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This Is Critical
38 minutes | Jan 13, 2022
Rewriting the History of Humanity
Dr. Paulette Steeves is trying to overturn the orthodoxy that humans have only been in the Western Hemisphere for roughly 12,000 years. In doing so, she just might change the way we do archeology.
53 minutes | Jan 6, 2022
An Oral History of the Attack on the Capitol
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries describes being on the floor of the House of Representatives during the Capitol attack. Fellow Congressman Jamie Raskin tells us about handling that trauma just a day after burying his son. And writer Jamelle Bouie helps us understand how history will remember January 6.
37 minutes | Dec 30, 2021
Thinking Critically About Sex, Drugs, Hope, and the Climate
Deep-thinker and writer Maggie Nelson specializes in calibrating our cultural conversations. What is the right mix of hope and pessimism when talking about climate change? Can we be transgressive while caring for each other? And does true freedom exist?
43 minutes | Dec 23, 2021
The Very Emotional History of Crusaders and Witches
We get emotional with historian of emotions Richard Firth-Godbehere. Prepare to rethink everything you thought you knew about the motivations behind some of the biggest moments in history.
50 minutes | Dec 16, 2021
Bye-Bye, Miss America, Bye
We unearth the origin story of our nation's most beloved — and reviled — beauty pageant and try to predict its future. Is it time to sunset the whole thing? Our chaperones: Amy Argetsinger (author of There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America) and Kate Shindle (Miss America 1998).
41 minutes | Dec 9, 2021
How to Live in a Post-Roe World
The real problem for the conservative Supreme Court justices hoping to overturn Roe v. Wade is how much reproductive medicine has changed since 1973. Women in the 2020s have many more options for family planning — including abortion pills. Carrie Baker explains.Resources:PlanCPills.orgIfWhenHow.org
34 minutes | Dec 2, 2021
How the Hallmark Channel Stole Christmas
We go way too deep on the schmaltzy movies that dominate cable every December with the Defector's David Roth, who has analyzed more than a hundred Hallmark Channel weepies for his highly jolly podcast, It's Christmastown!
41 minutes | Nov 25, 2021
Do Manners Matter?
Just in time for Thanksgiving: an exploration of manners, from the skating rink to the formal dinner party. Featuring a well-mannered member of the Emily Post etiquette dynasty and an unruly sociologist.
40 minutes | Nov 18, 2021
Plenty of Catfish in the Sea
We discuss online romantic fraud with journalist Max Benwell, whose identity was stolen by a catfish. Why do we call it catfishing in the first place? Plus comedy from Kate James.
47 minutes | Nov 11, 2021
Hello Sadness, My Old Friend…
It's the emotion we most try to avoid, but what if shunning sadness keeps us from being happy? Journalist Helen Russell explains, with a reflection from Mike Albo.
44 minutes | Nov 4, 2021
Who's Afraid of Louise Mensch?
She's been a romance writer, a marketing rep for metal bands, a conservative Member of Parliament, and a broadcaster of bombshell Trump-Russia stories, some true and many un. This week, a rare interview with one of Twitter's most intriguing gadflies. Just don’t call her a provocateur.
41 minutes | Oct 28, 2021
Dave Eggers vs. the Internet
In his newest novel, Dave Eggers conjures every techno-oligarch's dream: a Google/Amazon chimera that optimizes and commodifies all aspects of life. He explains why that should terrify us, how he came to step back from tech (except for jetpacks), and why everyone can — and should — unplug. Plus, a new social media venture from comedian Kate James.
42 minutes | Oct 21, 2021
Katie Hill: The Anatomy of a Sex Scandal
Katie Hill was one of the Democratic women who flipped the House of Representatives in 2018. But she resigned less than a year into her first term after a sex scandal based on what she calls cyber exploitation. We go behind the salacious headlines to find out why she stepped down when so many male politicians have weathered much rougher storms.
46 minutes | Oct 14, 2021
So You Think You Know Montel
Montel Williams is a figure of nostalgia for people who were fond of his long-running daytime talk show. He’s also a pop-culture punchline. But when you hear his story, you'll understand what we’ve all been missing about Montel.
1 minutes | Oct 7, 2021
Hey, Where's My New Episode?
Don't panic! We will be back with a new episode next Thursday.
40 minutes | Oct 6, 2021
OMG FACEBOOK IS DOWN!!!
For a few hours on Monday, the relentless stream of conspiracy memes, thirst traps, and LuLaRoe pitches went silent. Facebook went unconscious. Meanwhile, a whistleblower prepared to testify in front of the Senate about what exactly Facebook knows about the problems it causes. Virginia Heffernan talks to journalist Steven Levy about what's going on and media scholar Siva Vaidhyanathan about what's next.
39 minutes | Sep 30, 2021
Did Broadway Get Radicalized in the Dark?
We all know that theater loves social justice — or is that just a show? As curtains rise again, we just might have our answer. Virginia Heffernan talks to award-winning playwright Paul Rudnick about Broadway’s political evolution, and how hard it is to adapt comedies like The Devil Wears Prada for a new decade, plus a pitch from comedian Kate James.
42 minutes | Sep 23, 2021
Talk Trash to Me
The NFL is cracking down on it. Donald Trump can’t stop doing it. And it’s the whole reason for the first rule of social media: “Never read the comments.” Trash talk is uncivil, unsportsmanlike, and not for the faint of heart. But what if you could learn to use it to your benefit? Virginia Heffernan talks to former pro basketball player Dre Baldwin to find out how to trash talk on the court and in life — with some tips and tricks from comedian Mike Albo.
2 minutes | Sep 7, 2021
Coming Soon: This Is Critical
Starting September 23, Virginia Heffernan is examining all the cultural creeds we take for granted — you know, the ideas that are so deeply embedded that you don’t even know that you believe them, they’re just the air you breathe. Each episode features fearless, sophisticated culture criticism for all generations. Nothing is off limits, nothing dumbed down.
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