Rank #1: Episode 127: A Fan of Fandom
In Episode 127, “A Fan of Fandom,” Elizabeth and Flourish get (too?) meta answering a listener letter about the term “fan of fandom,” which Flourish had previously dismissed as “cute.” They discuss the ways different communities use the terms “fan” and “fandom,” the role of affect in their fannish lives, and whether approaching all media with a fannish lens might lead to more inclusive fan spaces—and more diverse media.
May 27 2020
Rank #2: Episode 72: Alternate Universes
In Episode 72, Flourish always knew that someday she’d hear the words written on her wrist—
In Episode 72, Elizabeth is a florist. Every day Flourish walks past her flower shop and—
In Episode 72, “Alternate Universes,” Elizabeth and Flourish are joined by Morgan Leigh Davies, co-host of the “Overinvested” podcast, to discuss alternate universe fanfiction. Topics covered include the relationship between canon and fanon, the “any two guys” trope, how AUs can raise or lower stakes, and the true nature of teens.
Apr 18 2018
Rank #3: Episode 112: Rainbow Rowell
In Episode 112, Flourish and Elizabeth talk to Rainbow Rowell, author of Fangirl, Carry On, Wayward Son, and many other novels, as well as the current run of Marvel’s Runaways comics. They dig into the fandom experiences that inspire Rainbow’s fiction, the differences (and similarities!) between fanfic and original writing, and Flourish feels the pain of being the only non-lurker in the conversation.
Oct 30 2019
Rank #4: Episode 94: Save Our Show (It’s A Metaphor)
In Episode 94, “Save Our Show (It’s A Metaphor),” Elizabeth and Flourish talk fan petitions—to keep a show on the air, to get a ship together, to de-canonize a piece of content, and everything in between. On a recent trip to Los Angeles, Flourish gathered perspectives from a variety of entertainment industry professionals, asking the question: Are fan petitions ever effective?
Feb 20 2019
Rank #5: Episode 116: The Year In Fandom 2019
In Episode 116, Elizabeth and Flourish revive their end-of-year tradition and revisit big fandom trends in 2019. What changed, what got better, and what got worse? (According to Flourish, everything got worse.) Topics covered include the premature death knell for Tumblr, myths about the “monoculture,” truths and falsehoods about “fantitlement,” the messy rise of 8,000 streaming services, and, of course, “J. K. Rowling and the Infinite Pool of Bad Opinions.” And finally, since this decade is FINALLY over, they talk about what’s changed for fans over the past ten years. Spoiler alert: everything.
Dec 27 2019
Rank #6: Episode 93: User-Generated Content
In Episode 93, “User-Generated Content,” Elizabeth and Flourish tackle the thorny intersections between making stuff you love and getting paid. They start with the recent round of layoffs at BuzzFeed—including the revelation that a good portion of their traffic comes from uncompensated “community” members—and segue into a conversation about the uncompensated things fans enjoy doing, and the complicated ways that the tech, media, and entertainment industries profit off fans’ work. What is exploitative—and what is just fans having fun?
Feb 06 2019
Rank #7: Episode 77: The Truth About Toxic Fandom
In Episode 77, “The Truth About Toxic Fandom,” Elizabeth and Flourish examine a few widely-held conceptions about “toxic fandom,” also known as “broken” or “entitled” fandom. They explore whether these behaviors are inherent to being a fan, the culpability of both social media platforms and the producers and creators of source material, and how abusive fan behavior looks depending on the demographics of a fan community.
Jun 27 2018
Rank #8: Episode 85: Age and Fandom
In Episode 85, Flourish and Elizabeth talk about the ever-contentious topic of age in fandom. They start with childhood—are there aspects of childhood that are naturally fannish?—and continue on through later stages of life, including the way mainstream society pits fannishness against maturity (unless you’re a sports fan!). Topics covered include ageism, the empathy gap online, Ann M. Martin, and the glory that was the mall in the 1990s.
Oct 17 2018
Rank #9: Episode 109: Covering Fandom
Amidst a string of mediocre-to-bad articles about fandom in mainstream publications, Flourish demands answers from Elizabeth: How does one of these things get made? They discuss different kinds of publications, pitching, editing, differences between academic and journalistic writing, and fandom’s tall poppy syndrome. They also respond to a listener who asks whether there’s a statistical way to determine a fandom’s percentage of “filthy kinksters.”
Sep 18 2019
Rank #10: Episode 111: Canon, What Canon?
In Episode 111, “Canon, What Canon?” Flourish and Elizabeth discuss listener questions about the relationship between fans and the source material—including what happens when fans are more interested in fanon than canon. Topics discussed include headcanon orthodoxy, fanworks about fanworks, characterization, “death of the text,” and whether Agent Dana Scully would prefer Herbal Essences or Pantene shampoo (and none of it strawberry-scented, damnit!).
Oct 16 2019
Rank #11: Episode 80: Real Person Fiction
In Episode 80, “Real Person Fiction,” Elizabeth and Flourish are joined by Aja Romano, internet culture writer at Vox, to discuss RPF: writing fiction about celebrities and other real, living people. Topics covered include stigma towards RPF within fandom and in the broader culture; the many ways real people turn up in all sorts of art; and what happens when a celebrity encounters online discourse about themselves. They also discuss a listener message about one of Fansplaining’s favorite topics: fandom, capitalism, and the monetization of fanworks.
Aug 08 2018
Rank #12: Episode 98: The After Effect
In Episode 98, “The After Effect,” Elizabeth and Flourish talk about characterization and RPF, pegged to the release of the film After, adapted from Anna Todd’s massively popular Harry Styles fanfic. What happens when different groups of fans clash over their interpretations of a celebrity—especially when some are interested in trying to divine the “truth” about their fave, while others are primarily interested in personal fantasies? They also answer listener questions about anti culture, fanfiction, and cycles of attention online.
Apr 17 2019
Rank #13: Episode 59: Fandom Histories
In Episode 59, “Fandom Histories,” Elizabeth and Flourish discuss common narratives of fandom history and lay out their approaches to thinking about the antecedents of modern fan culture. Topics discussed include 19th century amateur press associations, early science fiction fandom, gatekeeping, the concept of “feral fandoms,” and myths about people in the past. They also respond to a listener question about romantic relationships in fanfiction, and discuss where fic and romance overlap—and where they don’t.
Oct 18 2017
Rank #14: Episode 102: OOC
In Episode 102, Elizabeth and Flourish talk about characterization: how fans interpret it, get attached to it, and fight about it. How do fans collectively come to an understanding of a fictional character? Does this change with textual vs visual source material? What does “OOC”—“out of character”—mean to people in different fannish spaces? They also respond to a listener letter about the history of fandom, and discuss what can be documented—and what cannot.
Jun 12 2019
Rank #15: Episode 56: Ships And Showrunners
Sep 06 2017
Rank #16: Episode 46: Defining Fanfiction: The Survey
Apr 19 2017
Rank #17: Episode 75: Bad Fans
In Episode 75, “Bad Fans,” Elizabeth and Flourish discuss Emily Nussbaum’s concept of the “bad fan”: people who read against the expectations of the source material to celebrate the bad behavior of characters, from anti-heroes to villains. They then discuss a listener letter about the concept of redemption: what makes a character redeemable? Do all characters deserve to be redeemed? How does fandom grant redemption? Finally, they discuss alternate universes—yes, again.
May 30 2018
Rank #18: Episode 43: A Fangirl Goes To Hollywood
Mar 08 2017
Rank #19: Episode 66: The Humanizing Turn
In Episode 66, “The Humanizing Turn,” Elizabeth and Flourish use a Star Wars meta that Flourish recently published as a jumping-off point to discuss tropes, characterization, and what we want from stories, in both canon and fanfiction. When do we grant stories complexity—and when do we simplify them, slotting characters into archetypes? They round out the discussion by responding to a listener question about “anti culture” and how both the methods and the content of anti-shipping have changed in recent years.
Jan 24 2018
Rank #20: Episode 101: Stan Culture
In Episode 101, “Stan Culture,” Flourish and Elizabeth talk with Keidra Chaney, co-founder and publisher of The Learned Fangirl, about the terms “stan,” “stanning,” and “stan culture.” They discuss the evolution of “stan” from a derogatory term to point of pride (for some), the structures of stan culture, similarities between pop music and sports fans, and the transactional nature of some stan behaviors.
May 29 2019