May 18, 2021

BONUS: This Better Not Awaken Anything In Me (with Catherynne Valente)

A discussion with New York Times best-selling author Catherynne Valente about the emotional power of Ted Lasso


Welcome back to the Crown & Anchor, Greyhounds! On this bonus episode Christian and Brett host the wonderful Catherynne Valente to discuss her recent essay, "This Better Not Awaken Anything In Me: How Ted Lasso Totally Did Awaken Lots of Things In Me Even Though Absolutely No One Asked It To Go So Hard."

Our conversation touches on Bob Fosse, Star Wars, Eurovision,  David Foster Wallace, Allen Iverson, and Kanye. We  also chat about how Ted Lasso exemplifies the highest ideals of Americanism, how he inspires us to become better versions of ourselves, and how we all just wish he was our dad. 

Discussed On This Episode


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A full transcript of this episode can be found here.

Richmond Til We Die is a conversation about the Apple TV+ show Ted Lasso. A place where fans (and curious newcomers) come together to discuss the characters, their relationships to each other, and how they're able to make us laugh until we can hardly breathe one minute and then feel with the deepest parts of our hearts the next. When you're here, you're a Greyhound!

Transcript

Brett   

Hey, greyhounds Bret and Cristian here. We're really excited to share this new bonus episode with y'all today.


We are so grateful for the support y'all have shown us so far and hope you'll allow us to take just a few more seconds of your time to tell you how you can continue to support the show. If you're enjoying our conversations, please take 30 seconds and leave us a rating interview on Apple podcasts. Even if you usually listen with a different app. If you do this, it'll help Richmond till we die move up in the rankings and it makes it easier for folks to find the show when they're on the hunt for new podcasts. Also, you'd be doing us a huge favor if you shared your favorite episode of the pod with a friend and encouraged them to give it a listen. It only takes a second to post an episode link or send a text and word of mouth is essential when it comes to podcast growth. Okay, that's all the arm twist and we're gonna do. We hope you enjoyed this episode as much as Ted enjoys eating peanut butter off his fingers. And as always, thanks for listening.

 

 

Welcome to the crown and anchor greyhounds. This is Richmond till we die a conversation about the Apple TV plus show 10 lasso where we explore the characters, their relationships to each other, and how they're able to make us laugh until we can hardly breathe one moment and then feel with the deepest parts of our hearts the next.

 

Christian  

I'm Christian, I am the sucker and barbecue guy and I'm not wearing any special soccer apparel today.

 

Brett   

I'm disappointed. Sorry. I'm Brett and I am playing hooky from work today. Because for this episode, we are thrilled to present our second bonus episode with the help of a very special guest. She is an author who has written and published over 40 works of fiction and poetry. Her work has been featured in many literary journals and magazines. She's won or been nominated for such distinguished honors as the Hugo Nebula locusts and world fantasy awards. And in addition to science fiction and young adult novels and poetry. She's also written tie in content for properties like Mass Effect, Minecraft, Star Wars, and World of Warcraft. So greyhounds please join us as we give a warm welcome to New York Times bestselling author and award winning novelist and poet Cat Valenti.

 

Catherynne  

Hi, everybody.

 

Brett   

Welcome Cat.

 

Catherynne  

Thank you so much for having me. Yeah,

 

Brett   

we're so glad to have this conversation with about Ted lassa. with you today.

 

Catherynne  

I am so excited to and I am wearing a AFC Richmond knit cap at the moment.

 

Christian  

Yeah, let's see. Is it like the ones that they weren't the cold matches in the show?

 

Catherynne  

Yeah, it's actually my birthday was last week. And a friend of mine gave it to me for my birthday. It's got this really beautiful patch on it with the Greyhound and the little ribbon.

 

Christian  

That sounds absolutely lovely. For the listeners out there. Just to get you guys up to speed we connected with cat on Twitter after reading her incredible essay about the show title. So it's titled "This Better Not Awaken Anything In Me: How Ted Lasso Totally Did Awaken Lots of Things In Me Even Though Absolutely No One Asked It To Go So Hard." And if you haven't read it yet, pause the episode right now go check it out, you can find it on the link in our show notes to her Patreon. And please support her there if you love her work as much as we do. So a question opening about this piece? Was it a slow burn that then you got out there after some edits? Or was it something that just kind of erupted all at once?

 

Catherynne  

No, I wrotethe whole thing in one go.

 

I mean, I love this show, anybody who knows me is really tired of hearing the syllables at this point, because I've just been trying to get everybody I know to watch it. So it was actually one of the easiest essays I ever wrote. Because I've had all these thoughts for so long. And it was just a matter of putting them in the right order.

 

And I think I think the one change was at first I was going to write it and just talk about the plot. And then I decided no, I'm gonna make this open to the public because I want people to watch the show. And if I do that, I have to make it spoiler free. So I had to kind of go back and take out specific discussions of how things were going to unfold. Because, you know, I didn't want it to be an ad for the show. But I wanted people to say okay, I'll give it a chance. And if you tell people everything that's gonna happen, that's not gonna work.

