REGGIE: Hi. This is Reggie. My mom’s Ayesha, and I’m her son. This week, why are so many people quitting their jobs?


All right, let’s start the show.

REGGIE: All right, let’s start the show.

RASCOE: Very good.


RASCOE: Hey, y’all. You’re listening to IT’S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I’m Ayesha Rascoe, filling in for Sam Sanders. This week on the show, we’re talking about quitting. At this point, you’ve probably heard that we’re in a labor shortage despite high unemployment. And actually, we’ve talked about that topic before on this show. But have you also heard that we’re deep into something people are calling the great resignation, the big quit, the era of epiphanny quitting? And right now, it’s happening across all sectors of the economy. People are quitting their jobs in record numbers. During April of this year, nearly 4 million workers decided they’d had enough and quit their jobs for a lot of reasons. Last week, we asked for your stories about quitting. Here’s what you sent us.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: I was working in a local substance abuse hospital, and I quit at the start of the pandemic.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: I quit my job at a nonprofit about a month ago and transitioned into something different at a university.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: I am going to go back to school and hopefully get a job that I don’t have to work this many hours.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Basically, it wasn’t really for me, but also the pandemic was causing a lot of anxiety for me.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Yeah, I would say because I didn’t feel valued. And once I sent my resignation email, they didn’t even respond with a thank you. They just removed me from the online portal. So that’s why I left – a lack of pay, lack of communication.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: So I quit my job. My last day was Friday – this past Friday. This year was crazy. I’m the director of operations for a restaurant group in San Francisco. This year, my mom had COVID. She spent 51 days in the hospital, 22 days on a ventilator and about 30 days in ICU altogether. We have a 10-month-old. Me and my wife just had a baby in August. And about a week after she gave birth, she almost died as well.

I love my job – I did. I was leading people and I was training a lot of people to grow. You know, being a Latino in this industry and being an executive, you know, you’re able to have an impact on people. But I realized that everything kind of hit me at once. This whole year has been crazy. You know, I think I had a bit of a mental health crisis, and so I quit my job. I don’t have another job lined up. I just needed to stop.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: Why I quit – I quit because I didn’t feel safe in the environment that I was supposed to come back into. I quit because I didn’t feel like I wanted to sell anymore. I quit because I wanted the work that I did to have meaning.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: So I was really drained, and then the pandemic hit. My job was causing so much depression, so much anxiety, and I decided it was time to put myself first, to quit this job, to live for this dream that I have and to be honestly the first person in my family that gets to decide and put themselves and heal from a lot of things.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #8: To do the most good. So, yeah, I made the change. I’m happy about it. And I’m never looking back.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: I don’t think I’ve felt more relief in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: I’m so glad that I made the leap and quit when I did.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #9: So I’m feeling good, and I’m happy that I quit.

RASCOE: Thanks to Sean (ph), Jill (ph), Chris (ph), Rob (ph), Laura (ph), Tricia (ph), Julio (ph), Kayla (ph) and Carolina (ph) for sharing their stories with us.

IRINA IVANOVA: And I heard a lot of echoes, you know, of what I found in my reporting.

RASCOE: This is Irina Ivanova.

IVANOVA: I talked to, you know, people who quit for a number of different reasons. But, you know, this issue of burnout, you know, just needing to step back, needing to take time for yourself, it came up a lot. I would say it’s nearly, you know, universal.

RASCOE: Irina is a reporter at CBS Moneywatch, and we called her up to get a broader view of this quitting story.

IVANOVA: I was really moved by the gentleman who talked about liking his job and enjoying his job and needing to take time for himself. I think that’s right on. And I feel like, you know, when you read sort of a lot of reporting around the economy, there’s a certain level of hysteria from some sectors around this idea that, oh, people don’t want to work anymore. You know, I mean, one person I talked with, she was an online learning specialist. And, you know, she was just tired of putting in 55-hour weeks, you know? So she has a different job in her field now, putting in 40-hour weeks. It’s not about people sort of rejecting work. It’s really about people – a lot of them needing to find a balance.

