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Six Years Of Awesome!

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Totally Married Podcast

Episode 135

Happy Anniversary! It’s been 6 years of this wild ride called marriage so naturally Elizabeth and Andy discuss balls (of the felt variety), shoplifters, and death. Then they answer listener questions about racist costumes, where to live in LA, how to humor a funny guy boss, whether to continue a friendship that feels null and void, what’s the best place to start if you want to rescue a dog (yay!) whether or not to buy a baby gift for a porn star you’ve been enjoying (love this one!) and lastly, our first ever question about a conflict – we hear from both sides of the story and discuss! Enjoy!


Diane says:

Hi guys, just wanted to give the racist costume writer-inner some love. While the costume might not be intended to be hateful, it is ignorant, taps into a long history of “yellowface” (Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is just one example; How I Met Your Mother did this very recently) and perpetuates negative or at least lazy stereotyping based on race.

It’s not about being “PC” so much as acknowledging that as white people, we’ve never known what it’s like to be oppressed or discriminated against on the basis of race, so maybe we should listen to people who have and who find this kind of cultural appropriation offensive. (There’s an excellent blog post from a writer of Native American descent about this issue here:

Kwame says:

A bit disappointed in Andy and Elizabeth’s response to the yellow face incident. Racism is not just about overtly negative or hateful terms or rhetoric. Yellow face *does* have a history, and the stereotypes portrayed within it are linked to histories of anti-Asian violence in this country.

I also find it to be hugely problematic when anyone says “sure I could respect your feelings/this history, but….I just want to have fun more.” Ouch. Most often, people of color who travel in racially integrated worlds have to make a decision about picking our battles, because its very difficult to pick professional and social worlds totally free of white folks. This means we encounter social situations where someone is making racist jokes or doing yellow/black/red face more often than you may be aware of. It gets old. And it also gets old feeling like we have to calmly, respectfully point out why its hurtful without being called “angry” “irrational” or “over the top.”

The result is that we just end up choosing our friends carefully and keeping those folks who don’t respect our feelings at a distance.

Robin says:

I was going to say I also respectfully disagree with your stance on the racist costume The two comments above are eloquent and give resources, so I’d second their thoughts.

The “if no one is offended, it’s okay” rationale didn’t sit right with me. It doesn’t matter if the person who was offended was Asian or not, it’s not just persons of color to call out racism.

To the writer-inner: i’m sorry it had to turn out this way, and I’m not saying to drop all these friends, but it does illuminate their core values that they thought this was funny. This is a moment for you when you can decide if these folks are “varsity squad” or not.

Elizabeth and Andy, I am a huge fan and will continue to be, which is why I hope people give you more resources and explanations than just getting angry at you.

A site I recommend is, which talks about racism and pop culture. The information is really accessible and uses current relevant examples.

Liz says:

I was disappointed with your response to the writer inner at the murder mystery party, but I know you guys will listen to all the responses here and take it as an opportunity to learn. It just comes down to this: you can’t wear a marginalized people’s identity as a costume. There’s definitely a history of this– see the Charlie Chan movies. It’s offensive and perpetuates ugly stereotypes– all Chinese people are not the same and cannot be summed up in a “character” with a funny voice and outdated dress. I guess I’m frustrated because racism is so often laughed off when it’s applied to Asian Americans, even though it often takes the same form as what other groups deal with.

I think the writer inner should have trusted her gut and bailed on the party. It’s not her fault if her friend can’t play the game anymore. Maybe the other people who bailed thought it sounded racist, too. And honestly, if I were organizing the party, I would rather have you not come than show up and be extremely uncomfortable the whole time.

This stuff is tough. I went to a college where much of the focus was on these issues of privilege so I feel an ingrained sensitivity to it, but I understand that most people in the world aren’t coming from that same educational background. One thing I’ve appreciated about this show is that you guys are open-minded and always willing to learn.

Christine says:

Yeah, Elizabeth & Andy, that party was racist. Love you guys, but your ignorance on this topic is really staggering.

