CHELSEA: Welcome back to episode 19 of Not Now, I’m Reading, your one-stop shop for all things genre. My name is Chelsea.
KAY: And I’m Kay.
CHELSEA: And it is time for our retro fandom extravaganza episode!
CHELSEA: And we are so excited. In case you are just joining us or haven’t listened to the last couple episodes, this is a retro fandom in the respective retro for us. So fandoms we’ve been in for a while slash have been fairly foundational kind of in our fandom experiences. Today we are talking about The West Wing and Stargate: Atlantis. Buckle in, guys. There’s gonna be a lot of feelings.
KAY: I don’t think you could have two more disparate shows for us to talk about in one episode, either.
CHELSEA: No, you could not.
KAY: What kinda connects them is how much we love them.
CHELSEA: Is we love them a lot.
KAY: And how great their fandoms were.
CHELSEA: Yes. Also you will find that we love these things for similar but sometimes very different reasons.
KAY: Very different reasons.
CHELSEA: But we can all still love them the same.
CHELSEA: Like a whole, whole lot. We will be recommending what we think are two important or wonderful episodes for each show.
KAY: The ones I picked are not necessarily ones I think are important. Just ones I like a lot.
CHELSEA: Ones we’d recommend.
CHELSEA: That you watch if you’re gonna watch any two. [Laughs] Or, I guess four total.
KAY: I think it’s impossible to do that with either of these shows. Cause let’s see. The West Wing ran from…
CHELSEA: Eight seasons?
KAY: Seven seasons. 156 episodes.
CHELSEA: And we’ll be recommending you four.
KAY: And Stargate: Atlantis ran for five seasons and 100 episodes. So.
KAY: Neither of these are gonna be representative of even a season as a whole, just ones we like.
CHELSEA: Ones that give us a lot of feelings.
KAY: I could’ve done a lot of cheating and done some multipart episodes for both of these. And both of us refrained from doing that, so be proud.
CHELSEA: You’re welcome. Congratulations us.
KAY: We’re proud of ourselves.
CHELSEA: So there will be lots of links to check out in the show notes and we’re also going to kind of be skipping our normal what we’re currently reading because we’re reccing so much stuff in this episode. So we’re gonna get right on into it. I will go first with The West Wing stuff. That was kind of my retro fandom pick for this dual episode.
KAY: Talk to us about The West Wing real quick, Chelsea.
CHELSEA: Okay, okay, so. Here’s the thing about The West Wing.
CHELSEA: The West Wing is a show. Written by.
[Kay laughs harder]
KAY: The West Wing is a show is gonna be our tagline for this episode.
CHELSEA: I hate you so much.
[Kay continues laughing]
CHELSEA: I hate you so much. It is a piece of television drama? What do you want me to say? It is a thing that happened.
KAY: To us. Specifically.
CHELSEA: It is a television show written by Aaron Sorkin.
KAY: Who is demonstrably the worst? Just throwing it out there.
CHELSEA: The worst. The show is a problematic fave to the extreme. It is about the presidential term of Josiah Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, and his West Wing staff and both their kind of dramas in terms of the presidency and the country and all of that brings, as well as interpersonal relationships.
KAY: Please note that this is an alternate history in a lot of ways. Including going back several presidents and also the actual timeline of when elections and stuff happen. It’s two years off of real time. It’s saying it’s like this year and this election is happening, but in real life it would be this year and the election would be two years away. If that makes any sense at all. Did not, but that’s okay.
CHELSEA: it didn’t to me, but I’m sure it probably will to someone else who’s listening. So that’s probably still good information. But the reason that I have long loved this show, Aaron Sorkin is the worst, but Aaron Sorkin writes basically verbal liberal pornography better than anybody else who has ever existed.
CHELSEA: And in the trash fire year that is 2017 I find myself returning to this particular show and this particular fandom because I need to believe that things like democracy and idealism can still be a thing that people believe in even if it comes layered in layers of white cishet misogynistic bullshit.
KAY: The show has not aged well, by the way.
KAY: if you have not watched since the original run. This stuff was obviously all problematic when it was airing, but it was also fairly typical for the time. Now it looks even worse than it did at the time. It’s very white. It’s very straight. It’s very male-centric. And it just talks to the audience.
CHELSEA: I have watched the entire show. I have twenty to twenty-five favorite episodes over the course of all the show that I just rewatch. So when I rewatch it, rarely am I actually watching everything because it just has not aged well. But this is one of those shows that when it does a thing really, there will be shows that are 75% nonsense, but there will be a scene or a storyline or a character that is happening that is just wonderfully done and beautifully written and so it’s like you keep watching for those moments!
KAY: You’re gonna laugh at this comparison. But the reason I like when the West Wing is good is the same reason I like when Grey’s Anatomy is good. Which is that —
KAY: — those casts are really fucking talented.
KAY: And they can take even dreck and make them really watchable. There are dogs having a rumble ten feet away from me.
CHELSEA: But for different reasons when both shows are bad they are really bad. When Grey’s Anatomy and The West Wing are bad they’re a little difficult to watch.
KAY: They become schlocky dreck which talks down to its audience.
CHELSEA: That is kind of the most general overview of The West Wing that I can give you. So I’m gonna go ahead and recommend two episodes. One of which is technically not an episode.
KAY: It’s not an episode. Not an episode. [Laughs]
CHELSEA: I mean, it is an episode because I watch it all the time on Netflix under The West Wing heading. The first one I’m gonna recommend is Shibboleth, which is a Thanksgiving-esque episode. The plotline basically concerns a boatload of Chinese evangelical Christians who have arrived off the coast of California who are seeking religious asylum. But there’s also the problem that they may not be religious exiles, they may just be trying to immigrate and using the cover of religious persecution to do so. Which has to do with the title of the show, Shibboleth. But there’s also the background debate over legal versus illegal immigration in general. There’s this underlying comedic plotline of President Bartlet trying to find the perfect knife to carve a turkey. A Carving knife. And there’s all this about him trying to find the right knife and the importance of legacy in something like a carving knife. And he gives this knife to Charlie, who’s played by Dule Hill and tells this whole story. So it’s really almost this comedic scene and it really, really shines for Martin Sheen.