RASCOE: So it’s not about people – I think there’s almost this idea – there can be this idea that this is almost – I mean, I’m going to age myself here, but this almost is kind of like hippie, like, find yourself, whereas, you know, what people…

IVANOVA: (Laughter).

RASCOE: What employers may want is, button up your shirt, and go to work, right? But this is a very personal thing. And also, it feels like because this is such a complex moment – like, a lot of people did hit their breaking point during the pandemic.

IVANOVA: Mmm hmm.

RASCOE: But the situation is so complex that it feels like it doesn’t really lend itself to tidy explanations for why people are quitting. Like, do you feel that way?

IVANOVA: Yeah. No, you’re absolutely right. I think there’s a lot of different things going on, and they’re all sort of coalescing now in this moment. If I could generalize just a little bit, there are sort of a few major categories of people quitting. A big one was people quitting for better conditions, so especially in the lower-paying jobs and the jobs where we’re hearing a lot about a labor shortage like food service, you know, hospitality, also retail, a little bit of, you know, warehousing. People are getting new jobs. They’re quitting to find a job that, you know, pays more, where, you know, the hours fit better to what they want to work. The new job maybe feels less abusive.

I talked with one woman who had been a shift supervisor at Starbucks. She’s 28. She has a young daughter. And she told me she really liked Starbucks. You know, she thought it was a model employer. She took advantage of a lot of their benefits. You know, she contributed to the 401(k). She was using their tuition reimbursement program. But she told me that, you know, the pandemic just made her completely stressed out and, you know, preparing for the worst every time she went to work. You know, she describes this store that was understaffed. She described having to sort of fight with customers all the time about the mask issue. And she didn’t feel like her managers were supporting her. She didn’t have a sense that it would get better. So she made the decision in June to leave, not having another job lined up.

RASCOE: It seems like there is – like, there’s a split, sort of like what I’m hearing from you. It’s like for people like the woman you talked to who were working in like a food-beverage establishment, retail, these hospitality, leisure, those are jobs that require a lot of contact with the public. Those are some of the jobs that were – like restaurants and what have you were hardest hit by the pandemic. But those are some of the jobs that seem to be the least attractive at the moment – not that they’re not hiring because they are hiring and people are going into it. But that’s the sector where there is the most quits. Am I right?

IVANOVA: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And the quit rate right now in accommodation food services is about double the overall average. So it’s very, very high. It’s the highest on record. And that is a good thing sort of from a macro standpoint because it means that wages will go up. It means that people are confident enough that they can find a new job that they’re quitting. And we do see that in the numbers. There’s been a lot of wage growth in the industry. That said, you know, it’s still a very low-paying field.


IVANOVA: I was talking with another woman who was a bartender in California. She just decided, you know, I’m going to leave. And she didn’t have another job lined up. But what she told me was, you know, I’m confident in my skills, and I’m confident I can get a new one, which is nuts (laughter).

RASCOE: Well, it’s a bet on yourself.

IVANOVA: That’s right.

RASCOE: Right? It’s a bet on yourself.

IVANOVA: Mmm hmm.

RASCOE: Like, so you leave without something else lined up because you’re betting that you will land OK.

IVANOVA: Absolutely. And I say nuts ’cause, you know, it’s not something I could do. I’m not that brave (laughter).

RASCOE: No, it’s not something – I know. I’m not either. But, you know, but people who bet on themselves, I admire that. Yeah. Do you – so we talked about, like, workers in lower-wage jobs. So the white-collar workers, part of what they’re looking for is more flexibility. Is that what you found? And they’re not leaving at as high a rate, but they are leaving – are they leaving at more than normal?

IVANOVA: Yeah, it’s a little bit higher than average. It’s not like food service where it’s double the average, but it’s a little bit higher. So the average is like 2.5. And professional business services is like 2.8. And yeah, you know, flexibility was a big issue with people I talked about. There was one from Morning Consult that said something like half of remote workers, if they had to go back to the office, would quit. And when I was talking to people who got new jobs or who had quit their jobs, that issue came up again and again.

RASCOE: Is this a good thing for workers? Like, how should listeners view this who are hearing about this trend? Do we know yet whether this is actually a good thing for workers?

IVANOVA: In some ways, that’s a political question, but – because is it better for workers to sort of be able to get more money, or is it better for employers to be able to get the labor they need for the least that they want to pay, right? So that’s kind of a loaded question. But, you know, my personal feeling is that it’s great for workers. You know, a lot of good things come out of a tight labor market. You know, you get wage growth. If people can be choosier about their jobs, not only do they make more money, you know, but they tend to find jobs that are a better fit for them. And what that means long term is, you know, they’re more productive in those jobs. They stay in those jobs longer. So that reduces turnover, which also has a cost for employers.

Tight labor markets tend to be best for people who usually don’t do great in the economy – you know, women with children, people with criminal records, workers who are Black or Latino, you know, the people who are generally last hired, first fired. So a lot of people will say, you know, this is a good thing, but it’s also not going to last forever. We are having more people who were out of the labor market come back in, and that’ll make it easier for employers to be more choosy, to, you know, not pay as much, et cetera.


RASCOE: OK. Well, thank you very much. This has been really informative. And I loved hearing from you about the people that you talked to. I feel like this is a very interesting time that we’re in and, like, why people are making the decisions that they make.

IVANOVA: Yeah. Thank you so much. Yeah, we’re in an amazing time. And who hasn’t had the fantasy of, like, you know, quitting? Like (laughter).

RASCOE: Yes. Yes. Saying, I am done. I’m out and just…

IVANOVA: Mmm hmm. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

RASCOE: Yeah. Monday morning, I’m done.

IVANOVA: (Laughter) Yeah.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Don’t call me no more. I am out.


RASCOE: Thanks again to Irina Ivanova. She’s a reporter with CBS Moneywatch. Coming up, we talk about one of my very favorite things, horror movies. And we’ll also play our favorite game, Who Said That.


RASCOE: OK, so you need to know something about me, Ayesha Rascoe. I love demons. I love zombies. I love ghosts. I just love horror, y’all. My favorite horror movies include “The Exorcist”…


MAX VON SYDOW: (As Father Merrin) The power of Christ compels you. He brought you low with his bloodstained cross.

RASCOE: …The classic slasher film “A Nightmare On Elm Street”…


ROBERT ENGLUND: (As Freddy Krueger) I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy.

HEATHER LANGENKAMP: (As Nancy Thompson, screaming).

RASCOE: …And the creepy psychological thriller “The Silence Of The Lambs.”


TED LEVINE: (As Jame Gumb) It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it’s told.

BROOKE SMITH: (As Catherine Martin) Mister, my family will pay cash. Whatever ransom you’re asking for, they’ll pay it.

RASCOE: And even though horror sometimes makes me scared – or maybe all the time – I love it because I love the chaos of it. And it takes me from the real world that’s confined by physics and gravity and takes me into the unknown. So because of all of that and because I’ve never really heard Sam talk about horror on this show before – no shade – I decided to call up Jo Livingstone, cultural critic and staff writer for The New Republic. They write all about, you guessed it, horror.

JO LIVINGSTONE: It’s a very genre-busting genre, if that makes sense, and that’s kind of why I’ve always been drawn to it. You know, you really never know what you’re going to get because the point is surprise you, right?


LIVINGSTONE: Otherwise, you’re not going to be scared.

RASCOE: Jo tells me exactly why the horror genre provides comfort. Just go with me on this one.


RASCOE: You wrote about the latest installment of “The Conjuring” franchise. So for those that don’t know because they’re not watching the movies the way we are, “The Conjuring” is about a married couple that fights demons. Like, that’s it. It’s not really complicated.


