In Retrospect with Susie Banikarim and Jessica Bennett

In Retrospect with Susie Banikarim and Jessica Bennett

Is there a cultural moment from your past that looks different in retrospect? Maybe it’s a scandalous tabloid story seared into your teenage brain or a political punchline that just feels wrong now. It might be a very specific red swimsuit that inspired a decade of plastic surgery (see: “Baywatch”) or the inescapable smell of an entire generation of prepubescent boys (Axe body spray, anyone?). Each week on IN RETROSPECT, Emmy-winning journalist Susie Banikarim and New York Times editor Jessica Bennett revisit a pop culture moment from the 80s and 90s that shaped them — to try to understand what it taught us about the world, and a woman’s place in it. Talk to us at @inretropod, @susiebnyc and @jessicabennett on Instagram. New episodes each Friday.

Episodes

February 23, 2024 59 mins

What did a generation of strivers learn about what it means to get ahead from “The Devil Wears Prada”? Was Miranda Priestly, the famed and famously demanding fashion editor at the center of the movie – in many ways the original “girlboss” – an aspirational or cautionary figure? In this episode, Susie and Jess revisit the blockbuster 2006 film and talk about their own careers and changing relationships to ambition.

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How do you turn the classic raunchy teen comedy on its head? Emma Seligman, writer and director of the critically acclaimed, lesbian fight club film, “Bottoms,” and the claustrophobic, indie hit, “Shiva Baby,” talks movie-making, her early aughts inspiration, queer representation on screen and how it’s changing. Guest hosted by Sharon Attia, our researcher and associate producer, who also happens to be Emma’s best friend. 

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    In part one, Jess and Susie revisited a famous episode of The Golden Girls, in which Blanche mistakes the word “lesbian” for “Lebanese.” (“Not ‘Lebanese,’ Blanche. Lesbian!”) Nearly 40 years later, the IKYKY of calling lesbians “Lebanese” lives on – as does the gay legacy of The Golden Girls. Jess and Susie talk to the originator of that joke about the role that The Golden Girls played – and still plays – in gay culture, as well as...

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    “Not ‘Lebanese,’ Blanche. Lesbian!” The line originated on The Golden Girls in 1986, after a lesbian friend of Dorothy’s came to visit and Blanche mistook her for “Lebanese.” A decade later, Ellen DeGeneres riffed on that same play on words, coming out as “Lebanese” on the Rosie O’Donnell Show shortly before publicly coming out. “Lebanese” lesbians would go on to appear in Mean Girls, on Glee, and even RuPaul’s Drag Race. In this e...

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    January 26, 2024 1 min

    Get ready for more In Retrospect! From the dramatic dethroning of the first Black Miss America to the enduring legacy of four caftan loving Golden Girls, we’ve put together a whole new batch of episodes about the retro pop culture we all love – and love to pick apart. So dig up your leg warmers and break out the Aquanet, season 2 drops next week!

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    It was an era bookended by Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky. It gave us MTV’s “boxers or briefs,” popularized the MILF, and spawned the first-ever “sex tape.” But what did 90s culture really teach us about love and sex? Jess is joined by sex educator and bestselling author Emily Nagoski, whose new book, Come Together, is out this month.  

    Guests:

    • Emily Nagoski, sex educator and bestselling author 

    Further reading:

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    December 22, 2023 39 mins

    If you’re looking for a little comfort this holiday season, look no further than a classic Hallmark Christmas movie. There you’ll find an uncomplicated world of quaint small towns covered in snow, magical family moments with hot cocoa and single girls looking for love in all the right places. Why are these films so popular despite their somewhat retrograde ideas about what everybody wants? In this special holiday episode, Susie wil...

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    December 15, 2023 19 mins

    Why didn’t she fight back? Why did she stay? For as long as abuse and sexual violence have existed, there have been questions about how victims are “supposed” to act in their aftermath. In our last episode, we explored the public vilification of Robin Givens but there was more to say. This week, Susie and Jess chart our national obsession with “perfect” victims — and why that obsession persists. Plus, Jess talks about  E. Jean Carr...