 

Christian  

One thing that you do mention near the top, is that you were reluctant to jump into it, and then you did jump into it. What were some of the circumstances around the show that really encouraged you to give it a shot?

 

Catherynne  

I mean, as I say in the essay, I just think the marketing with for Season One was a real misstep and they're improving with season two. I think they're the tagline for season two, which is kindness makes a comeback is a real step in the right direction. But the marketing for the first season was just like Sport, Sport, Sport, Sport sports, people will fall down and, you know, make some really obvious broad comedy lines and I just had no interest whatsoever. I I love sports movies. I really do. I've seen them all, pretty much. And they are, they are one of my favorite things. But it just didn't look like there was going to be anything else to it. And with the pandemic and everything, I was just like, I'm not watching a soccer show. And I'm definitely not watching one which is about an American, going to England to be American all over things like it just had nothing for me. And even like, if you go on to Apple TV, plus even the thumbnail they have, which is kind of Apatow ish, the gradient blue with just Sudeikis'face. I was like, oh man, that looks like the 40 year old virgin like not that I don't like that movie, but just come on this is this is not going to be for me. But one night, I was just overwhelmed. I have a small child. And it had just been quite a day with my small child. And I wanted to turn my brain off. And I wanted to just melt into a pile of goo. And I was like, you know what sports shows are good for that. I will I will put on this thing. I have a free Apple plus membership because I had to upgrade my computer. So why not? And frankly, even that first scene, with Rebecca firing the manager, I was like, Huh, well, this isn't what I thought it was gonna be. And then six minutes and nine seconds in when they're on the plane. And Ted leans over his seat to coach beard and says the fantastic line that I can't even imagine other writers coming up with. And doing it so early. That if we see each other in our dreams, let's fool around a bit and pretend we don't know each other. And without missing a beat coach beard says you got it stranger and I was just like, damn it. Now I'm gonna have to love this show. And through that whole first episode, God, there's so few pilots that are that good. I laughed so hard at a few of the lines. And like was so touched by a few of them, and found myself gripped in the fear of like, is this gonna go like all the other shows that are set up this way with this, like evil woman and this amazing man? And I don't know, but it doesn't seem like it. But is it and I watched the whole thing in one night. And then I went to get my husband the next morning and said, I have a show you're gonna watch with me. And we started it all over again. I think

 

Christian  

it's a pretty familiar cycle for people to see the trailers and whatnot and think, maybe not for me, and then to try it and to find out that the show is about more than just the the summary that's presented to us. And then for it to totally wreck us. Was there a point at which you may be realized that Ted lasso was doing for you what some of your work does for other people?

 

Catherynne  

I mean, that's an amazing thing to hear. I, you know, it is kind of the show itself was kind of a slow burn, because you, you take this step towards, and then you wait to see how it turns out. And there is this tension. And I think the show is fully aware of it, between Ted lasso and other shows. And so it's constantly subverting your expectations. But I think the the episode where I really was sucked in was the one where his his wife leaves, because, you know, a lot of shows that set up a character like Ted lassa would never let him have a weakness like that would never let someone leave him would never imply that he and it doesn't imply that it's all her fault at all, would never imply that, you know, maybe he's at fault in some way. And it was just so much more than you expect from that, that I was like, all right, well, this is going to be a more serious emotional show. And there's a lot of moments like that. Like one of them for me was when Rebecca and Ted talk about the little bike cart thing with all the lights and he says you want to go get on it right now. Which in any other show, she would and that would be the whole thing. She says no. And then the end of the episode you see her and Keeley and like, that was a big moment for me that it just took a slight step to the left of what you expect and created this beautiful relationship with between between the two women, and the relationship between Rebecca and Keeley reminds me of some of the relationships in my own work. And yeah, I mean, there's there's lines here and there and moments everywhere, where you see these friendships start to develop and just the disarming way in which Ted makes people feel seen.

 

Christian  

Yeah, that your book, The Refrigerator Monologues, kind of deals with those relationships between women and also the idea of sort of life after death and some of the unfair ways in which specifically like the comic and superhero drama, treats women in comparison to men, what do you think it is specifically about that Kelly, Rebecca relationship that works here, especially in a show that is largely a sea full of men. But somehow they're able to have like this powerful thing going on?

