial set of families, I felt so bad for them. They thought they were going to be on a PBS show. And then they get there and they’re like, “What is happening here?” There were times where people got violent. There were definitely physical altercations we had to break up. It was a really traumatic experience for those families. And I kind of am surprised more people haven’t come forward. There is another kid-

Jessica Bennett (16:24):

Well, maybe they’re afraid of still being sued. I mean, did they have to sign NDAs or?

Susie Banikarim (16:29):

Yeah, so the NDA A was part of this contract that said that they couldn’t talk about it or they’d get sued. And Heidi, this girl who did these TikToks did mention that NDA and how afraid she was to come forward, but now she’s been talking about it for a few years and nobody’s come after her because even at the time, I remember being like, I wonder why none of these families realize that ABC is not going to come after them if they quit the show because what are they going to do? Make this family go bankrupt? It was never a real threat or enforceable, but you were picking people who often didn’t have a lot of money or who didn’t have a lot of resources.

Jessica Bennett (17:04):

She didn’t know how to read a twenty-page contract, how many people don’t.

Susie Banikarim (17:08):

Right. And so you were picking someone who wasn’t going to feel like they could fight back. The other thing she mentioned is that this basically destroyed their family business. This family business that they went on the show to promote was somewhat picked apart by this experience. And so yeah, that would be my biggest regret, I think.

Jessica Bennett (17:25):

Was working on it at all?

Susie Banikarim (17:26):

Listen, I was really young. It was my first job in anything other than a straight news job. I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into, and I certainly didn’t have the power to fight back. And when I tried occasionally to be like, “We shouldn’t be doing this or we shouldn’t do that”, they were like, “Shut fuck the up.” They were not interested in having an opinion or a voice.

Jessica Bennett (17:47):

You were there to do the thing.

Susie Banikarim (17:48):

I was there to do the job, and eventually I was just like, this job isn’t for me. And then I went on to work on a show called Trailer Fabulous, which sounds terrible, but was actually the best job I ever had to this day, maybe.

Jessica Bennett (17:59):


Susie Banikarim (18:00):

Yeah, it was really fun. So it was an MTV show. It was when Extreme Home Makeover was starting to become a big thing. And so MTV had this idea that they would trick out kids trailers, like people who lived in trailer parks, but we’d basically go do an extreme home makeover, but on a trailer. And I didn’t really know anything about trailer parks.

Jessica Bennett (18:17):

So it was actually bringing joy to peoples lives.

Susie Banikarim (18:19):

It was bringing joy to peoples lives. And my job was just to drive to trailer parks on the east coast with a camera and just go find kids who lived in these trailers. We’d set up little auditions and just talk to them on camera. I mean, it was really fun for me. It was like I just learned about this entire subculture. I knew nothing about how trailer parks work. They’re a really interesting little ecosystem. And while I was working on that show, I got a call about going to work at World News.


A really funny story about that is that I interviewed with Peter Jennings for that job. Somebody connected me to the executive producer of World News Tonight, and I assumed because I had worked at Wife Swap that he was going to be like, here’s someone you can talk to at the Today Show. I didn’t think they were going to take me seriously, but I met with him and he was like, “I think you should meet with Peter.” And I was like, “Jennings?” It just didn’t occur to me that Peter Jennings, who some people might not know, but who was a really famous news anchor at that time. My family watched him when I was growing up. I revered him, would be interviewing an associate producer. So I was just so confused, but I was-

Jessica Bennett (19:25):

Who had come from Wife Swap.

Susie Banikarim (19:27):

Who had come from Wife Swap. So I go in for this interview for freaking out. I remember I was sweating through my suit. I was like, oh my God. And I thought he was going to give me a really hard time about Wife Swap, but he was like, “Yeah, no, that show’s fine. My wife and I watched a couple episodes”, whatever. He was like, “But what I really don’t understand is why you went to journalism school.” He famously didn’t go to college. So he was, the thing he gave me a hard time about is why I thought I needed to go to journalism school to be a journalist, which I just love that story. So that is my Wife Swap story and all its glory.


Let’s talk about you. I feel like I’ve been talking a lot on this episode. You have hilarious stories too about getting snowed in with Pam Anderson and peeing in Jennifer Aniston’s bathroom. I think you told me something interesting about she her toile roll holder.

Jessica Bennett (20:28):

Yeah, she has an Emmy that holds her toilet roll.

Susie Banikarim (20:32):

That is a boss move. I do like that. And getting propositioned, covering a polyamory convention

Jessica Bennett (20:38):

That happened. It did happen. I declined, obviously.

Susie Banikarim (20:41):

I mean, obviously to who, yeah, you’ve done a lot of these very fun things. You earned an honorary degree from the Nation’s First Pot school, which you know I love.

Jessica Bennett (20:53):

Oaksterdam University.

Susie Banikarim (20:55):

I wish I had an honorary degree from Amsterdam University.

Jessica Bennett (20:58):

Oaksterdam is Oakland.

Susie Banikarim (21:00):


Jessica Bennett (21:01):

Oakland combined with the Amsterdam. Back then Amsterdam was where it was legal and it wasn’t legal here.

Susie Banikarim (21:06):

I like that. But I think you wanted to talk about something a little more serious for your regret, which probably makes sense.

Jessica Bennett (21:13):

Yeah. So I have this story that I still think about all the time. It was a sexual assault story, so I’ll take you back. I guess this was when we were working together because it was news beast, Newsweek Daily Beast. And at some point, this young woman, she was a college student, she’d reached out to me and she told me the story of being sexually harassed repeatedly by her professor, and I think her advisor and her mentor, she was a philosophy student.

Susie Banikarim (21:43):

Where was she a student? I’m just curious.

Jessica Bennett (21:45):

Yale. And maybe she was getting her PhD. I’m trying to remember now. Anyway, we spent months talking. Getting someone to open up about harassment or assault is really delicate. It takes a lot of sensitivity. And so we spent months and months talking. And then when I thought that there was enough there for a story, I started doing the legwork to find out more about this professor, more about showing a pattern of abuse. There had been other people who had also reported him. Looking at in general, the way that her institution and her college dealt with complaints.

Susie Banikarim (22:25):

Oh, interesting.

Jessica Bennett (22:25):

And cases like this.

Susie Banikarim (22:27):

I mean, there have been plenty of cases since at Yale that show that they did did not handle them well.

Jessica Bennett (22:31):

Many, and more broadly in the field of philosophy, which the more I dug and the more I uncovered it turned out this seemed to be a really big problem. And I think the other thing about philosophy as a field is that you’re constantly asking questions about moral inquiry and you’re getting really close, and you can ask crazy things about a person’s life or intimacy or family that could have to do with the field of study or not.

Susie Banikarim (23:02):

This kind of reminds me of, do you remember that New Yorker article that came out not that long ago?

Jessica Bennett (23:05):

Yes. About the marriage philosophy.

Susie Banikarim (23:07):

Which is the philosophy professor who ended up dating her graduate student, with her graduate student, even though she’s married, I do feel like something’s going on in philosophy.

