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73. The Rick Berman Problem

Anika and Liz discuss bisexuality in Star Trek – a topic which has been on our agenda since the only on-screen representation was the Mirror Universe. Thank heavens times have changed! …Right?

  • Because, wow, the MU is not the place to go for good rep!
  • Headcanons are not the same as canonical representation
  • Pine is a top-tier Chris
  • Deniable, erasable and word-of-God queerness in media
  • The Trill Problem, part 1: We need to talk about Jadzia
  • An unpopular opinion? On Antimatter Pod? It’s more likely than you think!
  • The Trill Problem, part 2: Beverly and Odan
  • Headcanon is not canon, but let’s talk about Will Riker anyway
  • Raffi Musiker and Beckett Mariner: a tale of two showrunners
  • “Every Starfleet officer is probably, at baseline, bisexual in a way.”
  • But why IS Michael Chabon the arbiter of what constitutes “organic” queer representation?
  • Biphobia in media and fandom



Liz:   Welcome to Antimatter Pod, a Star Trek podcast where we discuss fashion, feminism, subtext and subspace, hosted by Anika and Liz. This week, we’re talking about bisexuality and Star Trek

Can I just say that, like, this idea has been kicking around for a really long time, and Star Trek has changed enough since we started this podcast that this was originally just titled The Mirror Universe Rant.

Anika:   Mm hmm. Which, you know, it’s a good thing that there’s more to talk about!

Liz:   One hundred percent. But I still kind of feel — like, this idea came up again, and my first reaction was, there’s bisexuality in Star Trek?

Anika:   Wait, what?

Liz:   They have that?

Anika:   It was only, what, 2017? When did Discovery come out? 2016?

Liz:   ’17. Yeah.

Anika:   That we had any–

Liz:   Queer people?

Anika:   — non-heterosexuality, I guess. I guess, Beyond, Star Trek: Beyond was the first sort of nod to the idea of non-straight people.

Liz:   Yes, and it was a very blink and you’ll miss it, mustn’t offend sort of depiction. And don’t get me wrong, I think it’s cool that Chek– Chekov? That Sulu has a husband and a daughter, and I think that adds a lot to his character. I understand George Takei was like, “I put a lot of effort into playing a straight guy, and now…” but I also think … it’s a different universe, maybe? Maybe Sulu is bi?

Anika:   Well, according to Emperor Philippa–

Liz:   In her universe, everyone is pansexual.

Anika:   That is, is good on one side, in that we can assume that there’s differences across these, but it’s also sort of — that goes back to shining a spotlight on the fact that the mirror universe is the most non-heterosexual. And that’s a problem.

Liz:   I also feel like …. are Paul and Hugh are really pansexual in the mirror universe? Or is it simply that pansexuality is a default there, the way heterosexuality is a default here? So, regardless of what your real feelings may be, regardless of what you personally would like to consent to, you’re kind of thrust into this default scenario. Because the mirror universe is not really a consent-happy place.

Anika:   Yeah. We don’t know when she met up with Paul and Hugh. So if she was already the Emperor, or even, you know, in any high position of authority, like they’re going to tell her anything other than what she wants to hear.

Liz:   Exactly, exactly. This is what I mean, that even if someone seems to be consenting in the mirror universe, the very nature of their society makes it really, really hard to trust that. Which is tragic! I love it, but it’s tragic. But it kind of means that we look at the whole of mirror universe sexuality and go, uhhhhhhh, it is not good that this is where most of our bisexual rep comes from.

Anika:   Yep, yep. It’s a problem. It really plays into the stereotypes of —

Liz:   Predatory–

Anika:   Loose–

Liz:   Yeah.

Anika:   Yeah, predatory. And no matter what they do going forward — Discovery has done a lot of work to try to fix the mirror universe to a certain extent. I was listening to our Edith Keeler episode, and my brother said, he said, “Hey, what if the universe they create by allowing Edith Keeler to live and then the Nazis win, is the mirror universe?” And I was like, Whoa, that’s amazing!

Liz:   I love it.

Anika:   So, you know, and we just had this — isn’t it fun to think of how that one thing of saving the pacifist can create the exact opposite of what she wants? And so that was a fun conversation. And now whenever — so that was like, what, a week ago? So it’s all I’m thinking about when I think of the mirror universe. I watched some clips for this to try to sort of — I didn’t watch the whole episodes, but I did watch just, you know, Major Kira prancing around, and the Ezri stuff. Because I love Ezri so much, and I would love for Ezri to be bisexual.

Liz:   Yes, and the implication — okay, this is where I confess that I did not watch anything for this episode and I have not seen most of the DS9 mirror universe episodes. Because when I finally sat down to watch the whole series, I was just like, I hate what they did with the mirror universe, I’m not going to watch those. So I have not seen mirror Ezri. But my understanding is that she’s actually a lesbian in the mirror universe, or at least–

Anika:   Yes.

Liz:   –her preference is very much for women?

Anika:   Yeah. Which — Ezri, you know, she was brought in — the series was already ending when she started. So there was really no excuse for not just making her a lesbian, if that’s what you wanted to do. And instead, she hooks up with Worf, she hooks up with Bashir and like, Jake has a crush on her. Like, everybody. She’s just super — it’s weird to have, “we’re going to replace Jadzia with another Jadzia.”

Liz:   Well, she has a much more defined personality than Jadzia. Because Jadzia’s personality is basically Curzon.

Anika:   That’s true. Hmm. Interesting.

Liz:   I mean, we could do a whole episode on the Jadzia problem. 

But yeah, it just feels like DS9 did so much damage to the depiction of the mirror universe. And most of it was this kind of male gazey queerness, but only women kissing women. You know, we didn’t have mirror Sisko…

Anika:   Like, while the women were kissing women, Sisko was, you know, working his way through all of the women characters on the show.

Liz:   Yeah, yeah. And he sleeps with Jadzia by lying about his identity, the same way that Lorca does to Kat. And I don’t want to say that Sisko is a rapist the way Lorca is a rapist. But that is not a good storytelling choice! That is not a high point for a character that I generally quite like.

Anika:   I don’t think, when they’re making those episodes, they considered any of these questions at all.

Liz:   No, absolutely not. And the idea of rape by deception is relatively new. So I completely understand that it’s a product of its time, but at the same time, it didn’t so much have to be? You know? Everything about the mirror universe in Deep Space Nine makes me uncomfortable.

Anika:   I agree. Circling back to — so the fact that they put the Guardian of Forever into Philippa’s story is proof that obviously my brother and I are correct, about the origin of the mirror universe.

Liz:   Obviously, and when they’re like, “Our sensors say there’s literally nothing out there,” well, their sensors just weren’t very good. I mean, it was the 2360s, they barely had WiFi.

Anika:   Exactly. So Discovery has done all of this groundwork to try to walk back, I guess, what — like, you know, The Original Series introduced the mirror universe as this violent place that had a sort of — people were more sexual, they were more openly sexual. And–

Liz:   ‘Captain’s woman’ is a legitimate position of power.

Anika:   Like, there’s a whole — there’s plenty of things wrong with that, but it wasn’t the way that Deep Space Nine did it. Deep Space Nine sort of took that creepy beginning and made it kind of campy, kind of like, you know, discotheque evil.

Liz:   Yeah. Yeah.

Anika:   And then, Enterprise is just painful, because mirror Hoshi gets more character, more of a character arc, than Hoshi does in the entire series. And yet.

Liz:   And yet.

Anika:   It’s all bad. There’s nothing good there. So it’s a very spotty idea. And I think I’m on the record for being very worried about the mirror universe being such a big part of Discovery.

Liz:   Yes, they’ve repaired a lot of the damage that DS9 did. But we still don’t have a single bisexual character on Discovery who is not from the mirror universe.

Anika:   Right.

Liz:   And I’m just — I’m going to use bi and pan interchangeably because I think in this context, when we’re talking about aliens and species with multiple genders and so forth, it’s just going to work for me as a shorthand, so I apologize if that’s annoying to anyone.

Anika:   I love that Philippa uses the word ‘pansexual’.

Liz:   Absolutely.

Anika:   In Star Trek, on screen, when — that was a watershed moment for — like, for Trek as a pop culture phenomenon.

Liz:   Yeah.

Anika:   Because pansexual is still something that people, you know. I mean, bisexual —  bisexuality too, but I think that people have come to — they understand the concept of bisexual, even if they don’t agree that it exists, or whatever. But pansexual is still new. Like, you know, it’s one of those “I feel seen” moments.

Liz:   Yeah. But again, where are the rest of the pansexuals?

Anika:   Right, but we need — now that now that Philippa’s left–

Liz:   Right.

Anika:   –it’ll be harder for that to come up in conversation — you know, get to the end of your notes — ‘organically’. So I’m concerned again, now. I’m concerned that the mirror universe is not a part.

Liz:   No, no, I agree. And all we have with Discovery are headcanons. And it is absolutely my headcanon that Michael is the only heterosexual on the USS Discovery, and even Book has some boyfriends in his past, but that’s not canon. Like, nope.

Anika:   That’s the thing about headcanon versus canon. I say all your headcanons are valid. Everybody out there, your headcanons are completely valid. However, they are not on screen, and so they are not canon. They are not explicitly true to the history of the show.

Liz:   Exactly. Like, I hate to break it to you guys, but Kirk is not canonically bisexual.

Anika:   Right? Kirk is a fun one, because there’s even — sort of — if you take the, “Well, the actor can can tell me–” there are two actors who played Kirk, and they have wildly different opinions on this.

Liz:   And I don’t really care what the actors say if — no, that’s not true. If I like what the actor says, I’m totally on board with it. And if I don’t like what the actor says, then it’s a case of ‘the author is dead’. So. You know.

Anika:   It is one of those things, though, where, when you don’t have it explicit — it’s not like Kirk goes around telling people, “Hey, I’m straight,” either, you know, he doesn’t have to have a blinking sign that says he’s heterosexual. So it’s our perception.

Liz:   Right.

Anika:   And, and then something like Chris Pine saying in an interview that he considers Kirk to be bi — considers Kirk to be pansexual, I think he actually uses the word ‘pansexual’, and played it that way. Like, that’s great. But that brings us back to George Takei, saying, “Hey, I was playing Sulu straight, so what are you doing to me?” 

Liz:   Yeah, yeah. And also, that’s a generational thing. And, you know, Takei was closeted when TOS was being made, and he comes from a generation where representation of sexuality is not really a priority. And I respect that! Obviously, I disagree, but I understand where he’s coming from, and that he started out in a space where it was absolutely unsafe for him to be an openly gay man in Hollywood. 

And even now, you know, just a couple of years ago, there was a sort of half-baked #MeToo claim against Takei, and it turned out to be more of a genuine misunderstanding in a context where the culture did not allow for open talk about consent, and therefore people ended up on different pages. And that’s the sort of damage that a homophobic society can do. So I do — I deeply empathize with Takei’s position. I just disagree with it.

Anika:   And so that’s why it has to be on screen. It has to be in the text. It can’t be subtext anymore.

Liz:   Right!

Anika:   That’s great. Subtext is great. And, you know, I look forward to the day when heterosexual isn’t the default, where heteronormative relationships entirely are not the default.

Liz:   Yeah, exactly.

Anika:   But until we’re there, we can’t have that — you can’t say “Well, obviously, this character is bisexual. You just didn’t know, they just never said so.” 

It’s like the Dumbledore problem, right? “Obviously Dumbledore is gay, even though I wrote, you know, a million words and never used that one.”

Liz:   I really think it’s a mistake to look to JKR for any sort of representation of any sort of queerness.

Anika:   She’s just, that’s the most — Dumbledore is the most famous [example]. My friend, Sam, friend of the podcast Sam, she calls it Southerlyning instead of Dumbledoring because Serena Southerlyn precedes Dumbledore by a few years. That’s the character in Law & Order where — you know, they have a whole revolving cast.

Liz:   Yes.

Anika:   And specifically, Jack McCoy has had a string of young, pretty ADAs under his supervision. But one of them, Serena Southerlyn — who is not popular, she’s probably the least popular of all of Jack’s ADAs. And all of Law & Order ADAs, for that matter. As she was leaving, her last line in the series, her very last line is — because she’s fired. She’s fired by Fred Dalton Thompson, who is, like, an evil Republican. In real life, he was, he ran for president — but anyway, so he fires her and she says, “Is this because I’m a lesbian?”

Liz:   And it’s like, wow, the very least–

Anika:   There is no subtext, there’s nothing preceding, in the entire time she was there, there is not one hint of the possibility that she was a lesbian. And she is thrust into — and then again, she’s the least favorite. Like, she was basically kicked off the show for not being popular enough compared to all of the women before her.

Liz:   Right.

Anika:   And, and she’s the lesbian. And like, it’s … it’s just rough. It’s rough.

Liz:   Yeah.

Anika:   So Sam calls this Southerlyning, when you inch — like, after the fact, you say, “Oh, yeah, that was definitely — that was my — that was my–” 

Like, they sort of do this in the last Star Wars movie, you know, they have the lesbians kiss, and like the older lesbian — she had a speaking role in The Last Jedi. She was one of Leia’s little, you know, camaraderie. And there was no hint that she was a lesbian, or that she had a girlfriend, and or any of that, it didn’t exist until the last five minutes of the film. So–

Liz:   Another scene, which can very easily be excised for some markets, or if there’s a backlash, or whatever. It’s very half-hearted.

Anika:   Like, this is not good. This is not good representation. This is–

Liz:   We do want casual background characters who are queer, but not just one, or, you know, one couple and not — that cannot be the only queer representation in an entire franchise.

Anika:   I will say that Wolf Entertainment, the company behind Law & Order and all the Law & Order franchises–

Liz:   Executive Producer: Dick Wolf.

Anika:   Yeah. So Executive Producer Dick Wolf’s empire, now, which is huge and spans more than one — it’s on NBC and CBS–

Liz:   Yes.

Anika:   –has a lot of queer characters in all of their current shows.

Liz:   Well done him!

Anika:   All of their current shows, there is at least one non-homosexual character, and–

Liz:   Do you mean non-heterosexual?

Anika:   Yes! 

Like, some of them have couples, you know, it’s like, oh my gosh, this is an actual relationship. Like, “Oh, look, here’s a family.” 

That is just — again, there’s no hint until you get that one — that episode where like, you know, in the first season, they introduce each character in a different episode, kind of thing. And then it’s like, “Hey, this this person, turns out, is a lesbian, and has a family, you know, has a wife, it’s and it’s this.” 

And then, it does color what came before, but the important thing is that then there’s twelve more episodes or another season of stuff, and stories about these characters. 

And it’s not an afterthought, and it’s not sensationalized, which is sort of how I see Jadzia…

Liz:   It’s interesting that cop shows seem to do this particularly well. The whole genre is so regressive in a lot of ways, and yet this! 

Like, one of the most iconic lesbian characters of the early 2000s was Kima in The Wire. She’s played by the same actor by the actress who plays Michael’s mother now, which is maybe why I thought of her. And the actress who played her partner was one of the admirals that Kat talks to in “The War Without, The War Within”.

Anika:   Mm hmm.

Liz:   It’s interesting that police dramas are so much better at this than science fiction, where hypothetically there are no limits.

Anika:   Yeah.

Liz:   Should we talk about Jadzia?

Anika:   Yeah, because I get in trouble for this one all the time. I’m constantly being yelled at by people who–

Liz:   Oooh, do you have an unpopular opinion to share?

Anika:   I mean, yeah, I guess, sure. My unpopular opinion is that Jadzia and Lenara are not non-heterosexual representation.

Liz:   It’s complicated, isn’t it?

Anika:   This episode, taken by itself, is actually very beautiful. It’s a nice science fiction love story.

Liz:   To be honest, I put off watching it for many years, because I assumed that it would be really as trashy and exploitative as the promotion around it suggested. And it was a really beautiful love story that happened to take place in an alternate universe where there are queer relationships in Star Trek and no one bats an eyelid.

Anika:   Yeah. Like, it’s very much a bottle episode. But it does have a whole arc of a relationship, you know, there’s depth to their relationship. It’s very well done for what it is.

Liz:   It’s beautifully written and beautifully performed. But it’s still very much about the fact that “we love each other because we used to be husband and wife”. Not “because we are queer women”.

Anika:   Right. And also there’s a whole — like, it’s not allowed. Which — Trill culture is a mess. And it’s not very well — there are a lot of continuity issues.

Liz:   I know. But I love that they have this taboo because it makes sense for their society. And it also works as a metaphor for homophobia. Whereas, like, the stuff about the Bajoran religion in schools really didn’t hold up for me because it did not make sense for Bajoran culture.

Anika:   That makes sense. So my issue is that it’s representation of non-heterosexuality in media, but it is not representation of non-heterosexuality in Star Trek, because Jadzia is only queer for this one episode. In this one very certain specific–

Liz:   Right?

Anika:   Right. Jadzia is not queer, she’s just not accepting her reality, or something. Like, she’s just [going], “Love is more important,” which is, like, great, again, great story! But it’s just not representation. When you say representation matters, this isn’t it.

Liz:   Yeah, I agree. Part of the issue is that we never see Jadzia form another close connection with a woman ever, ever again.

Anika:   And she marries Worf, who is like toxic masculinity on parade.

Liz:   Especially in Deep Space Nine, he is a much worse character in Deep Space Nine than he was in TNG. And I say that as someone who really likes Worf!

Anika:   Yeah, but they used him for a purpose. And there were stories that they were telling that required him to be toxic masculinity on parade. But he just is. Like…

Liz:   Yeah, and that was a choice that they made.

Anika:   It seems — for me, it feels like a slap in the face to be like, “I’m Jadzia, I’m going to go from my lover, who is a woman, who is — like, a true love story. And then, you know, I’m going to literally never mention that again, and get married to Worf.”

Liz:   Right? And the closest she ever comes to connecting with other women — she’s sort of sometimes friends with Dax and they have a very cool relationship, but it’s not remotely — did I say friends with Dax? I meant friends with Kira.

Anika:   Kira, you meant Kira.

Liz:   I did.

Anika:   I can totally read a relationship between Kira and Jadzia.

Liz:   Sure, but–

Anika:   I can read into that, I can see that but it’s not there.

Liz:   But, again, that’s headcanon not not canon. And likewise, she’s friendly with Leeta, but you never get the impression that they’re super close. And other than that, it’s just Curzon’s ex-girlfriends, because Jadzia’s personality is one hundred percent Curzon.

Anika:   You have strong opinions.

Liz:   I really should do an episode on it, but it’s going to require me to watch a lot of Jadzia episodes, and it just makes me sad.

Anika:   Oh, I’m sorry.

Liz:   I just think, you know, she could have been a really interesting character. And they didn’t know how to write her, except as sort of a more scientific Troi. And then the key was to make her Curzon. 

And yeah, I like Ezri better because Ezri doesn’t make me sad, except in the sense of sleeping with Bashir. And, you know, haven’t we all had relationships we wound up regretting?

Anika:   And they happen in the seventh season of Star Trek.

Liz:   Exactly!

Anika:   That was just the oopsie relationship of Deep Space Nine. And–

Liz:   I also feel like — sorry.

Anika:   No, I was just going to complain about how Julian is introduced drooling over Jadzia, and the fact that he’s gifted Ezri is really disturbing to me.

Liz:   Yeah. And it could have been interesting to explore that Ezri is interested in him romantically, whereas Jadzia was not, and her own feelings about that, and her own experience of that. But no, we don’t get that. They’re not that interested in Ezri as a person.

Anika:   Right?

Liz:   Yeah. I was going to say, Jadzia, as a Trill character, she gets a lot of — she sort of carries the burden for a lot of representation that she doesn’t really meet. Like, “Oh, Jadzia is trans, oh, Jadzia is queer.” And these things are true to an extent. But, like, everyone passes around that gif of the scene in “Blood Oath” where the Klingon is like, “Curzon!” and she’s like, “Oh, I’m Jadzia now.” “Jadzia!” And they don’t point out — or don’t realize — that he goes on to misgender her and deadname her for the entire rest of the episode.

Anika:   You’re not supposed to remember that!

Liz:   Sorry.

Anika:   It’s — but yeah, so there are these things. That’s what I mean, where — like, that sentence is a great representation of trans in media. It is not representation of trans in Star Trek, because it is not integral to the character.

Liz:   Yes, yes. Whereas they never come out and say that Gray is trans, but he is played by a trans actor. And that is very, very important. 

But your other note here for the Trill problem is Beverly and Odan.

Anika:   Beverly and Odan. The problem with that — like, I’m not angry with Beverly for being certain that she’s heterosexual. That’s fine.

Liz:   Look, straight people do exist.

Anika:   Yeah, straight people exist. It’s fine.

Liz:   It’s terrible, but we can’t stop them. (That’s a joke.)

Anika:   Or even if you want to take her at face value, and it’s just too chaotic, that seems pretty true to Beverly, actually. Beverly doesn’t like chaos. And she doesn’t like things — she likes to have a plan, and she likes to follow that plan through. That’s her character. And so it’s true to her, so I don’t have a problem with this happening. 

But again, it’s one of those “in the last five minutes of the episode, we get the idea of representation,” and it’s pretty much shot down. And that leaves sort of a sour taste.

Liz:   It’s just disappointing. It feels like that they saw the logical conclusion of having a Trill — and also they really needed to bring that relationship to an end, because this is TNG, Beverly can’t have a long-term, long-distance partner — and so they threw a woman in there. And then, of course, we cannot have queer people on Next Generation, what would Rick Berman say?

Anika:   You know, I have my little bullet points on our outline here, and [there’s] the mirror universe problem, the Trill problem, the canon problem, I was gonna make a Rick Berman problem. Because, like, you know what the real problem is?

Liz:   It’s social biphobia, and Rick Berman.

Anika:   So … yeah. The only real problem with the end of “The Host” is that it feels like it opens the door for a lesbian relationship in Star Trek, and Beverly slams it shut.

Liz:   Right. And like you say, it’s fine if she’s straight, or if she’s just too much of a control freak to open herself to this sort of situation. Those make sense. 

But it’s that she speaks on behalf of all of humanity, you know, “someday we’ll be advanced enough to deal with this.”

Anika:   Yeah, that’s one of those lines where it was like, okay, they’re trying to throw the queer community a bone, to be like, “Someday you’ll be accepted,” but that’s horrible. Like that — just don’t. Just don’t. It’s better to leave that unsaid, than to shine a light on the fact that you’re not going to put a queer relationship in your show.

Liz:   Yeah.

Anika:   You know, “Someday we’ll be accepting, but we’re not right now. So don’t expect it.”

Liz:   You know, Jadzia or Dax [Liz note: Uhhhh, I meant Jadzia or Deanna…] or, you know, any of the more sexually open women of Star Trek would have been totally up for that, had it not been for the minor Rick Berman problem. Like, we know this. So–

Anika:   Right. Right.

Liz:   –don’t act as if you’re speaking on behalf of all humanity, Bev.

Anika:   Right? Because it’s just not — just not. And I fully and firmly believe that Beverly has this control freak problem, but she also works with Will for, what, five more years, or something? So it’s sort of like, yeah, okay, you have this issue, but it’s also, how can that not be awkward? And — I don’t know!

Liz:   I have to believe that Will gave consent for this before he went under. Because otherwise, it’s really awful. And we know, as the guys from the Greatest Gen often pointed out, Will Riker is consent guy.

Anika:   Yeah. That’s true. So maybe, like Will — and when he comes out of it — you know, I just have so many questions. 

I’m very into the idea that Beverly and Will had a sexual relationship when he was not Will. ‘Cos, like, Jadzia has Curzon’s memories, right? So, so like, there has to be — even if, you know, he’s human, and it doesn’t work exactly the same, even if you just had a conversation with Troi after the fact, and she was like, “So you know, I definitely, like, convinced Beverly to seduce you while we were in Ten Forward that one time. Good on me, right? That was one of your — you can check that off your list.” 

Like, I don’t know. Something had to–

Liz:   Maybe this is something that Will and Deanna worked out years and years ago. Like he’s like, “Okay, bucket list. If I’m ever possessed, you should totally feel okay to get one of our friends to sleep with me. I am fully on board with that.”

Anika:   I can imagine it with Will Riker. That’s why I put him on my list of canon problem people. Because Will Riker has a very open relationship with his sexuality.

Liz:   He does. And it’s great, because, unlike, for example, early Tom Paris, he’s generally not a sleaze about it. Like, there are points where the writing is a bit “uhhhhh”. But more often than not, he is just cool, comfortable-with-his sexuality guy, and he’s masculine without being toxic.

Anika:   Right. Yeah, he doesn’t. He doesn’t parade around in his, you know, beating his chest in a Klingon way.

Liz:   Hmm. Unless he’s with Klingons, who want him to do that.

Anika:   Unless he was with Klingons that — yeah. I mean, Riker is actually a great character. He’s another one of those people where I think he’s accidentally great. They never went out of their way to make Will Riker a good character. He’s sort of there.

Liz:   They also lucked out with Jonathan Frakes being a good guy.

Anika:   Jonathan Frakes really put his all into what he was doing. And because he’s kind of the straight man — like a straight man, but in the top tier of characters — they were able to put him in situations like, “Hey, we’re gonna put you on this Klingon ship, and you’re gonna have to, you know, do Klingon stuff.” And Frakes was all over that. 

You know, they could have these weird — even, you know, “The Outcast”, which is another — like, whoo boy, let’s not even like kick that hornet’s nest but, you know, Jonathan Frakes really put his all into that episode.

Liz:   And he was pushing for them to cast a man as Soren. If we’re going to rip to headcanon Will Riker is bisexual, and I absolutely think we should, then we have Jonathan Frakes to thank for that.