The comments above do a nice job at pointing you to resources that will help educate you about this issue. Here’s another one. It’s primarily about blackface. Blackface & yellowface are different, but I included this because it points to the institutional nature of racism. It’s not about intention nor does it operate at the individual level.

Writer-inner: Good on you for speaking up.

Chris P says:

Just to toss in my agreement on the above comments. A white person impersonating someone of a different race is S U P E R R A C I S T. You can easily have a murder mystery game without having a racist character. I would be incredibly uncomfortable at such a party.

Not that it really matters, but I’m white.

Chris P says:

Also, the writer-inner is incredibly brave for speaking her mind when faced with a racist situation. Most people, even very progressive people, don’t say anything.

Richard C says:

Sister fight:
Personally would side with older sister. I think it’s hard to complain when someone is doing you a favor.

Porn baby gift:
Andy saying “What are you thinking, dude?!” was awesome.

Racist Party:
It seems pretty racist. Even if the entire group was white, you’re promoting negative stereotypes and reinforcing bad behavior.

Elizabeth’s Napal Balls:
I love it!

Elanor says:

Hm. A little torn about the guy and the porn star. He is definitely watching her videos for FREE (which is why they have the wishlist), so reimbursing her a little something sounds like no big deal . But it sounds like this guy would have to do the buying in secret, so it’s already crossed the line it sounds like.

About that party costume. Definitely off, definitely racist.

Kevin says:

The boys over at the “If I Were You” podcast answered the same question about buying gifts for porn stars (38ish minute mark). Kind of interesting and funny to hear two takes on the Q, especially since it’s an absolutely ridiculous problem to have.

(Spoiler alert: They say it’s a no go, too. Also, the writer-inner sounds a lot douchier in the “IIWY” version of the email.)

Masha says:

I thought the question sounded familiar! I listen to a lot of advice podcasts (If I Were You, Savage Lovecast, Totally Married, My Brother My Brother and Me) and I didn’t know where to start in figuring out which one had this question too.

Mel says:

This is the first time in 135 episodes that I adamantly disagreed with you. I even found myself talking back to the podcast. Thankfully I was alone in my car. The character in the game was definitely racist, and I understand why the writer-inner felt uncomfortable with it. I would have as well. Yellowface is completely different than acting like “a stuffy British professor,” and I was a little surprised by your responses (but still love ya to death!) Like someone mentioned earlier, it does bring to light the values of her friends and its time to decide which “friend squad” these people belong on.

That said, I don’t think I ever giggled as hard as I did when listening to the question about the porn star baby gift. Andy’s reaction was priceless. If I found out my husband did that, I would would not be happy. It’s different if there is a way he can donate to support these sites, or purchase one of her videos, but a gift for the baby seems to go too far. Even as much as I feel like you guys are my friends, I am more likely to buy a t-shirt or donate to the podcast that to buy a gift for Baby Oprah. It all just seems so … personal.

Sarah says:

The guy shoplifting at JoAnn was totally stealing tiny “jewelry” ziplock bags for drugs

squashblossom says:

I was gonna say! People I know who have worked at JoAnn have stories about sketchy dudes coming in and buying little ziploc bags and scales…to the extent where some stores won’t even sell you those items if you’re just buying those two things and it’s obvious what your purpose is.

Now I wanna know where to get the Nepalese balls from…that sounds like a fun project and a super-cute idea for a nursery!

Joelene says:

A lot of craft store products are expensive and people steal them and take them to another location to try and return the items for money. I worked customer service in college and we had people steal Cricket accessories and pinking shears all the time and try to return them later.

Cory says:

Clearly the writer inner knows now that she should’ve gone with her gut not not attended the party, but it was so important to her friend that she went! If she hadn’t gone, it sounds like it would be a pretty big deal in terms of her relationship with her friend, and she wouldn’t know if she was making too big a deal about the racist thing (we know now that she wasn’t). Even though the party was super uncomfortable and sounds terrible, she learned an important lesson about that group of people. Hey, maybe that friendship is over now anyway, but at least you know.

I feel like so many times I’ve heard people do that racist asian voice and (even though I know in THIS case it was a parody of someone doing a racist asian voice) I hate having to be the one that says ‘stop, thats not funny-what-so-ever’.

