Bossy Shouting: Derry Girls

Friendship is Magic (Yes, Again!)

Season 2 of Derry Girls arrived on Netflix last week, so we’re running an expanded version of Dame Sophie’s enthusiastic hollerings about this series from when she raved about it earlier this year.

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Derry Girls, set in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, is here to scratch your “oh, I just love coming of age narratives packed with jokes and pathos and a soundtrack full of 90s bangers” itch. 

The cast, led by a quintet of scrappy, fractious teens, is so good and sharp, each episode is full of delightful capers, and every character is both broad and specific. Perhaps most remarkable of all, the show never lets you forget that the threats of both state-sanctioned violence and retaliatory outlaw violence are ever-present, while also celebrating the characters’ determined pursuit of their everyday lives, in all their hilariously petty, quotidian glory. Excuuuuuuse us, heavily armed occupying army and/or paramilitaries patrolling the streets, Erin and her friends’ body language screams, we have bigger fish to fry, like haplessly plotting to lose our virginity and telling tales to Sister Michael about a crying statue of the Blessed Mother! 

It’s a remarkable balancing act that goes down very smooth; you could easily binge both seasons across a couple of evenings. Be ready to have a tab open to Wikipedia so you can quickly look up answers to your contextual questions, and also be ready to embrace the subtitles. The actors talk fast and I’ll admit I could understand them maybe half of the time without subtitles. 

This seems like a great plan, doesn’t it? What could possibly go wrong???

And because I can’t resist cross-format cultural advisory, I’ll repeat myself again (and again and again) by saying that if the historical backdrop of this show piques your interest, give yourself the gift of reading Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe, and Milkman, by Anna Burns. 

Say Nothing is painstakingly reported nonfiction: part true crime, part sociological history of The Troubles, part examination of what happens to an extreme ideology when it’s subjected to the inexorable march of time, part rumination on the distinctions between guilt and responsibility and the damage we do by protecting secrets instead of privacy. This is one of those books that is both capital-I Important and an absolute pleasure to read, which is no small feat for a book about murder and domestic terrorism. I can’t recommend it enough. Keefe gave a couple of great interviews on the Longform and Why Is This Happening? podcasts, as well, if you yearn for even more context about his reporting process. 

Milkman is...well. It’s a Man Booker Prize-winning novel about a young woman who has to deal with a stalker who just happens to be a high-ranking paramilitary who casually threatens everyone she loves with potential car-bombings. Looking back over my GoodReads notes, it’s dense, luscious, bleak, dreadful (as in every page is filled with dread, to the point that sometimes you'll be reading and will suddenly realize "oh, I haven't drawn a breath in the last 5 pages, whoops, better inhale"), astringently funny, confounding, circuitous, enraging, and just the teensiest, weensiest bit hopeful. The off-balance feeling you get from reading Milkman is what I imagine all the adults in Derry Girls feel constantly. Their terror is founded on the understanding that a violent, senseless death could come at any moment, for anyone they know, while the kids (wee-uns, subtitled phonetically as “wains” on Netflix) are too preoccupied with their own pursuits to worry too much about the threat of bombings or shootings.

It’s a rare sitcom that tap dances on a knife edge of hilarity and the threat of tragedy, and dramatizes extremely relatable Teen Experiences, and then also reveals deeper levels of itself after substantial background reading. And as our beloved Doctor of TV Kathryn VanArendonk points out, it’s also a show that resonates with our specific political moment, as well:

This issue of Two Bossy Dames was brought to you by a reminder post-it affixed to the cabinet above Dame Sophie’s morning tea setup and this cuuuuuuute trailer for Last Christmas. Feel free to share with a pal who’ll enjoy it <3

Aaaand, We're Back!

Hello, friends. A great light has gone out. 

From Morrison’s incredibly concise elucidation of racism for Charlie Rose in 1993

Toni Morrison died on Tuesday and the world is diminished by her absence. Whether her books lie in your future (as they do for Dame Margaret) or are an indelible part of the formation of your literary loves (as for Dame Sophie), her presence in the world has affected you deeply whether you realized it before Tuesday, or not. Here are some highlights from her life as a public intellectual and the outpouring of eloquent grief her passing has occasioned:  

Finally, if, like Dame Margaret, you have managed to make it this far in life without reading one of Toni Morrison’s novels (despite being assigned them multiple times in school!), remember:

Dame Sophie’s Personal Is Political Mishmash

A very useful gif, whose sentiment can never apply to Linda Ronstadt

  • Linda Ronstadt is one of those musical artists who was kind of always running in the background throughout my most impressionable years. She duets beautifully with Paul Simon on Under African Skies from Graceland, an album my entire family loved & played constantly. My sisters & I used to watch & rewatch these Muppet Show compilations from the local video store, and there were several that included her performances: It’s In His Kiss, When I Grow Too Old to Dream, and the one I remember most vividly and fondly, Blue Bayou. All of these performances are treasures -- When I Grow Too Old To Dream in particular is a poignancy arrow straight to my heart -- but I want to spend a little time with Blue Bayou, just to recognize how sweetly odd it is. It’s set on a bayou, so far, so expected. The Electric Mayhem are there, as a quasi-jug band, ok, ok. Out strolls Linda wearing...a weird lacy romper? Some kind of early 1900s swimming costume? She’s singing so earnestly while a chorus of felt frogs ribbits very seriously behind her! I’m left with two thoughts: good god, what a professional! And: I would bet 5 entire US dollars that this peculiar fever dream inspired some of the animation of Ashman & Menken’s classic “Kiss The Girl”. All of which is to say, of course I love Linda Ronstadt, but not in a way that made me devote a ton of headspace to her or her place in musical history, until I watched the Eagles documentary on Netflix and learned that Glenn Frey & Don Henley had been in her backing band. (She talks a little bit about how she met them & how they put their own band together in this interview from some time in the mid-70s & I just love how her enjoyment of other people’s musical gifts shines through in the conversation). It was just so clear that the Eagles owe Linda Ronstadt a great deal, and I’ve been longing ever since for a four-hour examination of her career. I don’t think we’ll ever get that, but a forthcoming documentary, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, will finally go some way towards filling the gap. 

  • JLo turned 50 (!!) in July, and for NBC News’ THINK section, I got to write about how much I’ve enjoyed watching Jenny From The Block weave elements from her personal life and career into her public performance of her celebrity persona as a booty ambassador, a regular yet outstandingly fit divorced mom of tweens looking for a love that will last, and a luxury lifestyle icon. 

  • Ocean Vuong gave a talk at the recent Asian American Literature Festival, which fellow author Minh Lê recapped in wonderful detail in this Twitter thread. Running through every sentence of Vuong’s novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous are brutality and tenderness and the profoundly optimistic insistence on claiming a space here, in the country that nearly destroyed Vuong’s own birth country. His talk captures how and why the novel is structured as it is and embraces the possibility that he may not write another book, which is a very gutsy thing for an acclaimed young writer to say aloud.

  • Rebecca Traister profiled Elizabeth Warren for The Cut this week and I’m caught between loving the picture she paints and feeling deeply vexed and put off by the idea of a Teacher-In-Chief as off-putting to my fellow voters. I hate that premise and it makes me mad that we’d accept it so wholly that it would merit being taken seriously by an explicitly feminist venue and writer. Elizabeth Warren is, among other things, a teacher of substantial natural gifts working hard over decades to improve, challenging herself to make her teaching techniques support her egalitarian philosophy, wielding her influence to push Harvard Law School to admit more first-generation college students. Having just one good teacher is life-changing for any learner, so why wouldn’t we want one of the nation’s very best, most thoughtful teachers as our President? I know why. I reserve the right to reject the premise while also encouraging everyone to read the profile. The truth is, a number of us are going to have to have conversations about Why Elizabeth Warren, Teacher, Is A Great Choice, Actually with friends & family over the next few months, and this piece is full of solid talking points.

  • My Dad turns 70 today! He is not only a super parent, he’s also a beloved Contributor Emeritus to this very newsletter, having worked with us on our longest issue of all time, about nostalgia formation. As a retired historic preservationist, he had particularly valuable insights to share about how preserving historic buildings should be an easy sell, but isn’t, and how even good efforts don’t always hit the mark. He’s now a very accomplished printmaker, and if you’re so inclined, check out his work

  • I’ll close with a Good TV News Round-Up:

    Also here for this monoprint of Merce Cunningham dancing by my Dad. You can buy this and hang it proudly in your house!

Dame Margaret Learned Tonight That a Bar Near Work Has VERY Sparsely Attended Karaoke on Fridays and It’s a Real Game Changer

Me, trying to describe Jed Wyatt’s perfidy to the Uninitiated

  • In further good luck, my favorite former contestant Lawyer-turned-sports commentator Rachel Lindsay (the only black lead in the franchise’s history to date) launched a new Bachelor-breakdown podcast, Bachelor Happy Hour, which featured long interview with both Jed and Hannah. While Rachel’s co-host Ali Fedowtowsky-Manno (another former Bachelorette) is MUCH too eager to let Jed off the hook for his incredible shitheel behavior, Rachel is deliciously good at giving him just enough rope to hang himself. In a summer of feuds and rubbernecking, this one is probably the one I find most personally compelling, so I’m very grateful to have such great content.    

  • I was somewhat less uniformly pleased with Hulu’s recent Veronica Mars revival. While I agree with critics that it’s the best it’s been since its first season, it made some choices that really annoyed me and, luckily, I was able to hash all those feelings out with the Pop Culture Happy Hour crew in a rare, spoiler-rific episode. I was also lucky that while one mystery was failing to live up to my exacting standards, I managed to find another I absolutely loved: Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman. I have been swimming around in Lippman’s back catalog all summer, listening to her Tess Monaghan books, and this book has everything I like about those, but with even more polish and nuance. It is simultaneously discursive, and page-turning, and I cannot recommend it enough. 

