Fangirling, Cheese and Important Conversations with Alicia LutesMarch 15, 2018
Alicia Lutes has written for Hollywood.com, Bustle, MTV, Cinemablend and The Hollywood Reporter, but perhaps no greater accomplishment of hers shines as bright as her show, Fangirling. The first season of the show was hosted on Twitch, and now in its sophomore year, has moved to Project Alpha. Project Alpha blends Nerdist and Geek & Sundry content, offering movies, shows, special events and other early access features in an interactive and immersive digital environment.
With episodes coming out every Wednesday, Fangirling is eight episodes deep during the time of this publication. Featuring guests such as Ruth Carter, Orla Doherty, Janet Varney, Melissa Rosenberg, Phoebe Robinson and Jonathan Van Ness, the show explores nerd culture in the 21st century, where it has become more apparent that even in our beloved genres, improvements need to be made in our storytelling. Filled with equal parts of praise and introspective comments about pop culture, science and other facets of interests, Alicia Lutes commands a show that is both informative and entertaining. She’s not just an example of practice what you preach, but she does so emphatically and unapologetically.
The second season launched with a bigger platform, with a set designed by comic artist Jen Bartel, and a changing panel of women and gender non-conforming individuals. Alicia is leading the way in important conversations about media, and it is a great resource for those who may not fully understand the importance of such movements like #metoo, inclusion riders and visibility of marginalized people.
Whether she knows it or not, Alicia starting an empire, so naturally we had to get to know her.
Season 2 has been launched into the world, how does it feel?
It feels WIIIIIILD, to be honest. I cannot believe the show is finally back. It feels surreal!
What’s the most nerve-wracking thing about hosting a talk show?
Oh gosh, so many aspects are nerve-wracking: booking guests, hoping you’ve booked guests people will like, figuring out the best way to ask the questions you want to ask without them seeming forced, figuring out which Broad Strokes (the news topics) are the most relevant to the discussions happening in pop culture, booking panelists, and keeping the conversation going once we’re taping! Really it’s the whole act of putting it together—because you never really know until you’re in it what each episode really is! Everyone—from the guests to the panelists to the other members of the crew—bring something different to the conversation/set/show.
How did you come into nerd culture?
Hahahaha—I was born? I don’t think I could’ve not been a nerd growing up: one of the first movies my mother ever showed me was Star Wars, so I was done after that. And I’ve always been a huge bookworm/information vacuum so really, it was my destiny!
We’ve heard that you have quite the obsession with Outlander… what separates an obsession for you vs ‘normally’ liking something?
Honestly, I have so little chill I don’t know if there’s a difference, to me, between liking and obsessing over something. I’m an information sponge and I love to know as much as I can about whatever it is I love. My favorite part of Outlander is how insane Outlander is…and how I don’t read the books at all so I can speculate wildly about it with my friend Claire.
Who has been your favorite person to interview on the show?
Oh GOSH I CANNOT CHOOSE FAVORITES! I will not let you Sophie’s Choice me, do you hear me?! I WILL NOT! Mostly because, full cornball here, I’ve genuinely enjoyed every single conversation I’ve had with the women (and men and non-binary folks) who’ve been on the show thus far. Because everyone has something interesting to say, be they Rose Tico in Star Wars or an underwater documentarian breaking world records and making history! That’s my favorite part of the gig, to be honest.
I can imagine there’s been some blowback and criticism to the show- have you witnessed any of it or do you choose to turn a blind eye? If you have checked, do you have any favorite insults?
You know, you’d think that, but it’s really been pretty minor. I think we’ve received one email calling it misandrist and that’s it. Far and away, the response I receive to Fangirling is insanely, overwhelmingly positive. (And I mean, who saw that coming? NOT ME.) It’s been such a joy to see that the community that’s starting to pop up around Fangirling is so positive, uplifting, supportive, and happy to celebrate things and women doing the shit they love. And even more than that? It’s been SO, SO heartening to hear from so many men! I’ve been really, genuinely surprised at the outpouring of support from dudes who’ve genuinely enjoyed tuning in every week—and only one or two of them are dads to young girls!
What is your message to people not warmed up to the idea of women in creative spaces of nerd culture?
What is it like to host the show through Alpha, the lovechild project between Nerdist and Geek & Sundry?
It’s so insanely cool. I love that I have the freedom to create something as specific as Fangirling and give not only the women at Nerdist and G&S a platform to obsess over the things they love, but also women who don’t always get that opportunity on-camera. Representation and inclusion across the spectrum are so, so, so, so, so WILDLY important to me. It matters so much—the ripple effects are immeasurable.
In creating Fangirling, has there been anything you’ve learned as to your own beliefs?
We are legion, we are incredible, and we are not going anywhere! It’s not something new to me, really, but I love being able to watch women being speak to the issues that are so important to us right now. Being able to create a space for that has been the best.
In lieu of that, have you become a fan of new things through the show?
Always! We have a whole segment called “First Time” where I try out nerdy things I’ve never done before, like D&D or attending a RenFaire in costume, etc. There are SO MANY FACETS OF NERD CULTURE, I learn new things every episode. It’s amazing!
What other projects are you working on/what’s next?
Oh gosh, not much I can talk about, but I’m trying to expand my horizons this year and create things outside of my comfort zone. I can say I am working on trying to get Fangirling renewed for a 3rd season, and a book proposal (not related to Fangirling), and some TV scripts (because I am nothing if not an LA stereotype/writing scripts is my dream and why I moved here. Sorry for being a cliché!!!). Mostly I’m just trying to do things that help me learn about myself and my voice and expand my own understanding of my abilities as a writer, host, editor, performer, and the like.
On your bio you mention cheese platters – what are your staples?
Oh god this is the best question I’ve ever been asked. My late-in-life dream job is to be a cheesemonger and I’ve found that when it comes to crafting the perfect cheese plate it’s ALL about balance! I am known for my cheese game amongst my friends, and the key is making sure you have options. You gotta get a bit of stink in there (cambozola is always a good one), a sharp cheddar (I love the caramelized onion one from Trader Joe’s) or aged gouda (the longer the better!), something goat-y, and something soft (like a brie!).