Curious how other listeners would’ve handled themselves if they had gone to the party and were face to face with someone doing a racist bit.

Kat says:

You’ve got to call people out on that stuff. Preferably in a way that encourages them to learn from it, but people are rarely going to react well when you tell them they’re engaging in institutionally-invisible racism. Ideally, those with white privilege will be able to point racists to a resource where they can hear the perspectives of PoC. disgrasian, racialicious, yo is this racist, angry asian man, etc…

Heidi says:

Regarding the murder mystery party, I agree with these comments. I want to emphasize a point that’s already been made: it’s bigoted to imitate a person from a minority group, period. I appreciate others pointing out the ugly history of yellow face characters, but I just wanted to echo the broader point, as commenter Liz stated, “you can’t wear a marginalized people’s identity as a costume.” It’s sad and gross that such a caricature still appears in entertainment today (add this murder mystery game to the list!). That being said, Elizabeth and Andy, thanks for the podcast – it can’t be easy to do this every week, and I’m impressed by how considerate you are with people’s questions.

Alex says:

I’ve been to a couple of these murder mystery parties, and and every time the characters where racial stereotypes. Granted, for the most part these were French-themed or Italian-themed. Debatably, noting as inflammatory as yellowface.

Where are the 2014 PC-minded murder mystery party companies?

Alex says:

wow no one above said happy anniversary?

Happy Anniversary Elizabeth & Andy!

Cory says:

Aw! I don’t think anyone meant to not wish E & A happy anniversary! I know I was just rushing to sympathize with the writer inner! Hey, we are all here because we love the show!

That said:

eamon says:

Is it racist to dress as an Egyptian (and do the walk etc)?
Is it racist to dress as a French guy (beret, garlic around neck etc)?
Is it racist do dress as a German (lederhosen, beer jug)?

People need to try not be so sensitive.

Ashley says:

I have to agree with you!!
I am part asian and don’t find this offensive but I guess I’m a pretty laid back person and it takes a lot to offend me. Why is it ok to make fun of the British guy and mock his accent? Because he’s a white man? Well white people have feelings too. I just think that this world is wound up too tight. Lets all do a shot and relax a bit! (btw it’s 8 o’clock in the morning her in snowy Wisconsin but thats how we roll in the Badger state!) Oooppps….sorry if I offended anyone for claiming that people from Wisconsin are drunks, that is our stereotype after all. HAHA!

Kwame says:

Is it racist to dress as an Egyptian (and do the walk etc)?

Is it racist to dress like someone from an ancient culture who, in no real way, even resembles the people who currently live in Egypt? No.

<b<Is it racist to dress as a French guy (beret, garlic around neck etc)?

Is it racist to dress in the fashion accoutrement of a nation that does not have a homogenous racial population (despite the French’s attempts to ignore the African and Carribean citizens in their midst)? No.

Is it racist do dress as a German (lederhosen, beer jug)?

See above. Also watch this video on “reverse racism” cause its not a thing.

Ron says:

I disagree with Kwame. The Egyptians are people, the Chinese are people, the Germans are people, the French are people. Either is it ok to dress and act like people for the sake of art/entertainment or it isn’t. You can’t single out certain groups and make them above the others. Also, just because a comic says that you can’t be racist toward white people as a part of his set, doesn’t mean that you can’t be racist toward white people. You definitely can be racist toward and discriminate against white people.

Every individual have their own sensitivities and it is impossible to be aware and to avoid all of them. That would also make a very boring world anyway. I am not saying that you can be mean and try to hurt people because that is wrong. But I don’t think that there is a problem with having one bad stereotype from a different culture in what is probably a game full of bad stereotypes from different cultures.

If the game is all straight characters except this one fake Chinese person (remember that the character really is faking being Chinese) then there might be a case for racism, but seriously, none of us have enough information to determine that.

I personally do not like to judge people and their ideas with out enough facts.

Disappointed Listener says:

Nope. Sorry. You can’t be racist against white people. Elizabeth and Andy, I hope you take the time to read these and inform yourselves.