VERA FARMIGA: (As Lorraine Warren) Ed, something terrible happened here.

PATRICK WILSON: (As Ed Warren) Lorraine. Lorraine.

RASCOE: You have a theory that people are drawn to this sort of movie because there is a comfort in it. I think I get where you’re going with that, but can you explain that theory? Because a lot of people may think scary movies are the opposite of comforting.

LIVINGSTONE: Here’s how I’d put it. Horror movies, by their very nature, they’re scary. They’re alarming. But they often technically have happy endings, right?


LIVINGSTONE: You know, it’s often the main character might survive. They might get a big, like, redemptive arc. You know, “Get Out” has a really classic example of this at the end, right? Like, the powers of good surge back just in time, and…

RASCOE: Yes, just in time.

LIVINGSTONE: Even though a horror movie’s content might be kind of transgressive, you know, in terms of violence, well, and more violence, there’s something kind of comforting, I think, about that ritual, that catharsis. You know, as a group, you’re in the cinema or you’re, you know, the audience at home tuning in. And then together, you go through this extreme experience, and then it’s all kind of wrapped up at the end in a nice, satisfying way for the narrative. But I think that also has kind of the emotional effect of, you know, exposing you to the scary thing and then showing you how to protect yourself.

RASCOE: Yeah. No. I get that because – and the weird thing about it is that they’re often – even though, as you said, they’re very transgressive, they can be very violent and, like, bloody, they can be also very conservative in a way. You know, “Scream” dealt with this, this idea that a lot of the slasher films of the ’90s, the people who ended up dying, were the people who did, like, the, quote-unquote, “bad things” morally, you know, whether it was drinking, smoking, sex. And then they would end up getting killed by Jason or Freddy or whoever. But there’s also this conservative thing in movies, especially like “The Conjuring,” and it’s like, you know, God is going to prevail over the devil, which is, like, a very conservative theme that isn’t something that you see in mainstream Hollywood very much, right?

LIVINGSTONE: I totally agree, right? Like, spiritual warfare is not necessarily a concept that we take that lightly out there, especially, you know, like, in the political world.


LIVINGSTONE: You know, like, that’s when culture becomes something more than just entertainment, right? But I think in the case of “The Conjuring,” the conservative themes are kind of so extreme that it’s kind of camp, you know?


LIVINGSTONE: Vera Farmiga has these great bouffant hairdos. And the demons, when they show up, you know, in this franchise, they always have long nails.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

LIVINGSTONE: They even technically kind of appear in drag at first because they often possess the ghost of an old lady or a little kid.

RASCOE: Yes. Yes.

LIVINGSTONE: You know, or they’re infiltrating somebody’s body. And then, right at the end, they bust out, and it turns out that they’re, like, a ripped demon from hell, you know…


LIVINGSTONE: …With, like, big horns on its head. So, you know, those demons, like, they are threats to the household…


LIVINGSTONE: …With their, like, you know, their manicures and their, like, hypersexuality…


LIVINGSTONE: …And the fact that they love to create fountains of blood and stuff. But they’re also kind of funny, and, you know, it’s a jump scare that’s – it’s not a serious jump scare. It’s here’s some kind of entertainment that’s going to invade the home – you know? – like, the bad forces getting into the Christian home. And it’s all going to get wrapped up by the end, but we’re actually going to have a lot of fun with these demons whilst they’re here, right?

RASCOE: Yeah. And, see, I think that’s interesting, but I’m actually, like, really scared of the demons. Like, when you described them as, like, campy, and…


RASCOE: Like, I see that.

LIVINGSTONE: Well, they tend to move really, really fast, you know?

RASCOE: They do.

LIVINGSTONE: And I think anything can be scary when it’s moving just really, really fast.

RASCOE: Yes. So you mentioned “Get Out.” “Get Out” is Jordan Peele’s movie. That is a movie about a Black man with a white girlfriend. He goes to visit her family, and things go left.


