Saturday, 3 May 2014

Podcasts: Sistah Speak (Big Brother and The Walking Dead)

Lately it seems like I've been listening to podcasts more than I've been watching actual TV programmes, and definitely listening to them for longer. I listen everywhere; hanging out the washing, in bed playing Candy Crush (and yes, it is a saga), doing the washing up, walking to get lunch, and especially when I'm going to sleep (not that they're boring, it's just comforting!)
Last year I was looking to add to my two main Big Brother US podcasts I listen to, the unsurpassed Big Brother Gossip show and the cheesy-but-fun Rob has a podcast (more on those in future blogs). It was the beginning of the race row, so Sistah Speak seemed especially intriguing; what would black women think of the latest racism storm?
You can probably guess the answer: not much. One of the original 'Sistahs' - Sistah J - had already given up on Big Brother because she was fed up with tokenism and black people being voted out early in previous seasons - and who can blame her? I would still love to know what she thought of BB15! Ha. It was interesting to hear from black women for once, as it's not a voice you hear so often in the mainstream media, and their comments on race were extremely interesting, and some of them not things that had occurred to me before, especially about how black people are stereotyped and marginalised.
In the meantime, podcast founder Sistah K had hooked up with two other like-minded ladies; Sistah L Marie and Sister A (who I don't think is black, but we're all sistahs in the feminist sense!) The three women began BB15 enthusiastically but this soon turned to horror. Sure enough, Howard and Candice, the two black contestants were out early; but not before they'd been forced to endure some pretty horrendous and well-documented racism. I shant drag it up again beyond saying that the two of them huddled together in the have-not room crying, was one of the hardest and most shameful (as a white person - to see the horrible things that had been said and done to them) scenes I've ever seen on TV. Why Big Brother didn't step in, I'll never know. But I know one thing; it wouldn't happen in the UK.
The Sistahs were similarly appalled and turned to Big Brother Australia for some light relief. I had watched BBAU the previous year and enjoyed it, but it was a long slog. This time, with the Sistahs on board, and some excellent casting (Tim, Drew and Tully must rank as some of the most interesting and engaging Big Brother housemates of all time - and Tahan was a bitchy girl you could actually get behind) I just loved it. Yes it was a very long season, and the TV show could do with some editing, but it was just a fun ride,  so lighthearted and easy-going compared to BB15. Although, don't tell Sistah J, but even the black girl in the Australian version was ditched after just a couple of week. Sigh.
Meanwhile, the Sistah's went from discussing BB15 and then chatting a bit about BBAU afterwards to just stopping talking about BB15 altogether and just taking solely about BBAU. I found this HILARIOUS. They were so unapologetic about it; it was just like, 'we're done with that, next!' It was just brilliant. And oh, do they talk. The three of them regularly clock in at three hours per podcast which is just a joy if you enjoy a podcast. For my podcast, we struggle to do 30 minutes! It is HARD to talk enthusiastically for that length of time, so hats off to them, it really is an achievement. Do they have loo breaks?!
The thing I loved about their BBAU podcast in particular, is just the chemistry between the three women. They just have a wonderful rapport, and you really feel like you are part of their gang as you listen. I also love the fact they go off on mad tangents; I remember on episode where Idris Elba had made the top of a 'sexiest' list and this was mulled over enthusiastically for at least half an hour. They never apologise for going off on a tangent, and you're just swept along with them. I don't think many podcasts could get away with this: if any. It's actually a talent to be that good at being entertaining just talking about nothing. Their quest by Sistah K and Sister L Marie to get the KFC Zinger Pie brought to America from Australia, with Sistah A, a patient vegetarian, just listening to them was just brilliant.
As well as listening to the old Big Brother US podcasts with Sistah K and Sistah J, I also decided to have a listen to the Walking Dead podcast that the two of them do, mainly because I couldn't imagine how someone could podcast about a scripted TV show. Reality is easy, as you can insult all the contestants, but what is there to say about the Walking Dead? It turns out: a lot!
I love the relationship between Sistah K and Sistah J. They bicker constantly; I'd swear they were related but have no idea if that's true! Sistah K gets a lot noisier when she's with Sistah J, and their enthusiasm levels: especially for The Walking Dead, which has been consistently dire this year - except for when throats are being ripped out - is truly amazing. They are so animated and excited, I just love it. Sistah J is a real character and she's not afraid to say outrageous things, which Sistah K tells her off for, but she never quite reigns her in, thank God! I like it on the old Big Brother podcasts where Sistah J constantly calls everything a fix, because I think that, too! She's also not afraid to call someone out, and I like that. They don't just do these shows either; I see they clocked up FOUR HOURS recently on what I think was a Game of Thrones podcast. TV shows are only 40 minutes! They are talking for FOUR HOURS. That's half a working day. Just unbelievable.
I was listening to an old Big Brother episode this year and Sistah K said she liked podcasts with cursing in, so I decided to send her a mine and we soon got chatting. Her Facebook messages are long, as you would expect (!) but what a lovely and welcoming person. Similarly, I've built up a new friendship with Sistah A and she's just really easy to talk to. I don't think I've ever spoken to such friendly podcasters. They also read out every bit of feedback they get on their podcast, which I personally don't agree with (!) but only because I want to hear from THEM, not other people. Still though; it's very lovely of them to do it. I can't see it happening on my podcast, but that's because normally the feedback I get is 'you're a man-hating bitch.' Everyone's a critic! However, I can't complain as they also plugged my podcast and we got some new much-needed listeners from it, hehe!
So finally, this year they started podcasting Big Brother Canada, as Sistah K told them it was good (the first series was!). I could tell straight away they weren't enthused; and who could blame them? I can tell from my own podcast listens that people have switched off in droves, and that's not me being big headed; it's just obvious as it's such a unlikeable cast. So when I saw their most recent episode was four MINUTES and not four HOURS I knew it was over. They'd given up. And there's no BBAU to turn to yet! We are still plodding on with our podcast - just - although we've had a big gap, but we plan to pick it up tomorrow and I think it finishes next week. Thank God; put the dead dog down. The casting last year was quirky characters like Gary, Peter and Talla: this year it's just a list of complete arseholes. It's really hard to do a podcast when you're not enjoying the show. It just makes it hard work and not as much fun.
But back to Sistah Speak; I honestly don't know how Sistah K finds the time to do it all, and with such good humour. She's great at controlling the show, making sure everyone is included and just generally being a good host. Sistah L Marie is lively and opinionated and Sistah A is just very cool calm and collected; she might not speak quite as much at the others, but what she does say is always worth listening to: we were definitely on the same page about Arlie; UGH! 
I just love the Sistahs and can't wait until BBAU to join their gang again. I hope they give BB16 a chance too; surely it can't be as bad as last year?! Famous last words. And they said they would start podcasting BBUK so let's hope for a good year. I don't want my country to let them down like Canada did!

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