Jessica Bennett (23:14):

So what happened was, this was at the time that Newsweek and the Daily Beast had merged and it was pretty chaotic. And was the magazine going to still print and was it not? And I don’t think I even really had an editor at the time. So I started working on this and no one was really interested in it. And so I ended up taking it to another outlet. I think I got permission to do so I took it to Elle Magazine. And so I found this editor there, and we worked together on this story. And this is one of those cases. And at the time, I hadn’t covered a lot of cases like this where you had to find corroboration. So of course she hadn’t really told a lot of people, but she had told her boyfriend at the time, and I spoke with him and he verified it. She had filed multiple complaints with the institution. So there was a paper trail of all of this.

Susie Banikarim (24:00):

Which honestly, for people who don’t do this kind of coverage, contemporaneous accounts of what happened are considered very valid ways to figure out if a story really happened.

Jessica Bennett (24:11):

Absolutely. And this is years before I would then go on to work at the New York Times, right in the midst of Me Too. And years later I would learn how you actually do report these cases. And there are probably some things I didn’t do, but a lot of it is really going and finding a paper trail, talking and corroborating with anyone that the person told at the time. I think at the times we did something like three plus corroborations was a very strong case, and you would look at things like diaries, anything from that time period to verify that this thing had happened. Of course, you would then go to the person and give them a chance to respond. But I didn’t really know all of those things. Then there wasn’t a lot of framework or guidance on how to report on sexual assault cases. So I did what I thought was the right thing, which was looking at, yeah, the paper trail, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pages of documents.

Susie Banikarim (25:07):

I mean, it sounds like you did actually do the right thing.

Jessica Bennett (25:09):

I think that I did. But what ended up happening was I spent months and months writing this draft and working closely with her, and you spend so much time talking to someone and you build this real intimacy. We were close, we were talking constantly.

Susie Banikarim (25:25):

And also they’re being really vulnerable with you, and that does create a bond that’s hard to explain if you’ve never done that with someone.

Jessica Bennett (25:33):

Definitely. And so I turned in the story to Elle and I was waiting to hear back from the editor, and at this point, we hadn’t gone to the person she was accusing yet. I wanted to wait for the first edit. And then typically what you do is you prepare all of your questions in advance, and you go to that person and you say, “We have this story. We want to give you a chance to respond.” And maybe they bring a lawyer or maybe someone else is involved.

Susie Banikarim (25:57):

And you give them a deadline. Otherwise, what they’ll do is they’ll try and drag it out forever so that you don’t publish.

Jessica Bennett (26:01):

And they’ll spend that time trying to get the story killed if they are a person in power, which this person was. So we’re waiting for all of that. And then basically what happened was the editor came back to me, I didn’t know him well, he was a senior editor there at the time, and he basically said, I think it was in an email.

Susie Banikarim (26:18):

Oh, good.

Jessica Bennett (26:19):

But I was so traumatized by the whole thing that I just wanted to push it out of my mind. And so I hadn’t thought much about it since then. But he said, “This is not a publishable draft. This is a case pf he said, she said, we can’t possibly publish this.”

Susie Banikarim (26:35):

I mean, that would really mean that no cases could get published in a lot of cases. I mean, it’s very rare in a case of harassment or assault where there is literally corroborating evidence that is tangible like videotape.

Jessica Bennett (26:46):

I mean, or it’s like what is the one thing that is considered enough? Well, a police report and we know all of the reasons why women don’t go to police and in many cases why police botch these cases. So that’s what the editor said, and I was so ashamed because I thought I had screwed this up, journalistically that-

Susie Banikarim (27:06):

Of course you took it on yourself.

Jessica Bennett (27:08):

That I just was like, oh my God, this is so embarrassing. I’m not going to tell anyone this happened.

Susie Banikarim (27:11):

You felt humiliated by it, which is crazy.

Jessica Bennett (27:13):

I felt like I had done something terrible. First of all, I had to tell the woman that this wasn’t going to be published. And then it was like, okay, well could we take it to another publication? Could we try this? Could we try that? And at this point, I was just so exhausted and kind of humiliated. I mean, I’m in my twenties, I’ve been at Newsweek for a number of years. That was my only job up until that point. So I’m like, not inexperienced, but don’t have much power. And this is the first freelance piece that I had ever done, and it was the first time I was supposedly going to write for Elle Magazine. So anyway, I just took it completely personally, and I was so ashamed, and then I felt so terrible for this woman, and I basically explained it, and that was the end of that. And I never did anything about it.

Susie Banikarim (28:01):

Did you keep in touch with her? Has she ever come forward since?

Jessica Bennett (28:03):

Here and there over the years, and I think ultimately what happened is somebody did tell her story, and I think that this professor was exposed in one way or another, perhaps during Me Too, but essentially 10 years later or whatever, when Me Too is happening, and I am now the gender editor at the New York Times, a person who both has power, has more of an understanding of how this type of reporting works. I thought back to this case and I was like, “God damn it, I should have pushed back”, because I didn’t push back at all. I didn’t say, “Okay, well, you need more verification. We’ll go get it. What do you need to make this publishable? What is the issue here?” And I had hardly met this editor before, but what I would do now is I would be storming into that office being like, “Okay, if there’s something that’s missing, we will get it. That is my job as a reporter.”

Susie Banikarim (28:56):

Or you would take it elsewhere because you have the confidence to know it’s not you who’s made the mistake. It’s not like you did bad reporting or you didn’t do a good job. But it’s kind of interesting how you sort of took it to mean you weren’t doing a good job at the time, but also now you look back on it and feel like it’s something you did wrong. You could have done something differently, but maybe there really wasn’t in that environment, something you could do differently.

Jessica Bennett (29:16):

That is interesting. Maybe so. But I could have at least tried. I typically-

Susie Banikarim (29:21):

But that does come with experience and confidence to know.

Jessica Bennett (29:24):

It does. And I think that ultimately what I think our in retrospect stories have in common is that we didn’t have a lot of power at the time. And so to push back on something like that, and this was less a story of being embarrassed because I had done something “problematic” as we’ve discussed, and more like, I wish I’d fought for this thing. But once you gain a little bit of power, you can push back. You can push these stories through. And I think part of the reason that we see so many more of these types of stories now, of looking back on cases in the past or looking back on news events or characters or people or celebrities and saying, “Hey, how we treated them back then wasn’t really fair”, is in part because people like us have grown up.

Susie Banikarim (30:09):

And actually been given positions where we can greenlight those kinds of stories or make sure they get told. Yeah, I mean, although I will say the funny thing about this is that my regret is something where I behave terribly, and your regret is something where you actually were totally in the right.

Jessica Bennett (30:27):

I mean, well, I don’t know. I could have fought harder for it, and I still feel bad about that.

Susie Banikarim (30:29):

No, I know, but it’s just a funny, it’s classic, actually, I was a monster, and you’re like, “No, I was just naive and sweet.” Which really, I mean, fair to be honest.


This is In Retrospect. Thanks for listening. Is there a cultural moment you can’t stop thinking about and want us to explore in a future episode? Email us at [email protected] or find us on Instagram @inretropod.

Jessica Bennett (31:07):

If you love this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple or Spotify or wherever you listen. If you hate it, you can post nasty comments on our Instagram which we may or may not delete.

Susie Banikarim (31:17):

You can also find us on Instagram @jessicabennett and @susiebnyc. Also check out Jessica’s books, Feminist Fight Club and This is 18.

Jessica Bennett (31:26):

In Retrospect is a production of iHeart podcast and The Meteor. Lauren Hansen is our supervising producer. Derrick Clements is our engineer and sound designer. Sharon Attia is our researcher and associate producer.

