Decoder Ring “takes a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.”
The mullet isn’t just a peculiar haircut from the 1980s, (strangely) loved by hipsters in the 2020s – it has a backstory all of its own, from sports stars to soft metal bands. The same goes for why clowns are feared more often than they’re enjoyed, or why some television shows have a “laugh track”.
Cultural phenomenon don’t just get thrust into the mainstream overnight (although some do, admittedly) as they are often the result of years of slow evolution, twisting and shaping here and there.
That’s where the popular Slate podcast Decoder Ring comes in. In each episode, host Willa Paskin unravels the origins of a different mystery and breaks down its impact on society and culture.
In this episode of MetaPod, Willa tells us about her favourite mysteries on the show. She also explains how one slice of contemporary or historical significance might make the cut and why others will not.
MetaPod co-host Wendy Morrill also sends a barrage of quick-fire A or B questions at our guest. Fellow host Kevin May admits he’s never heard the phrase “business at the front, party at the back” in relation to the mullet.
MetaPod recommendations for Decoder Ring
About Willa Paskin
Willa Paskin is a TV critic at Slate and the host of the Decoder Ring podcast. She has also written for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and New York, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn.