Please note: This transcript has been automatically generated.

Susie Banikarim: [00:00:00] I just love that your memory of this is us locking eyes across a crowded room.

Jessica Bennett: Yes. [inaudible 00:00:08].

Susie Banikarim: Like it really is like a romantic moment.

Jessica Bennett: Yes. 

Jessica Bennett: I’m Jessica Bennett.

 And I’m Susie Banikarim.

 And this is In Retrospect, where each week we delve into cultural moments that shaped us.

Susie Banikarim: And that we just can’t stop thinking about. Today, we thought we’d take some time to introduce ourselves. I think it would be fun to introduce each other.


Jessica Bennett: So let’s try it.

 Yeah, actually, that’s a good idea, because I feel like it’s easier to brag on behalf of someone else than it is to brag about yourself, and you have a really impressive bio.

Susie Banikarim:  Well same. I think it’s really fun to look at friend’s bios, because I’m always like, “Wow. You’re so much more impressive-“


 “Than even I think you are.” So I’ll do yours first.


 So Jessica Bennett started her career at Newsweek. I mean, you started your career a little bit before that, but-

Jessica Bennett: Yep.

Susie Banikarim: That’s where you had your first big writing job.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: And was a culture writer there for a long time.

Jessica Bennett: Mm-hmm.

Susie Banikarim: [00:01:00] And then went and ran content for Tumblr for a short period of time, when Tumblr was like really hot.

Jessica Bennett: Before… I guess, I mean, Tumblr’s sort of back now, right?

 It’s a little back.

 But Tumblr was like… Tumblr was trying to do journalism for a hot second.


 It was the cool, hot place to be, and everyone was there. And then it became just porn.

 Yeah. [laughs] For a long time.

 And now, and now maybe it’s kind of back and retro and…

 I think it’s like a 

Susie Banikarim: retro thing now.

 Cool again.

 But I remember being very impressed when you got that job.


Jessica Bennett: was ve-

 It was a cool job.

 And it was a job that had never existed before.



 I was like, “Oh, 

Susie Banikarim: of course Jess got that job. She’s so cool.”


 And then you went to the New York Times, and I think a thing most people know about you is that you were the first gender editor ever at the Times.


 Which is very impressive. And then I think they don’t have the gender editor role anymore, right?

 No. There is no 

Jessica Bennett: longer a gender editor.

Susie Banikarim: Which I think is interesting. I mean, I think it shows sort of the evolution of thinking around gender, so it’s sort of just the word-

 And even interesting.

 Yeah. The word, and also the idea that lots of things [00:02:00] involve gender coverage. It shouldn’t this like isolated silo, but-

 Yes. [inaudible 00:02:03].

 It was still really important when you got that job, and I remember feeling like it was a really important step, and now you’re a columnist for the New York Times.


 I think one thing that’s important about your career, at least I think so, is that you started a genre that’s now very prevalent but that at the time was a relatively new way to think about the world, which is that you did the first big interview with Monica Lewinsky.


 Sort of reframing her and thinking about what it meant that we thought of her in a certain way.


 And that you’ve done that a lot in your career, that you’re sort of able to take something that everyone takes as common wisdom and-


 Turn it on its head and really explore it in a more meaningful way. I really admire that.


Jessica Bennett: Uh, yeah. I’ve always joked that at a certain point, I became the scorned woman beat.

 Yeah, yeah. [laughs]

 And so, rehabilitating scorned women, which is now kind of everywhere.

 Yeah [

Susie Banikarim: inaudible 00:02:56].

 Everyone’s doing that now.

 It’s everywhere. Now it’s like a cottage industry. I feel like there’s like a whole industry of people [00:03:00] just trying to-

 And people, 

Jessica Bennett: in fact, that maybe don’t deserve to be rehabilitated.

 Yeah. [laughs] Some 

Susie Banikarim: people who don’t deserve it. But also, I think what’s important about the way you did it, and I will die on this hill, is that a lot of these women have not participated-


 In the retelling of their own stories. And in some ways, that is really complicated, because we’re trying to say that the media exploited Britney, but then at the same time, a new batch of people are choosing to sort of mine Britney’s story without her consent or participation.