Susie Banikarim (31:38):

Our executive producer from The Meteor is Cindi Leive. Our executive producers from iHeart are Anna Stumpf and Katrina Norvell. Our artwork is from Pentagram. Additional editing help from Mary Dooe and Mike Coscarelli. Sound correction and mastering by Amanda Rose Smith. We are your hosts, Susie Banikarim.

Jessica Bennett (31:56):

And Jessica Bennett. We’re also executive producers. For even more, check out inretropod.com. See you next week.

Susie Banikarim: It may have been fictional, but this wedding, a two-day television event, was celebrated by fans as the wedding of the decade. More people watched it than the real wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, which happened that same year. But what is often forgotten about this iconic soap opera couple, is that just a few years before this, Luke sexually assaulted Laura. [00:01:00] I’m Susie Banikarim.

Jessica Bennett: And I’m Jessica Bennett.

Susie Banikarim: This is In Retrospect, where each week we revisit a cultural moment from the past that shaped us.

Jessica Bennett: And that we just can’t stop thinking about.

Susie Banikarim: Today we’re talking about how one of TV’s most famous and beloved relationships started with a rape. But we’re also talking about the incredible powers soap operas once had in shaping public perception. For better and for worse.

Jessica Bennett: So Susie, I know nothing about soap operas except that there is one starring a woman named Jessica Bennett, who shares my name.

Susie Banikarim: Is that true?

Jessica Bennett: Uh, it’s called Passion. Yeah.

Susie Banikarim: Oh, Passion. That was a short-lived, but very wild soap opera.

Jessica Bennett: She remains on Wikipedia. Anyway, were you a huge General Hospital fan, like, how- what led you to this moment?

Susie Banikarim: So I wasn’t a General Hospital fan, specifically. I did occasionally watch it, but I was a huge soap opera fan. I would come home in middle [00:02:00] school and watch soap operas every afternoon.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: I was a Days of Our Life-

Jessica Bennett: Girl.

Susie Banikarim: One Life to Live girl, which was kind of unusual, because it was split. Days of Our Lives was-

Jessica Bennett: Oh, right.

Susie Banikarim: … on NBC. Do you remember the tagline for Days of Our Lives?

Jessica Bennett: No.

Susie Banikarim: Like sands through the hourglass…

CLIP: Like sands through the hourglass…

Jessica Bennett: Oh, yeah, I do remember. Okay.

Susie Banikarim: … so are the days of our lives.

CLIP: … so are the days of our lives.

Susie Banikarim: I would come home from school and I would watch with a snack every afternoon and then eventually I went to boarding school for high school, but when I came home, it was, like, something I looked forward to. Like a summer or winter break indulgence. And I think that’s kind of why I wanted to focus on this subject, this relationship, because soap operas were just so influential for generations of American girls and women. I mean, also some boys, obviously, but they really were geared towards women and this particular plot line really came at the peak of their popularity. And so it seems worth exploring this [00:03:00] relationship that was seen as so romantic, but started with an assault.

Jessica Bennett: As you say that, I’m remembering that I mentioned this to my mother-in-law recently and she revealed that actually my husband, like, the first three years of his life, she would constantly have this show on in the background while they were just, I don’t know, hanging out doing baby stuff or whatever.

Susie Banikarim: [laughs]

Jessica Bennett: And, you know, guess what? She remembers this relationship between Luke and Laura as completely romantic.

Susie Banikarim: I think that’s what most people thought.

Jessica Bennett: Yeah, and they go on to have this decades long relationship, so that makes a lot of sense. I mean, Laura is still actually a character on the show, but for those who didn’t grow up on General Hospital, can you give us a little primer on what the show was?

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. It was a soap opera that started in 1963.

CLIP: General Hospital.

Susie Banikarim: And had its heyday in the 1980s. It was just hugely popular. It was about two families living in the fictional town of Port Charles, New York, and their various trials and tribulations and not surprisingly, it was centered in a hospital. You might [00:04:00] say it was the original Grey’s Anatomy and what went on there, sometimes it would go off in weird adventures, but that’s really been the core of the show for the last 60 years.

Jessica Bennett: Okay, so Luke and Laura are characters who do not work in that hospital?

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. No, they don’t work in the hospital. Not literally everyone on the show works in the hospital.

Jessica Bennett: Got it.

Susie Banikarim: They just live in Port Charles.

Jessica Bennett: Okay. And where should we begin in terms of their, can we call it a relationship?

Susie Banikarim: Yeah, I mean, it’s not a relationship in the beginning, right? Because of the way it starts, but I actually want to begin with the wedding, because I think that that’s the moment that becomes such a cultural phenomenon.

Jessica Bennett: Right, right.

Susie Banikarim: It was a two-day event, so it’s two hours long.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, wow.

Susie Banikarim: There’s, like, really long stretches of them just, like, driving up in cars.

Jessica Bennett: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

Susie Banikarim: Like, the bridesmaids, the groomsmen.

Jessica Bennett: Yup.

Susie Banikarim: And then there’s this really long stretch of them just, like, literally greeting the guests.

Jessica Bennett: It’s like an actual wedding.

Susie Banikarim: Which is why it’s fascinating that it was the most watched soap opera episode of all time.

Jessica Bennett: [00:05:00] Wow.

Susie Banikarim: Like, people loved it. They wanted to feel like they were there at this wedding, because they were obsessed with this couple.

Jessica Bennett: Wow. Why were people so obsessed with this couple? Like, what was the appeal?

Susie Banikarim: So, I mean, it’s hard to say. You- to some degree you don’t ever know why people become really attached to certain characters on television or certain storylines, but Laura’s actually kind of an interesting character-

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: … because she’s already become a pretty central character to General Hospital when Luke is introduced.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: And that’s because they’re trying to push towards younger audiences.

Jessica Bennett: Ah, okay.

Susie Banikarim: So she’s a teenager.

Jessica Bennett: Interesting.

Susie Banikarim: And I think one of the quotes I read from a fan was, like, we love her because she’s 16 like us, but she lives the life of a 28-year-old.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: That’s partially why I wanted to start with the wedding, because you kind of need to understand that this wasn’t just, like, a popular episode of television. It was literally the closest thing Americans had to a royal wedding. A- and just to prove that I’m not exaggerating-

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: … more people tuned in to watch this fake wedding than tuned in when Meghan Markle and Prince [00:06:00] Harry had their actual wedding in 2018.

Jessica Bennett: Whoa. What, that is wild.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. And, like, local news sent correspondents to viewing parties, like, all across Manhattan. From an office in Madison Avenue to a dorm at NYU.

Jessica Bennett: [laughs]

NEWS CLIP: Fans all across the country watched for the big moment. To them it was their wedding.

NEWS CLIP: Of course we’re excited.

NEWS CLIP: Not a dry eye in the house.

NEWS CLIP: By the way, three years for them to get married, I feel like [inaudible 00:06:22].

NEWS CLIP: You like Luke?

NEWS CLIP: I love Luke.


NEWS CLIP: Uh, he’s sexy. It’s time for them to get together.

NEWS CLIP: It’s been two years. It’s time for them to-

NEWS CLIP: You know, they’re very much in love and it’s really a beautiful thing.

Susie Banikarim: It was just this wildly popular thing, even among celebrities. Like, Elizabeth Taylor was such a fan of the show that she requested to be on it.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: And made a guest appearance and you can kind of see her in-

Jessica Bennett: Yes, yes.