 

Catherynne  

Well, I mean, I think even taking the time to care that you have some women who have real roles in this show is a huge deal. You know, one of the mistakes that gets made a lot is that there's one woman in a show. And when you have one woman, she has to stand in for all women. And that's where you get into trouble with people being like, well, this show is saying that women are this or women or that because there's only one woman. So it does seem like they're making a statement about it. But by having a number of female characters, then they can be their own people who are flawed and are good or bad in turns. And just having not to, you know, put too fine a point on it. But the Bechdel Test is passed very, very quickly in this show. And it's not even just the Bechdel Test, because what Rebecca and Kelly talked about from the get go is each other is not just not a man, but each other. And I think that one of the things that's really special about that relationship that you don't see very often is that it's kind of a raunchy relationship as well. You know, one of the first moments of bonding is when God can't get over the the Papa Razzi nude photo that was taken Rebecca and how gorgeous it is. And I love that because in so many ways, the relationship between Rebecca and Kelly is so much more like my relationships with women in my life, where Yeah, we're super supportive of each other. But it's not some kind of hallmark, Oprah level, you know, tenor of support. It, you know, involves dirty jokes, it involves the way that when sassy comes along, they they do the fake, who's gonna pay for the expensive dinner thing, like, it feels very real to actual relationships between women and not stereotypical ones. And so the fact that there's never any competition between Kelly and sassy, and all of that stuff, it just comes together to make something that feels incredibly lived in and deep, and that they do hold each other accountable. I think that's that sports is kind of like superheroes in the way that the media around them, when it includes women all, they're usually in a support capacity, or the entire story of them is fighting to be taken seriously in a man's world. And that's never even suggested with Rebecca. And I think that's really interesting. It's never, never in that press room to someone question her right to run that team, or that she should shouldn't be that they question whether Ted should be there, but not her. 

 

Christian  

She asked, Am I Wrong. And yeah, it does.

 

Catherynne  

Yep. She gives them every opportunity to, you know, do what sports media often does, but and she got that team in the divorce. Like, you would think that there would be questions about it, but there never are. And so I do think that, you know, that the refrigerator monologues, you know, it references the concept of girls and refrigerators. Which if people don't know, it was coined by Gail Simone is an amazing comics writer to describe, you know, brutality meted out to women in superhero stories in order to motivate men. And I think in sports, movies and sports stories, it's never that brutal, really, because that's, that's not the genre norm. But women are very often used, if you think about Boulder, or something like that. The energy of women is used to create energy for men. And that's just not what's going on here. And so in the refrigerator monologues is a very angry but funny book that sort of takes that trope that cliche, right on the nose, Ted Lascaux just chooses to never engage with it and pretend that it lives in a world where that's never been a thing. And that's gorgeous.

 

Christian  

One of the things that the show does subversively is it takes Ted, this American guy, and you kind of talk about how it's a difficult place in history right now where some people are, you know, kind of ashamed to be American or like, we don't feel as though we're being represented, haven't been represented really well on the world stage. And he comes in with these kind of, like, I guess, stereotypical Uber American characteristics, but then leaves with some characteristics that are viewed as not toxic masculinity and in space opera. I love this quote, where you write, the only question is this. Do you have enough empathy and yearning and desperation to connect with others outside of yourself and scream into the void in four part harmony? And to me in the book, you continue to ask this question in the greater universe galaxy, like what does it mean to be sentient? And I just kept thinking about what does it mean for us to be the best version of human that we can possibly be? When you look at TED and some of the conversations That we have about him, what are some of the ways that he invites us to be the best version of human that we can be?

 

Catherynne  

I mean, he does it right away with Nate, when he asked Nate his name, and Nate says, nobody, nobody ever asked my name or needs to know it. And he just stands there and waits. It's so lovely. He just stands there and wait, and then says, you know, whenever you're ready, he never has a moment where he's like, Oh, well, you know, we'll talk about it later, or something like that. Ted is calm, you know, until he's not, but only only he's only not a couple of times, and he is constantly, they use the word invite. And that's the word he invites people to present themselves to present themselves, the way they see themselves. You know, nobody's ever given a chance to present himself as somebody who knows about football, as somebody who is an asset, as somebody who's competent. But Ted gives him a chance to rewrite his story. And then in a minute, he's an assistant coach, you know, and he does the same thing. with everybody he meets, he invites them to kind of make a fresh start with him, and create a new version of themselves. With him, I actually think the only thing that I occasionally questioned about the show was whether all of these British people would be quite on board with the radical sharing feelings with strangers thing that Ted does. I went to university in Edinburgh in Scotland, which is not remotely the same culture as England, but Edinburgh is a very cosmopolitan city. And there are a lot of English people at the university. And it reminded me so much of some of my experiences in college, where I, you know, in my flat with the the girls in my flat, and, and the people that I knew, you know, I'm a, I'm an exuberant American person, I don't have a mustache, I don't have that accent. But, you know, there's some tears in me, and I'm a hugger. And so I would like, you know, I asked, but I would hug people. And when I first started out at university, they would be uncomfortable and stiff, but you know, they'd let me hug them. And by the end of, you know, a couple of months, by the end of the first semester, like, I would never be the one that let go first. And that was all kind of wordless. But I could see the same process happening, you know, verbally in Ted lassa, where he just basically psychically hugs everyone. And at first they hate it. And then they can't get enough of it. And I love seeing that over and over again, you get that great line later on in the show, where he asks if it's Movie Night, or pillow fight night, says, If you say pillow fight once, and we'll never watch a movie again, you know, that could that could come off as so odd. But it comes off just just beautifully with Ted. And I think that he really does by being vulnerable himself. Like he gives people an example to you know, he, he absolutely shares his own life, you know, unselfishly and it's only the first season you know, we don't know if he's editing, or censoring, but but we feel like he's not. And by by showing them that he is vulnerable, he gives them a space to be vulnerable themselves. But when Roy in the beginning of the show, says, You know, I never thought my career would end being coached by Ronald McDonald, he's not wrong. You know, it is such a such a broad American thing. And I think that I think that accent and that mustache, like, there are a lot of us in the world, particularly the geeky kind of people who would be into this show, who are used to some pretty serious cruelty following those signs on on large white man, and it just never happens. And I just think that that is, it's an extraordinary thing. And when we really, we really kind of need right now. I'm not one of those people who thinks it's important to be proud of where you're from, necessarily, but boy, have I not felt proud for a long time, and I at least, could look at this show and think, you know, that's what, when we're at our best we think we are and can be, if we try to be if we have any cultural identity that's separate from, you know, imperialism and all the rest of it, right? You know, that's what we want it to be. And, and to see that you know, so fully portrayed. And this show premiered in August of 2020. Still really in the thick of it was, was moving.

