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Episodes

From ‘Empire’ To ‘The L Word,’ How A Creative Boss Gets It Done

2/16/2018
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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...

Duration:00:26:47

Feminism, Fear, And Physics At The Winter Olympics

2/9/2018
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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

Duration:00:28:17

Sex, Drugs, And Singing Ovaries

2/2/2018
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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...

Duration:00:25:02

Comedian John Hodgman Really Loves Malört

12/8/2017
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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...

Duration:00:29:16

Pulitzer-Winner Jennifer Egan Almost Abandoned ‘Manhattan Beach’

12/1/2017
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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...

Duration:00:30:03

Author Margaret Atwood Says ‘The Harvey Weinstein Moment’ Will Last

11/22/2017
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“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...

Duration:00:28:26

Prince, Afrofuturism And The Danger Of Knitting With Author Eve Ewing

11/10/2017
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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.

Duration:00:36:25

SCOTUS Edition: Muppets V. Supreme Court Justices

11/3/2017
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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...

Duration:00:34:56

‘Call Your Girlfriend’ Hangs With ‘Nerdette’ Podcast

10/27/2017
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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 Game-esque game show to...

Duration:00:34:30

Jane The Virgin’s Yael Grobglas Meets Top Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

10/19/2017
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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 Top Chef winner and Chopped judge Alex Guarnaschelli joins us to help dive into Grobglas’ obsession with food.

Duration:00:32:23

Star Trek With Brooke Gladstone And Captain Janeway

10/13/2017
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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...

Duration:00:36:38

‘Doctor Who’ Star Alex Kingston On The Women Who Drive The Tardis

9/22/2017
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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.

Duration:00:30:29

The Viola and The Octopus: Nadia Sirota’s Two Loves

9/15/2017
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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.

Duration:00:25:59

Separating Fantasy From Reality With Author Kurt Andersen

9/8/2017
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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...

Duration:00:26:32

How The U.S. Poet Laureate Finds Poetry In Justin Bieber

9/1/2017
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As the 22nd United States Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith wants to make poetry more accessible to people across the country. So WBEZ’s Greta Johnsen put Smith to the ultimate test by having her analyze this summer’s hottest hit, “Despacito” featuring Justin Bieber.

Duration:00:32:42

An Everest Climber’s Never-Ending Quest For Adventure

8/18/2017
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Everest climber, guide and mountaineer Melissa Arnot Reid is the first American woman to ever summit Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen — a feat only 7 women worldwide have accomplished. Arnot Reid joins Nerdette host Tricia Bobeda to talk about the mindset of a high-altitude climber, what happens when you have snot frozen to your face, and how to train your body to reach Everest’s peak. Plus, Arnot Reid reveals her secret obsession with true crime stories, so we bring in former FBI...

Duration:00:33:27

Rainn Wilson: All About That Bassoon

8/11/2017
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Nerdette host Greta Johnsen reveals that she has a secret nerdery: she used to play the bassoon. So this week, in one, grand, bassoon-filled extravaganza, Johnsen and co-host Tricia Bobeda bring back the bassoon. First, they talk with culture writer and bassoonist Eileen Reynolds about the history of the bassoon. Then, they call up the self-proclaimed “Bassoon King” Rainn Wilson. Plus, Chicago Philharmonic Principal Bassoonist John Gaudette plays a familiar tune.

Duration:00:33:45

Jessica Pimentel: Actress By Day, Death Metal Frontwoman By Night

8/4/2017
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Jessica Pimentel, known for her role as Maria Ruiz on Orange Is The New Black, isn’t just an actress. She’s also in a band ... a death metal band. Nerdette’s Tricia Bobeda sat down with Pimentel to talk about what it’s like to lead an alternate life as a death metal frontwoman and how her music, which is heavy and hardcore, is inspired by her Buddhist faith. Pimentel also talks about what it’s like working with one of the most diverse, majority women casts on what she originally referred...

Duration:00:27:46

Forget Cats: Jenny Slate Is A Plant Lady

7/28/2017
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Actress and comedian Jenny Slate has played many memorable characters on shows like Parks and Recreation, Kroll Show, Girls, and Brooklyn 99. She also wrote and voiced her web series Marcel The Shell. Her most recent role is alongside Edie Falco and John Turturro in the film Landline. But from all of her work on TV and film, few people know about Slate’s one true love: houseplants. Nerdette’s Greta Johnsen talked with Slate about why she loves houseplants, what she names them and how they...

Duration:00:33:34

Author Samantha Irby Wants To Put Normal On TV

7/7/2017
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Samantha Irby released her third book, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, this year, but it’s her first collection of essays that is being turned into a TV show. Last year, FX bought the rights to Meaty, Irby’s first collection of essays. Now Irby, who grew up in Evanston and lived in Chicago, is working with Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Inside Amy Schumer’s Jessi Klein to write for television for the first time. For Irby, almost everything is on the table when it comes to her work —...

Duration:00:27:48

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