Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Throwing Shade’s Bryan Safi and Erin Gibson on Trump, Texas, and Bon Iver’s whale songs

Photo: Ricky Middlesworth Photography
Photo: Ricky Middlesworth Photography

Bestcasts asks podcasters to discuss the three most memorable episodes of their podcast. Ties are allowed/encouraged. For more podcast coverage, see Podmass, The A.V. Club’s weekly roundup of the best ’casts out there.


The podcasters: For more than five years, Bryan Safi and Erin Gibson have been Throwing Shade weekly. The buds take a chat-heavy look at issues relating to women’s rights, gay rights, politics, and pop culture, occasionally enlisting guests to come in to dissect everything from MTV to the latest crazy thing some Trump affiliate has said.

The pair’s witty repartee has earned them quite a following, and now Throwing Shade is becoming a television show on TV Land. Kicking off tonight, Throwing Shade’s TV amalgamation finds Gibson and Safi promising to “take a look at all the issues important to ladies and gays and treat them with much less respect than they deserve.”


Episode 258: Patti Smith, Brian Babin, Log Cabin Republicans


The A.V. Club: The first episode you picked was TS258, which is “Patti Smith, Bryan Babin, Log Cabin Republicans.” That was pre-election, a much simpler time. Why’d you pick that one?

Erin Gibson: Patti Smith was pretty incredible.

Bryan Safi: I saw Patti Smith at the Hollywood Bowl, and obviously I knew her album Horses pretty well, but I had never seen her live. She was opening for Bon Iver, and it was so incredible to me to see all these really young people—like 18- to 24-year-olds—watching Patti Smith. At first, everyone was like, “Who is this old lady?” And then everyone jumped to their feet towards the end of it, freaking out like they were at church. And then Bon Iver came on and it was sort of a letdown for everybody.


[Bon Iver is] fine. I think I said it was songs only a whale could love, or that’s what their music sounds like to me. Patti Smith made such an impression that I was like, “Wow. This is so incredible. This is a full queen coming before our eyes and being exactly who she wants to be.” I loved it.

EG: Didn’t she summon the rain?

BS: She summoned the rain. She told us to feel our fucking freedom.

There were two 18-year-old, blond cheerleaders next to me, and they were, like, screaming by the end of her set. It was incredible.

AVC: So you picked that one purely for the Patti Smith?

EG: I believe that’s the only highlight of the first part of that episode.

BS: That’s true.

EG: Bryan Babin gives me PTSD about living in Texas. He basically said that Trump calling Clinton a nasty woman was appropriate. He said, “Sometimes I think a woman needs to be told when she’s nasty.” Just classic, patriarchal, Texas-Southern, “I know better than you do, I’m the boss” kind of bullshit. I like talking about these small-town dicks because I don’t think people understand that on a local level. There are terrible people running their cities and counties and states. I think they deserve to be highlighted and outed.


BS: And those are the people that actually can be defeated because those are the people who win by 100 votes for comptroller. If you really knew how horrible some of these people were, maybe someone would run and beat them.

EG: But until you see something awful or our show comes on and says, “Hey, this guy is on our radar. You should know about him,” it’s hard to sift through all these reps and who is doing what and who is on the side of good and who is on the side of evil. I stoop for a way to put it, but you know—who is looking out for your best interests and who is looking out for their own best interests.

AVC: So you like to shine the occasional light on these people to say, “Hey, let’s do something about these motherfuckers?”


EG: Yeah. I especially like doing it to people from Texas because I’m from there and it makes me feel like I won.

AVC: Where are you from in Texas?

EG: I’m from Houston. Bryan is from El Paso and Austin.

AVC: Houston is a very interesting place.

EG: It’s a flat piece of paper dotted by steakhouses and churches.

AVC: Log Cabin Republicans came up in this show, too, who are the most confounding people.


BS: They basically endorsed Trump this year. Well, they declined to endorse him but also said that he was the most gay-friendly candidate who has ever run. Which, you know, was just laughable.

I think that episode sort of asked why is that enough for you? Why is someone not using the F word to describe a gay person or hoping they die of AIDS, why is that enough for you? It shouldn’t be.


I actually don’t hate the Log Cabin Republicans. I get that they want a candidate who is pro-gay-marriage in their party. I do, too. That would be great. But we’re not there yet, and Trump is not that guy. And that’s totally proven by who he’s chosen in his cabinet.

AVC: He is confounding. It’s interesting to listen to this episode, or to watch anything that came out before the election because there’s still an air of optimism. It’s like, “Haha, Donald Trump. Hillary’s got this on lock.” That’s one of the reasons that this episode is an interesting look back on a simpler time, despite the fact that it was mere months ago.


BS: It feels like we were different people.

EG: But can I say something? My boyfriend was like, “Hillary’s got it in the bag.” I was like, “I don’t think you see what I see.” Bryan and I are so specifically focused on women and gay issues and we see how people react to them on all these different levels. I never ever thought Hillary had it in the bag. I just didn’t, because I didn’t think this country was ready for that. And that bums me out. I wanted to believe, and we worked for her campaign. We did everything we could, but in the back of my mind, I was like, “I know how my uncle in Missouri thinks,” and there’s a lot of him.


AVC: The episodes you guys picked for this were all fairly recent. Why is that?

BS: I think just because we remembered them the best. We looked through, and I was like, “Oh, I remember why I loved this one.” But I think that was why.


Also, our twin language has become so much more honed since back in the day that some of those early ones, when we look back, are pretty rough.

EG: I don’t like listening to them.

BS: It’s like, “Weird, is this a microphone?” We were so different back then that the more recent ones are a little more honed and also we remember them the best.


Episode 261: Face Shaming, Media Blame, Steve Bannon, Guest Ira Madison III


AVC: Why’d you pick this one?

BS: Steve Bannon was, I think, the first sign that nothing was going to be normal in the Trump administration. I think people were hoping, “Oh, maybe he’ll be a centrist.” And then they picked Steve Bannon, who basically invented Breitbart and is a terrifying person. He’s anti-semitic and anti-woman and anti-gay and just a total bigot. And that was just really scary.


I also thought our conversation with Ira was really awesome. He does what we try to do, which is talk about pop culture in the smartest way possible, and in a way that makes it feel political, frankly. I really have always admired that about him. He makes me laugh, and he makes me think.

EG: He is fresh. He knows how to really eviscerate somebody in a fresh way, and I enjoy every single word that he types.


AVC: That’s such a rare talent to have.

BS: He’s eye-opening. He’s incredible.

EG: This is also the episode where I talk about all the media outlets that were so quick to blame women for the fact that Hillary didn’t get elected. And I thought that was so…Look, it’s a very complicated issue with self-hatred in and amongst women in general. Placing blame on somebody who might not think that they deserve to vote the way that they want to vote. It’s a more complicated issue than saying, “Fifty-two percent of women made this happen.” It’s just not fair. There were a lot of men who did it, and they deserve the blame also.


AVC: What was your first episode immediately after the election like?

EG: Very somber.

BS: And also hopeful. We released it the next day after the election, that morning. And obviously we were thinking it was going to be recorded in a very different way. That episode is one I hear a lot about and that we get a ton of feedback about. That’s one of the only ones where people will come up and say, “I heard your episode after the election, and I can’t tell you how comforting that was.”


EG: I thought there was a real fire under our asses on that one. It was also one that I heard people couldn’t listen to because they were so upset. They really waited to listen until they were emotionally ready to face reality.

AVC: In this episode, you say, basically, “If you guys need our help, we are here.” That’s nice. Does it help create a sense of community around the show?


BS: Definitely.

EG: I think so.

BS: I think that’s true with podcasting in general. You’re in people’s cars, in their kitchens, in their showers, on their elliptical machines. I do think people start thinking of you as family, which we’ve never had a problem with.


AVC: It hasn’t gotten to that creepy point?

BS: No, not yet.

Episode 263: Poison Control, Imposter Syndrome, K.T. McFarland, and Marc Andreyko


EG: Bryan’s called poison control more times than anybody I’ve known.

BS: I am a habitual caller of poison control. I called poison control the first time because Erin and I were traveling, and I had half a Xanax and six hours later had a martini, and I thought I was going to overdose. And so I called poison control, and they were like, “You are a waste of resources.” They basically hung up on me. Then I thought my dog had chewed up too much gum while I was out of the house, and so I called poison control for the pet. He was fine.


The K.T. McFarland run that we did [in that episode] was so silly. Excuse me, the KT Tunstall run we did. We talked about how horrible K.T. McFarland is and then went into KT Tunstall. We just were so silly about it. That to me was the essence of what we do, which is talking about someone horrible and then spinning out of control with silliness about it.

EG: Like, was she under a cherry tree? I still don’t know.

BS: We have so many questions about it, and to me that was emblematic of what we do.


Also, the interview with Marc was eye-opening for me, because we were talking about Orlando and revisiting that, which, honestly, I think has been ignored in year-end reviews.

EG: The fact that he has donated all of his time, all of his energy, getting people to contribute to his book, to all say, “Hey, we’re here with you. We want to pay tribute to the lives lost to this terrible event.” We want to honor people who were victims and survivors of this. It’s just outstanding.


I will say this. I brought up this thing about how women in comic books are overly sexualized with big boobs and all this stuff, and he said, “Well, they’re supposed to be like Greek gods. They’re supposed to be perfect human beings.” It shattered my whole problem with comic books. I was like, “Oh, they’re mythical.” I don’t know. It was an interesting point that I hadn’t heard before.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter