Three Minute Squiz with… Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald

As far as guilty pleasures go, the Shameless podcast is like knocking off a whole block of Lindt salted caramel chocolate in one sitting. Pop culture (think Bachie/the Kardashians/Instagram) is just the starting point for conversations that can (and do) range across topics like feminism and social media self care. Zara McDonald (left) and Michelle Andrews (right) are the women behind the mics – please welcome them to the Three Minute Squiz.

How and where do you Squiz?
In the car on the way to work every morning!

How did you meet?
We met in our first month at where we worked as writers for a few years. For some strange reason, we were always scheduled on the same whacky shifts together, often in the office when no one else was. It was during these shifts we’d get talking and debating and brainstorming, and things just clicked. Our ideas bounced well off each other and our conversations were always infused with honesty. It worked then and it works now. We’ve never looked back.

Your podcast Shameless (along with The Squiz Today Podcast…) was on Apple’s Best of 2018 list. Give us the elevator pitch.
We are the podcast for smart women who love dumb stuff. We take the fluff of life – reality TV! Instagram! celebrities! – and use those topics to launch important conversations.

You’ve described Shameless as a guilty pleasure – why is pop-culture judged so negatively do you think? 
This probably ties in with why Shameless has been moderately successful; for so long, women have been admonished for their hobbies and interests. For whatever reason, watching men stand around a cricket pitch is seen as a totally respectable way to spend time, while watching Love Island is seen as foolish and stupid. And that’s no disrespect to sports fans – Mich is the biggest footy nut you’ll ever meet – but there is an unusual dynamic at play when it comes to how we minimise women’s interests. Watching reality TV is fun. So too is catching up on what celebrities are doing. That doesn’t make you an idiot – if anything it makes you interested in the lives of other people, and the culture we’ve all created.

Being completely immersed in the world of social media – is it a force for good or are we doomed as a civilisation?
WE ARE ALL DOOMED. Just kidding. Social media is really what you make of it; sure, reading the comments on Sunrise‘s Facebook Page on a Tuesday morning might be disheartening, but there are also so many positive and uplifting corners of the internet where you can connect with like-minded people. We also don’t want to stomp on poor old social media too much – it did kinda give us our careers. As users, we love it. One of the core things we try to do with Shameless is making sure other people – namely those with massive followings – are accountable for how they use it and the messages they spread.

What’s your personal pop culture topic of choice?
Instagram influencers! They’re such fascinating creatures. How some people have launched global empires from filtered little squares on an app will never cease to bewilder us.

What’s one trend you wish you’d never gone near?
Mich really got into the gladiator sandal trend when she was in high school (and regrets it on a cellular level). Zara definitely doesn’t want to be reminded of the DIY ombre phase of her life that went on longer than it should have.

If you could invite four people – living or dead – to dinner, who would they be?
Nora Ephron, Serena Williams, Stella Bugbee, and Arianna Huffington.

Who’s cooking/what’s on the menu?
Definitely not either of us, so Nigella Lawson, please! We won’t tell an expert how to do her job, so she can serve us whatever she fancies.

What skill or talent do you not have but wish you did?
Michelle says singing, because she longs for a life where she is one of those ethereal, can-play-guitar-and-sing-like-an-angel specimens. Zara definitely needs to learn how to dance.

Most overrated virtue?
We both have different ideas about this one. For Mich, it’s temperance. Sometimes, more is better. For Zara (and her 20-year-old self would be having a fit to hear this), it’s perfectionism. Doing your job well is crucial, but obsessing over minutiae can slow you down, holding you back from getting your work into the world.

Your top podcasts?
The Squiz (we mean it), The Cut on Tuesdays, How I Built This, The High Low, The Pineapple Project and Longform.

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