Posted in Books, Podcasts

“Just Between Us” From YouTube to the NY Times Best-Seller List, a podcast is born

Allison Raskin and Gabby Dunn are best known for their YouTube channel, Just Between Us, where they do sketches and a more talk-y couch show. They got their start together a couple years ago, and have since developed a strong online following. Raskin has been open about her struggles with mental health while Dunn is a prominent LGBTQ+ activist, or what she calls a bi-con, or bisexual icon.

Dunn and Raskin have since co-authored two novels, NY Times best-seller I Hate Everyone But You and recent release Please Send Help. Individually, Raskin is a writer and director and Dunn has a financial memoir based on her podcast, Bad With Money.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the first live recording of their podcast, also titled Just Between Us, which was recorded at the DC Improv, to a packed house. The podcast covers similar ground to their couch show, where they pick a subject, and discuss it at some length. On the podcast, they do a couple little bits about their current goings-on, have a guest, and then talk about a topic of personal or professional interest.

One of the reasons I personally have really connected with this podcast is that Allison and Gabby are Jewish, and they provide a different representation of what that looks like in media. Jews in media are pretty one-note, and it can be difficult to find anyone that looks or feels like me, but Allison and Gabby are relatable. They both have their own unique personalities and ambitions, and are not defined by any one aspect of themselves. Both have also been forthcoming about their mental health struggles, which is incredible. Their whole shtick has been that they are an odd couple, but you can also clearly tell that they are a unit. They really care about one another, and know each other well. They have amassed a following because they are so genuine, and because fans gravitate towards that realness.

The first segment of the show was devoted to their misadventures in traveling, some bits about the show being live, and an introduction to the podcast, for the uninitiated. Dunn wore a killer print suit, very summer and super on-brand, and Raskin sported a black jump suit, which is true to her simple but classic style.

The show’s guest was Dani Sauter, AKA Blonde in the District, who is a fashion blogger and style queen, also showing up in a summer printed suit, although hers was in a citrus color. I was not previously familiar with Sauter’s work, not being super plugged in to the fashion blogging community, but she was delightful. She was funny, engaging, and I cannot emphasize enough how much she was killing it in that suit. She is everything I imagined a fashion blogger to be, honestly. She’s put together, she’s glamorous, she’s what I imagine Eloise at the Plaza would be all grown up. In short, I am in love.

The three discussed Sauter’s work as a blogger, as well as her role in the body positivity movement. What really struck me about their conversation was something Sauter said. “People think body positivity is just for curvy girls, it’s not. It’s for everyone.” She could not be more right. She inspired me so much that I wore something fun to work today, instead of just one of my regular outfits from my rotation.

After their guest, Dunn and Raskin introduced their TOPIXXX segment, (my personal favorite part of the podcast) where they discussed Bachelor Nation, the Bachelor family of products, including the Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise. I’m familiar with the concept, as I too hate-watched the show guiltily in college, but it lost my interest after I realized I only really got negative emotions out of it. Basically, I don’t really care about the show, but I thought it was interesting to hear them talk about it. They were trying to figure out if they can ethically justify watching and engaging with the show, considering how destructive it seems to have been, especially in the past. Personally, I’ve watched Unreal, and found it to be a very entertaining satire of the whole Bachelor genre, so I’d prefer to watch that than the actual show.

Finally, when the two usually bring on a producer to talk about what they’ve learned and rate the show, they surprised Allison’s dad and brought him up. He was adorable and they had clearly not warned him, but they ribbed at each other and wound down the show in a good-natured way. He is pictured here, looking flustered and dressed almost identically to my dad, another middle-aged Jewish man who is a lawyer. He got a few good bits in, and was a good sport about being called to the stage without warning. Allison’s mom was perhaps the most amused, the look on her face when he jogged up to the stage was itself worth the price of admission.

Overall, I think Just Between Us, in whatever iteration you prefer, is worth a watch or a listen. You can find their podcast wherever you find podcasts, and their books are available wherever books are sold. You should try your local bookstore, because if you listen to Bad With Money or read the news, you know Amazon is probably evil. They also have merch available, and you can find out if they’re coming to a city near you here.

Posted in Books, Podcasts

“Bad With Money” by Gaby Dunn

bwmThe book’s title is a mouthful, Bad with Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Together- though the book itself is surprisingly accessible, for a financial memoir. It weighs in at a slim 304 pages and boasts an excellent cover, pictured here. You can say that a book is not its cover, but I promise, a cover decides who is going to pick up your book. Maybe half of readers, like me, are already invested in Gaby Dunn, but people unfamiliar with her work have to decide to pick up the book. Bad With Money has the pick-up factor in spades.

Gaby Dunn is primarily known for her work with her comedy partner, Allison Raskin, on their shared YouTube channel, but in the last couple of years she has also been doing a podcast on the Panoply network. “Bad With Money” the podcast has been on my radar for a while. It’s a good listen, and it’s enlightening for those of us who have only ever seen money through a specific lens. In my family, money was an open conversation. Reading about Dunn’s circumstances is anxiety-inducing, but makes the financial decisions of people different from me a lot clearer.

I was taught to save, save, save. Eat at restaurants infrequently, take-out occasionally, buy new things when you need them, but abstain when what you have is perfectly good. I always had everything I needed, but reckless spending was not what I was taught. Reading about Dunn’s financial foundations is an exercise in empathy. I come from a similar background, but had an entirely different experience with money. Dunn’s honesty, both in the podcast, and in her book, is refreshing. It’s hard to admit what you don’t know, especially when you are a woman. Gaby freely admits her youthful ignorance and recklessness, while acknowledging the people who have helped her get her financial life together since she began this journey.

As someone who is just beginning their independent financial life, this book actually helped me a lot. The main tool to playing the saving and investing game is one thing I have: time. You need time for your funds to vest, and if I start now, I’ll be in good shape when I retire in a half-century. There are a lot of great tips for people looking to save in a way that works for them, but my main takeaways from the book were similar to those I got from the podcast: no one has advice that works across the board, for everyone. My brother, who is disabled, cannot save the way I save, because he’ll lose his benefits. A lot of my friends live hand-to-mouth, and they don’t have retirement savings accounts. Some people I know support family, everyone’s circumstances are different. A lot of the takeaway from Dunn’s work is that capitalism is an iceberg that is on fire, and we are the Titanic. The rich have all pre-boarded the lifeboats, and the poor are all drowning. Also, the rich have publicly backed the fiery iceberg and bought travel insurance.

That dire prognosis aside, Dunn’s book was helpful for me to untangle some financial quagmires. As promised, I now know which kind of retirement savings account I need, and what kinds of debt I probably shouldn’t have. There’s a lot to love about Dunn’s book- it’s raw, and honest, and it doesn’t cause the reader to marinate in guilt about their own financial affairs. That last part might seem trivial, but it’s one of the most important ingredients to Dunn’s podcast and book: removing the shame of not knowing, putting the focusing on learning. Gaby expresses her own shame and embarrassment, while making it clear that she shouldn’t feel that way, that no one should.

In short, it’s worth a read. The book is fun, thorough, and interesting, without ever getting too bogged down in financial terminology for the average reader. I could have done without the chapter summaries, they were out-of-place and made me feel like I was studying for an exam, and most of the chapters were too short to need any review. I do highly recommend this book for anyone who is anxious about money, has a lot of money, or thinks they know a lot about money. You can find Bad With Money wherever books are sold, and you can listen to the podcast wherever podcasts can be found.