LAKEITH STANFIELD: (As Andre Hayworth) Get out.

DANIEL KALUUYA: (As Chris Washington) Sorry, man.

STANFIELD: (As Andre Hayworth) Get out.

KALUUYA: (As Chris Washington) Yo. Yo. Chill, man.

STANFIELD: (As Andre Hayworth) Get out (screaming).

RASCOE: And it ended up being a huge movie, even though I’m sure it didn’t cost too much to make, and it was also very well-reviewed critically because it dealt with issues of race and all of these things. And you talked about how “Get Out” has inspired this trend of prestige horror movies. And so what do you mean when you talk about prestige horror?

LIVINGSTONE: OK. So, you know, as you said, horror is generally a lot cheaper to produce than a lot of other genres, you know? You can have every scene take place in one house.


LIVINGSTONE: And so when there’s a little craze that happens, people tend to kind of – well, there’s a chain of imitation. Now, I would say…

RASCOE: They pile in.

LIVINGSTONE: Exactly. Now, I would say in the case of “Get Out,” it’s kind of ironic because that’s exactly the kind of movie you can never replicate because the script is so good.


LIVINGSTONE: At the same time, it definitely proved to a lot of people in Hollywood that it was possible to make money off of what people in entertainment might have considered themes that were too, like, serious or political to make entertainment that has a little comedy in it out of for the mainstream.

RASCOE: Yeah, yeah.

LIVINGSTONE: Unfortunately, I think this has led to the situation where there was some – let’s say some entities who are trying to speed up the process and may be going too fast and rushing, right? Because…


LIVINGSTONE: …If you’re going to invoke serious themes like race or use, say, a theme like sexual assault – in an example of a movie like “Promising Young Woman,” right? – you really need the right thing to be all the way up to par to make it worth it. And honestly, I don’t know that the prestige horror movie is taking us – I don’t think it’s the most exciting place in the horror movie landscape right now.

RASCOE: Yeah. So what are the trends that you do like, that you feel like where horror is moving now that you really do enjoy?

LIVINGSTONE: So as I said, horror movies are pretty cheap to make. And this means that they – you know, they go through golden periods, if you will.


LIVINGSTONE: And I think that we’re in a really bright moment for…


LIVINGSTONE: …Young filmmakers seeing opportunities specifically within the horror space. So, for example, there’s a streaming service called My accent probably made that sound incomprehensible – S-H-U-D-D-E-R.


LIVINGSTONE: Shudder – which only does horror movies. And they’ve got a great deep archive, and they’ve also got a lot of new movies. So, for example, one movie that they acquired is a movie called “Slaxx.” So that’s “Slaxx” with two Xs at the end. And it’s about a clothes store that sells jeans. And one day, the jeans just start attacking people.

RASCOE: Oh, no.

LIVINGSTONE: I know (laughter). But the great thing about it is that this movie basically – it pivots off the idea that zippers are kind of scary. And if you get a good animator, you could totally show a jean zipper flying at somebody’s throat and, you know, munching it. It’s really evocative because it draws in something super small, something super-everyday. And the movie doesn’t pitch itself that much harder beyond it, except to say – oh, well, where does the cotton in our jeans come from? Maybe there’s a horror movie there, right? Maybe there’s an idea…


LIVINGSTONE: …About the chain of supply that we could weave in. So horror provides so many cool opportunities for ambitious, talented young people to just – to find little moments of critique, of insight into society through things that are little or gross or not particularly highbrow – right? – just a little idea. And sometimes it can just be so effective that it’s a lot deeper than, say, a really overwrought drama.

RASCOE: Well, and now I will never look at zippers the same.

LIVINGSTONE: (Laughter).

RASCOE: I am always afraid of getting myself caught in a zipper, so a messed…

LIVINGSTONE: They’re the new demons.

RASCOE: Yes. That – I mean, that’s the thing. Like, horror can make you look at anything and go, oh, no. Like, you know, it could be light bulb…

LIVINGSTONE: (Laughter).

RASCOE: …Mirrors, whatever. And you go…

LIVINGSTONE: Allison Williams.

RASCOE: Yes (laughter).

When we come back, we’re going to play the best game ever with Jo and a friend of theirs. The game is, of course, called Who Said That.


RASCOE: This week, I’m joined by cultural critic and staff writer for The New Republic, Jo Livingstone. And we have a special guest and friend of Jo’s joining us for this segment of the show. Welcome to Danny Lavery, author and host of the podcast “Big Mood, Little Mood.” Daniel’s been on the show before, so welcome back.

DANIEL LAVERY: It’s so great to be here. And I’m especially pleased to be here in my capacity as Jo’s friend (laughter).

RASCOE: Oh, yes (laughter). That’s the best capacity to be in. We’re going to play a game, and it’s called Who Said That.


KANDI BURRUSS: Who had been saying that?

PORSHA WILLIAMS: Who said that?

KENYA MOORE: Who said that?

RASCOE: Here’s how the game works. I’ll read you three quotes from the past week, and you have to tell me who said it or what it’s about. Whoever says it first gets the point, and whoever gets the most points wins. And what you get is the ability to brag about having won something today. That’s what you get – nothing else.

LAVERY: That’s all I need.

RASCOE: Here’s the first quote.


OLIVIA RODRIGO: First, I want to say I am beyond honored and humbled to be here today to help spread the message about the importance of youth vaccination.

LIVINGSTONE: Who’s the youngest child actor who can speak?

RASCOE: (Laughter).

LAVERY: Well, it feels slightly more like it’s just somebody who, in general, wants the youth to get vaccinated, which could be, you know, many people. Like, it’s not Jenny McCarthy, but beyond that, I feel like that opens it up to…

RASCOE: It’s a youth. This person had a hit album for millennials and teens.

LIVINGSTONE: Like, I was so old (ph).

LAVERY: Oh, that young person. I saw people making jokes about that. Olivia Rodrigo, I want to say.


RASCOE: Yes. Ding, ding, ding. Danny got it (laughter). But – so Olivia Rodrigo was at the White House, and she was there meeting up with the president to talk about trying to get young people vaccinated. Are you guys Olivia Rodrigo fans?

LAVERY: I wish her well generally, but I haven’t listened to any of her music.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

LIVINGSTONE: She’s going off against Courtney Love. That’s, you know, that – she’s a hero. She deserves a medal.

LAVERY: Like they’re fighting or…

LIVINGSTONE: Oh, yeah, ’cause she – Courtney Love accused her of ripping off her album cover imagery of, you know, sobbing into a bunch of flowers. That’s her thing.

LAVERY: Oh, boy.

RASCOE: Oh. Oh, wow.

LAVERY: I love – I do love Courtney Love, but I believe I’m aware of the album cover that you’re referencing, and that is itself a nod to “Carrie.” So I’m not quite sure where she gets the idea that she was the first person or it’s somehow exclusive to her to riff on a crying prom queen.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Wow.

LIVINGSTONE: Everything Courtney Love touches belongs to her. That’s how it works.

RASCOE: Exactly. Exactly. So we got one point for Danny. OK. So let’s see. Let’s see if we can tie it up. So – and for this one, I want you to fill in the blank. “When you pull a blank about the size of a football out of the lake, it makes you wonder, how can this even be the same type of animal?”

LIVINGSTONE: (Laughter).

LAVERY: Is it too straightforward to guess fish?

RASCOE: Fish, but can you think – can you get a little bit, like – type of fish…

LAVERY: Trout.


RASCOE: …That might be the size of a football, but…

LAVERY: Salmon.


RASCOE: But it’s – you don’t think of this animal being the size of a football.


LAVERY: Goldfish.


RASCOE: Ooh. OK. OK. OK (laughter).

LIVINGSTONE: Danny, I got that first. That was me.

