Even if you aren’t exposed to Star Wars at a tender age when the franchise can burn itself onto your brain matter and become an integral part of your identity, there’s no real way that you can escape the galaxy far, far away. Whether we like it or not, Star Wars is a part of the cultural atmosphere we all exist in, and for people who aren’t…obsessed with the franchise, it can be exhausting.
After spending the bulk of their lives knowing the general sorts of things about Star Wars that one picks up via social osmosis, but never really committing to give the Star Wars movies a chance, comedians Nicole Byer and Lauren Lapkus figured that it was high time to bite the bullet and turn their experience into a podcast.
Newcomers: Star Wars isn’t the sort of podcast where its hosts sit down to exhaustively nerd out about minutiae plucked from the pages of art books or from old interviews with the casts and crews. Instead, it’s more of a long-form reflection on what it’s like to finally engage with a text that they knew the broad strokes of, but never quite felt the need to commit to memory. It’s something that makes their opinions on Star Wars far more interesting to listen to.
Much as hardcore fans like to wax poetic about how the original Star Wars’ trilogy’s cheesiness is part of what endears it to them, there’s a very specific way in which those same fans tend to bristle when someone makes the same observation while adding that, beloved or not, the old films are slow and at times quite boring. On Newcomers, though, that read isn’t at all considered offensive, which is what makes the podcast’s larger arc as Nicole and Lauren gradually come to appreciate things about Star Wars feel organic and authentic.
In each episode, the pair of hosts bring in a third person who, unlike them, has some sort of longer emotional connection to the space opera. The distinct contrast in feelings consistently illustrates what it looks like when Fans™ make good faith efforts to bond with normal people without being adversarial or condescending.
It isn’t at all hyperbolic to say that if the Star Wars fandom as a whole made more room for the kinds of conversations that define Newcomers, the fandom would feel like a more open, accessible community. It’s fun to acknowledge the explicit silliness of something that you like and not feel as if doing so comes from some weird place of misguided aggression.
Even if you aren’t exactly a newcomer yourself, the podcast is worth giving a listen to if only for the fact that it’s funny as hell and the Star Wars discourse is still in desperate need of more voices that don’t belong to white men. Plus, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the many people considering (re)watching any one of these movies and/or series right now since we’re all stuck inside.