 And so it’s a little bit of a complicated dynamic and I think what’s really important about your work is that you’ve always sort of involved the women at the center of the stories and given them an opportunity to tell their version.

 Yeah. They were, 

Jessica Bennett: they were instrumental to the 

Susie Banikarim: pieces.

 Yes. And I think that’s really important. And also just very journalistic. I really admire that you’re a very solid journalist, which-

 Thanks, Susie.

 I would say that, everyone.


 And I think it’s important to note that you wrote a great book [00:04:00] called Feminist Fight Club.


 About an actual feminist fight club you were in, so I’ll let you describe that so I don’t butcher it, but that book was amazing, and was a bestseller. And then you wrote another book with the Times, right? Called This is 18.

Jessica Bennett: Yeah, the photography book where we documented the lives of 18 year old girls around the world.


Susie Banikarim: amazing. I think I saw the New York Times piece, but-


 Like a bad friend-

Jessica Bennett:  It was the-

 I didn’t read that.

Jessica Bennett:  It was fine.


 It was a piece that then turned into an international photography exhibit, and then ultimately became a book with interviews with 

the girls.

Susie Banikarim: Oh, amazing. Um, now I feel like I should pick that up. But I have two copies of Feminist Fight Club, I would like to add-

 Hm. Appreciate that.

 I sent it to like everyone I know, so…


 Um, it’s a great book and if you have not seen it or you have a daughter or a niece or someone in your family who you think is coming into their own, I think it’s like a great book to give someone-


 Whose trying to figure out how to operate in the world.

 And in the 

Jessica Bennett: working world, specifically

Susie Banikarim: In the working world, specifically. And that’s my little [inaudible 00:04:55].

Jessica Bennett: That’s great! That was great.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah, was that good? How’d I do?

Jessica Bennett: I feel like I don’t know that you even… Oh, I guess the only thing you missed is [00:05:00] that I now teach journalism at NYU.

Susie Banikarim:  Oh, right.

Jessica Bennett: To graduate students. A class called Reporting the Zeitgeist.

Susie Banikarim:  Yes.

Jessica Bennett: Which is very fun, because I learn as much about the Zeitgeist from my students as I think they learn about reporting it from me.

Susie Banikarim: Yes. And actually, I just think it’s like a fun topic. I also taught like two classes at some point.


 And it was really fun to teach. I think eventually I want to do that again.


 But I, I-

 Jessica Bennett: The pay is nothing.

Susie Banikarim: It pays nothing.

 Jessica Bennett: But it’s really fun.


Susie Banikarim: Yeah.

You have to really be at a stage in your life. I remember because it paid nothing, I took on two classes at once. You know, I had taught like LSAT when I was much younger, but-

 Jessica Bennett: This was at Harvard?

Susie Banikarim: I never taught like a real school. Yes. It was when I finished my fellowship at Harvard.


 And they asked us if we wanted to teach at the extension school. And I did

Jessica Bennett: Let’s go into your bio.

Susie Banikarim: Oh, okay, yeah.

Jessica Bennett: I feel… I don’t want to start your bio with Harvard, ’cause it sounds so snotty.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah.

Jessica Bennett: And that’s not who you are.

Susie Banikarim: And also it’s a very small percentage of my career.

Jessica Bennett: So let’s just, let’s like put that on pause.


Jessica Bennett: We’ll come back to it. Okay. So Susie, you and I met about a decade ago, and we’ll get to our whole meeting story.

 Um, cute.

 Uh, yes. [inaudible [00:06:00] 00:06:00] cute. But you are a really seasoned producer. You began your career at World News Tonight. You had produced for Diane Sawyer, and then you actually went on to become a media executive.


 Like maybe that’s a… Feels like a weird term, but whenever I’m describing you to friends, I’m like, “Yeah, my friend Susie’s run like every newsroom.”

Susie Banikarim:  I mean, that is not true, but I have run-

Jessica Bennett: But a lot of newsrooms

Susie Banikarim: What someone once described as two of the most notorious asylums in media.


Jessica Bennett: that’s great. So Gizmodo media.

Susie Banikarim: Gizmodo media group.

 And Vice.

 So yeah, so Gizmodo media group is all the former Gawker sites. When Gawker went bankrupt, Univision bought all the sites by Gawker, so-


 Sites like Jezebel, Gizmodo-


 Dead Spin. Kotaku.


 [inaudible 00:06:43]. The Root.

 Okay. Yeah.

 I don’t want to forget [inaudible 00:06:44]. So I did that, and then I did run the newsroom at Vice for one year. But you… Actually, my first job in journalism was not-

 Oh yeah. 

Jessica Bennett: Fun fact.

Susie Banikarim: Fun fact. Well so, my first job in journalism was actually at NBC. I went to journalism school to change careers. I had been a [00:07:00] management consultant.

 Oh, that’s right.

 And then I was like, “I need to do something meaningful with my life.”


 And I went to journalism school for a year. And I got hired into this diversity program at NBC.


 And they would rotate you through all the shows.


 So I went to The Today Show, and I worked the Nightly News.


 And at the end of year, it was really low pay. It was like… Even back then, it was so low. It was like $30,000.


 Which, I just remember going into credit card debt that year.


 And when the year was over, they offered me a job at the Today Show, but it was like for $35,000 or something.


Or something like, I was just like, “That’s untenable for me.”

Jessica Bennett: Yeah. Yeah. In New York.

 And somehow, I got connected to someone who was starting a new show called Wife Swap.


 And I worked as an associate producer on the first year of Wife Swap.

Jessica Bennett:  Wife Swap, yes.  That’s great. You have real… There’s a lot of high, low in your bio.

 Yes. There’s a lot 

Susie Banikarim: of high, low. And you know, it’s funny because sometimes in my career, there have been points in my career where people have told me not to talk about the low. Like where people have been like-

 [inaudible 00:07:58].

“Maybe you don’t want to tell people about Wife Swap.”

 Yeah, yeah.

 [00:08:00] And I’ve always rejected that, because I think it’s part of what makes me an interesting producer and an interesting journalist.


 Is that I really embrace a lot of variable-

 Yes, yes.


Jessica Bennett: Yes. And I actually think that’s one of the subjects that we bond over. Like, that’s a lot of what we’re trying to do here.


 Which we’ll talk a little bit more about. But it’s looking at some elements of “low culture” in a smart way.


 And a meaningful way. Okay, let’s not forget the documentary that you produced and directed about Donald Trump and the political press called Enemies of the People.

Susie Banikarim:  Yeah, so I did this fellowship at Harvard, which all my friends are going to die that that’s how we started this conversation, because they just love to give me shit about this.


 Like, they’re like, “Oh, is this your Harvard magazine?”


 Like, “Where’s your Harvard mug?”


 They just think it’s so funny, ’cause I’m not actually the kind of person you would associate with that, I don’t think?

 You went to Barnard, right?

 I went to Barnard undergrad. I went to Columbia for grad school. We’re like a Barnard Columbia family through and through.


 Which I guess is also obnoxious. I mean, I [00:09:00] just come from a family. Like, we’re an immigrant family.


 So those things were so important to my family.


 You know?

 Immigrants from Iran.

 Immigrants from Iran. I’m Iranian. So I did this fellowship, and then I came back to New York, and I had my first executive job or management job-


 Is probably more correct. And I was working at this small place, and it was like the vanity project for like a very nice, rich Israeli billionaire. [laughs]


 I mean, I’m sure some people don’t think he’s very nice, because I don’t know how you become a billionaire-


 By being very nice, but who, you know, had just started this project and was paying us pretty good money and we had a lot of really cool people who were working with us, people I still keep in touch with and who’ve had amazing careers. That shop was called Vocative. It no longer exists.

Jessica Bennett: Right. I remember that.


 I was a… Wasn’t I a consultant there for like one second?

 I think you were. Yeah. Yeah.

 Yeah. I don’t know that 

Susie Banikarim: I can actually-

 You actually introduced me to the person who 

Jessica Bennett: hired me there.

 Okay. I don’t think I actually-

 [inaudible 00:09:51].

 Consulted on anything, but um-

 Yeah. [laughs]

 Or received a paycheck. Anyway.

Susie Banikarim: um, but so that was winding down. It became clear that he was [00:10:00] like-


 “Oh, wait, you can’t make any money in media.”