KAY: He’s so lovely. When you give him these funny beats he really rolls with it and it’s wonderful.
CHELSEA: Exactly, because here’s the thing, Martin Sheen is wonderful period. And the other storyline has to do with these Chinese immigrants and basically speaking shibboleth or, which is kind of proving to another person that you are of a faith and how and why that works in the terms of these particular persecuted Christians and also immigration and faith in general. It kinda taps into the underlying character aspect of the president, who’s a catholic and a strong catholic and that comes up several times in various ways throughout the course of all of the seasons. But Martin Sheen is just so wonderful. He can do the drama and the comedy so well. I just think this is a really perfect episode for that. It goes to show how these characters can take some of these plotlines and make them into something that is really really memorable. I think the plotline about finding the perfect carving knife that a lot of West Wing fans can talk about and will remember as being a really wonderful plotline.
KAY: Also I love whenever Dule gets to do more than just sit at his desk for a couple of minutes. The way that they wrote him was very thoughtless a lot of the time and he’s very talented actor who they should’ve utilized more. So I love whenever he gets some scenes.
CHELSEA: yeah. And especially he and Martin Sheen have a really great chemistry together when they’re doing this kind of comedic almost paternal back and forth. He plays this very straight man character to a lot of the kind of nonsense that the president has to say. Cause the president is a huge nerd.
KAY: Major babbling nerd.
CHELSEA: Major babbling nerd and Charlie is very good at just being like of course, yes, absolutely and kind of encouraging him in that very straight man way and it’s really good. The second episode I’m gonna recommend is the not-an-episode.
KAY: It’s not an episode! It’s not an episode.
CHELSEA: It is an episode.
KAY: It’s not.
CHELSEA: it’s technically not an episode. It’s season 3, episode 0. This is basically.
KAY: Guys, remember when 9/11 happened and it was awful and then people decided it would be a good reason to preach at you about things on television?
CHELSEA: yeah. Yeah. So this is also a point at which Kay and I diverge about the things that we really like about The West Wing fandom. Because Kay does not like the thing that happens where Aaron Sorkin really long liberal lectures and diatribes.
[Kay makes mock vomiting noises]
CHELSEA: And just has characters deliver. I love it. I love it. I adore it. And that’s all this episode is. This is a special episode that was written after 9/11 that is, the plotline is because of a security threat, a group of high achieving high school students is kind of trapped in the West Wing with all the staff. So everybody makes an appearance. CJ and the president shows up and Josh and Sam. All your favorites. Basically, literally being like here’s why you shouldn’t hate all Muslims. Here’s why Islamic extremism is more akin to the KKK than it is to general Islamic faith. Here are the points about gun control that are probably important to talk about. And national security. And also things like invasion of privacy and spies and all of these things. And it’s literally just all of these actors delivering beautiful liberal ideological monologues. If you do not like that, you will not like this episode. I love that. I adored it.
KAY: The episodes of Sorkin stuff that are like this it’s just like [singsongs] humans do not speak like that. [Laughs]
CHELSEA: Nope! They sure do not.
KAY: This isn’t a real thing that happens. I know plenty of legit genius people who are public servants who are very intelligent and even they do not talk like that. I just. No one talks like that.
CHELSEA: So yeah. This show does not age well and it’s super problematic. This is a very lecture-y episode.
KAY: [laughs] I hate it so much.
CHELSEA: I know you do. I know you do. I know you do. I accept this. I accept this. But I love it.
KAY: I’m glad.
CHELSEA: Depending on which end of the spectrum you might be on as to your Aaron Sorkin writing West Wing feelings, your mileage may vary, but I super loved it. Do you wanna go ahead and do your episodes?
KAY: I’ll go ahead and do my episodes and then we can go back and forth for fic if you want.
CHELSEA: That sounds good.
KAY: So my two episodes are literally nothing like Chelsea’s two episodes.
KAY: They are both from the second season, which is basically where I mentally live in West Wing fandom. [Laughs]
CHELSEA: That’s a good season.
KAY: It’s just kinda peak West Wing for me. The first one is the tenth episode of season two, which is Noel. And has a guest appearance from one of my favorite character actors, Adam Arkin. I adore him. I love him. If you have never seen the TV show Life, which was very unfairly canceled.
[Loud dog noises, followed by laughter]
CHELSEA: Dogs agree.
KAY: The dogs also believe it was a tragedy. The show Life is wonderful. And he was wonderful in it and then I just was like oh yeah, I have to watch everything he’s ever been in. Adam Arkin’s great, as an aside. He’s plays a traumatologist. Which I don’t think is an actual term that they use in real life.
CHELSEA: That doesn’t sound like a real thing.
KAY: They repeatedly call him a traumatologist, but he’s basically just a psychotherapist who works for a trauma victims association. And he is brought in to talk to Josh who was very seriously injured in a shooting during the first season finale. And he’s not been coping very well.
CHELSEA: Yeah. He thinks he is! He thinks he’s coping well, but he is not.
KAY: He thinks he’s coping just fine, but he’s really not. There’s also a storyline about an Air Force pilot who broke away from his formation and purposefully crashed his plane into a mountain in New Mexico. And there is a plotline that involves the Congressional Christmas party at which Yoyo Ma plays. And I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this on the podcast, but I play cello. I love Yo-Yo Ma. I love Yo-Yo Ma. So that’s random and wonderful as a thing that this show managed to get.
CHELSEA: And also the crossover music cues in that episode? The music orchestration of that episode is fantastic.
KAY: This is just a really beautifully directed and edited episode. It also won some cinematography awards from the American Society of Cinematographers.