Susie Banikarim: … the background of many shots. She’s playing a villain who is cursing them-

Jessica Bennett: Oh, okay.

Susie Banikarim: … on their wedding day. And also, this is the year where Diana and Charles got married.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: And they had a real wedding.

Jessica Bennett: Right.

Susie Banikarim: But then this is such a big [00:07:00] moment that Diana sends champagne for this fake wedding. [laughs] She sends the actors-

Jessica Bennett: Whoa.

Susie Banikarim: … champagne to congratulate them on their fake wedding.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, wow. Oh my God, okay.

Susie Banikarim: Which, like, an amazing little detail here is that Genie Francis is underage when this wedding happens.

Jessica Bennett: Genie Francis who plays Laura.

Susie Banikarim: Genie Francis who plays Laura Spencer is 20, and so they don’t-

Jessica Bennett: She can’t drink.

Susie Banikarim: … even give it to her. She doesn’t know about the champagne until years later when they’re doing an interview.

Jessica Bennett: What kind of champagne do you think it was?

Susie Banikarim: I don’t know. I don’t know what kind of champagne it was, but, um, I think Luke said he liked kept the bo- I mean, it-

Jessica Bennett: Oh, wow.

Susie Banikarim: … imagine getting a bottle of champagne from who- what was, like, the most famous woman in the world at that time.

Jessica Bennett: So wha- okay, so the culture or the world is kind of treating this fake wedding like a real wedding.

Susie Banikarim: People took the day off work. And there’s, like, a note in the research that someone was, like, hey, I told my boss I was going to a wedding, because I was.

Jessica Bennett: Oh my God. [laughs]

Susie Banikarim: You know, like, bars played it. Like, people gathered around in bars at lunchtime in droves-

Jessica Bennett: Yeah.

Susie Banikarim: … to watch this wedding and, I mean, a thing that I think people sort of forget, [00:08:00] it’s hard now to remember what a stranglehold soap operas had on the culture-

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: … in the 80s.

Jessica Bennett: Or even television.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah, and television. I mean, they also made the most money.

Jessica Bennett: Yeah.

Susie Banikarim: And like, I think part of the thing is, yes, a lot of people watch them, but more than that, for the networks, uh, ABC, for example, they made up 50% of revenue.

Jessica Bennett: Oh wow.

Susie Banikarim: So had an enormous amount of power.

Jessica Bennett: Yes.

Susie Banikarim: And that’s why suddenly you see all these actors, these famous actors who got their start on soap operas, it’s because soap operas have money to pay actors and prime time, you know, it had money, but not the way soap operas did. And that wasn’t always the case, right? Soap operas initially were kind of seen as this thing for women, made by women.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: This sort of silly ridiculous thing. And, you know, it could be silly and ridiculous and we can talk about that, but daytime was an enormously powerful arena at this point.

Jessica Bennett: I don’t think I fully appreciated that. That soap operas had huge power to shape culture and also that it was women both making and watching them.

Susie Banikarim: [00:09:00] Yeah. Initially soap operas were really watched by stay-at-home moms and that’s kind of why initially they’re dismissed.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: But then this thing happens at the end of the 70s where a lot of women enter the workforce and there’s a dip in viewership.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: But then the women who are staying at home start to allow their children to watch TV with them.

Jessica Bennett: Okay, okay.

Susie Banikarim: That’s kind of like a shift. And so a lot of girls and boys who are home with their moms become addicted to these shows.

Jessica Bennett: I see.

Susie Banikarim: And then it becomes common to be a college student who gathers around-

Jessica Bennett: Right, this is why there’s viewing parties in these dorm rooms.

Susie Banikarim: Yes. You know, a common thing that was talked about amongst soap fans, is that they would schedule their classes around their soap operas.

Jessica Bennett: Wow. It’s such a different time.

Susie Banikarim: It’s, like, worth noting that even though soap operas aren’t that popular now, General Hospital is still on the air.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, right.

Susie Banikarim: I mean, people forget that.

Jessica Bennett: Yes.

Susie Banikarim: But it is the longest running scripted drama and the longest running American soap opera. I- I-

Jessica Bennett: How do you watch that now?

Susie Banikarim: It started airing in 1963. You can watch it on television. What do you mean? You watch it on ABC.

Jessica Bennett: Like, watch it, [00:10:00] you do?

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. You could watch it in the afternoon on ABC. And by the way, two million people still do.

Jessica Bennett: Okay, okay.

Susie Banikarim: And I think the thing that’s different is there’s, like, a lot of options now.

Jessica Bennett: Yeah.

Susie Banikarim: So it doesn’t seem as popular.

Jessica Bennett: Right.

Susie Banikarim: But two million people is not a paltry number. That’s way more than most cable shows get.

Jessica Bennett: Right.

Susie Banikarim: But we don’t think about it as a cultural phenomenon because it seems so low in comparison to the fact that in their heyday-

Jessica Bennett: Right.

Susie Banikarim: … one in fifteen Americans watched General Hospital.

Jessica Bennett: So we’re talking about a storyline on General Hospital involving the two most popular characters, Luke and Laura. These are characters America obsessed over in the 1980s. 30 million people tuned in to watch their wedding. But when you say out loud how that relationship [00:11:00] began, which is with Luke assaulting Laura, it almost feels like it can’t be true.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. It is hard to believe. And we’re about to walk you through the assault scene, which will make it feel unfortunately very real. But first I want to give you some background on how we get to that scene.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: And I’m going to actually blow your mind-

Jessica Bennett: [laughs]

Susie Banikarim: … with so many things here, because to begin with, Luke is Laura’s boss.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, okay. Where did they work?

Susie Banikarim: Um, at a disco.

Jessica Bennett: They work at a disco.

Susie Banikarim: Laura is 17. Luckily for Laura she’s already married. She’s 17 and married.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, okay. Only a crime.

Susie Banikarim: So Laura and Scotty were actually, like, a pretty popular soap opera couple in their own right, but, you know, the whole thing on soap operas is if there’s a happy couple, they must face, like, an-

Jessica Bennett: Right.

Susie Banikarim: … extraordinary number of obstacles. Like they must get kidnapped, they must get cloned, so the obstacle that’s thrown in Laura’s and Scotty’s relationship is Luke. There is a nurse at the hospital that’s [00:12:00] obsessed with Scotty. So she asks her brother, Luke, to come to town and try and seduce Laura.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: And Luke wasn’t even really supposed to be a major character on the show. He was just brought in as a temporary character who was going to be a bad boy, an obstacle in Laura’s relationship with her husband, Scotty. But the writers had planned from the beginning that he was going to rape her, because they wanted that storyline for ratings.

Jessica Bennett: Wild.

Susie Banikarim: Wild. The- the- the ratings have started to wane. You know, they’re making an effort to bring in younger viewers. It’s working a little bit with Laura, but this is the last rated TV show.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, so it’s not doing good at this time.

Susie Banikarim: At this time it’s not doing good. It’s the lowest rated soap opera on TV. It’s, like, number 12 or something.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: And there’s so many soap operas on TV-

Jessica Bennett: Right.

Susie Banikarim: … at this time. And that’s actually what makes it so remarkable that within three years, it’s literally the number one show.

Jessica Bennett: Can you imagine being, like, ah, our show’s doing really bad. What can we do to- to get better ratings? I know-

Susie Banikarim: Right.