 And I was like, “Could have told you that, but-“


 Thank you for keeping me employed for a few years. And I had a friend who was running the Shorenstein Center.


 At Harvard. [laughs] And I just love how many times I’ve had to say that word.

Jessica Bennett: Which is a media… Explain what that is.

Susie Banikarim: It’s like a media and politics policy center-


 That they have. And he approached me and asked if I was interested in doing a project.


 And initially I pitched an oral history, like a written oral history.


 Because we had been covering the Trump campaign kind of tangentially. Like, we were really focused on technology in that newsroom, so-


 We weren’t like a general politics shop.


 And we didn’t send someone out to cover it. And I just watched all these people I knew making really hard decisions about how to cover that campaign.


 And I just did not think I would necessarily have done a better job. Like, it just seemed so hard to cover that campaign.


 And know how to do it, because Trump just changed the playbook so much.


 And people were constantly playing catch up. And I was just curious. It was in 2017.


 [00:11:00] And I was genuinely curious to just interview all these people I knew about what it felt like.


 To be in the eye of that storm. Because so many things happened every day during the Trump presidency.


 That it was easy to like forget what had happened the week before.


 And so, this friend of mine came back to me and said, “What if we made a film?” And so that’s how the documentary happened-


 It was like very lucky, to be honest. Like, I feel really lucky to have had that opportunity and-

Jessica Bennett: And people can still watch it.

Susie Banikarim: Mm-hmm. So Enemies of the People on YouTube. And I think what’s sort of interesting about it is I did talk to people like Jeff Zucker and Jake Tapper and also like-


Jessica Bennett: Maggie Haberman.

Susie Banikarim: Maggie, yeah.

 Like lots of people who were covering it at the time for newspapers and for TV. And I think the thing that’s interesting is now we’re getting to another election.


 And it feels like people are just making the same mistakes again.

 Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 And that has been really hard to watch, I have to say.


 People who were in the movie… [laughs]


 Have said things where I’m like, “But you-“

 Now you’re doing that [00:12:00] again.

 “Are just doing the same thing.”


 It’s very hard to watch. And so, I feel like maybe, um, it didn’t make as big a dent as I hoped it would. [laughs]

Jessica Bennett:  All right. So maybe you need a part two.


 Or maybe we need to re-promote it a little bit and get people to watch it.


 Let’s talk about how we met. So I was at Newsweek. And that was my first real job out of college. I had done like, as you did back then, a bunch of unpaid internships. I was working at a bar to actually pay my rent. And then I finally got hired at Newsweek, and I spent a number of years there. And then at a certain point, Newsweek, which then was like still a real magazine-

 A very important magazine.

 Respected magazine.

 Yeah, yeah.

 It had one time been my dream job. It got put up for [00:13:00] sale. It was put up for sale by the Washington Post company, which owned it, and it was sold to a 90 year old man named Sydney Harmon for one dollar plus debt.

 I remember that.

 And then he died.


 And so, it was like, “Do we have jobs? Do we not have jobs?” And then Tina Brown came forward and was going to edit the magazine. And Tina Brown was running the Daily Beast. Had you worked at the Daily Beast at that point?

Susie Banikarim:  No.


 So what happened was I interviewed at the Daily Beast-


 And then I turned in notice at ABC News, which is where I was at the time.


 And by the time I started my job like a month later-


 [inaudible 00:13:37].

Jessica Bennett: Okay. And so, it was always referred to as like this marriage of brands.


 And all of the Newsweek reporters who had to add Daily Beast into their email addresses, so like I was [email protected], and then suddenly I was [email protected]. Try spelling that out to someone who needs to email you.


 They’re like, “What in the hell is this?” We were like, “We hate this.”

Susie Banikarim: [00:14:00]  Yeah.


 It was definitely like not a happy marriage.

Jessica Bennett:  It was not a happy marriage. But in my recollection, I don’t know, it was like a couple of weeks after this merger occurred. We were now all in the same office, and Tina Brown was putting on her Women in the World conference, which was this big event, live journalism event. It was at Lincoln Center, I think?