CHELSEA: We’re not the only people who think this is a great episode. It won awards.
KAY: Tommy Schlamme won a Director’s Guild of America award for this episode. Bradley Whitford won Best Supporting Actor Emmy in part of this episode. This is one of the episodes they put up for him for that.
CHELSEA: And he’s so good oh my god, he’s so good in this episode.
KAY: He’s so good. This is also the, ‘as long as I got a job, you got a job’ speech episode. Which I don’t know if you are a Hamilton fan, but you may know that this is one of Lin-Manuel’s things that he says to people he loves working with. If I got a job, you got a job. And there’s —
CHELSEA: There’s a lot of crossover West Wing/Lin-Manuel feelings that I have.
KAY: Well, he loves the show.
CHELSEA: yeah. Because he stans them real hard.
KAY: Right? And there’s also a storyline about CJ and a reporter asked her a question from the press pool about a woman screaming when she saw a painting on the white house tour and she does some digging with the help of Bernard Thatch, who’s —
CHELSEA: So fantastic.
KAY: — one of my favorite random recurring characters. He’s the protocol chief at the White House. The painting belonged to a Jewish family in Europe and was seized by the Nazi collaborators and this woman gets back her painting that had been stolen by Nazis.
CHELSEA: It’s so beautiful.
KAY: There’s also a storyline about Sam and gas prices? And then there’s also — which is whatever.
CHELSEA: Whatever, nobody remembers that.
KAY: There’s also a hilarious minor storyline about the president signing the Christmas cards. If you send a card to the White House and then as well as anyone else on their list, you get a card from the First Family. And they don’t generally sign them by hand now, it’s stamped. But he was insistent on signing them by hand. Which is very funny. Less funny when you think about the MS stuff.
CHELSEA: uh, yeah.
KAY: Good way to have a flare-up there. It’s a really good episode. There’s some amazing performances in it. There are some really great lines. And it’s heartbreaking and wonderful. The other episode I want to recommend is also from the second season. It is Two Cathedrals.
CHELSEA: I love this episode so much, guys.
KAY: It’s the second season finale. It has a very interesting structure. Spoilers for a show that has been off the air for quite a while.
CHELSEA: That you can binge on Netflix any time you want.
KAY: President Bartlet did not disclose a health condition when he was running. He has MS. Relapsing-remitting MS. The show actually brought a lot of attention to it in the public eyes. It was not particularly well understood before this, so that’s one thing.
CHELSEA: That’s good. That is a thing that happened.
KAY: Thanks Aaron Sorkin, I guess. But there’s a couple different things happening in this episode. You’ve got President Bartlet who is dealing with the disclosure of his MS. There’s also a crisis in Haiti. And you’ve got all these congressional democrats coming in like vultures. And then you’ve also got this really lovely flashbacks to young Jed Bartlet when he’s at school.
Chelsea: [sighs] Adorable young Jed Bartlet.
KAY: Mrs. Landingham, who was his secretary all through his time as Governor in New Hampshire and came with him to the White House and who had two boys die in Vietnam and I love Mrs. Landingham, okay?
CHELSEA: There’s a lot of emotional investment in Mrs. Landingham’s storyline.
KAY: I love her. Just. But they have flashbacks and in the flashbacks she’s played by Kirsten Nelson. And if you are not familiar with that name, she’s the Chief on Psych. So you also have this lovely little Psych moment, cause Dule Hill is also a main character on Psych. So that always brings me a lot of joy to see cast members from future shows working together before they’re on a show. I know most people don’t give a shit about that, but I really love it. But this episode is super famous for the closing where Bartlet is in the National Cathedral after Mrs. Landingham’s funeral cursing God in Latin and then he lights a cigarette and drops it on the floor and grinds it. And I just. I just.
CHELSEA: and it’s one of those speeches that is not only, not only is Martin Sheen just such a fantastic actor. But it makes those poignant callbacks to the flashbacks throughout the show. And again, his Catholicism and his faith comes up and he’s just been so emotionally rocked into this place of doubt that you just. Ugh.
KAY: He’s like, ‘I’m not running. You get Hoynes.’ And then later he gets a sign of God, or what he thinks is a sign from God, obviously. There’s a tropical storm and he gets a vision of Mrs. Landingham. And at the end of the episode the reporter asks the president if he’s going to seek reelection and he puts his hands in his pockets, looks away, and smiles. And that’s the end of the episode! [Laughs] Which was the season finale!
CHELSEA: Which, to be fair, is established earlier in the episode, that is a tick that he has a way of doing when he is getting ready to agree to do a thing. Or to get out and start a new project. So it’s not explicitly made clear, but kind of made clear. But also ohmygod as a finale. In the age of Netflix it’s not a thing, but I can only imagine if you had to wait —
KAY: Four months!
CHELSEA: Four months to find out what was gonna happen on this show.
CHELSEA: [sighs] It’s a good one.
KAY: And also just whenever Martin Sheen gets to do a little scenery chewing monologue, it’s really great.
KAY: He gets several this episode that are very good. [Laughs]
CHELSEA: And they do a good job of casting young Jed Bartlet, too. It’s very easy to think that those two people are the same person, just grown up. So. It’s good all around. So to recommend you fics, we each have five. Okay. So the first one I’m gonna recommend is called Sudafed and Snowflakes by Waldo. This is 5,000 words of sick fic. It is a Josh/Sam fic. Spoiler alert, I’m pretty sure 99, yeah, all of these are some form of Josh/Sam plus other people.
KAY: I think same. [Laughs]
CHELSEA: Yeah, basically. This is exactly like it sounds like. Sam gets sick and Josh brings him chicken noodle soup and Sudafed and takes care of him and it’s very sweet and it’s very fluffy, just like most sick fic is. If that’s not your jam, you probably won’t enjoy this one, but I super loved it. And because it’s not very long you can read it and get a nice little pick-me-up.
CHELSEA: So wonderful.
KAY: Wonderful and actually writes in both of the fandoms we’re talking about today. Recommend both of their fic in West Wing and Stargate: Atlantis fandom.
CHELSEA: I have a candle_beck rec coming up, actually.
KAY: Nice! For Stargate or for West Wing?
CHELSEA: West Wing.
KAY: Okay, nice. This one. [Laughs] Involves a fairly innocuous picture of Sam and Josh showing up in the society pages and it being actually less innocuous than it looks. And it’s lovely and it’s about the media and developing relationships and how your relationship might be more than what you actually thought it was. And also I just love Josh and Sam. [Laughs] And candle_beck’s prose is fucking gorgeous.
KAY: So. If you wanna go ahead and rec your candle_beck fic next. [Laughs]
CHELSEA: yeah, absolutely! My candle_beck fic for West Wing is called Five Months. And the summary is ‘Spring training to the pennant chase.’ Its 4,000 words. This is basically just kind of Sam and Josh both ruminating on the fact that they’ve been dating for five months and that’s the longest time either of them have dated a single person. Their relationship starts at spring training which, if you watch the show at all, is a huge thing for Josh. He always takes off work to go down to Florida and watch spring training. And they’re, you know, the time of the story taking place it’s just about the pennant is just about to be, the pennant chase is just about to start. That’s a five month span. It’s a lot of them sitting there and having feelings about each other and Washington and baseball and all of those things and it’s really great. Like Kay said, candle_beck’s prose is just absolutely fantastic. They do not need a ton of words to pack in a huge punch.
Kay: [happy sighs] Okay, my next fic rec is gonna be Initial Conditions by out_there. It’s around 11,000 words, again, it’s Sam/Josh. This is set before, during, and after Somebody’s Going to Emergency, Somebody’s Going to Jail. And, like, me out there mentally lives in season two so I really love the vibes going on here. And it’s a lot of just Sam and Josh talking about how Josh really should’ve talked to Sam before things got so bad he put his hand through a window and Josh being like yeah, but if I talked to you about it it would’ve been real. And then them being like well, you said we couldn’t hook up anymore so I thought we couldn’t have conversations like this anymore and wait what! It’s wonderful.
CHELSEA: It’s a lot of emotions.
KAY: It’s just a lot. I feel like we can’t talk about any of these just that much just because this episode will be 5,000 hours long.
CHELSEA: As usual, check the show notes and you can read more about them for yourself.
KAY: They’re all great.
CHELSEA: You can trust us. We’ve never let you down before, I’m sure. [Laughs] So in a kind of similar vein, I’m actually gonna recommend another fic by Waldo. This is To Strive (I). This takes place directly after The Shadow of Two Gunmen Part I and II which is the two part episode in which Josh is very seriously shot and has to deal with both the physical and mental recovery from that. This fic basically is Sam refusing to leave Josh as Josh deals with a whole bunch of PTSD and angst and mental concerns, it’s just a very intense kind of dark fic that is full of some really, really great intense relationship conversations. Between Sam and Josh. It is 29,000 words so it’s definitely one of the longer ones that I’m gonna recommend. But if dealing with PTSD, anxiety, depression, hurt/comfort, if any of those things are things you enjoy in your fic I highly recommend you check this out.
KAY: Very nice. Next one I’ve got is You and Me of the 10,000 Wars by Luna and Ellen Millholland. It is so lovely. You’ve got, initially, Josh is dating Amy which always irritates Sam, both in canon and in fanon.
CHELSEA: Yeah, like ohmygod it’s so good in canon when he goes on his rants against it.
KAY: So Sam asks out Ainsley and she’s like sure. Sure!
CHELSEA: I love Ainsley Hayes.
KAY: They’re friend dating. I love her so much. And there’s also eventual Josh/Sam because of course there is. And how all of that unfolds is a fucking delight. Kay? Just. So good. I don’t really wanna spoil you for anything in that, but it’s really good. [Laughs]
CHELSEA: Okay. Um. Well my next one is a really long one. It’s 94k so buckle in. This is an ot3 Josh/Donna/Sam thing happening, which, I did not originally think I was gonna love when I started reading it.
KAY: Donna deserves better than those two losers, but other than that I can get on board.
CHELSEA: Yes. Yes. I just, I never necessarily bought a bunch of the chemistry between Josh and Donna mostly because I was like Donna what are you doing.
KAY: He’s an asshole, you deserve better.
CHELSEA: Which is completely my fandom aesthetic, but Donna deserves much better because she’s delightful. But this is actually a post- it starts with an alternative to season 7 and goes post-series au and is basically all about Donna figuring out that she deserves better than Josh, but maybe Josh realizes that, too and he makes some choices to kind of teach, to show her that. And then Sam gets involved and you guys know I love a good ot3 so if you don’t mind a slow burn and a long commitment, I really recommend picking this one up.
KAY: Samantha Norma Seaborn is outed during Jed Bartlet’s first campaign. And I think that’s all you need to know. And of course Josh has been secretly, quietly pining and not even knowing she was a lesbian because Josh is the fucking worst. I love him, but he’s the worst. I love him, he’s the worst.
CHELSEA: He’s the worst.
KAY: It’s wonderful. It’s around 5k. It’s real good.
CHELSEA: my last rec is Underage Drinking and More Teenage Clichés by rosemilagros. This is a Josh/Sam/Toby ot3. But there’s also just some disparate pairings of Sam and Toby and Josh and Toby and Josh and Sam. There’s lots of things happening. But this is a high school au where CJ Cregg is throwing a party for student council. [Laughs] And everybody’s on the student council instead of working for the White House.
KAY: That’s adorable.
CHELSEA: It’s so adorable, dude. It’s so good. It’ just fantastic and so of course with that comes all these idealistic emotional teenagers feeling out their emotions for each other which is just all of the things I wanted to read in 2017. It’s fantastic. It’s 18,000 words, so it’s longer, but it’s not super long. I definitely recommend checking it out cause it made me smile a whole, whole lot.
CHELSEA: it’s such a good fic.
KAY: If you’ve watched this how you’ll understand why California is important. If you haven’t watched the show, at one point Rob Lowe’s character leaves the show to go run a meant-to-be-failed campaign for a congressional seat in California. I think it’s the 47th district in the show.
CHELSEA: That sounds right.
KAY: The California 47th. I think that’s an episode title, actually. And he just stays gone even though he loses. And that’s real sad. And awful. But there’s this recurring thing in the show where when Josh finds a candidate who is the real deal he has promised he will come get Sam.
CHELSEA: He’s gonna go get Sam.
KAY: The summary of this is, “Josh, have you come to get me again?” [Laughs] And he hasn’t come to get Sam because he found someone who’s the real deal. He’s come to go stay with Sam. Because [sighs] his heart has both literally and metaphorically never recovered after Sam has been gone and he needs to change his lifestyle.
CHELSEA: Friends. Friends.
KAY: I just. [Laughs] I haven’t made Chelsea read this yet, but she’s gonna have to.
CHELSEA: SO many feelings.
KAY: She’s gonna have to. [Laughs] Did I say how long this was?
CHELSEA: So many feelings.
KAY: It’s about 18k. So it’s not a short one, but it’s not super long. And it’s lovely. And you should read it. Stargate: Atlantis time.
CHELSEA: Stargate: Atlantis. Alright.
KAY: So Stargate: Atlantis was the fandom that ate fandom, okay? If you were in online media fandom when it was airing it literally everyone wrote a Stargate: Atlantis [laughs] fic at some point. So this show aired from 2004-2009. And in that time, seriously, this fandom was huge.
KAY: You cannot conceive of how big this fandom was because modern fandoms just, there are so many happening at once. This was literally the fandom everyone was in. People came out of the fucking woodwork. People who were permanent lurkers were like I’m dropping a rec list! I’m writing a fic! I’m making some art!
KAY: People who never again did anything else came in, dropped some amazing shit, and never did anything in fandom again. I don’t. It’ snot a good show. We have talked about this before.
CHELSEA: We have often marveled at how it is that this became the fandom that ate all fandoms.
KAY: It has to be some sort of timing thing.
CHELSEA: Just, how?
KAY: Of other fandoms happening. Cause we love Stargate: Atlantis. It’s not a good show.
CHELSEA: Obsessive. And I did not get introduced to this show until a scant three months ago.
KAY: [Laughs] I am so sorry.
CHELSEA: And the fandom that ate fandom is the fandom that ate my entire life.
KAY: I am so sorry.
CHELSEA: Entire life. [Sighs] Any of you guys who have been listening will know, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve recommended almost anything that didn’t start with a Stargate: Atlantis tagged to it. But I think that the Stargate itself creates a wide variety of possible AUs and trope fics that are really great.
KAY: Yes. You can say any insane premise, like truly wild, out there and we’ll be like sure. That makes sense in context, in canon. I buy the baby in a jar fic. That’s a thing I would totally thing that would happen to these morons. Sure.
KAY: it’s just.
CHELSEA: And then there’s that weird magic that McShep possesses that nobody can quite seem to quite nail down, but is just.
KAY: That was such a monster of a ship. I do enjoy it. Rodney McKay is a bad person. [Laughs] He’s not a good person.
KAY: There are other people in the show that I wish had been part of a major pairing that go written a lot and that just didn’t happen. But also there’s so much good Rodney McKay/John Sheppard fic that like.
CHELSEA: It’s one of those cases of canon Rodney versus fic Rodney is just like.
KAY: Not even close to the same person.
CHELSEA: It’s not the same.
KAY: Which is fine, cause I like the fanon version much better, anyway.
CHELSEA: And you can view select episodes and get versions of Rodney that are not, not asshole-y but counterbalanced with other things that are happening that make it less awful to watch sometimes.
KAY: Yeah. I just. This show. It’s not good. But the fandom’s amazing.
CHELSEA: It’s not. And we love it a lot.
KAY: We love it a lot.
CHELSEA: For reasons.
KAY: So we’re both gonna recommend two of our favorite episodes, again. Again, there are 100 episodes of this show. Don’t fucking know how. There are 100 episodes of this show and we’re just picking some that we like. Go ahead.
CHELSEA: Alright, cool. So my first episode is The Tao of Rodney. This episode is the one where Rodney gets zapped by, basically, a machine that starts to accelerate his cellular and genetic development towards ascension. Which is a whole thing in the universe that has to do with becoming a divine being. But if Rodney’s body doesn’t catch up to his mental development, basically he’s gonna die. But along the process of that he becomes more and more kind of enlightened and slightly less and less of an asshole. And this is an episode where he has some really, truly lovely scenes with other characters. He goes to Teyla and shares a tea with her that has to do with mourning the death of her father. He goes to Ronon and asks him about the scars on his back and then removes them when Ronon has what, for Ronon, qualifies as a lot of feelings.
KAY: And they hug!
CHELSEA: And they hug. And it’s just one of those episodes where, like I said, Rodney is, I mean, Rodney’s kind of always an asshole because he is a genius and he’s not afraid to remind you that he’s a genius, but he gets some really caring and lovely scenes and then of course at the end when he almost dies, but then doesn’t, because plot shields are strong with Rodney McKay, he has some really great moments with John. Like on the hospital bed. Before, as he’s dying. And it’s just like uh. Ugh. So many feelings. I love this episode a whole lot. It’s maybe my favorite episode of ever, the entire show.
KAY: That surprises me not at all. [Laughs]
CHELSEA: Not even a little bit.
KAY: Not even a little surprised.
CHELSEA: And then my other one is Grace Under Pressure. Which, shockingly, is another Rodney-centric episode.