  • On the subject of books, and podcasts, I appeared on the new romance-centric podcast Hot & Bothered to answer the important question: is it possible to read too many romance novels? And it will perhaps foreshadow my answer to mention that I’m looking forward enormously to Bookstore Romance Day, Saturday, August 17th, when bookstores all across the country are going to be putting their love of romance front and center with sales, events, and other cool features. Here in Cambridge, I am going to be leading a panel discussion with Loretta Chase, Satin Russell, Cecilia Tan, and Kerry Winfrey, and I think it is going to be a terrifically good time! Whether you can come to my event or must be forced to attend a lesser one, I hope you’ll find a way to participate!

  • The last two weeks have been an absolute cultural bacchanal for me, containing as they did both my annual pilgrimage to the Newport Folk Festival and a trip to New York to see Hadestown and Daniel Fish’s Oklahoma revival. From this fertile soil grow the following recommendations:

  • I have long been a huge fan of the celebrity gossip comedy podcast Who? Weekly, but today, I finally made the jump to supporting them on Patreon (only $5 a month to get all their bonus content!!) and was richly rewarded when literally minutes later they sent out their most recent bonus: a bespoke commentary track for the CLASSIC FILM The First Wives Club. If I had finished this email in anything even vaguely resembling a timely fashion, I would be home watching this movie with commentary right now.  

  • And finally, if the continuing saga of Gwyneth Paltrow being incapable of identifying her various Marvel castmates is revealed to be a FAKED BIT that she’s in on to like have a laugh at our expense for actually believing that she could be so out of touch, literally never tell me. I want to keep living in this world where Gwyneth picked up her paycheck and immediately forgot everything about her years playing Pepper Potts. I need Glamorously Oblivious Gwyneth to continue blythely and benignly forgetting her castmates like a plant needs the sun. Let her remain the shining beacon towards which to turn my face. Never make her relatable. Never allow her to be down to earth. 

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Sharing, Caring, Every Little Thing That We Are Wearing

While your OG Bossy Dames enjoy some well-earned R&R, previous guest Dame Kerry (aka President for Life of the Margaret H. Willison fan club) and her beloved big sister and cool as hell writer Megan are excited to be stepping in and sistering up the joint!

Easter Celebrations, an unnamed number of years apart. Possible reference to be made to my ruffled socks and Megan’s shoulder pads of destiny that made her look like a tiny secretary. 

Did you know that National Sisters’ Day was even a thing? That’s probably’s not, really. A cursory internet search has repeated websites admitting they have no idea where it started, and there isn’t even agreement on where the apostrophe goes! We hadn’t heard of it either, until Margaret approached us about potentially working on an issue as a duo and some random Googling for a theme led us here. And yes, in response to the question you are surely all wondering, there is a WikiHow article on how to celebrate it properly. 

However, as actual sisters who actually love and adore each other, we would like to propose our own take on how to celebrate this not-really-a-holiday in some ways that celebrate the very real wonder that is sisterhood. 

First, may we humbly present our soror bona fides:

Why having a big sister is the greatest and worth celebrating.

When I was born, Megan was already eleven years old and big sister to two brothers - so she was more than ready for another girl to enter the picture. As far back as I can remember, Megan provoked both admiration and awe in me, as well as being someone I could rely on without question. She was my first babysitter and constant defender. Megan played with my hair and dressed me up when I was little, painting my tiny bitten nails and generally making me feel like a supermodel. I used to watch her do plays at school and wonder if I’d ever be so talented and glamorous. When she left for college, I remember looking out into the hallway that separated our rooms at night and getting a stomach ache from how much I missed her. I regretted sometimes that she was so much older (sorry Meg) than me, because I wanted to hang out with her ALL the time. And colleges at the time apparently frowned on bringing your third grade sister along with you?

In the end though, our difference in age has been a tremendous gift to our relationship. We have never had a phase where we were super competitive with each other, or got into any weird teenager fights, or argued over whose turn it was to borrow the car. We were thrilled when we got to the point where we could borrow each other’s clothes, and only bothered that our adult shoe sizes don’t line up. What I got, instead of someone to grow up with, was someone to help me grow up well. Megan gave impeccable and hilarious advice about school, and guys, and anything else I needed. Megan helped teach me to drive (only getting into a fender bender during one of our lessons, like a true master teacher) ((addition by Megan: a fender bender that was technically a spider’s fault!)) and how to put on makeup. She used to recap for me shows and movies that I wasn’t allowed to watch, and sang me all the songs from Rent when it first opened before getting me the soundtrack. And somewhere along the way, in a graceful big sister way that I could never replicate or properly explain, Megan shifted from being my second mother and personal idol to a peer and a best friend. A few years ago we got the chance to travel to Japan together and it was one of the most special and fun times of my life. It’s crazy to think that the whole reason we’re in each other’s lives is because of genetics — it feels like I would have recognized her as a kindred spirit anywhere. 

Why having a younger sister is an unearned gift and a treasure. 

I don’t remember when my first brother was born, but my Nana always revelled in telling the story of the moment I learned I was a big sister. 

Nana: Megan honey! Wake up! The baby is here!
Tiny me: (rolls over, makes grumpy sleep-noises)

Nana: It’s a boy! You have a brother!

Tiny me: (grunts, unimpressed, rolls away). 

Another boy? Ugh. I was OVER IT, man. (Sorry, Mike.) I was already surrounded by four older boy cousins. It was a sister I craved, but I would have to wait a long time for that dream to come to fruition. I was eleven, that painfully awkward age between childhood and teenhood, where everything you do feels wrong. Where you, in general, feel wrong. Then suddenly Karma righted itself and my parents delivered unto me the girl-child for which I’d been longing for over a decade. My little sister. My Kerry Elaine.

I remember it all so clearly because I was old enough to remember EVERYTHING. How I loved that green-eyed, dimple-cheeked baby. I loved holding her and playing with her and I didn’t even mind changing her diapers (Sorry, Kerry), despite the fact my mom used cloth diapers with pins and it was actually kind of terrifying to be honest. I felt a responsibility for this tiny, curly-haired creature, much more so than I had with my brothers who, while also younger, were old enough that they didn’t seem to need me. But Kerry was MY baby (Sorry, Mom) and I was fixated on raising that kid right. 

But then an unfortunate thing occurred. I got older. I went to high school. Then college. I discovered boys and friends and theater and did I mention boys? I became distracted from my higher purpose, that of the Big Sister. 

But I will never forget the moment that brought me home. 

I was college-aged, sitting at my parents’ kitchen table, talking to my girlfriends about some hypothetical wedding that was never going to happen. One of my friends asked off-hand who I’d want my maid of honor to me. “Oh, probably so-and-so” (worth noting: it was my oldest friend and still defacto best non-sister friend). My mother, who I hadn’t even realized had been listening, swooped down on me like an extremely aggrieved bird of prey. 

“You will have your SISTER of course!” She said. 

“But mom,” I lamely protested. “She’ll be too little!”

My mother’s gaze literally froze me to our old cane-back kitchen chairs. “She will not be so little when you get married, you know. And you only have one sister! She is the only one you will ever have!”

It was in that moment, my narcissistic 19-year-old brain remembered that my also a Kerry. She is a decade younger than her older sister (and only sibling), and my callous remarks may have stirred some memories of being left out because she was younger. I felt like the worst sister on the planet. I felt lower than low. I felt like I had betrayed my sweet, dimpled sister — and she wasn’t even old enough to realize how much I sucked. 

Spoiler alert: Kerry was OBVIOUSLY my maid of honor when I eventually got married. She was fourteen and she was perfect. I won’t hear otherwise, even from her! 

Years passed, and something miraculous happened. Somewhere along the way, my Shirley Temple baby sister grew up into this gorgeous, intelligent, empathetic, courageous woman. She was so much more than my little sister. She was my friend. 

And even more miraculously, I found myself looking up to her, wishing I could be half as amazing as she had grown up to be. She is a teacher, an advocate, a warrior, a friend. A best friend, as it turned out. One I never earned, never deserved, but was handed to me on a silver platter, all because my parents decided to go for a fourth. And how lucky am I that they did?

SCENE: Two Boston Irish Catholic girls clear their repressed throats and avoid eye contact after saying nice things about each other

Ahem. Anyway! Sisters are great. Sisters by blood, by law, by friendship, by choice. It’s 2019 (which honestly still sounds like a science fiction future type year, to us) and being a woman is still a hard and dangerous thing. But the love and support that we can give to each other, the kinship and community we can find with each other, makes walking through this world easier to do. At our best, we lift each other up and hold each other tight. And who the hell wouldn’t want to celebrate that?

Megan’s Movies to Watch

Popcorn. Blankets. Wine (there is always wine). Movies are, quite frankly, almost better when viewed from the comfort of your own (or your sister’s) couch. Kerry and I have watched many a couch-movie together, from an honest-to-God VHS tape of “Titanic” (throughout which our sainted father repeatedly trolled with the spoiler: “Boat sinks”), to the fateful day she introduced me to “Serenity” and by extension “Firefly” (RIP). 

What I’m saying is watching any movie with your sister/sister-like person is a cozy, emotional, roller coaster of a shared experience — especially if you both have a predilection for talking throughout and not annoying each other (which we do). So why not enhance the cozy/emotional factor by queuing up one of these sisterly-themed flicks? You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, it’ll be better than CATS. (Original CATS, to be clear. Not Uncanny Valley CATS). 

1. A League of Their Own

This movie. THIS MOVIE. I have ugly-cried through it so many times, even though I KNOW who’s getting that dreaded letter in the locker room. No crying in baseball my ass. 

But this is not just a movie about crying (or baseball), it’s a great example of the Big Sister/Little Sister relationship that manages to touch on all the aspects of sisterhood you expect while deftly avoiding the cliche. Dottie and Kit bounce off each other like so many foul balls off Pesky’s Pole. Dottie, the oldest, is the more serious, level-headed, and practical of the two, while Kit embodies all the wildness of youth: passionate, stubborn, impetuous. The fact they taunt each other with “Mule!” “Nag!” is...not so subtle...but it’s cute and we get it. Dottie is weighted by responsibility, Kit struggles against her sister’s mother-like dominance — a classic Big/Little Sister dynamic. They are also competitive, Kit roiling with ever-growing frustration that her perfect big sister is outshining her at every turn, even (especially) on the field. When Dottie asks that her sister be traded to another team, we’re meant to feel Kit’s outrage, abandonment, and betrayal. 

But deep down, Dottie just wants her little sister to shine. So, like a mean momma bird, she pushes her from the nest (aka The Rockford Peaches). Dottie has her own dreams, but she puts them on hold when her husband returns safely from the war. She knows her little sister can actually see both of their dreams to fruition. She steps aside. It’s a wonderful, weird mix of a Big Sister/Mother moment. So many eldest sisters are put into the position of caregiver from a young age, that they become tiny parents despite themselves. 

And that last “Mule” “Nag”? Gets me every time. Waterworks. Niagara Falls, baby. 

2. Practical Magic

There are two especially great things about this movie, magic aside. One: It’s a rom-com but not really? The Owens Sisters’ family’s true love curse is clearly the big Plot Point, but the meat of the movie is Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock being just the cutest, quirkiest set of sisters that ever was. It doesn’t even matter who’s the oldest (though I *think* it’s Sandy?) — it’s their opposite personalities that make these sisters a treat to watch. Sandra’s introverted Sally just wants to raise her kids and be a normal Muggle while her extroverted, witchy sister Gillian (Kidman) hightails it out of the small, vaguely Puritanical Massachusetts town they were raised in as fast as her fringed boots can take her. But despite their disparate personalities and despite all the years and distance that separate the two, as soon as Gilly climbs through Sally’s window late one night in an hour of need, the intimacy of their sisterhood bubbles over like a, well, cauldron. If for no other reason, watch this movie for that scene alone. They joke, they cry, they cuddle together under a blanket fort. They make fun of each other’s morning breath. It’s a heart-stoppingly lovely moment. 

The second great thing about “Practical Magic?” Sally & Gilly are not the only sisters! The Owen girls were raised by their eccentric aunts — played to campy perfection by Stockard Channing and Dianne Weist. These two Elder Witches are also sisters; ones who have seen it all, done it all, and now can sit back and gently annoy each other (all while wearing the most fabulous hats) ‘til death do they part. Their intimacy as sisters is quieter, but no less ironclad. Their relationship is so wickedly subtle when compared to their flailing nieces … the aunts mostly communicate through side eye, raised eyebrows, old sayings, and margaritas. 

Bringing together both generations of sisters at the climax of the film beautifully illustrates the strength in womanly bonds, and how one sister’s love can conjure up a whole coven of ladies to defend each other against the darkness. 

3. Only You

Another rom-com enters the fray, and a solidly rom-commie one no less. It stars a young Marisa Tomei, a pre-Iron Man RDJ, and literally every highlight of Italy. It’s a true 1990s romantic caper and if you haven’t seen it, DO, because it’s just the right flavor of bubblegum.

But in the midst of all the destiny and meet-cutes, there is a steadfast sister-figure on hand who enables Faith (Tomei) to drop everything, run off to the airport wearing nothing but her wedding dress, and jet off to Italy days before her nuptials chasing a fortune-teller’s prediction from her pre-teenhood. Her sister-in-law Kate (the unflappable Bonnie Hunt) doesn’t try to talk Faith out of this objectively insane decision; she instead packs her a duffle-bag and comes along for the ride. Throughout the film, as we watch Faith hunt for her magical Mr. Right, Kate is there just hovering at her elbow--not to restrain her, but to allow her sister-friend to take all the crazy, impetuous risks she needs while being on call to catch her if she falters. Because sisters know when to let each other make the grand gesture, or the epic mistake, on their own … yet will also always be there to pick up the pieces if (when) it all falls apart. 

Faith even takes a break from her Manic Pixie Dreamguy plotline to realize that Kate may be going through some stuff of her own too (with her hubby, Faith’s brother, played to delightful blue collar perfection by Fisher Stevens). It wasn’t necessary for this kind of movie, the give-and-take of sisterly care, which is why Only You made the list. 

Bonus: It’s also a sisterly road-trip across Italy, and who doesn’t love that?

4. Lilo & Stitch

Betcha thought we were going to go with Frozen for our animated pick, didn’t ya? 

Ok, so basically this movie is your classic Girl and her Alien Dog story. But at its heart, it’s about family. 