Why Reverse Racism Isn’t Real

Why There’s No Such Thing As Reverse Racism

A Look at the Myth of Reverse Racism,80611,.shtml

28 Common Racist Attitudes and Behaviors

And since we’re dealing with yellowface and cultural appropriation (to a degree), here’s an article on why it’s wrong, using Katy Perry as an example.

Ron says:

I think there is a problem here and in American society with what racism is. A lot of the problem is that it is really hard to determine what a race actually is. I see a lot of people confuse cultural bias with racism. Race does not equal culture.

To make it easy let’s use a non US definition of racism. The Oxford English Dictionary defines racism as the “belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races” and the expression of such prejudice

Each of the articles posted above added something to this definition to support their bias. Some added the need for power or institutional norms but that defines a type of racism and not racism itself. Additionally, to group all white people, black people, Chinese people etc.. Together to say that they do or don’t have power is a stereotypical and racist attitude itself. The most powerful man in the US is black and I personally know a lot of powerless whites.

So to sum up my point, no group or person is immune from being racist and no group or person is immune from being a victim of racism.

Clearly “Kwame” is the victim of racial prejudice.

Let’s (all of us “white people”) do our penance for the “race + power = racism” power structure harming poor Kwame to such a harsh degree.

And let’s hurry it up too, because we (that’s all of us “white people” again) need to get back to oppressing racial minorities — which is the obvious intent behind every indulgence in mocking stereotypes that fuel most (good) comedy.

Tracy Morgan’s (a black guy) comedy routine about gays (I believe he plans to kill his son if he finds out he was gay) landed him in “hot water.”

Were Morgan’s comments acceptable? Can members of a racial minority be prejudice against gays? (because what we’re really saying here is only white people are capable of prejudice)

I ask because the majority of gays are a) white, and b) “sinning in the eyes of the lord.” I’ve heard the ladder argument from every major black political figure (worldwide) in denigration gays — I just wanna be clear on this…

Paul says:


I love you two dearly, but just wanted to add my voice to the avalanche of comments agreeing that the character at the party was, in fact, racist. I, too, was talking back to the podcast in frustration. Others have already put it more eloquently than I could, so I’ll just leave it there.

And, but, so —

Having a few specific favourite porn stars that push your buttons is perfectly fine. (Would love to have heard the conversation you and Andy had about his porn habits after you shut off the microphone!) That that writer-inner is considering buying one a gift is hilarious! Andy nailed it on the head. Dude, what are you thinking! Back away from the credit card…

Love the podcast, guys, keep up the great work – and here’s to six/ten more amazing years!!

Jillian says:

I’m relieved to see I wasn’t the only one disturbed by how easily A&E brushed off such blatant racism. I actually had to stop listening because I was so sad that A&E thought it was perfectly ok and that only an Asian person or fun-hating PC person should be offended.

That costume was absolutely mocking a culture, one that is stereotyped like crazy in our society. The character wasn’t just ‘white guy who got plastic surgery to look like an asian guy’ (which would be weird enough) but a guy wearing all the most stereotypical garb to portray a member of a weird exotic culture. This is exactly the same as showing up in blackface or in a dress and acting flamboyant to be a gay character. It is definitely different for a member of the majority culture to dress up as a member of a marginalized group. Ask your Asian friends in the entertainment industry if they’ve encountered this kind of pigeonholed casting.

Racism is not about whether or not your intentions were evil or whether or not you have an Asian friend who you are pretty sure wouldn’t be a buzzkill about it. Stereotyping and boiling a whole group of people down to a few, tired/hacky, attributes is just as hurtful.

Emily says:

I haven’t even finished listening to this episode, but I had to come here and read the comments. I love seeing such respectful dialogue on the racism question. Big ups to the writer-inner for speaking up (and writing in). I found myself talking back to Elizabeth and Andy in my car this morning, because I too believe the costume and character propagated racism, and now I’m here in the comments clicking on links and learning even more about all the ways I consume pop culture without thinking about its commentary on marginalized people.

On a lighter note, this episode has been so great! Such diverse questions, and so much to celebrate. Happy anniversary, guys!

Kay says:

Regarding the two sisters and the pups. Just to point out the other side. Here’s the thing, doing someone a favor isn’t always enjoyable! It’s a nice thing to do, that’s what we do. We look out for each other and take care of each other, even if sometimes it isn’t convenient. Sidenote: it’s not as if she is out of town partying every weekend and asking you to puppy-sit. And I’m sure she would do the same for you guys! Take the dogs for an nice long play session, it will give you some fresh air and they’ll be less rambunctious in the house. Younger sister: maybe offer to take them out to dinner when you get back, as a stress-relieving thank you. And it’s less expensive and (and sad for you) l then a kennel. 🙂

Costume party- yeah that was racist and I’m so proud that the writer-inner did her part, even if it was hard, to speak up.

Porn star baby gifts: Jake and Amir had the same question on their show. How funny! You guys should podcast swap!

O-Shen Christ says:

White people are too funny!! Racism is intention. It’s judgement so only the person the self knows the intent. The truth of the statement an enlightened person can kill with no karma is all about intent. But judgement is rampant and guilt is the impetus to all this. Aloha.

Alex says:

Oh man, the guy wanting to buy a gift for a porn star was too funny! Dude, don’t do it! It’s creepy! In my opinion, it crosses a boundary. The writer-inner only knows her through her job, not in real life. I understand being a grateful fan, but buying her a gift is just a little too personal. She’s not his private entertainer, she’s not his friend, she’s not even an acquaintance. The only relationship (and maybe that’s too strong a word) he has with her is sexual (and perhaps monetary, if he’s a paying customer). A gift invites in all these weird feelings of attachment and gratitude. Making such a personal gesture is inappropriate. When it comes to Elizabeth and Andy, I think they have a different relationship with fans. We hear their problems, they hear ours, there’s a mutual exchange of ideas and emotion and experiences. Totally Married is a thousand times more personal than any porn site because of that interaction.

If the writer-inner is that big a fan, just keep watching her. That’s the best way to show his appreciation.

Also re: the party? Yikes. Gurl, you got some racist friends.

Tim says:

Hey, Asian listener here. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that you guys were so laissez-faire about the racism party question; more so because you guys usually seem so open-minded about other sensitive issues.

I think the writer-inner had the right to be offended, and I was actually surprised that they voiced that to the friend hosting the party. From experience, I don’t normally see people getting called out on that stuff.

When it comes to calling people out when I’m offended, I’ve sort of had to pick my battles. If I speak up, I’m always at the high risk of being labeled as overdramatic or too serious. Sure, people could have decent intentions, but I figure that it shouldn’t be at the cost of making me or another minority feel bad.

I don’t know. I guess I’m still reeling from the fact that you guys were so confused why this person would be offended. You guys basically saying, “if no one was offended, it’s okay” bummed me out. It’s basically a “if a tree falls in a forest” argument at that point.

kenny says:

glad i arrived here to see that there were already a zillion comments mirroring my thoughts. that shit was racist. i hope these comments enlighten you both a bit.

Josue says:

I was pretty disappointed in the response to the question about the racist caricature. Looks like I wasn’t the only one, so I won’t beat a dead horse but hope you re-examine how you feel about racist portrayals.

Josue says:

On rereading, I sound like a real judgmental prick. I want to clarify I’m not mad, love you guys and love your shows.

s says:

All these comments regarding the racism thing are impressive! Elizabeth says how much she loves all the listeners all the time but I’m on board now too, what a good collection of folks. So passionate but informed and respectful, it is so awesome to see.

Happy Anniversary you guys.

Masha says:

I totally agree with the majority of the comments above, and I think they explained the issue well. I know you two will discuss this on your next show and I see that you’re very open to feedback, so I look forward to hearing your response.

Happy anniversary to you two!

Anna says:


Masha says:

I agree! You’ve created a community of people who care about you two and who know you care about us (since every week you answer questions to help your listeners), and I’m sure many people would appreciate the chance to buy you and your baby a gift. Also keep the donate button close to the wishlist button, since of course when you have a baby, money will certainly help too.

