Read, Watched, Podcapped: Personal lives take the lead in ‘Overdue,’ while ‘The Bechdel Cast’ tackle makeover trope

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From pregnancy guides to a famous fashion industry comedy, our podcasts cover a lot of ground in this week of podcapping. “Overdue” reveals a surprise book Craig and Andrew have been alluding to for weeks, while “The Bechdel Cast” spends an extra long episode delving into the details of “The Devil Wears Prada.”

“Overdue”

While Andrew and Craig typically reveal their schedule for the month ahead of time, they mysteriously decided to keep this week a secret. The reveal has finally come, and it’s “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. And the reason for this choice of book? Andrew announced in this episode that he and his wife, Suzannah, are currently expecting their first child.

The hosts talk about the excitement of this announcement, as it is a rare occasion for the book of the week to connect so directly to one of the host’s personal lives. They note that Andrew and Suzannah had just gotten engaged when the podcast started, so longtime listeners have been with Andrew for many points of their relationship, from engagement to marriage and, now, their first pregnancy.

Andrew read the fifth and most recent edition of the book, which was published in 2017. In another difference of this week’s episode, he only read part of the book — up to the 21st week, which is the stage Suzannah is currently at in the pregnancy.

Craig, drawing from his contextual research, notes some of the criticisms that readers have had with the book. Namely, with each new edition, some readers have complained that their experiences weren’t being covered. The next edition would then try to reconcile this but would often go overboard. In an attempt to cover all possible scenarios, the book often causes worry and paranoia for the expectant mothers reading it.

Andrew agrees, explaining that he and his wife have had a fairly straightforward pregnancy so far, so some of the situations presented definitely seem extreme. Furthermore, the book is structured by month, outlining what should be happening at each stage. He communicates that this may be problematic for women who are not experiencing pregnancy as the book lays it out. Andrew and Craig, however, don’t come to a conclusion on the right balance.

D*scussing the pros of the book, the hosts point out that it began as a project of Murkoff’s when she herself was expecting her first child. Thus, it was meant as a helpful guide for women by a woman who had gone through the experience herself, which has spoken to many readers. Additionally, it can act as a starting-off point for those who are nervous about experiencing pregnancy with very little knowledge; the hosts note that there is comfort in this.

At the end of the episode, Suzannah briefly joins the podcast to weigh in on the matter. She says, “It’s crazy to know that you’re creating a person cell by cell, but you’re not really doing anything — you’re just trying not to get in the way.” It’s a charming note to conclude on, acting as a reminder that this episode has been more about the connection between podcasters and listeners, rather than the book itself.

“The Bechdel Cast”

Caitlin and Jamie are joined this week by Amy Lam, a writer and co-host of the podcast “Backtalk.”. The three of them cover David Frankel’s 2006 comedy “The Devil Wears Prada.” The film follows Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), an aspiring journalist and recent college graduate who lands a job as the personal assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), the powerful and well-known editor of the *fictional* fashion magazine Runway.

The hosts’ general reaction is quite positive, calling it a fun movie with nuanced characters. But they do, of course, voice concerns, which they detail throughout the episode.

One of the first issues they tackle is Hathaway’s casting as someone who is meant to be noticeably less pretty than some sort of standard. This movie came out five years after “The Princess Diaries,” in which Hathaway plays a similar character — specifically, someone who requires a makeover to be taken more seriously (which both characters undergo, as a plot point). Discussing Hathaway’s typecasting, Jamie says, “I’m tired of having to pretend Anne Hathaway is ugly. I don’t have any more disbelief to suspend.”

The hosts delve more into the makeover detail of the movie, initially pointing out its problematic nature. Specifically, Caitlin points out that Andy getting better at her job is directly correlated with her dressing better. Amy counters that the makeover, unlike many makeover sequences in films, directly serves the character and her job; Andy dresses better to take the fashion industry, which she had previously looked down upon, more seriously. In turn, she starts to succeed more.

They praise the nuances of both Andy and Miranda, who both struggle with balancing work and personal life. The hosts, however, take issue with the character of Andy’s best friend, Lily (Tracie Thoms). Caitlin points out that viewers don’t even learn her name until well into the movie. Additionally, very little is known about her both individually and in relation to Andy. Their friendship is not at all fleshed out, and she exists solely to further the plot — namely, to point out that Andy has “changed” since taking the job. She is also the single person of color in the main cast, despite, as Caitlin notes, New York City’s vast diversity.

Despite the ways in which the film could improve, the hosts note that, if it were made today, some of these issues would have been addressed. And if it had been made today, maybe the thoughts of the hosts could have been contained in a shorter episode.

Nikki Munoz covers podcasts. Contact her at [email protected].