1.9 “I Can’t in Good Conscience Recommend it to Anyone” – Thoroughly Modern Millie

Julie Andrews stars in Thoroughly Modern Millie, a 1967 musical that features catchy songs, fun dance numbers, delightful performances, and egregious racism. The movie is about Millie, a ‘modern’ woman of 1922, trying to make her way in the Big City. While Millie’s attempts to find love is the main focus of the movie, the plot also heavily features Millie’s landlady and her two Chinese accomplices drugging and kidnapping white women into slavery (played entirely for laughs, of course). It’s as bad as it sounds.

Elizabeth watched this movie over and over in her childhood, and discusses what makes it great (the singing and dancing) as well as what makes it impossible to recommend (the aforementioned racism) plus more! We talk about how to process something unforgivably problematic, and how it feels to have something you loved as a child that you can never share with actual children.

1.8 “Unexpected Inspiration” – The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream

Ben “Not the Playwright” Johnson ordered an old Berenstain Bears book on Amazon last month and wanted to talk about it. The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream, like every other book in the series, tells a simple, wholesome story for children that imparts an equally simple, wholesome moral or message. And that’s it.

What sets “The Bad Dream” apart from all the other Berenstain Bears books, though, is its superhero art, which visually looks nothing like any other Berenstain Bears illustrations and really captivated a young Ben Johnson’s imagination. We discuss how this experience may or may not have influenced Ben’s subsequent love of superheroes, as well as the phenomenon (or lack thereof) of the Berenstain Bears more generally.

And yes, we talk about the stupid conspiracy theory.

Episode image snapshotted from this Youtube video.

Outro Music: The Berenstain Bears Theme (PBS Studios)

1.7 “It’s High Adventure With” – The Pirates of Dark Water

The Pirates of Dark Water is a 1990 cartoon Elizabeth has no direct memory of watching. What she does remember vividly, though, is playing make-believe around the idea of “The Pirates of Dark Water” in elementary school.

After the rewatch, Elizabeth delights in recounting the first five episodes of The Pirates of Dark Water in all of their glorious absurdity. The show is a fun, plot-dense, Mad Max-influenced, excessively swashbuckling, cliche-ridden romp with surprisingly good animation (by the standards of 1990 TV cartoons).

Bonus: we get schmoopy over fond memories of the early internet when we discover http://piratesofdarkwater.net/faq.html, a (mostly-functioning!) fan site that’s also a perfect example of 00’s internet preserved in amber.

1.6 “She’s a little #$%!, but I still love her” – Harriet the Spy

Katherine From Sweden returns to revisit a childhood favorite, Harriet the Spy. The book is about an 11-year-old girl, the titular Harriet, who lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan circa 1964. Harriet wants to know everything there is to know about anything, and obsessively writes down the things she observes in a series of notebooks. From this premise comes a delightful and surprisingly dark coming-of-age story about alienation and abandoment. Also, a list of hilarious cat names.

Katherine identifies a very personal connection to the story and muses on the child-rearing practices of the 1960’s that are inadvertantly revealed in the book. There is a bit more swearing on this episode than is typical of the podcast, although in our defense, Harriet really is a little #$%! (but Katherine still loves her).

Outro Music: The “I Spy” Theme Song