Lilo and her big sister Nani are the closest pairing to Kerry and myself, age-wise. But unlike our fortunate family, Lilo and Nani have lost both of their parents. Young adult Nani suddenly finds herself thrust into a role she was 100% not ready for: Single Motherhood. Lilo, meanwhile, acts out in every heartbreakingly weird way possible — from biting an insufferable fellow hula student to “punishing” her voodoo stick figure friends by stuffing them in a pickle jar. Nani is scared of failing, of losing her sister, of losing herself. Lilo emphatically declares she liked her sister better as a sister than a mom (while worrying Nani would like Lilo better as a rabbit). Their relationship is anything but idyllic — they fight, they slam doors, they scream into pillows. 

And the worst part? Nani nearly loses her. Social services wasn’t playing and neither was Disney; in the real world, young, inexperienced, lower-middle-class Nani probably would have had Lilo taken out of her care. And the scene where she’s meant to tell her baby sister that they can’t live together anymore proves that Nani is indeed both a sister AND a mom. She cuddles Lilo. She sings to Lilo. And in the end, she shields her from the pain of the truth. You see it in Nani’s face. She hasn’t entirely given up. No one can take that crazy child away from her. Ohana means family, okay? And family means no one gets left behind, or forgotten. 

(brb, just have to cry forever)

Still got some popcorn left? Try these honorable mentions:

Frozen (yes, ok, fine, it IS a good sister flick too); Sense & Sensibility ; The Holiday; 2016 Ghostbusters

Kerry’s TV Sisterhood Binge:

Team, I love a good tv show binge. I love being able to get cozy with characters and watch them grow and change over time. I loved it more, perhaps, when I was allowed to call it “marathoning” a show, since that made it seem more like an achievement and less like an illness. However! Quality Sister relationships (at least, ones up to our standard) were actually a little hard to find in the TV category!  

There’s the Tanner trio on Full House (too cloying and altogether too many lessons learned), the Summers sisters on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (complicated by the fact that one of them was actually a supernatural key to destroying the universe, and also pretty annoying), and the Cooper girls of Riverdale, who I really think are going to have a hard time moving past the whole “organ harvesting cult” debacle. Where’s that tender and complicated bond we are looking for, people? Herewith the best of a crop that I think really needs more tending to:

Fleabag & Claire, Fleabag - Enough has been written about Fleabag this year that I (hopefully) don’t need to pitch you too hard on this deeply sad and funny two-season wonder of a show. I will simply say this — yes, Hot Priest was very hot. But when Claire tells her often self-destructive and caustic sister that in fact *she* is the only person she’d run through an airport for? That is the true love story, right there. 

Betty & Hilda, Ugly Betty - This is a sticky and complicated sister relationship with two diametrically opposed women who probably wouldn’t have much time for each other if they weren’t related. Their relationship was not always the easiest but, particularly in the hyper dramatic world of Mode Magazine and whatever schemes Vanessa Williams was up to on a given week, the Suarez sisters were always ready to drop any issues between them and go to the mattresses for each other. 

Arya & Sansa, Game of Thrones - Look. I know we’re all still mad about how this show ended. I get it. I’m with you in all ways but this: In a show that seemed very often to downright dislike the women it purported to be its heroines, the reunion of the Stark sisters is one long-awaited plot resolution that completely satisfied me. They didn’t get along as children but as women came to understand and respect each other. It also definitely helps that their portrayers, Sophie Turner & Maisie Wililams, clearly worship the hell out of each other. And when they take out Littlefinger?! C’mon now. The power that that has…! 

Abbie & Jenny, Sleepy Hollow - Is this a deep cut? It wouldn’t have been if this lovely and weird little horror fantasy show hadn’t gone well off the rails after a genuinely cool first season. And grossly mistreated and underused the handsome American treasure that is John Cho. Still annoyed about it, honestly. Especially since the show gave us the Mills sisters, whose fractured and then mended relationship was grounded and often moving, even in the midst of one of the odder shows I have ever watched. Like, Revolutionary War heroes fighting off witches and an impending Apocalypse in Upstate New York, weird. 

I here include a gif, not from Sleepy Hollow, but from Selfie, another tragically cancelled program, but one that better understood the power of John Cho.

Ann & Leslie, Parks & Recreation - Yes, they aren’t real sisters. Yes, their bond is sometimes more like nonsexual life partners than anything else. But anyone who has a sister (or best friend) for whom they would do anything can recognize themselves in Leslie when her love for Ann frequently blows past all logic, reason, or civility. The true magic of a sisterly relationship is the way in which women will fight anyone who dares to denigrate their girl...even the girl themselves. 

And in a timely new addition that has only just begun but we REALLY hope sticks around...

