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Real Housewives For Boys, With Jemele Hill

6:01 PM EST on December 15, 2022

Shannon Sharpe, Skip Bayless, and The Distraction logo, not necessarily in that order.
Screengrab via Fox Sports 1

Even after having done hundreds of episodes of this podcast, and something like two dozen good ones, there are still moments when doubt creeps in. It is not, crucially, in the moments where I find myself on some Cornholio-style rant about MLB owners or some other topic that bothers me. It is in the moments right before we begin recording with some highly accomplished and extremely intelligent guest. This week's episode, on which we were joined by Jemele Hill—formerly of ESPN, currently at The Atlantic, author of the new memoir Uphill and in every sense someone whose success and station should protect her from having to talk to people like me—was one of those. What was this person doing on a Zoom call with Drew and me? What was I doing on a call with this person? And then the red light went on and I started babbling about the NFC North.

Of course one does not become Jemele Hill by letting the presence of a stammering man in a Zoom window throw her off. She was great, whether we were talking about the strange work of writing (and promoting) a revealing and at times harrowing memoir or what it feels like to become a villain to some of the most relentless and cynical people this nation has ever produced. While the hardship she experienced in her youth has doubtless helped Hill bear up through an extremely stressful sort of fame, it's her talent for the game that stood out to me both on the call and upon listening to the episode—she's a great talker, but also a gifted conversationalist. The connection she drew between The Real Housewives Of Potomac and The Skip Bayless TV Experience also illuminated something that I think I had known without quite knowing that I knew it for some time, and if it doesn't make me more inclined to watch either, I think it helped me understand both more clearly.

And that was just the smart part of the episode! Jemele also hung around for the dumb stuff down the stretch, which meant that we all got to weigh in on Jahvid Best, and consider ways to make World Cup extra time dumber. There is frank talk about Orangina, finally, and Faygo, inevitably, and Ashkenazi-adjacent sodas, disturbingly. The fussy nameways of the contemporary brunch-and-cocktail spot were considered in depth. The doubt was well and truly gone by then. When it is time to get stupid, it is best to let instinct take over.

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