Twice Removed: #1: Dan Savage
January 13, 2017 2:13 PM - Subscribe

Dan Savage has helped redefine what it means to be a family in the 21st Century. And given his ancestors, it's no surprise why. Dan's family history traces back to the 1920s Chicago mob scene, a South Asian autocracy, and to a New York City apartment filled with men trying to save a community. We'll tell these stories and introduce Dan to a surprise relative

This is the first episode of a new Gimlet series.

Kind of like a combination of Who Do You Think You Are and the old This Is Your Life.
posted by SteveInMaine (5 comments total)
I really want to like this podcast, but I don't think I agree with A.J. Jacobs's basic premise that you share some big bond with really distant relatives. I do not care if my third-cousin-twice-removed's dog-walker's accountant's nephew was Charlie Chaplin. I'd much rather hear about people's direct ancestors who maybe weren't quite so exciting.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:32 PM on January 14, 2017

I really enjoyed this! The British Who Do You Think You Are never appealed, and I was hesistant about AJ Jacobs only knowing his writing, but this was a fun and sweet episode.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:42 PM on January 14, 2017

I've listened to the first three episodes. Despite the tag line it seems less about two people being related and more a series of interesting anecdotes and history lessons that link back (sometimes tenuously) to the original subject. Episode 3 is my favourite so far, and it used the hour to flesh out the original subject and her compelling personal history.
posted by Cuke at 7:50 PM on January 15, 2017

I was pretty skeptical* about this show (to the point where I didn't subscribe to it) until they ran the beginning of this episode in the feed of another Gimlet show.

Dan Savage got pretty close to winning me over though (I mean, at least enough to download the rest of this episode) and I think that part of that is that the showrunners chose people would would connect with him specifically, and because despite his flaws Dan Savage is a well-meaning man who has been through Some Shit -- it's nice to hear him be happy. I thought that the Mystery Relative reveal was kind of a let down in a Barack Obama is related to Dick Cheney but who really cares kind of way.

I'll give the Episode #3 a try (because Nazanin gives good tape, and on its face it seems to defy the premise of my footnote), but I doubt that Ted Allen's journey will be as moving.

And finally: Go-go-go-Ngofeen, it was a treat to hear his name in the credits (Ngofeen, previously).

*Geneology is one of those topics that is, well, pretty White, for a variety of structural reasons, so I'll admit to never really being that interested in it.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:49 PM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I was also skeptical about the show, but the Dan Savage interview was great. (Even on those rare occasions when he says stupid and ugly things, Savage is still someone I can't help but like. The world's a better place because he has a public microphone.)

I'm not sure I buy the premise that incredibly distant relatives have any significant connection to a person, or that family trees are inherently worth spending time detailing. As someone who will never have kids and has a tiny and uninspiring set of family relationships, I've a lot more personal interest in the threads that bond friends and mentors than family trees. My mentors and their mentors made me the person I am; my grandparents made me prone to sunburn and hypertension. And I'm one of the lucky ones whose family got to keep their names and many of their records (not to mention their freedom, languages, and sometimes even their professions) while the contemporary world was being created.

But, as an excuse to tell neat stories about interesting people, this is as good as any. And it seems to be very well produced. I'm looking forward to the rest.
posted by eotvos at 3:55 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

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