El & Max, Stranger Things - Dames, El needed a girlfriend BADLY. When season three started she appeared to have exactly two close relationships: her mustachioed and well-meaning but deeply angry father figure; and her mushroom haired and well-meaning but deeply possessive boyfriend. El’s family and her world is still quite small, despite her powers and abilities, and watching her and Max bond by going to the mall (that most classic of girl movie tropes) is a genuine delight. It was a real source of frustration to me in season two that the two girls never connected (and in fact El brushed off any chance of friendship) — so their laughing, their shopping, their sleepover(!) all felt long overdue and really necessary. It also helped that the two young actresses conveyed a real warmth and fun together, especially to increasingly sentimental and maternal viewers such as myself who are overly invested in El’s emotional growth as a woman. 

What did I miss? Normally I’m a huge proponent of the “Don’t @ me” philosophy, but in this case I would actually love to be pointed towards a show that celebrates sisterhood the way it should be!

Looking for something a little more analog? Sister Book (aka Wine) Club Time!

Fun fact: For about three years, Megan, Kerry, and Margaret were actually in a book club together! We met with some other friends at Kerry’s apartment about once a month to drink a great deal of wine and work our way up to admitting we hadn’t finished the book yet. This was irrational since we all love to read, but also pretty inevitable in that we don’t like being told what to read (sub fun fact; each of us currently has a book that we have recommended another one read literally a decade ago but we haven’t gotten around to it yet) ((Megan here: No, I still haven’t read Persuasion yet, Kerry)) (((Kerry: It’s cool, Margaret bought me Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell during the first George W. Bush term, I’m pretty sure))). 

The point is, we potentially weren’t the best at being in a book club together, but we all LOVE books. And loving the same ones and yelling about them together is a true pleasure in life. Even without wine. So if your sister is too far away to meld on a couch with you this weekend, can we suggest sending her a book for you two to read together? Bonus - everyone loves getting mail. 

Some sister-tastic reading options:

Little Women; Homegoing; Sense & Sensibility*; In Her Shoes; Fangirl; The Color Purple; I Capture the Castle; Summer Sisters**; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society 

*yes, we’re recommending the book too. We’ll recommend this story in every format we ever come across, most likely

**fun fact, this was the first sexy book Kerry ever read. She and her Mom were at their personal happy place, the New England Mobile Book Fair and confused it for a YA Judy Blume. This led to a number of revelations that junior high Kerry was NOT ready for.

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USNWT Spectacular

As you may recall from a previous issue, Your Dames were swept along on a tide of athletic national pride a few weeks ago thanks to the outstanding athleticism and exuberant celebrations of the US National Women's Team as they stormed France to win the FIFA World Cup. Since we're 100% international tournament-based low-information fans, we thought we'd ask a friend from Dames Nation to write a more detailed explainer about what makes this team so special. We're delighted to share with you Sarah Gillis' thoughts on the team and what they've meant to her as a soccer fan over the years. Sarah is a library cataloger, podcast enthusiast, and collector of facts that will probably never be useful but are nonetheless fascinating. You can find her on Twitter at @ser_pez.  Take it away, Sarah!

Theyyyyy are the champions, my friends

The day after the US Women’s National Team won the 2019 Women’s World Cup, almost all of my coworkers stopped at my desk on their way in to tell me they’d watched the game or heard about the game or to ask if I was happy with the result (which, obviously, I was). I felt no small amount of triumph at this, because I had made it my mission for the entire month of June to keep them apprised of the World Cup goings-on, whether they were interested or not - and most of them were not. Most of them are not sports fans. Honestly, I’m barely a sports fan. Football takes forever, baseball is ok in person but boring on TV, hockey is tolerable. I am, however, a big soccer fan, especially when it comes to the US Women’s National Team (USWNT).

There are plenty of people who can tell you where they were when the USWNT won the 1999 Women’s World Cup (and even if they didn’t watch the game, they probably saw the photo of Brandi Chastain ripping off her jersey in joyous celebration after she scored the winning penalty kick). I do remember watching it, but unlike a lot of those people, I then lost track of the national team for most of the next decade. I’m sure I watched some games during the Olympics, but I don’t remember them specifically. I do remember watching a few games during the 2011 World Cup, but I didn’t know who most of the players were and I didn’t feel a strong connection to any of them. 

And then Megan Rapinoe came out.

It was the summer of 2012, right before the London Olympics. I would not be exaggerating at all to tell you that I remember the MOMENT I learned she had come out in an interview with Out Magazine. I barely knew who she was, but it immediately registered that it was a big. deal. My life was an absolute shitshow that summer - it was probably the worst year of my life. But I remember being delighted to read that the USWNT had an out player, and I remember watching their games once the Olympics began that summer with a renewed interest. Luckily this was right around the time that US Soccer started posting more video about the team. I started to care about who the players were, and I wanted to learn more about them. This increased in the lead-up to the 2015 World Cup in Canada - I had never considered myself a sports fan, but I was suddenly so drawn to the narratives these players brought to the game. 

