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 Due 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] 

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 Do 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.