Sheila says:

PORNSTAR shopper? Hmmm, if it were an anonymous gift? MAYBE! But my guess is it’s a way in to make personal contact. Get acknowledgement. BUT of course people have favorite porn stars to get off to! It’s not really much different than the endless cinema-goers who have “innocently” seen ALL of Bradley Cooper’s movies and think of him while in the sack with their significant other and then tweet him… Is it?

REVERSE RACISM? maybe it can be argued white people can’t be at the wrong end of this ugly stick in some parts of the world but it’s ignorant to assume what happens in America is valid around the globe. This is just ethnocentric ignorance. Majority rules.

Loved this episode!!! So divisive!

Rachel says:

Everyone has had some great resources and things to think about regarding racism.

In this specific case I think things have been blown out of proportion. These types of parties have characters that are wildly exaggerated. None of the characters are meant to be realistic representations, they are overstated so people who are not actors can play them easily and laugh at how ridiculous everyone is. While the Asian character was in bad taste, I think you should make sure that the other people attending the party are on the same page about the ridiculousness of it all. I doubt anyone would even notice the other types of people who are made fun of during these things even though they are also treated horribly (obviously not to the same extent)- nerds, goths, gay and trans people.

I think my point is that people need to calm down, acknowledge that we are all different, and enjoy those differences. Even if we are sometimes laughing about them.

Megan says:

Ok I’m going to put my 2 cents in and I know because I am a white female I’m obviously privileged and wrong. (wait isn’t that statement racism.) It’s at least prejudges. Making assumptions based on what I look like.

Every culture is guilty of racism. In this country white (males specifically) get called out on in and shamed more so then anyone else. But I know that if some of my Hispanic friends came home with a black partner (don’t judge me on my use of black. I have been scolded both ways) they would be kicked out of their family/society in no time flat. I don’t know about the reverse so much because all I see is what is on TV. Most of my friends that are black tend to be very open. But one of my cousins (who is Caucasian/native american) married a black man and had kids. She goes to the park all the time and gets harassed by the black moms. They treat her as though she is just a nanny not the kids mom.

Now about the skit. The writer-inner was right. It is playing into a stereo type of what Chinese people look like and how they act (and a kimono is actually Japanese which is not the same thing). If she felt uncomfortable then she shouldn’t have gone. She tried to say her peace but the friend didn’t understand. The problem is that people can’t see their own racism or if they do they say that because they are a minority it’s ok. At least that is my experience.

I do think that there are levels of racism. There are people who are ignorant to how it hurts others and there are the ones where it is based in hate. You will not change the person who doesn’t understands mind by yelling at them, calling them racist, and hating them for a statement. You will get them to see your side if you point out how that offends you or hurts you in a kind educational manner.

To the person that said there isn’t reverse racism. I agree but not the way you think. Racism is racism. No matter the color of your skin, place you live, how much money you have, etc. Anytime you play into a stereo type of a race you are guilty. Anytime you don’t want to associate with someone solely because of their skin tone or nationality you are being racist.

E & A, I love your podcasts and have been listening for a while. Though at times I don’t agree, I love that you are honest and also willing to listen to others point of views.

Avalia says:

Just started listening. love love the podcast.the best part for me is that it’s not scripted, or politically correct. Please don’t change. Seriously fellow listeners, cool it. The racial thing was blown WAY outta proportion. Don’t be so sensitive and start labelling these great people as racist. People who are fans of this podcast obviously know it’s content can be inappropriate and controversial at moments but that’s what makes it awesome. Please don’t ruin it by your overbearing and over sensitive comments.
All that said, I come from a multi cultural multi racial background and have come in contact with racial discrimination personally. Maybe it’s my thick skin that I’ve grown from my own experiences or maybe it really isn’t that big of a deal but I didn’t find a&e response at all racist or offensive. I found the idea of that type of party pretty funny and well interesting. Didn’t know those things really happened. To each his own. But seriously there is no reason a&e should have to justify their response. Feel bad they felt the need to go there.

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