Jessica Bennett: … let’s stage a rape.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. [00:13:00] I mean, it is wild. But it does work.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: And I think one of the things that’s interesting is the executive producer that was brought in at that time came from TV movies where rape was a much more common topic.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: But it was presented more from, like, the crime aspect. And so I think that’s why-

Jessica Bennett: Not a love story?

Susie Banikarim: Not a love story. And I think that’s why she has this idea to introduce this rape-

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: … and knows that that is, like, popular with viewers. That must be kind of what she’s thinking when she introduces this character.

Jessica Bennett: Okay. So this new 32-year-old character, Luke, ends up hiring 17-year-old Laura at his nightclub.

Susie Banikarim: Yes. So Laura has gone to Luke who runs the big disco in town to ask for a job and he hires her and meanwhile, he has some shady backdoor dealings with the mob. That’s why he’s, like, such a bad boy.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: And that’s his back story. So the context of this scene is that Luke has gotten mixed up with these mobsters who are forcing him to [00:14:00] kill a local politician-

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: … and he feels like if he kills this other person, he will also be killed.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: And so this scene picks up where she has seen him crying, because he is like, “I’m a dead man walking.”

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

CLIP Laura: How come you’re crying?

CLIP Luke: I wasn’t crying.

CLIP Laura: Yes, you were. And you didn’t know that I was here.

Jessica Bennett: At first I was, like, oh, that’s kind of progressive of them. Like, you’re showing tears.

Susie Banikarim: It’s not going to be so progressive.

CLIP Laura: Luke, I’m sure that whatever it is, it can be worked out in time.

CLIP Luke: Time is what I don’t have.

Jessica Bennett: They’re sort of setting it up that, like, if you don’t have time, then you must have the woman you love.

Susie Banikarim: And that’s definitely how the story plays, that he knows he’s running out of time, he’s so in love with her-

Jessica Bennett: Right.

Susie Banikarim: That he must have her this one time.

Jessica Bennett: He ra- he has to act on this love lust.

CLIP Luke: I said I was going to be dead, killed, little lady. Can’t you get that through your head? Now get out of here.

Susie Banikarim: So [00:15:00] he’s pushing her away, because essentially the message is he can’t control himself. And then he professes his love.

CLIP Luke: Dammit, Laura. I’m in love with you.

CLIP Laura: No, I d- I don’t think it’s really love, Luke. I-

CLIP Luke: Oh, yes. It’s just what it is.

Susie Banikarim: And then randomly in the middle of all of this, Luke walks over dramatically to the record player, flips it on and a song comes on and he turns to her and says, “I can’t die without holding you in my arms just one time.”

CLIP Luke: Dance with me, Laura.

CLIP Laura: No.

Jessica Bennett: You really feel that the tension is building and then things clearly unravel.

CLIP Laura: Luke, let me call a taxi, please.

Jessica Bennett: And so you don’t see the rape itself.

CLIP Laura: No. Don’t, Luke, let me go.

Susie Banikarim: But it’s unambiguous.

CLIP Laura: No. No.

Jessica Bennett: Yes.

Susie Banikarim: You definitely hear a rape.

Jessica Bennett: So clothes are ripped. She’s looking upset. She’s crying.

Susie Banikarim: She’s cowering.

Jessica Bennett: She’s clearly said no ahead of time.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah, she’s screaming no when it-

Jessica Bennett: Yes.

Susie Banikarim: … starts and grows. It’s a kind of jarring moment because it happens pretty suddenly. Like, you go [00:16:00] from being, like-

Jessica Bennett: I actually do get goosebumps watching it.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. Because you’re sort of, like, oh, it’s going to be a seduction and then suddenly it’s a rape.

Jessica Bennett: Yes.

Susie Banikarim: And cut to disco lights. There’s a commercial break. We come back. We’re back on the disco lights. It’s, like, very-

Jessica Bennett: Yes, yes.

Susie Banikarim: … surreal kind of vibe. And then the thing that really drives home that this is a rape is she’s now lying on the ground. She is cowering.

Jessica Bennett: Her clothes are torn.

Susie Banikarim: She’s crying. Her clothes are torn. He is standing above her. He seems like he’s in a bit of a daze. And the phone rings and you sort of get the sense that that’s supposed to, like, break his reverie.

Jessica Bennett: Yes, yes.

Susie Banikarim: And she sneaks away.

Jessica Bennett: And it’s her husband, Scotty.

Susie Banikarim: And it’s her husband on the phone and he’s like, “Have you seen Laura?” And Luke lies about it. So that’s kind of the acknowledgement that he knows he’s done something wrong.

Jessica Bennett: Yes.

Susie Banikarim: Because he’s lying about whether or not she’s been there. And that’s the scene.

Jessica Bennett: Okay, that was a lot. But one other strange detail I have to mention is, [00:17:00] so that song that’s playing in the background when the assault occurs. This is the song that Luke kind of dramatically goes up to the record player and turns on and it’s this jazz funk instrumental hit. This is a real song. It’s called, Rise. And that song then goes on to become number one on the Billboard charts.

Susie Banikarim: I know, it’s crazy.

Jessica Bennett: And, like, for a jazz funk instrumental, that was as rare then as it is today.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah.

Jessica Bennett: And it’s funny, actually. I don’t know if you remember this, you called me and I was in Palm Springs with a friend.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah.

Jessica Bennett: And, uh, you know, we had shopped, naturally-

Susie Banikarim: [laughs]

Jessica Bennett: … um, and… Yeah, exactly.

Susie Banikarim: That’s where either of us would be at any given moment.

Jessica Bennett: And we had just gotten out of the car where that song was playing. And this friend of mine who happens to have written her, like, college thesis on rape in soap operas-

Susie Banikarim: Amazing.

Jessica Bennett: … I know, maybe we should call her, is like, “Oh, do you know what this song is?” And she explains this to me and I’m like, “What?” And then you called me and you’re like, “Remember that moment in General Hospital?” Which of course I didn’t really remember, but this song goes on to be at the top of all of the charts [00:18:00] and actually, our younger listeners, uh, might recognize it because 20 years later, Puff Daddy actually puts a clip of it into Biggie’s song, Hypnotize.

Susie Banikarim: Oh yeah, excellent song, by the way.

Jessica Bennett: Which, like, I can hear that in the back of my mind as we’re listening to this. So it’s sampled in Hypnotize in 1997, because Puffy later says in an interview, like, this was the song of the summer when he was, like, 10 years old in New York. Like, all the kids-

Susie Banikarim: Everyone was listening to it.

Jessica Bennett: … were, like, jamming and rollerskating to this song. Which, of course, was popular because of this rape scene. How do we get from this clearly very traumatic scene between Luke and Laura, which happens in 1979, to then this star-studded royal level wedding two years later?

Susie Banikarim: That’s the crazy part, right? As I mentioned, Luke was supposed to be a temporary character. He was supposed to come on, you know, have this violent scene with [00:19:00] Laura and then he was supposed to be killed.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: And what happens is, audiences respond so well to him and, again, let me acknowledge how wild that is, he was so immediately popular that producers decided they wanted to find a way to keep him on the show.

Jessica Bennett: Wait, and how did they know he’s so popular?

Susie Banikarim: Well, partially because the way soaps worked is, since they were being produced so quickly-

Jessica Bennett: Uh-huh.