CHELSEA: Can you not tell that I have a problem with really loving assholes a whole lot? Basically Rodney is in a jumper ship on the bottom of the ocean. Things have gone wrong. A series of unfortunate events. And he kind of loses power and his ship is slowly filling with water. And John is coming to his rescue, but not quickly enough and he starts to hallucinate Sam Carter. So we get some really great kind of SG-1 kind of crossover and some great banter between the two of them.
KAY: God, I fucking love Sam carter so much.
CHELSEA: So much.
KAY: This show did her so wrong when she became a main cast member on it. It was really unfortunate. But we love her anyway.
CHELSEA: The show tried real hard to make some Rodney/Sam things happen and no thank you.
CHELSEA: But there’s a lot of really cute moments where Rodney and Sam are kind of debating and then Rodney realizes that because she’s a hallucination he’s debating with himself. And because he’s a genius he inevitably saves the day and rescues himself and John comes to save him. And Rodney has some revelations as he’s about to die, which, shockingly enough I am rewatching all of the show right now and that happens a lot. That happens a whole lot. Where Rodney is basically on the verge of death and then John fixes him.
KAY: Poor woobie.
CHELSEA: Which is great.
KAY: It’s just a lot.
CHELSEA: Alright, your turn.
KAY: So my first one is from early in season two. It is Duet. It’s a very tropey, fun episode that I really enjoy. It’s a literal bodyswap episode, basically. It’s not quite bodyswap, but it’s…
KAY: Bodysharing. So there is a piece of tech that their main enemies have which is basically like a beam that’ll trap you in their ship. It dematerializes you and stores you until they can take you back to their hive ship. And Rodney and a female marine are both zapped up by the same ship and the ship is shot down. And when they try and get them out it doesn’t go right. And so they get Rodney and Rodney’s body out and then the female marine is also in his brain with him. And that’s, it’s Lieutenant Cadman, who I love and wish was in more episodes. Especially because she’s played by Jaime Ray Newman who I think is really lovely and I’ve always liked her in various things. She’s super funny in this and has a lovely, very quick romance storyline, too, in this episode.
KAY: I just. I just. It’s. This episode’s just super charming and hilarious and there are romcom shenanigans happening.
CHELSEA: There’s a particular scene where she uses his body at night, while he’s asleep, to go running. And he wakes up the next day really sore and he’s so mad at her that she would dare to exercise while he’s sleeping. It’s very cute.
KAY: This is also the episode where Sheppard gest approval to put Ronon on his team, so that’s also great.
CHELSEA: God, I love Ronon Dex.
KAY: We just really like him. And then my other episode I’m going to recommend is Shrine. Which is from the fifth season. The fifth season is really, really a mixed bag as a whole. I don’t think it’s very good. I think the writing character-development-wise is very strange. There’s a lot of character regression and strange relationship choices that I just don’t understand. But this is, if this show was airing now and they wrote this episode the way they did, you would be screaming queerbating at your television.
CHELSEA: Queerbaiting to the max. Queerbaiting level 100.
KAY: The only reason you could write this is because literally Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was still happening and the assumption that everyone was real straight was just a thing.
CHELSEA: Which they try to establish throughout the show several times for characters and it does not read well.
KAY: V no homo.
CHELSEA: Oh, pretty girl. Like, would bang that. Definitely straight. No homo here.
KAY: But the basic premise of this is it’s a Flowers for Algernon type deal. Where Rodney is infected with the Pegasus’ equivalent of this kind of Alzheimer’s type disease that has a very fast progression. Known as the Second Childhood. It’s a common illness. The only way to get a last time to say goodbye to him is to take him to this shrine on this planet where there’s a Wraith outpost. And they don’t wanna let him go cause you get one last day to say goodbye and then they die. But they do manage to go and so this is another episode where we get to have Rodney’s sister Jeannie make an appearance. Who is played by David Hewlett’s real-life sister Kate Hewlett, so that’s always lovely. They’re adorable together and really funny.
CHELSEA: They’re wonderful together.
KAY: But this episode is just really great and really queerbaity where literally Rodney is losing his memories and shit. And instead of staying with his girlfriend who’s trying to take care of him he literally goes running screaming through the halls for John.
CHELSEA: He cannot remember anything else other than John Sheppard. And he runs through the halls screaming John’s name.
KAY: And then they go to have an emotional conversation and a beer on the pier.
CHELSEA: They drink beers on the dock together.
KAY: No homo, though. But it’s a really delightful episode, to be honest. I just. It’s real good. I think it’s one of the best-written episodes in that season, to be frank.
CHELSEA: Oh, I think so.
KAY: So we could recommend fics for this show for like eight million years. And we’re limiting ourselves to five a piece. So just be real glad.
KAY: And I even picked a couple of gen fics for y’all. And I only picked one fairly long fic, too. Because we’ve both recommended a lot of fic for this show before. Hopefully we don’t have any repeats. I don’t think so.
CHELSEA: I have one repeat, because I loved it that much.
KAY: Okay, that’s fine.
KAY: You would.
CHELSEA: Because I’ve read it three times this year.
CHELSEA: Since I read it the first time. I love it super hard. A whole lot.
KAY: The whole series, or just that one?
CHELSEA: Just that one. I like the whole series, but I really like just the first one, Crimes Against Humanity. This is an au where Atlantis is basically a max security prison. And all of our favorite cast members make appearances as various types of war criminals. It’s dark. There’s a lot of dark stuff that happens. There’s a lot of violence and PTSD and torture and some really dark things, but the prose is fantastic. The characterizations are fantastic. I’ve recced it before on a different episode when I had just finished it, but I’m gonna rec it again because I love it so much. I think it’s, let’s see, it’s 47,000 words long. So. Sorry? Not sorry.
KAY: Not sorry. [Laughs]
CHELSEA: It’s real good.