RASCOE: You got that first. Jo got that first, so a point to Jo. Jo got it. Jo got it. This is a quote from Caleb Ashling, a natural resources specialist in Burnsville, Minn., talking to The Washington Post this week about a bunch of giant goldfish found in a lake. So listen to this. Now, this is something I never knew. Apparently, your pet goldfish, they are only limited in size by, like, their – the bowl or the tank that they’re in.

LAVERY: You’re kidding me.

RASCOE: They can actually become huge monsters. Isn’t that crazy?

LAVERY: Holy cow.

LIVINGSTONE: But importantly, you’re saying there is an upper limit to their size. They cannot expand infinitely until they’re a size of a submarine.

RASCOE: We don’t know that.

LIVINGSTONE: We just don’t know.

RASCOE: That hasn’t been tried.

LAVERY: (Laughter).

LIVINGSTONE: Thank God that there’s somewhere science isn’t willing to go.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Exactly. And apparently, they can live to be 25 years old because I thought they died, like, at the drop of a hat (laughter). But apparently…

LIVINGSTONE: That’s been my experience, too, to be honest.

RASCOE: Have you guys been able to keep any goldfish alive for any amount of time?


LIVINGSTONE: You know, I thought I had a goldfish that lived about seven years. Unfortunately, when I was about 13, I found out that it had died in the custody of my aunt while I was on a holiday, and it had been replaced. And then, having realized it could be replaced, my parents continued to replace the fish every time it died. So I thought I had a record-breaking number on my hands, but it was all a lie. It was a horrible, horrible, shattering…

RASCOE: It was a horrible lie. Yeah.

LIVINGSTONE: Exactly (ph).

RASCOE: OK. So we’re tied up. This is the type of game I like ’cause it’s tied up. The quote is, “how can I benefit from this mistake and still get a chance to pitch my amazing ideas for ‘Shark Tank,’ even though it was clear that this was not ‘Shark Tank’?”


LAVERY: Boy, that’s a great quote.

RASCOE: OK. This is kind of a tough one, but this is a man, and his last name rhymes with smooth.

LIVINGSTONE: Wait. I’ve heard about this guy – J.B. Smoove.


RASCOE: Yes. OK, Jo, you got it. Yes. So the…

LAVERY: You said it rhymed with smooth.

LIVINGSTONE: (Laughter).

RASCOE: I know. That’s what’s written in this script for me (laughter).

LAVERY: Truly, I had thought, well, my guess would be J.B. Smoove, but that, more than anything, does not rhyme with smooth.

RASCOE: Well, that’s what I was thinking. I was like, it doesn’t really rhyme. It’s kind of, like, the same, but they changed a letter.

LIVINGSTONE: Yeah. It’s Smoove like groove.

RASCOE: Smoove. So you feel like that was, like – that was a bit of cheating. OK. Well, you can both win.

LAVERY: I think Jo’s victory will always be tainted as a result.

RASCOE: You know, it’ll have a asterisk. It’ll have a asterisk. I can’t say that word. It’ll have a little star.

LAVERY: That’s all I want. I just want to be a dark cloud that follows Jo around forever.

RASCOE: So this is the actor and comedian J.B. Smoove said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that when he originally accepted the gig for Discovery’s Shark Week, he mistakenly thought he would be on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” two very different shows. For people who may not know, “Shark Tank” is about – you go, and there are these people with money, and you pitch your idea. And Shark Week is obviously about sharks. So which one is better? Which one do you like better?

LIVINGSTONE: Shark Week by a country mile. And I was thinking actually in the story about goldfish expanding to infinite size, it was reminding me of the film “Deep Blue Sea.” Have either of you seen that one?


LAVERY: Sure, yeah.


LIVINGSTONE: Absolute classic with the key line that the scientist, Saffron Burrows, goes, we genetically engineered the sharks to make their brains five times the usual size. As a side effect, they got smarter.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

LIVINGSTONE: Now, this is the same principle behind basically any out-of-control animal research film. It’s the perfect entertainment field. J.B. Smoove is going to do fantastically among the sharks.

