Summary: A safe space for nerding out about all the things you're watching, reading, listening to and encountering IRL.
Ilene Chaiken has been a showrunner for TV hits like Fox’s Empire, an executive producer for Hulu’s The Handmaid's Tale, and a writer, producer, and director for Showtime’s The L Word in the mid-2000s. In other words, she’s a boss. “I don’t like the word that much,” Chaiken said on Nerdette. “I mean, I like it as in, ‘Oh, she’s a boss.’ You know, ‘She’s a badass. She’s a boss.’ But I don’t like the kind of hierarchical aspect of it.” Chaiken talked with Nerdette co-hosts Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnsen about the upcoming reboot of The L Word, her recently greenlit pilot project with Fox, and about how she became a boss. She also had some important homework for you: “I want to know who hasn’t seen herself — and I’ll just make it gendered — who hasn’t seen herself represented on television, and what would she like to see?” If you’ve got an answer, tweet them to @NerdettePodcast and @IleneChaiken.
Olympians and experts on the science of fear, the physics of sliding down ice super duper fast, and the feminist fight to get women into more sports.
When Teresa Woodruff started working for a biotech company fresh out of graduate school, her employer revealed that the first studies for a new heart attack treatment had been performed on 50,000 men. “And so I kinda raised my hand and said, ‘That’s interesting. Where are all the women?” Today, Teresa is an expert in ovarian biology and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University in Chicago. We ask her why so many prescription drugs were tested only on men for so many decades, what that’s meant for women’s health, and what’s changed. Plus, Teresa tells us about Repropedia, her encyclopedia for reproductive health, and “A New You, That's Who” (think “Schoolhouse Rock!” but instead of conjunctions, it's about puberty.) More info on Teresa Woodruff’s work can be found at www.woodrufflab.org.
Comedian John Hodgman, longtime fan of the lovingly-reviled Swedish spirit called Malört, tells Nerdette, “I’m fascinated with things that are still regional in an increasingly non-regional country.” He also calls the disagreeable beverage "“a delightful, heady blend of pencil shavings and shame.” Nerdette's Tricia Bobeda talked with Hodgman about his new book, Vacationland, before inviting in Sam Mechling, director of marketing for Jeppson's Malört, to better help us all understand this unique, wormwood-based liqueur. Prost!
Jennifer Egan won a Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for her novel A Visit from the Goon Squad. Her most recent novel, Manhattan Beach, was among 10 works of fiction long-listed for the 2017 National Book Award. Not too shabby, right? But Egan told Greta that an early draft of Manhattan Beach was so bad she almost scrapped the whole thing. “I probably came as close to abandoning this as I have to any project I’ve worked on,” she said. On this week's Nerdette, Egan explains why things got rough, how she powered through, and the evolutionary advantage of forgetting how hard things can be. Plus, we get some help from Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Historical Society, to break down Egan's nerd obsession: Out of place buildings.
“I think it’s going to last more than a moment,” said the celebrated author on this week’s Nerdette. “But how much more than a moment, it remains to be seen." Nerdette co-host Greta Johnsen talks with author Margaret Atwood about the recent TV adaptations of her novels Alias Grace and The Handmaid's Tale, how her take on feminism has changed in recent years, and what needs to happen to make sure the “Harvey Weinstein moment” isn’t just a moment. Plus, we explore one of Atwood's nerd obsessions: The 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner.
Daveed Diggs says starring in the hit musical Hamilton opened a lot of doors for him. One of those doors? Meeting hip hop legend Busta Rhymes. “Like, I can text Busta Rhymes right now. That? That is a crazy thing to me.” Diggs stopped by WBEZ to talk with Greta about his first feature film, Wonder, out in theaters Friday. They also talk about Hamilton, his ABC TV series The Mayor, and his rap group Clipping. Note: In the audio of this week’s episode, we state that a groundnut is “an acorn that has fallen.” This statement is actually quite false.
Knitting can be dangerous. Just ask author, scholar, and (of course) knitter Eve Ewing. She explains what she calls “the sweater curse” to Nerdette hosts Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnsen. They also discuss the impact of the late music icon Prince, the rise of Afrofuturism, and why Ewing can’t wait to get off social media. Plus, an excerpt from Ewing's new book of poetry Electric Arches.
In her seminal work on 'Muppet Theory,' Slate reporter Dahlia Lithwick once wrote that "every living human" can be categorized as either a Chaos Muppet or an Order Muppet. On this super-special Supreme Court edition of Nerdette, lifelong SCOTUS-nerd and Nerdette host Tricia Bobeda asks Lithwick to apply her Unified Theory of Muppet Types to each Supreme Court Justice. The results are pure madness! Then Greta talks with Bryant Johnson, who is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal fitness trainer. He recently wrote a book about RBG's hardcore conditioning routine. Waka waka!
Like the Flintstones meeting the Jetsons, Betty and Veronica taking down the Predator alien, and Sabrina the teenage witch dating Eric Matthews on Boy Meets World, nothing beats an epic crossover. That’s why Nerdette hosts Greta Johnsen and Tricia Bobeda sat down with Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, hosts of CALL YOUR GIRLFRIEND, the premiere podcast for long-distance besties everywhere. They talked friendship, feminism, and bodily fluids before playing a Newlywed-esque game to determine which pair of co-hosts knows each other better. It's the podcast mashup you didn’t know you needed — but definitely do.
It’s a "dinner and a TV show" kind of night for Nerdette this week. We talk to Jane the Virgin actress Yael Grobglas about what it’s like to play your own twin and creating a villain who people love to hate. Then Iron Chef winner and Chopped judge Alex Guarnaschelli joins us to help dive into Grobglas’ obsession with food.
To celebrate the arrival of Star Trek: Discovery, we decided to talk to the biggest Trekkie we know: On The Media co-host Brooke Gladstone. She told us about her all-time favorite characters, why science fiction is so good at capturing a moment in time, and where Star Trek-beginners might want to get started. Oh yeah, and what better way to keep the party going then by calling up Star Trek legend Kate Mulgrew? Captain Janeway herself helped us talk through some of Brooke’s favorite episodes, including “Tuvix.” She also channeled James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard to tell us how a former captain might feel about a new iteration of Star Trek.
In a conversation with Nerdette host and known Whovian Tricia Bobeda, Alex Kingston discusses her role on ‘Doctor Who’ as fan-favorite River Song, which helped pave the way for the show’s first female Doctor.
Nadia Sirota is Juilliard-trained violist who hosts Meet The Composer, a podcast that shifts the conversation around classical music by featuring interviews with modern-day composers. She’s also worked with artists ranging from Kesha to Paul Simon. Plus, she explains how being on tour led to a love of aquariums, and Nerdette connects her with the Senior Curator of Fishes at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium.
It might seem increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction these days, but Studio 360 host and author Kurt Andersen says the dilemma is old — and one that’s exacerbated by unique characteristics of America. Oh, and cosplay and the Internet. Andersen sat down with Nerdette to discuss his new book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History. He's also obsessed with maps, so we put him on the phone with geographical expert Anne Knowles, who told us all to get lost — in the literal sense.