 

Christian  

Yeah, and there was a part in space opera that I like, highlighted, printed out put on my mirror. He right the opposite of fashion. Shiism isn't anarchie it's theater. When the world is fucked, you go to the theater you go to you go to the shine, and when the bad men come, all there is left to do is sing them down. You didn't get it. I didn't think you understood. You can't sing a dirge to the Reaper. He's already heard them all. You've got to slaughter him with joy and like the beat to the best of all possible shags and because somehow, somehow, my Nan's cartoons always had it right. And the Care Bear stare is the most powerful force in the world. Like I feel as though that was almost like prophetic like you saw that coming. And here we are in the age of COVID. We can't go to the theater. But Ted Lascaux comes on to the stage in the looks and sounds different than anything we've ever seen before. What are some of the powerful ways that you've seen just kind of cinematically that Ted Lascaux breaks the mold of other comedies and dramas? He's?

 

Catherynne  

Well, I mean, I think it's, it's a great thing to point out, as you mentioned, that line how much of a thread through Ted Lascaux theater is, Ted is constantly referencing musicals and theatre, which is really something that most men in manly media don't do, because for whatever dumb reason, musicals are considered girly. And it's particularly funny because Hannah watching them, of course, has been in every musical, right. But um, even from from the very beginning, when he talks about Roy Schneider, and says, last time I saw eyes that cold, they were going head to head with Roy Snyder and coach beard says jaws. And Ted says all that jazz. Man, I don't even know if like people who are in their 20s know what all that jazz is? If you don't, it's a biopic of Bob Fossey, who if you don't know who that is, is one of the most, if not the most famous choreographer of musicals, Jessica Lange, in that plays death. And that's the reference there. And that was another moment where I was like, This is not a normal show that that would not be the reference made by somebody in any other sports movie I've ever seen. To make that deeper cut.

 

Brett   

Yeah, Coach Taylor wasn't talking about Bob bossy very often.

 

Catherynne  

No, not at all. And Coach Taylor is often when I think about in relation to Ted last because there is a similar feeling. And it's another show where I don't really care too much for football. But I love that show, because it's about so much more than that. And yet, Coach Taylor is not nearly as light on his emotional feet as as Ted Lascaux. And he doesn't make the quips and he doesn't make the references. And it's a very different kind of feeling of masculinity, a good one, everyone wants coach Taylor to be their dad. But it's not quite, it's not quite the same. And it's not quite as, as a form of busting. I feel like I have known coach Taylor, in coaches that I've known in high school. I had my first husband's father was a high school football coach, and he was he very much had that energy. I feel like that's a guy I know. I feel like I've met very few men like Ted Lasso, in my life, a very few women like Ted lassa. But it's, it's truly something else. And one of the things I really love about Ted, is that yes, he has all those wonderful Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross, Coach Taylor things. But you know, he's also just a man, you know, he has a one night stand in the course of the show, he has passions, he has desires, he swears he screws up. He's much more human than a lot of those figures. I think there's a, you know, part of the reason that my my generation kind of holds up Mr. Rogers as as close to Christ like figure, as we understand is, as far as anyone can tell, that man never put a foot wrong in his entire life. And Ted lasso absolutely puts puts feet wrong. And I think that that one, like nightstand is really important for that. So, you know, I think that in that all of these pieces are just so different before now, you wouldn't necessarily have put them together into one character. And one of the things I talked about in the essay is that there's been this trend for some time from the sort of early mid 2000s until pretty recently of this kind of comedy that's very detached and ironic and you know, standing back from things and judging them you can look at always sunny you can look at the office you can look at, you know, really any comedy that's not well, no big bang theory is like that, too. I was gonna say that's not a you know, multi camera, live audience sitcom, but but they were to it was just sort of the dominant mode of comedy for for some time. For anybody listening, I highly recommend. I recommend it all the time. And I don't think anybody ever takes me up on it because it's a 20,000 word essay. David Foster Wallace wrote an essay called he universe pooram and it About television, and what it is and what it may become. And he wrote it in 1991. So he literally doesn't even know what TV is going to become. But he nails that whole ironic era before it ever really happened. And there is this kind of change. And I think it's right around, right around 2015. Can't imagine what happened in 2015. That made people maybe want kind of a softer, more involved, kind of comedy. But there is this kind of kindness and comedy trend that comes up, maybe it kind of starts with the back half of Parks and Rec, but continues on. And I think Ted lasso is just this extraordinary apotheosis of that, that feeling where you can have, where you can be kind to your characters and still be funny. That's the most important thing about Ted, Ted lassa. This whole show is all the things we're saying. And yet it is still gut busting Lee funny,