KAY: Not even a little bit sorry. Well, I’ll rec my long fic. I’m pretty sure it’s much longer than all the rest of them. The rest of them are under 20k. This one is like 53,000 words. It’s Written by the Victors by Speranza. I just kinda blanket recommend anything by Speranza, particularly in this fandom. But this is amazing. The format is what I really about this. And I feel like you just kind of look at it to get an idea of what I’m talking about, but it has lots of excerpts and footnotes from fictionalized accounts of Atlantis and when Atlantis declares independence. And it’s just, it’s a lot. It’s a lot.
CHELSEA: It’s a lot.
KAY: There are so many feelings. I normally hate unreliable narrator stuff, but the actual story itself does not have an unreliable narrator. It’s just you’re getting all these different views of outsider POV historians, what they think happened. So that’s the unreliable narrator part, if you’re like me and you don’t like those and you see that tag and think no thank you? That’s where that’s coming in.
CHELSEA: Worth, yeah.
KAY: I do want to say if you have seen the whole show, this was written before we had much of several of the characters’ backstories. So the backstory for several of these characters is very different from the canon ones we eventually do get. But who gives a fuck?
CHELSEA: Who cares? Whatever.
KAY: It’s much more interesting than the real backgrounds for a lot of these characters. I still will never forgive this show for not having John be from a military family and just having him be from a rich telecomm family.
CHELSEA: It doesn’t make any sense.
KAY: Characterization-wise, it makes no sense. It makes no sense.
CHELSEA: That’s a whole different thing we could talk about for a while.
KAY: That’s a whole different conversation. This fic is great. I think you only need to have seen the first season to be able to follow everything that’s happening there because it’s a canon-divergence au. I don’ think it was written as a canon-divergence au. I think it was written in-between seasons. Anyway. Written by the Victors by Speranza. It’s amazing.
KAY: That’s not even that long for this fandom.
CHELSEA: Not even that long for the fandom, but.
KAY: It’s long.
CHELSEA: That’s a long fic. The summary is, “Alpha Centauri is a trinary star system composed of a primary pair of yellow dwarfs (Alpha Centauri A and B) gravitationally bound to an outlying red dwarf (Proxima Centauri). This is exactly like that.” So this is basically Ronon entering an environment in which Rodney and John are occasionally hooking up but then also both find things about Ronon that they fall in love with and want to bring into that relationship, but they have to deal with a lot of jealously. This fic is really great at negotiating things like polyamory, which is not necessarily a thing that’s easy to do. In life or in fic. But I really like the way that it’s handled. It also gets into PTSD and things resulting from some canon-typical violence and stuff like that. But I just really, really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it if you don’t mind longer fic.
KAY: Nice. I’m gonna go ahead and recommend my shortest rec, which is A Team is Borne, and born is spelled borne so it’s a play on Lorne. Evan Lorne. Who I love. Who I think that when we originally watched the show we didn’t watch enough episodes where he had things to do, so Chelsea didn’t understand why I liked him so much. [Laughs]
CHELSEA: He’s Diet Sheppard. He’s John, but not.
KAY: He’s literally nothing alike when you actually watch episodes where he does tuff. The summary is, “Lorne is sent to Atlantis, a place filled with people who probably failed a lot of tests.” [Laughs] Which, like.
CHELSEA: I remember this one. This is good.
KAY: It’s really lovely and so funny and the way that it’s structured is beautiful. And it’s basically about Lorne getting transferred to Atlantis and picking his team… And it’s just, it’s great. I love team feels. You get a lot of found family and team stuff in this fandom, which is just a thing that I super, super adore. And this is a great little 4k fic about that. And it’s gen. Trying to give y’all some gen here.
CHELSEA: Good job, you. I’m not doing any of that. [Laughs] My next rec is Cartography by Touch by rageprufrock. Good old Pru has to make an appearance in just about every episode. This is part one of a two part series.
KAY: All the content warnings. All of the content warnings.
CHELSEA: Yes, all of them. This one’s specifically tagged rape/non-con but also there’s some canon-typical violence and discussion of PTSD and depression and all the tags. As is always the case with Pru. All the warnings. But this is, both parts deal with John and Rodney going to Dr. Heightmeyer who is the psychiatrist in Atlantis. This one specifically deals with John’s half of the equation and how Rodney is frustrated because he can’t necessarily help John just be better and feel better about a series of tragic and violent things that happen to him. It’s beautiful. Pru does such great prose. I love Pru’s McShep a lot. It’s 12,000 words. So with all of the content warnings involved, I really really loved it.
KAY: I’ll go ahead and rec my rageprufrock fic as well. There are so many and I eliminated all the one’s you’d recced before, so no Bell Curve, or, Ladies Night at the Boom Boom Room.
KAY: This one is Bang.
KAY: Which is, like, one of my favorites and also has some really hilarious, but insensitive jokes about domestic violence. So like.
KAY: Pru does not tag anything, but just a heads up on that. This is 6k. The summary is just, in all caps with no punctuation YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ALONE.
KAY: And the fic opens with: When John wakes up in the ER–again–his first words are, “God damn it.”
KAY: “You’re God damn right God damn it,” Rodney yells at him. “You–you–! I don’t even have a word for you!” There’s embarrassing and then there’s I Just Concussed Myself, Again embarrassing, and he just can’t deal with the world today. When the team is on Earth, John has kind of forgotten how to use doors because in Atlantis everything just beautifully works and opens for him. So he keeps injuring himself doing normal shit. And so he keeps having to make repeated trips to local ERs because Rodney’s like what the fuck, what is going on? And obviously Rodney comes with him. And so the local, all the doctors in the local ER think that John is being abused by Rodney. [Laughs] And it’s not funny, because partner abuse is not funny. But also this fic.
CHELSEA: This is maybe one of the few scenarios in which a misunderstanding about potential domestic violence is actually pretty funny.