Susie Banikarim: … and because they’re on every day-

Jessica Bennett: Yeah.

Susie Banikarim: … the network is able to gauge almost immediately audience sentiment.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: So they’re using actual data that’s showing them that Luke is quite popular.

Jessica Bennett: Okay. So, like, we’ve got to keep Luke.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. This gets some coverage at the time. The ratings weren’t good before this. The ratings started to creep up, so they do not kill him off.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: But that leaves them-

Jessica Bennett: With a problem.

Susie Banikarim: … with a bit of a conundrum, which is, if audiences are falling in love with Luke and really feel drawn to this romance between him and Laura-

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: … and want Laura to end up with Luke, not Scotty, [00:20:00] how do they reconcile that with the violent rape-

Jessica Bennett: That has occurred.

Susie Banikarim: … has occurred, and also that they have acknowledged as such. And just to really put a fine point on the fact that the show never really tried to make the rape ambiguous. Initially, she goes to crisis counseling after this, on the show.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: Like, they do not initially shy away from the fact that it’s a rape. They will eventually and we’ll get into all of that, but when it happens, it is really clear what’s happened. Tony Geary, the actor who played Luke-

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: … actually says in an interview at some point, we never expected the audience to be, like, on Luke’s side. And so, we did a rape and then the audience fell in love with Luke and that wasn’t our fault, so what were we supposed to do? And, like, maybe the thing you were supposed to do, was be, like, hey guys, rape is bad.

Jessica Bennett: Right.

Susie Banikarim: But instead, they are moving the needle over and over again.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: Until they literally re-shoot [00:21:00] the scenes. They literally go back-

Jessica Bennett: So that they can appear in flashbacks?

Susie Banikarim: So that the scenes they’re showing for flashbacks aren’t as disturbing.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, wow.

Susie Banikarim: They’re literally softening the thing over and over and over again. And the characters being gaslit in real time, the audience is being gaslit in real time.

CLIP Luke: Maybe you should name me as the rapist.

CLIP Laura: They’ll put you in jail.

CLIP Luke: Maybe that’s where I belong.

CLIP Laura: No, don’t say that. You’re not a criminal.

Susie Banikarim: Then, by the time the wedding happens, the thing that’s kind of interesting is that by the time 30 million people are watching the wedding, a lot of those people have never seen the rape. They don’t even know-

Jessica Bennett: They don’t even know how the relationship began.

Susie Banikarim: Right, and they have only seen these sanitized, softened, more romantic flashbacks. And actually they even removed the song. They stopped playing the song, because the song is, like, so associated-

Jessica Bennett: Oh. Evokes…

Susie Banikarim: … with the rape.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, that’s so interesting.

Susie Banikarim: And when they’re, [00:22:00] like, re-shooting these scenes and softening them up, there’s a thing that happens that’s actually quite controversial for the people at the time who remember that it’s a rape. I mean, there is an audience that remembers.

Jessica Bennett: Yeah.

Susie Banikarim: And at one point Laura is narrating the scene and she describes it as the first time Luke and I made love.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, wow.

Susie Banikarim: And there is a reaction. It’s not, like, a huge national reaction or anything, but there are people at that time who were, like, what is happening?

Jessica Bennett: And actually we know one of those people. One of our executive producers, Cindy Leive.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah, Cindy is a journalist, the former editor of Glamour magazine and the co-founder of The Meteor. But most relevant to this conversation, she was a General Hospital super fan.

Cindy Leive: I started watching it probably in 1979 and watched it with varying levels of religious devotion until around 1984 or ’85. I was part of that generation X, so called latchkey kid generation [00:23:00] and so I used to come home and General Hospital was kind of my babysitter. Like, my parents were divorced and my mom worked and I would race home from school so that I could turn on ABC, Channel 7, and watch it at three o’clock. Usually with a humongous bowl of coffee ice cream. It was, like, a comfort hour for me.

Susie Banikarim: Why did you love it so much?

Cindy Leive: [laughs] Um, it was just fascinating. I just had never seen anything like it before. I remember these super adult plots. Prostitution, there was Bobby Spencer who used to be a quote, unquote, hooker and there were a lot of plots around infidelity. And then there was Luke and Laura. Laura was supposed to be sort of in her late teens, even though she seemed incredibly glamorous and grown up to me at the time.

Susie Banikarim: Do you remember what you initially thought when Luke showed up?

Cindy Leive: I have a vague memory that Luke Spencer was supposed to be a kind of bad boy character. He [00:24:00] ran a disco. Mostly I remember his kind of open neck shirts and his permed hair, although I didn’t know it was permed at the time. But he had kind of an allure.

Susie Banikarim: You’ve told me in the past that you were watching the episode when Luke raped Laura. Can you describe that experience?

Cindy Leive: So there’s this one Friday. I couldn’t tell you what time of year it was. I couldn’t tell you the month, but I know it was a Friday afternoon, which is when they always did the big happenings or cliffhangers. And I came home from school, I was watching by myself. And Luke was at his club, Luke’s place and Laura, she was there. And Luke is clearly in love with Laura and telling her how much he wants her. And then all of a sudden it clearly becomes a rape scene. And I don’t know if I even knew the word, rape, then. But I knew it was [00:25:00] violent. And it was really an unsettling scene, because they weren’t shying away from how violent it was.

He’s, like, pushing her down on the ground. She’s saying no. And the next scene, as I remember it, she’s walking around outside and she’s dazed. And she’s clearly been through a violent act. And yet, was it violent? Because the messed up thing is it’s also portrayed as romantic. Like, he wants her so much, he can’t stop himself. And he doesn’t stop himself. And he keeps going. That scene definitely led me to think that it had something to do with desire. It was a bad thing and it hurt her and that was clear. But it hurt her because he loved her so much, he couldn’t help but hurt her.

There’s also this sub-scene that she kind of pities him. [00:26:00] Because poor guy, you know, he can’t help it. And I think now seen in the cold light of day and a bunch of decades more experienced, like, that’s a very classic way that women are taught to think about bad men or violent men. That they can’t help it and are you really going to hold them accountable for their actions? Poor guys. They’ve suffered enough. But I didn’t see any of that at the time. I just sort of witnessed that they continued to fall in love. And that it was, like, heller romantic.

Susie Banikarim: Were you rooting for them?

Cindy Leive: I was totally rooting for them. I mean, not them that day of the rape, but as time went on and- and everybody was rooting for them. And, you know, it culminated in this wedding, which I was probably too young to really care about, but man, that wedding was a really big deal.

Susie Banikarim: Do you remember talking to your friends about it? Talking of- to them about the rape?

Cindy Leive: N- I don’t remember talking to any friends about it at the time. [00:27:00] But a couple of years after that scene aired on General Hospital, and it was still kind of the only reference point I had for rape, I was walking home from school and I was on this sort of, like, backwoods road and this guy pulled up next to me in a TransAm. I was probably 13 at the time and he had his pants down around his knees and, you know, was flashing me. Said something to me. I screamed, ran away, ran home, called my friend, and I said, “You’re not going to believe what just happened to me on the way home from school.” I was, like, shaking. I’m sure my voice was trembling. And she said, “Did you get raped?” And it was, like, we didn’t know enough to know how awful that would have been. Like, to her it was this dangerous, alarming, but still kind of hot thing that could have happened.

Susie Banikarim: Looking back on it now, how do you think about it?