I love that so many people who aren’t fans were drawn into some of those narratives this summer. But as much as I love the really well-known players like Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Megan Rapinoe, there were twenty other players on the World Cup roster and each one contributes something different to the story of this team. I want to introduce you to some of my favorites. 

(Note: I recommend this playful primer on the actual game of soccer, presented by author Glennon Doyle, who also happens to be married to a very accomplished retired soccer player. I will not be focusing on any complex soccer concepts, but it’s just very entertaining.)

Sam Mewis: she’s the tallest player ever to play for the USWNT and she just warms my heart. Her sense of humor is fun and a touch self-deprecating - she can laugh at herself. She always looks a little surprised when she scores a goal. Her dad worked an extra job to pay for club soccer fees and travel for Sam and her sister Kristie (also a professional soccer player), and her reaction to seeing him after winning the World Cup legit made me cry.  

What a gem

Becky Sauerbrunn: one of the most indispensable pieces of the US team’s defense, it’s a testament to her skill that you don’t always notice her influence on a game in real time - since she prevents the other team from scoring or completing big plays, it’s easy to assume she isn’t making an impact. She doesn’t post on social media as much as some of the other players, but she seems to favor quality over quantity. A member of the now-seemingly-defunct USWNT Nerd Squad (a group of players who made it a point to sightsee on team trips), Becky is also a voracious reader who especially loves sci-fi and fantasy and she is devoted to her cats. I find her extremely relatable. 

Ugh, same!

Kelley O’Hara: truly tough as nails and famously one of the fittest members of the team. Equally likely to play through a bloody nose as she is to slip and fall on the grass. Long-reigning queen of the beep test (a perhaps unnecessarily complicated fitness test that measures a player’s endurance). After winning the World Cup, she went over to the stands and kissed her girlfriend. As Kim McCauley wrote:

“This is not a shocking or revolutionary act in 2019. Lots of people are queer in public now, and everyone knows there are queer players on the United States women’s national soccer team. But what made this moment significant is that O’Hara had not previously made any kind of announcement about her partner or sexual orientation. She didn’t follow this moment up with an interview, a social media post, or a proclamation of any kind. She just had an affectionate moment with her partner, then continued her life as normal, because what she did is normal and should not require an explanation.”


Julie Ertz: Julie Ertz’s forehead has scored more goals than most other players’ entire bodies. She is the queen of the header, especially off a corner kick.  She is an extremely skilled player. You can always find Julie on the field by looking for a high blonde ponytail and a baby blue headband. 

Stylish head to toe

There’s a frustrating thing that happens when a female athlete is married to or dating a man who’s famous. Julie Ertz, a two-time World Cup champion, is married to a professional athlete who’s pretty successful in his own right (Super Bowl Champion Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles). When he went to France this summer to watch her compete at the highest level of her sport, there were headlines like “Eagles tight end Zach Ertz leaves training camp to watch wife in World Cup” (though to their credit, CBS News added Julie’s name to the headline on the website after women’s soccer twitter dragged them hard). Luckily the Eagles knew how ridiculous the headline was and joked about it on social media soon after.

Ashlyn Harris: Ashlyn did the Lord’s work by documenting what seemed like every moment of the team’s champagne-soaked post-World Cup celebrations. But besides broadcasting bacchanalia (which I was 100% here for), she is one of the players who is most deliberate about using her platform to talk about issues. She has always been very open about her own struggles with mental health and her family’s struggles with addiction and has worked with To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit dedicated to mental health awareness and suicide prevention. She recently announced her engagement to her teammate and all around queen Ali Krieger. Also, she once slapped a bully in the face with a dead fish. An icon!

A final note: the World Cup may be over, but the good news is that every single member of the USWNT plays on a professional team in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)! Thanks to a new deal with ESPN, you can watch at least one game per week for the rest of the season on actual TV, and all of the others are available to stream on Yahoo Sports. Better yet, if you live in a city that has an NWSL team, you can go watch your favorite USWNT players in person - as well as World Cup competitors from Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Jamaica, England, and more! Seriously, these are the best players in the world, and you can get a ticket to most NWSL games for less than $20. (Shameless plug: my team is Sky Blue FC, based in New Jersey, and features Carli Lloyd of the USWNT, as well as players from the national teams of Bosnia, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, and Japan.)

Lastly, if you want more women’s soccer in your life, there is a whole world out there on Twitter for you. WoSo Twitter is a wonderland of gfs, banter, and love for the game. Two soccer writers I recommend are Meg Linehan and Steph Yang. Meg was the first writer to cover exclusively women’s soccer for The Athletic and Steph heads the new women’s soccer site All For XI. Both are queer women who have been a big part of the expansion of women’s soccer coverage in the last few years and I so admire them both.

We hope you enjoyed this special issue of Two Bossy Dames! If you did, and you’d like to support our work, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription. $7/month (or $70 for the year) brings you the best links & most incisive commentary the Internet has to offer! Impeccable taste & insouciant charm (& more GIFs than you can shake a stick at) every Friday. (And sometimes on a Wednesday!)

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