Susie Banikarim:  No. So the year we did it-


 Eventually it would be at Lincoln Center, but the year we did it it was at like some hotel in midtown called like The Millennium.

Jessica Bennett:  Oh, that’s right. Okay.

Susie Banikarim:  Like across from like a barbecue place.

Jessica Bennett:  And, well-


 So I specifically remember being in like some sad, small hotel room where all the producers were. And it was absolute chaos.


 Someone was crying, there were papers being thrown, someone had dropped out. I was being asked to produce the live journalism thing. Like, I didn’t know anything about production at that point.


 And you were in there, and at one point, we didn’t know each other, and we just looked at each other, and we’re like, “What the fuck?”


 Like, is this as crazy as it seems?

Susie Banikarim:  I just love that [00:15:00] your memory of this is us locking eyes-


 Across a crowded room.


 But it really is like a romantic moment.

Jessica Bennett:  Yes. And then I think we… Well, you might remember it differently, but then in my recollection, we left this room, and we’re like, “Do you want to get coffee?”

 [laughs] Yes.

 Can we talk about how insane this is?

Susie Banikarim: So the slight difference, I think that is kind of how I remember it, although I don’t have quite as romantic a moment. But what I remember is that I started, and literally I had to go to the Newsweek offices, which I had never seen.


 For my first day, to get my paperwork. And on my way up to get my paperwork, I was like in an elevator with two people who had just been laid off from the tech [inaudible 00:15:32].

 Oh, wow.



 Intense. And I get there, and this guy introduces himself to me who would be Ramin Setoodeh, one of our close friends who is now the editor in chief of Variety, but at that time was your work husband.


 And a writer at Newsweek. And he was like, “Are you Iranian?” And we bonded over that.


 And then he was like, “Oh, are you going to Women in the World? You have to find Jess. She’ll make everything better.”


 And I was like, “Okay.” And so, I do know that at some point we met, and I was like, “Oh, [00:16:00] you’re Jess.”


 So like I was looking for you, but I don’t think you were looking for me.

Jessica Bennett:  Oh my god, but I didn’t know I was looking for you.


Susie Banikarim:  You didn’t  know. You didn’t know. But you were!

 Oh, wow.

 [laughs] This is so embarrassing for us. It’s like, get a room.


 But also, I do remember getting there and being like, “Everyone is like crying and screaming.”


 It was a very, like-

 Screaming, crying, 

Jessica Bennett: like everything.

 Crazy atmosphere.

 Yes. Things being thrown.


 Really, really wild.

Susie Banikarim:  But for some reason that conference just made everybody crazy.

Jessica Bennett:  It was true. It was like a pressure cooker. And all around it, people were being laid off. The magazine was… It was like, “Are we going to even print any more? What is going on? What is my job?” When I started there, I hit kind of the tail end of it in that, you know, we were still in the old building. It had this beautiful view of Central Park. I had my own office when I got a promotion. It had a view of the park. We had town car rides home-

Susie Banikarim: Yes.

Jessica Bennett: If you stayed past I think 7 PM. On Thursday nights there was this like beautiful catered dinner that would be-

Susie Banikarim:  Oh my god.

Jessica Bennett: Up on the 18th [00:17:00] floor with a view of the city, and it was like wine and ch- Whatever. Drinks. And-

Susie Banikarim:  I did not witness that.

 A three course meal, like foie gras. Like, whatever.

Susie Banikarim:  Yeah. I definitely did not get any of that.

Jessica Bennett: That got cut very quickly, but for a moment, it was really crazy. [laughs]


Susie Banikarim: It also, like at magazines, the editors used to have their own standing like town car-


 That would take them to and from-


 Their jobs and in TV, it was the same way. Like, the hosts and the executives all had cars waiting outside. Like now, they don’t do it that way.

 It’s just totally-

Jessica Bennett:  But  I feel like-

 I mean, yeah. That was the only office I will ever ha- The only private office I will ever have.

 Ever have, right?

 As I like sadly work from my bed now.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah. I mean, even when I like ran things, I didn’t have my own office. That’s just not the world we live in any more. So let’s talk a little bit about what we’re both doing.

Jessica Bennett:  The world we do live in now.