 

Brett   

right? a character like Ted and another show could be like the straight man who just like always us who always The joke is always about him. Yeah, at his expense,

 

Christian  

one of the things that people would probably make fun of him about and other shows would be the way that he uses the English language to make jokes. Like he has a really great sense of like, grammar and syntax and likes to bend the meanings of words. As a poet, do you have a favorite linguistic device or game that Ted in beard use in season one?

 

Catherynne  

I mean, I love the the sort of the, you got the boot for putting the boots in the boot thing that they do like, Man, that's hard. I am a poet, and I don't think I could just do that on the fly. That's that's really rough. But one of the other moments where I was completely sold on the show, was when Higgins says, Caesar, you later and Ted lasso bashes back through the door. And you jump just like Rebecca did. And it's not their moment where you're like, is this the kind of masculinity where he's an American, and he's gonna get mad at the pond, which would have been the joke for the last 20 years? And he just pointed Higgins and said, Yes, yes. And I love that. I love that, you know, Higgins had this little moment of creative speech. And Ted wanted to encourage that and took delight in it. And I love it. I mean, I don't know if people remember how much American comedy used to avoid puns and hate puns. And that was considered a British comedy thing. And just the the extent to which Ted embraces that you're right is lovely. And that playfulness, that that, you know, we're gonna stand on the sidelines of a major sports stadium and play little word games. I love that.

 

Brett   

Yeah. It's funny that you talk about the role of puns between like American comedy and British comedy because I think Brett Goldstein on his podcast recently has talked about how he hates puns. And so I think it's funny that Higgins like one of his most iconic lines is a terrible, but amazing fun. And I've said it before on the show that that's probably my favorite moment of physical comedy from the entire first season. Like I laugh out loud every time it happens every time so good.

 

Christian  

Were you familiar with the allen iverson practice speech before you watch the show?

 

Catherynne  

I was not actually, my relationship with sports is odd, in that, I actually do know more about it than I let on because my family is super into sports. And you can't you can't grow up with an entire and I have a lot of siblings, with an entire family who is crazy into it and not pick it up. You know, I do know these things. I didn't know the irisin speech until really early on. I was on the subreddit for a Ted Lasso and somebody linked to it. And I was just sort of mesmerized at what, uh, what was the meeting to decide to do that. Yeah. You know, to decide to redo to complete completely changed the meaning of irisin speeches, not in a disrespectful way. But what Ted is saying and what Iverson is saying, and the context of irisin speech, you know, are completely different, who decided to do that? It's brilliant. But like, I, I just, I don't? I don't know. How did that come up? I'd be fascinated to know. But I think that that was kind of a moment when my love of the show kicked into another gear. And I started really paying attention to more of the sports references than the theater references because you know, I am who I am. And I really it said when I first watched it, and was listening to that speech for the first time, I was like, Huh, I didn't know the reference, but I was like, This is not like all of the other things that

 

Christian  

stand out to you. It's something different stands

 

Catherynne  

out. And but I didn't know the reference at the time now.

 

Christian  

So did you view it as a joke? Did you view it as humorous or was it just different and it was kind of like bookmark, I need to look up on Reddit.

 

Catherynne  

Um, yeah, I mean, it was, I didn't take it as a joke. I was like, Oh, this is the moment where Ted's getting serious. And he's, you know, trying to deal with the absolute douchebag that Jamie tart is, in a in a more, he's taking a different tack. That's what I thought, like, he's figured out that the kindness thing isn't working with the kid who, you know, has all of these father issues that he doesn't even know about at the time. And so he's he's doing the bad dad roll. That's what I thought it was. But because it is so idiosyncratic as a speech, I was like, there's got to be something else here that I'm not picking up, you know. And I do think it's interesting, as somebody who we talked about my tie and work earlier, whenever I do tie in work, I always try to make it complete within itself, so that even if you're not a fan of Mass Effect, or Minecraft, or whatever, you can still enjoy it without picking up every reference. And then if you are a fan, then you'll you'll see everything that's going on in space opera is somewhat similar in that it was deeply inspired and informed by Eurovision which is a fandom that I can never be certain any American knows anything about whatsoever. So I had that same feeling of like, I enjoyed this for what it is, but it is clearly a reference to something that I don't know. And so I did what I hope my readers will do, which is go find out.