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    Robin Givens’ honesty about her violent marriage to Mike Tyson led to a nasty backlash. In the aftermath of that explosive interview with Barbara Walters, Givens was portrayed as an evil gold digger who, as the tabloids put it, had become the “most hated woman in America.” But Givens endured, filing for divorce and rebuilding her life despite the vitriol. In this episode, Susie and Jess examine that cruel public reaction, what it t...

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    December 8, 2023 48 mins

    In 1988, the actress Robin Givens and her husband Mike Tyson, the heavyweight champion of the world, gave a television interview to Barbara Walters addressing persistent tabloid rumors that their marriage was violent. In a stunningly honest moment, Givens admitted, with Tyson by her side, that she was tormented by her husband's physical abuse. In this episode, Susie and Jess revisit that interview, the vicious public response and w...

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    December 1, 2023 19 mins

    The men in the office called them “Dollies,” and they had had enough. In 1970, 46 women who were not allowed to be writers sued Newsweek magazine for gender discrimination – paving the way for generations of women journalists to follow. Jess reflects on discovering that story when she was a young staffer at Newsweek four decades later, and how it led to her first book, Feminist Fight Club, which was inspired by those women. Plus, S...

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    In Part 1, Jess and Susie dissected how a salacious Newsweek report about women’s likelihood of getting married sparked a national panic. Here they share their own views on marriage – and unpack what we’d make of that silly story today. (If you haven’t listened to Pt 1, we recommend starting there!)

    Guests:

    • Sharon Attia, associate producer for IN RETROSPECT and resident young millennial

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    It was a 1986 cover story with a claim that spread like wildfire: A single woman over 40 was “more likely to be killed by a terrorist” than to get married. Jess and Susie unravel the origin of that salacious report — later retracted — and dissect how such a line went from reporter’s notebook to reference point in films such as “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally.” Plus: How that Newsweek story inspired Susan Faludi to ...

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    November 17, 2023 26 mins

    A recent Republican debate stirred up an age-old discussion about high heels: Who is allowed to wear them, how high they can be, and what they can tell us about gender politics in 2023. In this episode, Jess & Susie unravel the long history of high-heeled shoes (originally designed for men!) and how they’ve been used as a political insult and weapon.

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    November 10, 2023 32 mins

    Mistakes? We’ve made a few. In the spirit of IN RETROSPECT, Susie and Jess share some of their professional regrets—from Susie’s season working on the reality show “Wife Swap” to a sexual harassment story Jess still thinks about.

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    Amy Fisher would go to prison for shooting Mary Jo Buttafuoco, the wife of her much older “boyfriend” Joey – but that wouldn’t be the end of the story. The media frenzy surrounding her would continue, and spawn three TV movies about her infamous crime. In this episode, Susie and Jess delve into Amy’s attempts to move on, where she is today, and dissect how that trope – the “lolita” – is used to paint girls as precocious and seducti...

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    In 1992, Amy Fisher, a teen girl from Long Island became a tabloid sensation almost overnight – when she shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco, the wife of her much older “boyfriend” Joey Buttafuoco. Within days, the New York Daily News would splash a picture of Amy across its front page with a headline that would follow her forever: The Long Island Lolita. In this episode, Susie and Jess interrogate the way Amy Fisher was covered and examine wh...

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    October 27, 2023 46 mins

    The princess of pop's much anticipated memoir, “The Woman In Me,” is finally out. This week, Jess and Susie speed-read it and share their thoughts on the woman whose life is perhaps the ultimate case of "in retrospect."

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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    October 24, 2023 23 mins

    Can you understand U.S. cultural history without understanding Axe Body Spray? Listener, you cannot. In this mini-episode, Jess and Susie trace the scent that infiltrated school hallways and telegraphed wannabe masculinity for a generation of Y2K kids. Featuring a special appearance by Jess’s husband.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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    So Pacey lost his virginity to his high school English teacher. But what do we… call that? Was it a tryst? An affair? An assault? Jess & Susie dive into the linguistic acrobatics of how America talked about statutory rape in the 90s – and delve into the the true story that was playing out at the time, that of Seattle teacher (and convicted rapist) Mary Kay Letourneau.

    Guests:

    • Rosie Bancroft, Jess’s middle school pal and...
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