RASCOE: He’ll be great, yeah.

LIVINGSTONE: I can’t wait to see him flourish.

RASCOE: So Jo won, but we’re saying that there’s going to be a little star by their name.

LAVERY: ‘Cause I’m a sore loser.

LIVINGSTONE: (Laughter).

RASCOE: Well, we kind of gave it away.

LAVERY: That’s why.

RASCOE: Thanks for stopping by.

LAVERY: Thanks a lot.

LIVINGSTONE: Thanks for having us. I had a great time.

RASCOE: Thanks again to Jo Livingstone, cultural critic and staff writer for The New Republic, and Danny Lavery, author and host of the podcast “Big Mood, Little Mood.”


RASCOE: Look into the mic.

REGGIE: This is Reggie.

RASCOE: Ayesha Rascoe is my mom.

REGGIE: Ayesha Rascoe is my mom.

RASCOE: Now’s the time to end the show the way we always do.

REGGIE: Now it’s time to end the show like we always do.

RASCOE: Every week, listeners share the best thing…

REGGIE: Every week, the listeners share the best thing that’s happened to them. And we encourage them to brag, and they do. And the best thing ever that happened to me was when I got three video games.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

REGGIE: Goodbye.

RASCOE: Very good (laughter). Very good. Very good.

DONNA: Hi, Sam. This is Donna (ph)…

MORGAN: And Morgan (ph) calling from Raleigh, N.C.

DONNA: …Calling from Raleigh, N.C. The best part of my week was I retired after 43 years of working.

MORGAN: Woohoo.

CHAD: This is Chad (ph) in Indianapolis. The best part of my week was finishing six weeks of radiation therapy to treat my cancer.

ALEX: Hey, Sam. This is Alex (ph) from Seattle, Wash. And for the best part of this week, I’m calling on behalf of my girlfriend, Bevan (ph), who a month ago received her degree, a doctorate in nursing practice, and just today passed her board certification exams. And now she is all set to be a nurse practitioner.

JULIE: Hi, Sam. The best thing that happened to me this week is that I got to take my kids into the library for the first time in 15 months, at least. It was a lot more emotional than I thought it would be, and it was wonderful.

BEVERLY: Hi, Sam. This is Beverly (ph) in Durham, N.C. The best thing that happened to me this week is watching as my daughter gave her presentation to her doctoral committee virtually. She began with the memory of listening to NPR in the car with me. That was a proud mama moment.

ALI: Hi, Sam. This is Ali (ph).

MILES: Miles (ph).

ALI: And…

REX: Rex (ph).

ALI: And we are calling from the Netherlands. And we’re here with…


REX: Oma Penny (ph).

ALI: Oma Penny is my mom. And the best thing that happened to us this week is about two hours ago, Rex and I picked my parents, Oma Penny and Opa Ross (ph), up from the airport for the first time since 2019. And now we’re all going to spend the summer together. And it is the best thing that’s happened to us in a really, really long time. Thank you for everything you do, and we hope you’re having a good week, too.

BEVERLY: Thanks for all you do. Love the show.

DONNA: Take care.

RASCOE: Thanks to those listeners you just heard there – Ali, Rex, Miles, Beverly, Julie (ph), Alex, Chad, Donna and Morgan. Listeners, you can send your best thing to us at any time during the week. Just record yourself and send a voice memo to


RASCOE: This week, the show was produced by Jinae West, Anjuli Sastry, Andrea Gutierrez and Liam McBain. Our intern is Manuela Lopez Restrepo. We had engineering support from Josh Newell. Our fearless editor is Jordana Hochman. Our director of programming is Steve Nelson. Our big boss, the senior vice president of programming at NPR, is Anya Grundmann.

All right. Till next time, I’m Ayesha Rascoe. Talk soon.


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