Cindy Leive: [00:28:00] My friends and I talk about this all the time. Like, my friends who I grew up with. Like, can you believe that Luke raped Laura? Nope, still can’t believe that Luke raped Laura and that that’s what led to this relationship. And particularly over time, like, I stopped watching soap operas probably when I was in high school, but when I look back on it, it’s such a fundamental messing with how a whole generation of girls who weren’t really getting any kind of education around consent. All the things we talk about now with varying degrees of success, we weren’t talking about at all then. And it’s such a devastating message about what a guy will do if he loves you enough. Like, he’s going to hurt you. And, you know, you should forgive him for that because, poor guy.

Susie Banikarim: This storyline between Luke and Laura was obviously a [00:29:00] very serious subject matter, but one of the things that occurred to me when we started to work on this episode, is that now we’re sort of looking back on it and talking about it in a serious way, but the reason soap operas were often dismissed, is that they did have, and I just want to make sure we don’t lose sight of this, but man, have absolutely wild storylines, like demonic possession-

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: … and, you know, clones, like, you would get in an accident. Someone would clone you. You’d have a baby, it would turn out to be the devil. There was, like, a storyline on One Life to Live where they time traveled. I mean, there were these just, like, insane storylines. And Luke and Laura weren’t an exception. They would go on these Raiders of the Ark type adventures. But then there is this period in the late 80s and 90s where it becomes quite fantastical.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: That is partially why soap operas get this rap as a silly, sort of cheesy thing.

Jessica Bennett: Right.

Susie Banikarim: But at the same time, there were a lot of social issues are introduced.

Jessica Bennett: [00:30:00] Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: Partially because women are not being hired to make prestige television. They’re not being hired on prime time shows. They are making these soap operas. They are hiring other women to be the writers. And so a lot of topics that those women are interested in gets discussed here.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, that’s really interesting. So this is the place that a woman show runner or a woman writer could actually thrive.

Susie Banikarim: And yeah, thrive and actually explore real issues that women were facing. Domestic violence, addiction. So you sort of have this idea, oh, it would have been handled more sensitively, but I think this just reflects how people genuinely think about rape.

Jessica Bennett: Right. And that’s- yeah, that’s interesting too. It’s, like, actually maybe this is more accurate to what we really did think of it at the time.

Susie Banikarim: Well, and also, maybe this was a sensitive handling for the time.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: Like, maybe the way this would have been handled in previous iterations is she wouldn’t have been believed or-

Jessica Bennett: Yeah.

Susie Banikarim: … she would have been dismissed. Like, there is an attempt made here to handle this with sensitivity. They have [00:31:00] Genie Francis and Tony Geary, the actors, meet with a social worker before they taped the scene. I mean, there is an acknowledgement-

Jessica Bennett: Prior to.

Susie Banikarim: … that this is a difficult-

Jessica Bennett: Yeah.

Susie Banikarim: … subject to tackle.

Jessica Bennett: Yeah.

Susie Banikarim: It’s just interesting that even their version of sensitivity-

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: … is so baked in to the era that it represents-

Jessica Bennett: Yep.

Susie Banikarim: … that it still reveals these really outdated notions about rape.

Danielle Thompson: I can give you my perspective here.

Susie Banikarim: So, we did end up calling your friend, Danielle Thompson, who you mentioned at the top of the show.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, good. I’m so glad.

Danielle Thompson: The history of soaps is so vast and expansive that it’s like saying, let me tell you the history of the world in, like, five minutes.

Jessica Bennett: For those listening. This is Danielle Thompson. She’s a longtime television writer and- and researcher and the person that I basically go to whenever I have a really intricate question about TV of the past. So what did she say?

Susie Banikarim: Well, first she said that it wasn’t her thesis that she wrote about soaps and sexual assault. So you lied.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, whoops.

Susie Banikarim: But it [00:32:00] was a very long college essay, so you weren’t that far off.

Jessica Bennett: I mean, close enough.

Susie Banikarim: But besides being able to share what she learned about this very specific topic, she just has this crazy extensive knowledge about the topic and she was such a huge soap fan, so she really delivers.

Danielle Thompson: I think that you have to remember that soaps don’t just have love in the afternoon. In fact, that’s actually why I stopped watching soaps, because there is not enough romance. It’s kind of know for dealing with serious issues always. And sometimes they get it right and sometimes they don’t. But, like, in 1973, the first legal abortion on television showed on All My Children. The first gay teenager on TV, that was Billy Douglas, played by Ryan Phillippe on One Life to Live, 1992. You have the first gay marriage in 2009 in All My Children. The first transgender coming out storyline in 2006.

Soap operas are actually the place where serious issues are addressed. And so, just to, like, put Luke and Laura’s scene in context of the time. The [00:33:00] phrase, date rape, was not even coined until 1975 by Susan Brown Miller in her book, Against Her Will. And so for further context, it was 1982 when Ms. Magazine ran what was, like, a groundbreaking study about the subject of date rape, which was still not really known as a concept, because most people at the time thought of rape as being something that was committed by a stranger, not someone that was known.

So I think in that context, Luke and Laura is kind of radical because it’s bringing up an issue that was something people had not really understood or known that is of extreme relevance to its viewers, which are primarily women. And I think what’s interesting about Luke and Laura is that the character was never intended to be a romantic companion for her. This is definitely not the first act of sexual violence in soaps, but it is from my understanding, the first relationship where the relationship followed the act of sexual violence instead of preceded it. But I don’t necessarily think that it kind of sparked off [00:34:00] this new trope of sexual assaults in soap operas. I think if anything, it kind of broadened the conversation in a way that changed it and because awareness grew, I think that storylines about it became more pervasive.

Jessica Bennett: So one question I have is, all right, so multiple decades have past. It was actually just a couple of years ago that it was the 40th anniversary of the wedding and so there was all this sort of quote, unquote, in retrospect coverage of it and Genie Francis spoke about it. So, are those who were involved in the show at the time expressing different perspectives on it when they look back today?

Susie Banikarim: Yeah, 100%. I think they’re expressing different perspectives and also admitting that they had different perspectives even at the time.

Jessica Bennett: Okay.

Susie Banikarim: It’s also worth noting that the show itself has acknowledged and revisited the assault a few times since it originally aired. Obviously, you know, we think about these things differently now and the show is aware of that. And so there have [00:35:00] been a few times in the show’s history where they tried to confront that. And there was this scene between Luke and Laura at some point where they discuss what happened and she confronts him many years later and he apologizes.

CLIP Laura: We should talk about what happened that night then. That one bad night 20 years ago.

Susie Banikarim: Eventually Luke and Laura are going to have kids, so, you know, as the show is evolving there’s also a confrontation between Luke and his son with Laura. Strangely their kid is named, Lucky, and he confronts Luke about assaulting his mother.

CLIP Luke: You’re not going anywhere until we have this out.

CLIP Lucky: What are you going to do, Dad? Why, if I walked out the door, what would you do? Force me to stay, why, because you’re stronger than me?

CLIP Luke: What do you know?

Susie Banikarim: And Luke, of course, apologizes again here because it’s always part of a redemption arc they’re trying to give him.

CLIP Luke: You were conceived, born and raised in love. Nothing but love.