KAY: And it leads to a lovely and touching thing that Rodney does for John to make things better for him and I just. Rodney is an insensitive asshole, so whenever you have a lovely moment where he does something nice for another person it’s just A+. So that’s bang, by rageprufrock.
CHELSEA: — Rodney McKay basically gets his sister stolen by the Goblin King, who is also John Sheppard. It’s great. It’s fantastic. If you like I did growing up had some deep sexual attractions to David Bowie in those pants in Labyrinth, picturing John in them instead with also Rodney trying to find his way is just super great.
KAY: My next rec is My Home And Native Land by copperbadge. Blanket recommend basically anything by copperbadge ever. This fic, though, is really great gen about Ronon and Chuck the gate tech. If you are only a very casual watcher of the show you may not understand why Chuck the gate tech is such a popular character in fic.
CHELSEA: He’s wonderful.
KAY: But he’s wonderful. He’s very funny. Chuck is actually the name of the actor. [Laughs]
CHELSEA: I didn’t know that, that’s cute.
KAY: And he was just accidentally called Chuck in a scene by one of the actors, I think the actress who plays Weir, and they just kept it as his canonical name. So Chuck the gate tech is Canadian. And this is full of Canada and cultural references and it’s about Ronon making a friend and picking a new home country. A new homeland. And what homelands mean. And it’s just really beautiful and sweet and also very funny. And there is a very emotional recital of a Robert Service poem, which is also great.
CHELSEA: That’s always fun.
KAY: And I’m not gonna say anything else about it. I’m just gonna say it’s less than 20k and you should go read it, immediately.
CHELSEA: And so my last one is my shortest one. It’s 1300 words. It’s A non-obsessive fixation by melonbutterfly. This is an established McShep fic so they’re already dating and I’ll just read you the summary. “So, Rodney might possibly have a thing for John’s waist. And his belly. And the small of his back – generally the area below his chest and above his hips.” And so this is just a little bit of fluff porn and deep appreciation for John’s body. From Rodney. And it’s great.
KAY: Okay. This next fic is possibly my favorite fanfic in any fandom ever.
CHELSEA: Wow. Damn girl.
KAY: I love it a lot. When I recommended this to Chelsea I did not realize she did not realize the basic premise of what was happening. Here.
CHELSEA: Yeah, that happened.
KAY: So I feel like I have to warn that yes, John is dead in this fic. Okay?
CHELSEA: Yeah, I didn’t get that. I didn’t get that. I should’ve. I didn’t. And it was a lot for me to have to deal with in the middle of reading. I’ve never sent Kay more all caps DMs in my entire, the entire history of our friendship.
KAY: I just thought it was — literally the opening of this is talking about a gravestone in Arlington.
CHELSEA: Yeah, I didn’t get it. I just was like okay.
KAY: This fic is just over 19,000 words. It’s freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose by synecdochic. I don’t actually know if that’s how you say this person’s username, but that’s my guess. They also do an extensive, spoiler-laden DVD commentary for this fic if that’s a thing you’re into, which I always love those.
CHELSEA: It’s really great.
KAY: I feel like I should not have to say that this is a death fic when it opens with: There is a gravestone in Arlington National Cemetery. It sits watch over an empty grave, and there is a vine with small blue flowers, one the gardeners can’t identify from any book, twining up its side.
KAY: It is an utterly unremarkable memorial, name and rank and dates, no different from the thousands of others save for the verse that graces its face. And then it has the fucking Marine Hymn on there. And then it says: Every year, a few more flowers bloom. I feel like if that is the start of your fic you would know this is gonna be. John’s dead. John’s dead. John is dead. John’s name literally never appears in this fic. So. So this fic is all about Rodney. It is future fic that is written in, I think, immediately post the first season, so it completely posits anything that, it has nothing to do with the later seasons. And he is back on Earth for reasons unknown, for most of the fic. And at the beginning he’s teaching his first semester at a small college. And it takes us through his first few semesters teaching and you slowly learn more and more of what he is doing back on Earth and why he is the way that he is and what he is recovering from. And it’s a lot. It’s just. A lot.
CHELSEA: It is a lot. It is wonderful, though. It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful.
KAY: It’s gorgeous. It’s heartbreaking. It’s sweet. It’s angsty. It’s just really good. You should all read it.
CHELSEA: It’s all of the things.
KAY: All the things.
CHELSEA: And that, friends, is our long episode on the fandoms that we love and have loved for a long time.
CHELSEA: That is it, friends. I hope you enjoyed it if you have feelings about these fandoms or just want to tell us what your retro fandoms are. I feel like we’ll do another one of these at some point in the future.
KAY: I feel like once a year is good.
CHELSEA: Yeah, once a year is probably good cause that’s a good deep dive. Alright, friends. So that is everything for this episode. Join us next week when we’re gonna be getting into our feelings about Thor: Ragnarok, which is the next Thor movie. The next Marvel movie. The next movie I’m like mediocrely excited to see because I don’t like Thor.
KAY: Which I am very excited to see for many reasons.
CHELSEA: Yes. And because of that it’ll be a good episode for us to talk about because it’ll be a nice spectrum of feelings. And then after that we’re going to be doing a holiday gift guide episode.
KAY: Woot, woot!
CHELSEA: Just in time for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Black Friday, Hanukkah, all of those fun fall/autumn Yuletide festivities. We’re gonna be hitting you guys up with a whole bunch of these things we’ve loved in the past that you can consider purchasing for the people in your life or maybe just for yourself. Because let’s be real.
CHELSEA: So yeah. Guys, we’ve recorded three episodes in a row, this outro is just a hot mess, but we’re just gonna keep on keeping on.
CHELSEA: You guys know where to find us on the entire. Please come talk to us with all of your feelings. Take care of yourself and each other and we will see you guys in a week.
CHELSEA: That is just kind of the general overving — overving? Words are hard.
KAY: Please stop licking my pants. Why are you licking my pants?