 

Christian  

Yeah, we're currently I'm currently in the middle of writing a doctoral dissertation that I'm going to need to cut down to 30 seconds for an upcoming episode of the show about how like that ever since speech, the part that he takes out is legitimately funny on his face on its face, but it's within the context of like, a much deeper, emotionally vulnerable, like 40 minute press conference that I was saying that like talks about his life. And so it's just it's such an interesting thing to put in the show. Because people who are familiar with the speech, like I've known it since college, I've made 1000s of jokes about the speech. A lot of people think like, oh, man, they see it, and they're like, Oh, that was hilarious. In my mind. I'm like, but it wasn't like, that's

 

Unknown Speaker  

not how he you know, his friend was.

 

Christian  

Yeah, like, that's not how Jason Sudeikis accident there. And like you say, if I could ask the writers like, if I get five seconds in the elevator with them, I just want to know what the conversation was like. Did it morph, like, Did someone propose it as a joke? And then someone else, like, bend it and mold it or whatever. But it is fascinating. Your tie in work? I've been so patient, Brett.

 

Brett   

I know. I have we've made it. We've made it 47 minutes with nary a Star Wars question. Yes, here we are.

 

Christian  

But since you brought it up, you wrote an essay in a book called from a certain point of view, which was commemorating the 40th anniversary of Empire Strikes Back. And the piece that you wrote within that was about what people would know, as the space swarm and Empire Strikes Back, technically called Exigorth, which is this gigantic species of as it's referred to in Wookiepedia, a toothed gastropod silicone based life form that could survive in the vacuum of space by making its home in the caverns, and Craters of asteroids. But you wrote the piece from this creatures point of view, kind of that like, subversive style of art, if you could tell the TED lasso story from the point of view of another, less prominent character, which one would you choose?

 

Catherynne  

Oh, that's a really good question. I mean, the the one that pops into my head is, is the girl that Ted is always sort of meeting in the park Shannon, I hope that she will be in season two. I feel like she's being set up as Chekhov's girl. But I really I mean, obviously she's a soccer fan. I'm sure she's watching the games too. Because she says like you were you were awake. And I would be fascinated to know what what sort of young fans like her and and female fans think about everything that's happening. Because nobody nobody knows as much about this stuff that they like as teens right? Yeah. So I would I would have that's my first thought.

 

Christian  

I would love to read that. What is your parenting philosophy on introducing your kids to Star Wars specifically considering the reveals in Empire Strikes Back?

 

Catherynne  

So he's two and a half. He has seen empire strikes back because when I got that job I had I mean, I've seen it guide I couldn't even begin to tell you how many times I've seen Empire but I had to choose who I was going to the point of view that I was going to use because they said you can have anybody except for you know the four mains laya, Han, Luke and Vader and so I was going to watch it with a different eye to who who did I want to, to tell this story of and so I, I put it on with my little son there who was not, I don't think he even was two at the time, I have a beautiful photo of his eyes just lighting up at the beginning with the field of stars and everything. And so but he was tiny, he didn't really get it. I have tried to show him A New Hope recently. And he is super into anything that he can actually see space. He really likes to throw up because he's shiny, but he can't really follow it yet. I will be trying probably once a year until he's into it. Like, look, he probably shouldn't have chosen to be born to a science fiction family if you didn't want to watch a lot of science fiction. It's just it's this is a science fiction household. It's the way it is. He's gonna have to watch a lot of it. He actually does enjoy Star Trek, he calls it pew pew. And so and he said, he says space, he says watch space watch space watch Pew, pew. So we're sort of edging him in. But the thing is that some my parents let me watch anything. Is that a good idea? I don't know, my parents were very young, when they had me, and my father, you know, went to film school and was his remains very, very involved in, in sort of pop culture and movies. And we talk about movies all the time still. So I would love to watch anything. And I was my own sensor. Like it was explained to me that if you're scared, if it's too much for you just say something. And, you know, you don't have to watch the rest of it, which is why I didn't see Indiana Jones. And the last time until I was 12. Because I was just I was so convinced something terrible was going to happen in the middle part when he's down in the vault with the staff and the music is so intense, I was just convinced something terrible is gonna happen. So I kind of think that was good for me, I was allowed to set my own boundaries, and there's no judgement, if I set a boundary. My siblings who are significantly younger, my closest sibling is six years younger, had a different and yet awesome experience, which was that if there was a movie, dad didn't think it was appropriate, he would make an edit of it in his studio, he did a dad edit amazing network.