Susie Banikarim: We do live in now. We’re kind of where we are. So-

Jessica Bennett: Yeah. What are we doing now? I mean, we both work from home.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah.

Jessica Bennett: I have a dog.

 [laughs] Yes.

 And I’m sort of torn, as we’ve discussed, between my former ambitious self and wanting to be a [00:18:00] freelancer and do different things and this podcast is part of that. I’m just like kind of chill.

 Yeah, so it’s 

Susie Banikarim: interesting, because I always think of you as more ambitious than I am. I don’t think was 

Jessica Bennett: always true.

 It’s so funny, because you were like an executive.

 I know. [laughs]

 Like an actual executive.

 I know. 

Susie Banikarim: I know, it’s a really weird thing-

Jessica Bennett: I’m just like a writer.

Susie Banikarim: About me. I know, but like I feel like you have like ambitious goals and like things you want to do, and I feel like I kinda just rode this wave, you know?


 Like I never had a plan. I just went from thing to thing. And hoped for the best. And sometimes it was the best, and sometimes it was the very worst. But I definitely feel like I have shifted and changed a lot. I mean, I think a lot of people say that about the pandemic-


 And I think the pandemic was part of it, but you know, I think also running news rooms in this media environment is really heartbreaking.


 You know? It’s like-

Jessica Bennett: Your job is to cut and-

Susie Banikarim: Yeah, your job is to cut. And I’ve had to do layoffs almost every year of my career for the last like-


 I don’t know, five or six years. Maybe longer.


 [00:19:00] So it is hard to imagine having the heart for that any more.

 Yeah. [inaudible 00:19:05].

 Which is why I’m doing other things. I work with The Meteor, which is also the executive producer of this show.


 Um, which is a company started by Cindi Lieve, who is a former editor of Glamour and it’s a gender equity media organization. I’m an editor at large there, and I’m doing this podcast. And I love this, because I feel like I’m actually doing something creative.


 Like I’m actually trying to make something and it’s new and it’s challenging.


 And it’s hard, which I, I like.

Jessica Bennett:  But you’re in it. I mean, I think we’ve talked about this before, but after being an editor for a number of years, I was just like, “I don’t want to be in management.”


 Like that’s not, it’s not my skill set. That’s not what I want to do. I have a lot of problems of my own.


 And solving other people’s problems is like not a thing that I love or am particularly good at.


 But okay, so this, of course, led us both to this [00:20:00] 

Susie Banikarim: podcast.

Jessica Bennett:Let’s  talk about the podcast. I recall that I was in Palm Springs on vacation with a couple of friends, and we were in a marijuana shop, as you do.


 And I got a call.

 As one would be, in California.

 As one would be. Although now New York also. Um-

 But not as good.

 Not… True.


 And, and not at that time. And my friend Susie called, and I was in the check out line. [laughs]


 And you were like, “Hey, I’ve been talking about this idea, and you know, you’ve done all of these stories about taking characters in the present and looking at the way that we talked about them and framed them in the past. And I was thinking it could be really interesting to look at specific pop culture moments from the past, and what if we called it In Retrospect?”


 [00:21:00] And I said, “Oh my god. That’s the perfect name for this thing that I’ve been kind of trying to articulate-“

 [inaudible 00:21:08] yeah.

 It had been swirling around and I’ve been really interested in. And I had just been in the car with this friend that I was in Palm Springs with, where a song came on the radio, and she said, “Oh my god, do you know this song?” And I was like, “No, I don’t know what this is.” And she’s like, “This is the like disco song that was playing in the background when Luke raped Laura on General Hospital.”

 Oh my god.

 And you, when you called me, were like, “I was talking to Cindi about it, and we thought that Luke and Laura on General Hospital who ultimately get married. But what most people forget is that actually he originally raped her. That’s how the relationship began. Could be an interesting first episode.” And so, it was sort of like all of these things came toge- You know.


 The weed shop, my gummies, you on the phone, Luke and Laura-


 The disco track.

Susie Banikarim:  It’s like another moment of fate that brought us together.

Jessica Bennett: Exactly.

Susie Banikarim:  Yeah. I think the thing is is that I really wanted to do this with you because [00:22:00] I felt like you bring something that I just do not bring to this, which is like a much more intellectual point of view.