Anika:   Jonathan Frakes does! So there’s all these situations where Riker — yeah, he’s consent guy, and he is very comfortable in himself. He doesn’t mind casual relationships, and he also doesn’t mind deep relationships. He goes both ways … that way, as well, and so it’s just really, he is such a good — like, if you’re going to talk about headcanon as reality, he is my like, perfect pansexual in Star Trek. Because he is a red-blooded American man who seems comfortable in — whatever happens.

Liz:   Yeah, yeah. And I was just thinking, like, I feel like Jadzia is the closest we get to a female version of that character. But at the same time, a lot of her relationships are either jokes, like, she’s dating the guy with the transparent skull, or they’re kind of male gazey, or you just wonder why she’s with this–

Anika:   Or he dies.

Liz:   Or they die, or they’re just kind of boring, or you just wonder why she’s with this guy. Like Worf! Again, I love Worf, but Deep Space Nine really destroyed a lot of what was good about his character.

Anika:   So let’s talk about Beckett Mariner.

Liz:   I love her! And I totally wanted her, from the very first episode to be bi, and, you know, she brings up the sexy Olympic team holodeck program, and I looked for women, and they weren’t any. 

And so it’s interesting to me that Mike McMahan was called out for this. And he did intend for Beckett to be bisexual. I’ve dropped this whole big quote in here. He said to Variety, when they queried it: 

“For me and the writers, as we were making this, we didn’t intentionally mean for anybody to be strictly heteronormative or straight, or cis.” 

Here is the money quote: “Every Starfleet officer is probably, at the baseline, bisexual in a way.” I love it. I’m just like, thank you. Thank you, Mike. I love you. 

And then he goes on, “That being said, I am not the most amazing person at writing those kinds of stories. I think we get a little bit better about it in the second season.” 

And I respect him for admitting — like, he then goes on to say, “It’s something I think we need to be better about. If there’s anything I can say about inclusiveness, whether it’s about sex, or gender, or race or anything, it’s that I know I can always learn more and be better about it, and I’m always trying to do that. This is one of those cases where we could have done a better job of explicitly stating the things the writers always knew about Mariner.”

Anika:   He’s right.

Liz:   He is so right. And I’m just a sucker for people admitting that they were wrong and that they want to do better. I think it’s a redemption arc thing.

Anika:   Yeah, so if he wanted Beckett to be explicitly bisexual, but he didn’t know how to write that? You hire a bisexual writer.

Liz:   Right?

Anika:   I know this is a crazy idea.

Liz:   Also, like, I don’t want to sound crazy here, but I hear that bisexuals can write about many topics. You find yourself queer writers who can also do science fiction. And also Comedy.

Anika:   They exist. They’re out there.

Liz:   There are so many.

Anika:   And it’s great. It’s great that he can say, “I’m not the person to write that story.” You know, kind of the whole #OwnVoices concept. But if he’s in charge, and he doesn’t feel up to it, or feel comfortable with writing that story from his perspective, then you make it happen like you don’t say, “Well, so then we decided not to do it.”

Liz:   I don’t think they even decided. I just think they forgot to make it explicit. And writing is hard, and things can get forgotten, but again, this is why you have a diverse enough writers room that there are people in there who can say, “Oh, hey, we haven’t made this clear. I know from my own experience how to do it in a natural way.”

Anika:   And that’s the thing. So I absolutely read Beckett, and for the record, Raffi, as queer before it was in any way suggested by a writer or an interview or an episode. It was the way that they interacted with women. It didn’t feel like wink wink at the camera stuff, like the mirror universe in Deep Space Nine.

Liz:   No, it felt like integral and natural parts of their characters.

Anika:   Yeah, It felt like this person is acting in a certain way that is recognizable, that I’m getting all the signals of “this is not a platonic or friendship or familial relationship. There’s something else here [that] was being teased out”. And that was obvious to me in both Raffi and Beckett Mariner.

Liz:   And I remember, we talked about Raffi very early on — no, not early on. But at that point where she calls her old friend, and we were like, “Mm, girlfriends.”

Anika:   And it’s in the same way, where they have these old friends who are women, and it’s like, ‘Yeah, that wasn’t just my roommate. I had a relationship with that person. Like, it was more.”

Liz:   Because we’re women, and we have friends, and we know what that looks like. Whereas I think a lot of media written by men, they kind of maybe don’t know what female friendship looks like? And so they end up writing what is more romantic than platonic out of ignorance?

Anika:   What an interesting idea. I mean, this is another reason why you should have more women in your writing room, why you should have — if like, if you’re going to have black leads, black women leads, make sure you have black women in the writers room, because — it’s not even a question of #OwnVoices or not #OwnVoices.

Liz:   It’s just a matter of experience.

Anika:   Yeah, it’s not your experience. You don’t know. You have not lived that.

Liz:   Yeah. I know, without a doubt, there are men out there who write amazing female friendship, but they don’t seem to be in the majority. And because media is so dominated by men who don’t know what female friendship looks like, then it becomes a self-perpetuating problem. 

And so, yeah, I got queer vibes, I got romantic vibes between Mariner and Raffi and their old friends. And also, I would totally ship the two of them together. But — oh, wow. Sorry, I just need to–

Anika:   But yeah, so it’s one of those, is it — was it? Was it–

Liz:   Intentional?

Anika:   Was it the writers? Was it the actors? Was it the direction? Like, yeah, I mean, in terms of Rafi and Seven, both of the actresses have come out and said, “Look, we were playing this from the beginning.” And they’re the ones who put it in the finale. They’re like, “Hey, you know, we’re gonna do this.” So, you know, from the point of view of the person embodying that character, that’s what it was.

Liz:   Right. And the other inspiration was a photo that Jonathan Del Arco took of them at a premiere, where they’re cuddly, and they, you know, it could be a couple’s photo. And it’s interesting to me that he, as a gay man, took that picture. And then the writers went, “Oh.”

Anika:   Right, would a straight man have that eye?

Liz:   Yeah! Yeah. And obviously, I am not suggesting for a moment that Jeri Ryan and Michelle Hurd are really a couple. Like, let’s, let’s not get ridiculous. But obviously, they had a connection that they can — like any actors playing a relationship, they had a connection and a chemistry that they could transform. 

And it’s interesting to me, since we’re talking about Raffi, to contrast Mike McMahan’s response with Michael Chabon’s.

Anika:   Oof. Yeah.

Liz:   He’s asked about the lack of explicitly queer characters in Picard, and he says, “Well, the way that people’s identity is constructed with sexuality as a component of it, in my experience, it emerges in a much more organic way, and not like wearing a T shirt that says, you know, queer power.” 

Okay, how many times have you met a person who — maybe they’ve seen a bit queer because of their hair color or the clothes that they’re wearing, and then you look and they have, like, a rainbow flag pin, or, you know, something like that, some kind of signifier. I don’t know how many gay people Chabon knows, but I assume that his queer friends are all people of his age and background and social class.

Anika:   Yeah, so this is another one of those, like, generational and — just a different point of view. Like, Michael Chabon is just — he does not represent me in any way. And so like, he’s just not going to–

Liz:   He’s like, “We get to know these characters, the way we get to know real people.” And I’m like, Okay, so you meet them at brunch, talking about the queer film festival they’re organizing? Cool. Okay, boomer.

Anika:   And also, that sentence really rubs me the wrong way, because it’s sort of like, are queer people not real? What are you suggesting here? That real people are one way and queer people pretend to be real people really well? 

That’s not what he meant. I can tell that’s not what he meant. But it is what he said. And so, because he’s a writer, he’s giving the characters lines to say, it’s concerning.

Liz:   It’s very clear from this interview that he does not think of the fictional characters that he writes as having any connection with real people at all. He’s like, “I was really surprised that people cared when Hugh died, and that they were opposed to the idea of any fictional character dying.” And I’m like–

Anika:   What?!

Liz:   Yeah. And it’s like, it’s not just that they care, Michael, it’s that, here is a character who has been an allegory for AIDS, implicitly for many decades, and explicitly in your own work, and he’s killed violently by someone who hates his existence. 

Obviously, Chabon and I, we’re not bros.

Variety went on to say, it was a big deal when Discovery that Stamets is gay, and “there was a certain subset of Trek fandom that was excited about seeing that perpetuate on Picard,” and Chabon — I’m really enjoying my Chabon voice, can I keep going?

Anika:   Please do.

Liz:   He says, “We’re doing it in a different way. We’re doing it in an organic way — what feels organic to me.”

Anika:   Okay. There are so many things wrong.

Liz:   Michael Chabon is not the arbiter of what is organic, particularly as a straight man writing about and discussing queerness.

Anika:   Yeah. And also, not to go back to our Chabon bashing, but I really think that this is another example of how he just shouldn’t be writing television. He should stick with his novels. 

Because, when you write a novel, you put out the finished product into the world, and people read it whenever they — you know, on their own time. And then they might, you know, bring it back to you and talk to you about it. But in that situation, yeah. It’s a very different situation, “I’m reading someone and this character that I’m really connected to dies.” 

Like, absolutely, you can still have a very emotional connection to that. But you’re reading it, you can put the book down, you can, like, have some tea, you can cuddle your cat, you can cry about it. And then you can come back to the story when you’re ready.

Liz:   Yeah.

Anika:   And, yeah, you can do that with TV with a pause button. But it’s a very different experience. It’s a very different experience. 

And it’s also — I have done research about this, and television is the changing point of the idea of parasocial relationships. And there was another changing point when social media made real people, famous people, more easily accessible. 

There is a sociological shift toward, “I’m watching this person, this character on TV in my living room. I know them.” It’s just the way — because you have that same — like eye — even though it’s recorded in a completely different thing. You still have like this idea of eye contact, this idea of a shared body language, of subtext, and it’s not being said or read on the page.

Liz:   We had the WandaVision finale last night, I wasn’t completely satisfied, but I liked it a lot. And I realized that I connect with Wanda because I also have a lot of feelings about dead fictional characters. So you know that that feeling of, these people on television are real.

Anika:   WandaVision is such a product of its time, like, it was the exact thing we needed in January 2021. That’s why it was so popular, is because everyone was like, “Yeah, I feel this, I understand this concept, this concept of my life is completely different. And I want to control every aspect of it, and I’m stuck. And I’m going to escape into my fantasy, and I’m going to drag everybody into it, and it’s not going to work. And I’m not gonna be able to deal with it.” 

Everything that Wanda went through is what I went through, you know, with this whole quarantine situation, and am still going through. I was all ready to — I’ve been waiting for WandaVision for twenty years. But I completely understand why it was such a cultural phenomenon.

Liz:   I never cared about Wanda until now, until the first few episodes of WandaVision. And I really think that if you’re writing for television, you have to, on some level, treat your characters as real people. And you don’t want to get completely wanky about it. But if they’re not at least a little bit real to you, how will they be real to the audience? 

And I think Chabon has the advantage, here, of coming into an established universe, and we were all very much prepared to like and love these people. But he is coming at his characters from a different perspective. 

And it’s not even just that, it’s that he’s wholly unsympathetic to a different point of view. I think that’s the case when he speaks about Hugh’s death, and I think that’s the case when he talks about the lack of queerness. In this series.

Anika:   As much as he — everything I’ve seen and heard from him is that he was thrilled to get this job, he was so excited–

Liz:   Yeah, he’s a massive Trekkie!

Anika:   He’s a massive Trekkie. And so he was like, you know, he gets to have canonical fan fiction. It’s a dream, right? And I don’t want to take that away from him. But he did not have the tools. He just doesn’t. He’s famous in a different way. He’s skilled in a different way. It’s just not–

Liz:   Writing original work is different from writing fan fiction. And it’s different from writing tie-fiction. And it’s different, again, from writing television. I mean, I assume. I’ve only done two of these things.

Anika:   He was many, you know, layers away from where he needed to be. And I’m not saying, Oh, and novelists can’t possibly write a television series. Like that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that–

Liz:   Absolutely not.

Anika:   –the way that he seems to tell stories, the way that he is used to telling stories, is not the way that I think Picard should have been told.

Liz:   No. And also, I think some of my favorite TV shows from the last couple of years have been written by people who started — by women who started out as playwrights. And that is maybe where Chabon should have looked to begin his scriptwriting career? 

Because I have no doubt that he is a tremendously talented man, and that he went into this with the best will in the world. But just the way he wrote Picard and the way he’s so dismissive of the need for representation, and, you know, he is going to be the gatekeeper of what is organic queerness, organic, single origin queerness.

Anika:   And then, setting aside all of his problems in that — just the whole, “Okay, so we’re doing it in a different way,” is so condescending, I cannot even begin to — it’s just, ew. Ew, no. How dare you, sir. These are people that are literally on the same level as you.They’re your peers. And you are basically saying, “Oh, no, we’re not going to do it that way.”

Liz:   Yes. And especially since a lot of the writers on Picard were the same people who were working — it’s just — have some respect!

Anika:   Yeah. He doesn’t. I think that that’s what it comes down to, is that he is a novelist who has — he hasn’t. He hasn’t co-written anything, you know, it’s not — like he is very used to writing — you know, I’m going to compare him to Aaron Sorkin.

Liz:   I think that’s a very fair comparison

Anika:   Someone who famously refuses to let other people write his work. He’s like, “I am going to write every word that is said on this show.” And, you know, if there is a difference between what the first four seasons of The West Wing are and what the last three seasons are because Sorkin left — like, yeah, there is, but there’s so much more variety in the last three seasons. It’s so much more alive. It’s not the same story over and over.

Liz:   Yes, yes. My unpopular opinion is that The West Wing gets good after Sorkin leaves.

Anika:   Yeah. I didn’t watch The West Wing for a long time. I was very opposed to it. When people tell — when a hundred people tell me to watch something, I get really like, ew?

Liz:   No, same.

Anika:   But I did finally watch it all. And everyone was — like, still to this day, people are like, you know, “Give it a pass after, you know, in the later years.” And I was like, What are you talking about? It gets so much better when–

Liz:   Right, and not just because Jason Isaacs is in it.

Anika:   –people who know how to write television and who care about more than one thing are doing — it’s just — yeah. 

So Michael Chabon seems like an Aaron Sorkin, where he does one thing really well. And I’m not — Aaron Sorkin has his place. And there are plenty of things that Aaron Sorkin does that are enjoyable, that are that are good, that are brilliant, even, but he should not be in charge of four seasons of television. And he has to learn to co-write, he has to learn to give up control. 

And I feel like these comments from Michael Chabon, and his whole — like, I know that everybody loved how he was on Instagram and answering all the questions. But I felt — that, to me, felt like this sort of weird “I’m going to tell you how to feel about the thing that I wrote”.

Liz:   No, no, I–

Anika:   I don’t know. I wasn’t into it. And it really came off as, like, “If you’re upset about Hugh dying, well, let me explain to you why you shouldn’t be.”

Liz:   Right, it was just a really awkward and strange situation. 

And I think — maybe this is an unpopular stance, but I think that if you’re a writer, you need to have some level of humility, in terms of being able to set your ego aside and put your mind and soul into another person for a while. Otherwise, you’re just going to write the same character over and over again. Sorkin.

Anika:   And Whedon.

Liz:   Yes. Yes.

Anika:   We’re gonna throw out–

Liz:   But also you need to be able to understand and empathize where your audience is coming from, especially in television. And absolutely, you don’t want to get sucked into listening to the mob and the “release the Snyder cut” crowd, and all of that. But you do need to have empathy for the people who — for whom your story has meaning, even if you then choose to still tell your own story in your own way.

Anika:   You know, all the people who are upset with the WandaVision finale because it didn’t end the way they wanted it to, like, the way their theory would have ended–

Liz:   Right, with a Doctor Strange cameo and all of that, yeah.

Anika:   Yeah. So I never want to put those people in power in any way. I don’t want them to feel empowered, I want them to understand that — like, there are plenty of things that happen. I can tell you, the entirety of 2019 was a parade of all of my fandoms and stories just saying, “Yeah, we don’t care about you, Anika. Whatever your point of view is, we’re going to do the opposite.” 

And that was upsetting to me, and I’m still not over it, you know. Two years later, I’m still sad. But also, I am an adult enough, I guess, to say that it doesn’t make that bad. It doesn’t make it bad. It doesn’t make that fiction wrong. Or, like, I can’t be angry with the writers or the directors or any of the people who worked on something because they made a different choice than I wanted them to.

Liz:   Right. Like, we did not like season two of Discovery, and we were angry and we still are angry and sad that they killed Kat, but we’re not harassing the writers.

Anika:   Yeah, you shouldn’t let your audience dictate what you’re going to do. But you do have to acknowledge that the audience exists, and that — I would hope you want your audience to like what you’re giving them. There is a relationship there, even if it’s not like, “I’m writing for you,” there’s still a relationship.

Liz:   I found it really interesting that the people behind WandaVision were saying, you know, “A lot of people are going to be disappointed by the finale.” And I thought it was sad that they felt they had to do that, because they probably expected some level of harassment and abuse if the finale didn’t go some people’s way.

Anika:   Yeah.

Liz:   But I also think that that came from a position of understanding how engaged people were in the story. 

And likewise, the series Dickinson just finished on AppleTV. I highly recommend it. I know AppleTV is a ridiculous streaming service, but it’s very cheap. So, like, sign up, watch both seasons of Dickinson and also Ted Lasso. And it comes free with most things.

Anika:   For All Mankind and–

Liz:   Yes. We’re about to watch the second season!

Anika:   —The Morning Show are also good.

Liz:   AppleTV is really interesting, because they don’t have a very big catalog, but what they do have is consistent quality.

Anika:   But yeah, I do have it for free.

Liz:   Yeah, same.

Anika:   Because it came with my cell plan.

Liz:   Yeah. Totally worth it, though. Like, I would pay money a couple of times a year just to catch up on what they’ve been putting out. 

Season Two of Dickinson was not very popular with a section of fandom, because the season one — the first season was very much about Emily’s romantic love for her friend, Sue. Her friend, her girlfriend, her lover. And their relationship in season two is much more complicated, and there’s a lot of resentment, and it really wasn’t a simple love story. 

And, again, the showrunner was very much engaged with fandom and going, “This is the story that I’m telling, and this is why I’m telling it, and so while I understand people’s disappointment that it’s not just Emily and Sue making out all the time, there is a purpose to the story that I’m telling.” 

Also, like, if you read Wikipedia, you know that Emily and Sue do not get married and live happily ever after. So I don’t completely understand why people are complaining?

Anika:   These are real people. And so there’s another level of you can’t really have exactly what you want. Because there’s a story, it already happened.

Liz:   And Dickinson also raises what I think is the last point about the problem with bisexuality in Star Trek and with any media, in that a lot of fans don’t really like it. Like, people were very angry that Emily and Sue had relationships with men as well as each other. And I was complaining a couple of episodes ago about the tendency in fandom to read a character as gay or lesbian instead of bisexual when we know that they’ve had relationships with members of the opposite sex.

Anika:   Yeah, that is definitely a hurdle. But that’s also the argument, like that’s why we need more of it and better representation.

Liz:   Absolutely. If Buffy had used the word ‘bisexual’ to describe Willow back in the early 2000s, maybe this wouldn’t be a problem now. Like, there’s this refusal of many, many, many media to use the word ‘bisexual’ to describe its characters who have relationships with multiple genders, and it becomes a self-perpetuating problem.

Anika:   Which is weird. And that’s again, you know, [it] goes back to the whole cultural concept of bisexuality and pansexuality. And how — and even, I mean, recently, like a week or two ago, that whole pearl clutching event of “there are more bisexuals and nonbinary people under twenty, or something, than there were ten years ago.”

Liz:   Oh my god, how terrible.

Anika:   The worst possible thing has happened. And it’s just, if we just accepted that these identities exist as identities and are, you know, equal to straight or gay, like, that’s it? That’s the answer. That’s that’s all you need to understand.

Liz:   Your relationship does not have to be set in stone — and I just complained about the refusal to use the word ‘bisexual’ in Buffy. But, you know, people do realize that they have lived their lives one way and maybe they would be happier with another identity or — so, you know, just because your identity changes doesn’t make it wrong or fake.

Anika:   And that’s the whole, like, this thing. People are upset that there are more words to describe things. That’s what people are really upset at. They’re actually angry that a fifteen-year-old knows the difference between someone who is cis, trans and nonbinary, and someone who is straight, gay and bisexual. They don’t want there to be all those little checkboxes. And it’s like, sorry!

Liz:   I do think it’s a case of, “Oh my god, the kids today are advancing and leaving us behind. And what if I’m doing it wrong,” and that sort of fear. Like, it was only this week that I found a definition of demisexuality that I understood. So I get it, but there is no cause to go and — this was all a big transphobic beat up, ultimately, wasn’t it? “Oh, my God, we’re losing the lesbians!” I promise, lesbians are not an endangered species.

Anika:   Circling back to the beginning with Philippa saying ‘pansexual’, Hugh and Paul very specifically said, “No, we’re gay.” And more power to that, too, like, that’s also important in that conversation.

Liz:   That was the first time the word ‘gay’ was used in Star Trek, and people were upset. I even saw Paul/Hugh shippers saying that, “That word is so 20th, 21st century, maybe, you know, maybe that’s not the word they would use.” You know what, maybe it’s not. Language changes. But this is a series made in the 2020s. The 20-teens.

Anika:   Like, I hate to break it to anybody who’s upset about the continuity of Star Trek: iit is almost fifty-five years old. And things change. The cultural moments of the 1960s, the 1980s, the 1990s, and the early 2000s, and the 20s, whatever we’re in now — late teens, 2000s — there were shifts. 

There was a shift from last year to this year, like, a visible cultural shift in understanding of language, understanding of gender, understanding of all of these, you know, of storytelling and the quote unquote, organic ways. Like, all of that is changing constantly. And yeah, Star Trek is about — like, The Original Series is about the 23rd century, but it was written, and in that way, takes place in 1967.

Liz:   Right. And this brings us back to our conversation the other week about Shatner versus Kirk’s bisexuality. And no, Kirk could not have been depicted as a bisexual man in in the 1960s. It just wouldn’t have been allowed to happen. They barely got an interracial kiss through. 

But now, in 2021, you know, there’s a new Star Trek movie being prepared by one of the writers of “Terra Firrma” part two — a woman of color is writing a Star Trek movie. I’m very excited — and it would be weird if that film had no queer people whatsoever.

Anika:   Right?

Liz:   It would not be unsurprising. But weird.

Anika:   No offense to William Shatner, but watching Captain Kirk, his performance as Captain Kirk, with the lens of someone in 2021, you are allowed to say he’s bisexual.

Liz:   Right!

Anika:   Again, it’s not canon. It’s not textual. But your experience of stories also changes. I will watch an episode of Voyager or Next Generation — like those are the Star Treks that I watched as I was growing up, like literally childhood to college — and I will have a different experience of them now, as an adult, like a full adult, an old lady–

Liz:   So old.

Anika:   –I have a different connection. I have a different connection to characters. It’s like, the things that mattered to me as I was coming of age. I loved Seven in Picard so much because I connected so strongly to Seven in Voyager, and now, here I had the adult version of Seven. It was like, she’s still gonna be my map. 

It was like, here is this character who is still dealing with her trauma and and hurting from it and angry about it, and you’re allowed to feel that too, Anika. You know, so it’s just — your experience changes, like, the text remains the same, but our experience, both as an audience — as a new audience, and as the same audience, both of those will change over time.

Liz:   Exactly, exactly. And, you know, there was a post on Tumblr just just yesterday,, it was, like, gifs from The Original Series where you could — it was like, proof that James Kirk is bisexual. And you know what? Totally is.

Anika:   Right, exactly. And that’s why, once it is, you know — to give Chabon a little credit, tiny bit of credit.

Liz:   A fraction?

Anika:   Once it’s out in the world, and we’re bringing our experience to watching it, and, you know, what we pay attention to will be completely different from what he paid attention to when he was writing it. Because we’re different people, not because of any gender or sexuality or experience thing, just, we are not the same person. So we are going to have a different perception of what is happening, and we’re going to pay attention to what matters to us.

Liz:   Right, we paid attention to Raffi and her connection with this woman because we cared about Raffi, and … yeah.

Anika:   That’s what’s organic. Like that, you know, that’s where ‘organic’ comes in, is that my experience, as a person watching this show, watching this hour of a story unfold, is mine. And it’s my personal thing, and I get to have my own headcanons about it. 

And again, all of that is valid. Headcanons are always valid. They’re not canon, but they’re valid. Again, tiny bit of credit. And I think what he means is that he’s going to tell the story, and we are going to bring our own experience to it.

Liz:   I think that is putting it very generously. But yes.

Anika:   But the problem is that his experience — again, he doesn’t represent me in any way. Nothing about Michael Chabon is true to me.

Liz:   Anika, I thought you were a middle-aged Jewish man who grew up in California and went to Berkeley.

Anika:   And there’s nothing wrong with his identity! He doesn’t have to be me in order for me to care about what he’s writing.

Liz:   I know, the problem is just that he won’t step out of his identity and empathise with others.

Anika:   Exactly. He has a very he’s like a telescopic lens of “I am — this is the story I’m telling. And that’s it. That’s what matters. And, you know, you guys add whatever you want, but that’s not what I’m doing. That’s not what I’m telling.”

Liz:   Right.

Anika:   Thank you for listening to Antimatter Pod. You can find our show notes at including links to our social media and credits for theme music. 

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Liz:   Whoo! Numbers. we’ve established that–

Anika:   With a guest who can explain it to us.

Liz:   Yeah, because we know that Antimatter Pod can’t do maths.