 

Brett   

I love that.

 

Catherynne  

So I still have never seen anything but the dad edit of Robocop, which is about 25 minutes long. And so we had we had different experiences, but all of it was sort of shaped around dad wanting us to be able to access media that we wanted to access no matter what, you know, that there was some way that we could access those stories. Whether it was you know, through him editing the the scary parts out or me being able to set my own boundaries. And I feel like that will be my philosophy with with Sebastian, just my son's name. Because I think that stories are important. And, you know, as long as he's not being traumatized by it, and he's very sensitive, like we were watching Fantasia the other night and the dinosaurs were fighting and eating each other. And he just, his eyes got really big and he said, Are you okay? dinosaur? You okay? And I was like, Alright, I think maybe this is a little much right now. But like kids will kids will vocalize where they're at with media. I think that you can trust them a lot of the time.

 

Christian  

I think so too. Although I'm still surprised that my parents let me watch the dark crystal when I was little. It's one of those as I see it when I get older. I'm like, Huh, this could explain a lot about me these days is

 

Catherynne  

that was one of the ones that scared me so bad. I didn't see it till I was 15. Yeah,

 

Christian  

I should have I should have gone that route, too.

 

Catherynne  

I was so scared of that. It just this galaxies really freaked me out.

 

Christian  

Another pop culture question for you. Do you agree or disagree with Ted lassos admiration of Kanye West? Oh, I disagree. I thought so. There was that line in space opera. And I couldn't tell if it was like, it didn't seem like one of the ones where you were making fun of something that you loved.

 

Catherynne  

Yeah, I mean, I think that lines, pretty prescient, actually. I wrote space opera in the I started writing it. February 2017. Okay, yeah. So it was you know, we there was already some issues, but, you know, how, how things were gonna go with Kanye. You know, I would never argue that he's not seminal. I would never argue that he's not a huge influence. But I, you know, as a woman, right, a lot of those early songs are not super fun for me to listen to. And and I, I there are a lot of other rappers and hip hop artists that I find. Just doing a lot more insane. A lot more. You know, I think when you put somebody like Kendrick Lamar against Kanye West There's not really a comparison. For me anyway. But, but that's just that's just me. And I feel like Kanye is well on his way to being more of a meme. You know? And and even people who are fans of his will talk about his early work in a very different light than they talk about his later work. Yeah, the nightmare of Mozart. Right.

 

Brett   

Well, I do think, in defense of Ted's reference, the the he references a way to heartbreak right, when he talks about Kanye, yeah, and that is, you know, one of the albums and Connie's catalog that definitely is a little bit polarizing for his fans, because it was such a departure from what he was doing before. And then also, you know, it's considered kind of on the back end as something that has really influenced the like, you have to be a singer and a rapper, you know, like, the, like, the drinks of the of the world. And so, and it's also the one that he wrote after his mom passed away. Right? So that's, you know, it's a very, it's a very, it's a very on brand Ted reference. Yes, it also in that vein, anyway,

 

Catherynne  

I mean, I do think that one of the things about Kanye is that I think that the details of his personal life are people are aware of them in a way that they are not by musicians and artists, particularly hip hop and rappers. And so, we know, we bring the context to it, that this is a person in deep. And so that, that that changes the way we perceive their music, you know, if you perceive that an artist has never had any real problems in your in their life, that makes you receive what they are performing in a different way than when you know, how much agony is in that one note. And so I think that that that constantly and will always color how we see Connie's output.

 

Christian  

Yeah, totally agree. Also coloring it is your feelings on auto tune, which the album used a lot and is referenced quite a bit in space opera. So people should go pick up space opera and see how auto tunes

 

Catherynne  

kind of like on his reference.

 

Christian  

Oh, that's one of the things you make that you like,

 

Catherynne  

okay, like, I like it when the robot Sing to me. I don't I don't always like it and what what I don't like, I mean, I think we use autotune. Now to sort of as a mechanism, to reference a whole suite of technological processes that we put people's voices through in order to make a pop album. So what I don't like is that in any given measure of a song, you may have, you know, 100 different takes that you've taken tiny little slices of to put together to make that one, you know, line or measure. I don't like that. I don't think that's, that says great things about where we're headed. But, you know, just auto tune itself, auto tune has been around a lot longer than people think. Yeah, paint and auto tune. Yeah, maybe the, you know, trademark auto tune hasn't but the the technique has been around for a long time. And if you don't think that there was audio processing on the Beatles, you know, you're very, very wrong. And so I don't mind a tool, it's just another instrument. But I do mind when we start to think that any given song is one person in his studio, singing the whole thing through, and then there's processing done afterwards, which is not what's happening anymore. So that that disturbs me a

 

Brett   

little. Yeah, I recently saw a breakdown of one of Billy Eilish sessions, which I love her. And I mean, I love her music. It's fantastic. But, you know, there was, you could see, when they expanded one of the vocal tracks, there would have been maybe 20 takes for like one word, you know, and then they had taken that they had just spliced it in. So it's exactly what you're talking about. And it's it's fascinating to see. But yes, it also makes you sort of reconsider, like when you hear it again, you're like, Okay, how many how many versions of this are like, you know, Frankenstein together? Yeah.