Jessica Bennett: Oh, thank you.

Susie Banikarim: To be honest, like, you know me. I like love Bravo and the Real Housewives.


 And I watch Hallmark movies.


 Don’t tell anyone.


 I have like a very low sensibility, and also, you know, I like some other things, but I’m definitely not as deeply embedded in sort of the intellectual space-


 That we are going to occupy. And I also feel like, you know, there was this thing that we really both embraced about it, which is, it’s not just important to look at what happened to these women, although that’s really important. But it’s also important to sort of turn that lens around and be like, “What did we learn?”


 As girls, and women. Growing up and seeing-

Jessica Bennett: Consuming these things.

Susie Banikarim: Yeah, consuming these things, seeing what happened to people, and kind of what messages it told us about how we were supposed to operate in the world.


 And what it meant if [00:23:00] we struggled in any of these various ways.


 And like, what that said about us. So I really love that we’re getting to do this together. It really… I sound so cheesy, but it’s true. And it’s really hard for me to say nice things, so-


 Just like don’t expect this a lot, 

Jessica Bennett: but-

 Which is one of the things I love. I mean, I think one of the reasons we are friends and this works for us is that we’re both pretty blunt.


 Like, we say it how it is. I grew up in Seattle, which is like the most passive aggressive place imaginable.

 [laughs] I can’t imagine.

 You can’t even honk at someone without it being seen as like a major affront, so-

 An aggression.

 I feel so refreshed by people who will just state the thing. And I think we both want to do that.

 Yeah, we’re both like that.

 While at the same time wanting to like leave some room for gray area and not just take all of these moments and pop culture things and subjects that happened in the past and proclaim them “problematic”-


 And thus forward, nobody [00:24:00] shall enjoy them ever again. Like it’s not-


 That simple.

Susie Banikarim:  It’s not, and I think also I’m very much a product of the pop culture I consumed.


 And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.


 You know? Like I’m sure there are some messages I internalized that… Well I know there are some messages I internalized that I shouldn’t have, but on the other hand, like I was an immigrant girl from Iran. I came to this country when I was four. It’s a lot of how I learned what it meant to be an American.


 Like if I had not had that, I would have been even more confused than I already was.


 Like we went from Iran to Paris, and then to this very suburban town in California in the East Bay of San Francisco.


 And I definitely was not the norm. You know?


 So that’s like how I kinda learned about the world around me. So it’s complicated, our relationship with these things. Like, you can love something like Bravo-


 But also understand the ways that it’s not always been great.


 And maybe is not great, although I will die on the hill that I think Bravo is a women’s workplace drama. And that we should respect it-

Jessica Bennett: Oh.

Susie Banikarim: As [00:25:00] such.

Jessica Bennett: Okay, well, we should unpack that.

Susie Banikarim: We shall, we shall-

 [inaudible 00:25:03].

 Unpack that eventually.

Jessica Bennett: And I think that’s really what we want to do here. Every week, we will take a cultural moment, whether it’s a news headline that we remember from the time, or an episode of Dawson’s Creek.


 Which I grew up on, or some word that was catapulted into the Zeitgeist. And we will unravel what was happening at the time, the cultural context, and how we interpreted it and internalized it and what repercussions or impact that has, if any, on where we are today.

Susie Banikarim: So we would love it if you went on this journey with us.

Jessica Bennett: Susie, you’re so cheesy, but I agree.

Susie Banikarim: [laughs] 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 at Inretropod.

 If you love this 

Jessica Bennett: podcast, please [00:26:00] 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 at Jessica Bennett, and at Susie B. NYC. Also, check out Jessica’s books: Feminist Fight Club and This is 18.


Jessica Bennett: Retrospect is a production of I Heart Podcasts and The Meteor. Lauren Hanson is our supervising producer. Derek Clemence is our engineer and sound designer. Shiran Atsia is our researcher and associate producer.

Susie Banikarim: Our executive producer from The Meteor is Cindi Lieve. Our executive producers from I Heart are Anna Stumpf, and Katrina Norbell. 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. We’re also executive producers. For even more, check out Inretropod.com. See you next week.[00:27:00]