Susie Banikarim: But, what’s also [00:36:00] happened, is that I think there was a lot of questions about this rape when the wedding occurred. It’s not like journalists who were covering the wedding at the time didn’t ask about it.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: And the onus was really put, especially on Genie Francis, who was quite young. She would sort of explain this thing.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: She was often asked about it and she felt like she had to defend it and I think Tony Geary also felt that way and neither of them seem like they really appreciated being put in that position, to be honest.

Jessica Bennett: Right, right.

Susie Banikarim: They both left the show not long after the wedding and then returned.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, for those later storylines. Okay.

Susie Banikarim: For those later storylines. I mean, not just for those later storylines, but then they just returned to the show in the 90s. And she’s gotten to the point where she o- very openly now, even though she’s still on the show today, rejects having been put in this position. And has said, and I- I’ll read a quote from her. “As a young kid at 17, I was told to play rape and I played it. I didn’t even know what it was. But at 17 you follow the rules. You do as you are told and you aim to please. And now at 60 I don’t feel the need to defend that anymore. I [00:37:00] think that story was inappropriate. I don’t condone it. It’s been the burden that I’ve had to carry to try to justify that story. So I’m not doing that anymore.”

Jessica Bennett: That’s interesting. And, you know, to think about how these things play out differently. Today it was interesting you mentioned that at the time-

Susie Banikarim: Yeah.

Jessica Bennett: … the actors playing Luke and Laura actually saw a social worker to talk about the playing of this. But now you would have an intimacy coordinator on set.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. It would be a totally different ballgame. Or you’d hope that it would be a totally different ballgame. I think, look, Genie Francis is in her sixties now, right. She’s had 40 years to reflect on this thing that happened to her, but she was a 17-year-old girl playing with a 30-something year old actor.

Jessica Bennett: Right, right.

Susie Banikarim: Right? I mean, just the whole thing would be handled so differently now, because in addition to the rape, there would be the statutory issues. There just is, I think, a better understanding of how power dynamics work. Like, it wasn’t even really brought up at the time that he was her boss.

Jessica Bennett: It’s also, like, were the scene to play out today, there would be a concurrent dialogue happening on Twitter and elsewhere about how it was handled. [00:38:00] Immediately, in real time. And so you would be having to preemptively prepare for the criticism that you knew you were going to face and really make sure it was handled delicately.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. I mean, an interesting thing is, is did you The Accused when it came out?

Jessica Bennett: Yes.

Susie Banikarim: That was sort of, like, one of the first depictions I ever saw of gang rape and now the dialogue around that movie has actually even shifted.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: Like, I think it’s kind of fascinating because I’ve seen dialogue about how it’s too violent. It’s presenting-

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: … and too drawing away. It’s not, it’s, like, triggering. And I think that’s really interesting because the reason that movie was so groundbreaking when it happened is because it was presented in so violent a way. It sort of forced you to face the reality of that violence.

Jessica Bennett: Yeah, yeah.

Susie Banikarim: But now if you played it so violently, they would say it was exploitative, right? Like, if you did that scene now, you would want to handle it with more sensitivity because we get that rape is violent. We don’t need to, like, shove it in your face that same way. But that cultural context is important. When that movie happened, people didn’t really understand how violent rape could be, so it had [00:39:00] to be so aggressive.

Jessica Bennett: I think now too, storylines are forced to grapple with the enduring trauma of something like that happening.

Susie Banikarim: Right.

Jessica Bennett: And- and that that has to be written in.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. And I think, let’s be honest, we’ve all or most of us have watched many years of Law & Order SVU.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: And that has in many ways changed the way that rape is handled on other shows. That’s an interesting example of a show that not only has kind of moved the needle in terms of how a lot of us understand sexual assault, but has actually changed the way other shows handle it because it has really introduced a lot of ideas into the culture that are now very commonly acknowledged as facts. And those things continue to evolve.

Jessica Bennett: Okay. So, I feel like we need to take a moment to just pause and re-acknowledge what we’re talking about. This show is about how we internalize these messages.

Susie Banikarim: Right.

Jessica Bennett: So look, like, 1981 I was not born when this hit. Like, [00:40:00] this was a little bit before our time, but when you think about the time when we were sexually coming of age, like, how the strands of this might have still impacted us in the way that we saw ourselves. And the culture, like, yes, was it okay for guys to be really aggressive when they wanted to pursue you?

Susie Banikarim: I mean, I definitely-

Jessica Bennett: Yes.

Susie Banikarim: … thought that the answer to that was yes. I think I put up with a lot of things that now I see in my niece, like, that she would never put up with. You know, we just accepted a certain level of behavior that-

Jessica Bennett: We wouldn’t now.

Susie Banikarim: No. And now it’s understood that this is completely unacceptable.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: But, you know, at that time, I think people just really didn’t understand what the boundaries were. Like, this reminds me of this crazy jarring anecdote that I read, which has really stayed with me. It’s that Tony Geary, the actor who plays Luke, told the story that when he would go to, like, soap opera conventions and events, [00:41:00] after the scene aired, women would come up to him and say, “Rape me, Luke.”

Jessica Bennett: Oh my God.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah, and that’s like a thing that he would tell because he was so disturbed by it.

Jessica Bennett: But I think it says so much about what we’ve been talking about here, which is that there’s this underlying sense that a woman should, like, want to be found irresistible.

Susie Banikarim: Right. And it just introduces this idea that men express love or this, like, need through violence and then if you experience it as violence and not love, the problem is with you and not the thing that’s happened to you.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm. Right. I’d be really interested to hear from Cindy as someone who actually lived through this.

Cindy Leive: I think I learned that as a woman it’s incredibly flattering and important to be desired by a man and that even if that quote, unquote, desire is violent and hurts you or hurts other people, that, like, on some level that’s okay. I feel like in a way I’m a best case [00:42:00] scenario. I had a very feminist mom who did not truck with those kinds of stereotypes at all. I’m lucky that in those years after watching that on General Hospital I didn’t have any kind of rape experience myself, which is unusual, I think, for women.

But still on some level I think it just underlined this very present message in our culture that you’re kind of nobody unless a guy has overwhelming desire for you. I mean, when you think about it, General Hospital taught a whole generation of women like me, girls at the time, what relationships were. What family secrets were about, what infidelity was. And also what sexual violence is. And I don’t think it taught us accurately.

Susie Banikarim: This is In Retrospect. Thanks for listening. Is there a cultural moment you can’t stop [00:43:00] thinking about and want us to explore in a future episode? Email us at [email protected] or find us on Instagram @inretropod.

Jessica Bennett: If you love this podcast, please rate and review us on Apple or Spotify or wherever you listen. If you hate it, you can post nasty comments on our Instagram which we may or may not delete.

Susie Banikarim: You can also find us on Instagram @jessicabennett and @susiebnyc. Also check out Jessica’s books, Feminist Fight Club and This is 18.

Jessica Bennett: In Retrospect is a production of iHeart podcast and The Meteor. Lauren Hansen is our supervising producer. Derrick Clements is our engineer and sound designer. Sharon Attia is our researcher and associate producer.

Susie Banikarim: Our executive producer from The Meteor is Cindy Leive. Our executive producers from iHeart are Anna Stumpf and Katrina Norvell. Our artwork is from Pentagram. Additional editing help from Mary Dooe and Mike Coscarelli. Sound correction and mastering by Amanda Rose Smith. We are your hosts, Susie Banikarim.

Jessica Bennett: And Jessica Bennett. [00:44:00] We’re also executive producers. For even more, check out inretropod.com. See you next week.