 

Christian  

So as we bring things kind of full circle here, in your essay that you recently gifted us with? You talk about Tableau So being a call to action, what do you feel called to do after finishing that first season of title? So

 

Catherynne  

I mean, other than try to force everybody

 

Christian  

to watch evangelists

 

Catherynne  

I do. I mean, I do think it's hard not to look at your own life and say, you know, am I doing things the lasso way? Could I do them more the lasso way? Am I giving people an opportunity to, to present themselves the way they want to be presented the way he does? Am I am I reacting with radical kindness and forgiveness? Am I you know, am I a diamond dog? Or am I not? And I think that that's, that's a really important thing. One of the things that sort of didn't make it into the essay that I kind of wish I had, and I've thought about a lot since I posted the essay is that you know, a lot of what's going on right now with the internet. And the alt right. And everything is that, um, there's a whole lot of people out there who never really had a dad or a dad figure. And so they're desperately looking for them and they find them in Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro or Steven Crowder, whoever, whatever they're poison of choices, even, you know, up until recently, rush limbaugh. And they all these people present this kind of caricature of masculinity. And by caricature, I mean, like, the things that the guys at the fair draw, you know, big, giant, outlandish features that nobody could miss. You know, this doggy that rush used and Jordan Peterson using all these very parental phrases like clean your room, and all that sort of stuff. And so I feel like, it's not just men either. Like, there are plenty of women out there who didn't have a good data didn't have a dad at all. And I think that there is this yearning for paternity for for someone to guide us through this world that has become so messed up and complicated and difficult to, to navigate as one singular person in an ethical way. And I just look at TED lassa. And I think those guys aren't your dad, this is your dad, this is the good dad. You know, this is the one that is all about you, and your potential and having a positive relationship with you and not limiting yourself because some cultural meme has told you you're not allowed to like musicals, or whatever. or indeed, that you're not allowed to like sports because you're a geeky person. That's, that's the dad. That's the that's the icon for you know, 21st century masculinity. That's what we should be modeling someone who, you know, has a lot of those features, loves barbecue sauces, got the big mustache, that mustache is a bold choice. You know, he's got the the very sort of confrontational Kansas City accent he's got, you know, he's a sports coach. He's got a lot of these signifiers of masculinity. But he shows that just because you have the signifiers doesn't mean that you have to cut yourself off from everything else in the world. And it doesn't mean you have to cut yourself off from positive emotion, and from accepting other people and understanding their experiences. Because other people's experiences are interesting. That's why we watch television and movies, why we read books, why we listen to music, because other people's experiences are fascinating. And, and I just wish that you know that we could look, I know he's fictional. But you know, these other people's personas are just as fictional as Ted. And I that that's the guy. That's the that's the role model that I think could be powerfully transformative.

 

Brett   

I think that is a great, a great word to go out on. Thank you so much, Kat, and thank you for joining us today to talk about this amazing show. It was so wonderful to have you.

 

Catherynne  

Thank you so much for having me. It was great.

 

Brett   

Yeah. Would you like to tell the listeners kind of where to find you on the socials and how to access your work and all that type of stuff?

 

Catherynne  

Yeah, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram as Kat Valenti, I'm Kat Valenti, as well on Patreon where you can read the essay we've been talking about a bunch of other things. I have two books coming out this year one is called the past is read out in July. It's a very cheerful climate change dystopia. And I have a thriller called comfort me with apples coming out this October. So check those out.

 

Brett   

Yeah, we will definitely link to the article on the Patreon as well as to our social media in the show notes. So check those out. Great. Thank you so much again, Kat, for this conversation and take care. You too.

 

Christian  

And that's our show greyhounds. We hope you enjoyed our discussion with the fabulous capital NT, you can check out our show notes for links to cats article, website and social media accounts, as well as any other cool stuff we mentioned in this episode. We love her work and we think you will too. So consider searching for stuff at your favorite online bookseller. Or go over to Patreon where you can support her and read more of her articles.

 

Brett   

We'll be back on the dog track next week with our conversation about Ted lasso episode six. You can keep the conversation going on Twitter and Instagram. In the meantime, our handle is at TED last Oh pod.

 

Christian  

This episode of Richmond till we die is brought to you by gin and kerosine Productions. It was produced by me Christian and me, Brett, Brett also edited, mixed and compose the music for this episode. If you were enlightened by this conversation, we ask again, that you take a moment to give our show a five star review and subscribe to our feed. It's the best and easiest way you can show your support for the podcast. Okay, I'm Christian signing off for Bretton cat. Thanks for listening. Until next time, cheers y'all.

 

 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai