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Gossip So Good It Stands The Test Of Time

An illustration of several people, each one passing some juicy gossip on to the next one.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby

Throughout the production of this podcast, I have learned a lot about my own relationship to gossip. I’ve learned that what I really love (more than the stories and the twists and the gasps) is how people become alive when presented with a really juicy story. I’ve learned that the best gossip is universal: relatable enough that it doesn’t really matter who the players are or what the setting is so long as the beats ring true. But it wasn’t until we recorded the season two premiere with Danielle Henderson that I learned that it also does not matter how old the gossip is. The passing of decades is nothing in the face of true drama.

What makes a great gossip story isn’t timeliness or proximity. Something that happened six months ago to your random coworker holds the same intrigue as something that just happened to your roommate, but with this podcast we aren’t afforded the same personal luxuries. We don’t know most of our listeners, and ultimately we have deadlines to meet over eight weeks of recording. That means the gossip has to have a little something else, some heart that beats all on its own.

I know the gossip for this week’s episode is good because when I listened to the voicemail, my jaw dropped. Alex and I were live-texting while listening to it. The story is so good, so strange, so unexpected. Who cares if it happened more than 40 years ago?

This week Danielle Henderson joined me on this time-machine journey back to the 1980s. Danielle is a writer, a television showrunner, co-host of the podcast I Saw What You Did, and the author of the memoir The Ugly Cry. Danielle and I talked about the inevitability of gossip after moving back to your hometown and how writing a memoir about your experience growing up—and publishing it the week you move home—might be as rich a source of gossip as you can ever get.

Then I told Danielle a story about a girl who goes on vacation with her new boyfriend’s family only to get accused of stealing, a grandma with a “best friend” named Dot, and the generational longing for a cashmere sweater.

Also! There is a very special announcement in this week’s show: We are doing our first LIVE show of Normal Gossip in New York on June 1 at Caveat! The only way you will be able to see this show is in person! You can find ticket information here, and Defector/Normal Gossip supporters should check their email for information on how they can get a discount for the show!

You can subscribe to Normal Gossip on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever else you listen! You can follow Normal Gossip on Instagram here.

And if you do have some good goss that you want us to hear, the email for that is normalgossip@defector.com, or phone it in to 2-6-7-9-GOSSIP.

(The transcript for this week’s episode can be found here.)

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