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Designing Women S3 E12 - Some Kind of Perky Cult

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

The gals are worried when Charlene joins a cult, er, uh, we mean, starts selling cleaning products for Lady June Belle. Meanwhile, Anthony runs for homecoming representative, bringing him and Suzanne closer together. And whatever you do, don’t forget, “Don’t think of excuses to fail, think of reasons to succeed.”

Stick around for this week’s “Extra Sugar,” where we discuss multi-level marketing. Dig deeper with these reads:

And even more, if you're all-in on this week's episode:

Come on, let’s get into it!



Salina: Hey Nikki.

Nikki: Hey Salina.

Salina: And hello everyone and welcome to Sweet Tea and TV.

Salina: Hey y'all.

Salina: Hey y'all.

Salina: Are you hey.

Salina: All right, well we are to season three, episode twelve.

Salina: But before we do that, I thought I'd toss a random question at you.

Nikki: Boy, you know I love those.

Salina: Not proost.

Salina: Well, we're out of proof questions and that's why.

Salina: But not any of those.

Salina: Okay, just a random question.

Salina: What is your best scar story?

Nikki: Scar story?

Nikki: I only have two scars.

Salina: You have two scars?

Nikki: Yes.

Salina: And that's it?

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: That must be some kind of record.

Nikki: Two that I'm aware of.

Nikki: Let's just say, I mean it's possible there are other ones that I've never noticed, but I only know of two.

Salina: Okay, well, which one has your best story?

Nikki: Well, the reason I'm like hesitating I have a scar on my forehead.

Nikki: Have you ever noticed that?

Nikki: There's like a little dent on my forehead.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: I don't actually know how this happened.

Salina: You're a baby.

Nikki: I think I was small but not babyish.

Nikki: I think I was like maybe four or five.

Nikki: I have this recollection of this giant you remember the big TVs surrounded by wood like inset into a big wooden frame?

Salina: Like like a, like a tube.

Nikki: Tube, yeah, like a tube TV.

Nikki: But the, the important part is the wooden frame around it.

Nikki: Yep.

Nikki: I have this recollection of falling into that and so I don't know if like I was playing or I was just learning to walk and fell.

Nikki: I can remember falling and that's how I remember the scar happening, but I don't remember getting stitches or anything after that.

Nikki: Is that weird?

Salina: Well, not if you were concussed.

Nikki: But you know what I think is really weird?

Nikki: And now I'm going to have to call my mom because my son has a scar over his eye and probably his entire life.

Nikki: I'll tell him the story of how he got that scar over his eye as a really small baby and it happened because he fell in the bathtub and hit his eye on one of the jets in the bathtub.

Nikki: I opted not to get stitches because I didn't want to make a big deal about it.

Nikki: But then I learned later that stitches can kind of help the scar from looking the way it does.

Nikki: So anyway, it's weird.

Nikki: I don't know that story.

Nikki: The second scar I have is on my finger right here.

Nikki: And I got it at the beach because something I had dropped something in a chair and I stuck my hand in to get it out and I hit an exposed spring.

Salina: Ow.

Nikki: Yes.

Nikki: It hurts so bad.

Nikki: It hurts so bad.

Salina: Was that in recent years?

Nikki: Yeah, I was in high school.

Nikki: It's in recent years.

Nikki: Why are you looking at me like that?

Nikki: It wasn't like when I was a baby.

Nikki: I'm sorry.

Nikki: When I was in high school, not recent years.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: I don't need your sass.

Nikki: I don't need your sass.

Nikki: I don't need it.

Salina: Today feels just like yesterday.

Nikki: Those are the only two scars I know.

Nikki: That's not true.

Nikki: I have a third.

Nikki: Oh, I forget about it.

Nikki: Okay.

Nikki: I had a belly button ring and it ripped out.

Salina: Yeah, classic.

Nikki: There's that.

Salina: Yeah, I had something similar happen there.

Salina: That's not my best scar story, but.

Nikki: Scar story, scar story.

Salina: Well, mine is also on my head.

Salina: I don't know if you've ever it's like right here.

Salina: Oh, wait, right here.

Salina: There's like a chunk of skin missing.

Nikki: Oh, a high CCL.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: I wouldn't call it my best because it wasn't my best moment.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: But it is my most memorable.

Salina: I mean, I'll say this.

Salina: It involved a third color change in the hunch punch.

Salina: My face and a cement stare.

Nikki: Oh, my gosh.

Nikki: As an adult.

Salina: I was 17.

Nikki: So recent years.

Salina: Recent years.

Nikki: Hunch punch at 17.

Nikki: Classic.

Nikki: Classic Salina, how did you explain that to your mother?

Salina: I mean, I don't think I tried to explain it to her.

Salina: I don't remember, maybe I was concussed.

Salina: Oh, no, was it concussed?

Salina: But yeah.

Salina: So that was a dumb thing I did.

Salina: Just funny to me that you're like my legs are just covered in scars from when I was little on the playground because I used to fall all the time.

Salina: And then I would fall and hit the same multiple skinned up knees over and over and over again.

Salina: My knees are just like, don't I sound gorgeous?

Salina: I'm like, I got a chunk missing from my face.

Nikki: So do I.

Salina: We're the face.

Nikki: Chunkless people, chunkless faces.

Salina: And then just knees full of scabs.

Nikki: Well, you asked about scars, but I have a bruise I've had since I was like eleven.

Salina: Is that like sorry.

Nikki: How is that possible that kyle says that he doesn't believe me, but I think the longer we're together, the more he realizes, like, it doesn't go away.

Salina: Well, where is it?

Nikki: On my shin.

Nikki: When I was, I guess, 1111 or so, it's middle school.

Nikki: I had a friend who had a lake house.

Nikki: Her grandparents had a lake house and I went with her for the weekend.

Nikki: And I was on the dock and it was slippery because there was a little bit that was underwater that had moss on it.

Nikki: And I didn't realize it was so slippery.

Nikki: So I slipped off, banged my shin into that dock and there's a bruise on my leg that's been there since that time.

Salina: Oh, what?

Nikki: Surprised you didn't know that about it.

Salina: You'd be like in a medical journal or something.

Nikki: I think that often.

Salina: Well, my other scar is pretty gnarly.

Salina: I mean, that's not my best story, but it's a nice parallel to the first one.

Salina: This is last year.

Salina: No hunch punch.

Salina: It's on my left shin.

Salina: I was texting and walking like an ahole at Lake Lanier, walking back from the docks.

Nikki: Oh, no.

Salina: And I fell into a cement stair.

Salina: So I'm just saying maybe it's not the Hunch punch.

Salina: It's also that in my defense, I'm a klutz all the time.

Nikki: Docs are dangerous.

Nikki: Also is the other moral of the story because mine was doc related as well.

Salina: But I bled so much and I'm such a wimp that I had to like.

Nikki: I remember though.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: And I had to lay down.

Salina: It still looks pretty bad.

Nikki: I don't want to see it showing it to you.

Nikki: We're going to compare shins after this.

Nikki: You see my bruise?

Salina: Well, I see it.

Nikki: You can never unsee it.

Salina: I do want to see a certain age bruise.

Salina: We won't age it.

Nikki: It's weird.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: Let's see.

Salina: You said you're eleven.

Nikki: I think so.

Salina: This is like a ten year old bruise.

Nikki: So it's like recent.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: Well, that's it.

Salina: I just wanted to talk a little about some scars.

Nikki: Just want to talk injury.

Salina: Speaking of scars for your wallet.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: Ish like Salina said.

Nikki: Season Three Episode Twelve of Designing Women The Junies Hulu says hoping to clean up with some extra cash and enticing prizes, charlene becomes a lady.

Nikki: June sales lady.

Nikki: And Suzanne Sizzles when Anthony is up for an unusual honor from his junior college.

Nikki: I feel like I have to say Sizzles like that.

Nikki: I just don't know that there's another way to say it.

Nikki: I'm fair Air Date february 20, 1989 we're going to call this one some kind of perky cult.

Nikki: This one was also written co written by LBT.

Nikki: And Pamela Norris.

Nikki: I think we had that two episodes ago.

Salina: Sounds right.

Nikki: Directed by David Trainer.

Nikki: Three general reactions and or straight observations.

Nikki: One, two, or three general reactions.

Nikki: Salina?

Nikki: It doesn't have to be three.

Salina: I got 17.

Salina: Oh, I do actually have four this time.

Salina: That was bad.

Salina: I'm sorry.

Salina: My first one is I just had a lot of reactions to Libby and as like a southern stereotype and I'm wondering what you thought about her as a potential southern stereotype or should I explain myself first?

Nikki: Carry on.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: So I don't think we've encountered this specific stereotype on the show before.

Nikki: Stereotype, stereotype, stereotype, stereotype and stereo.

Salina: But I do think it's a really important one.

Salina: In fact, I would put this on the Mount Rushmore of Southern stereotypes wedged between the banjo player and the Appalachias and the all shucks young man who just moved to the big city.

Salina: So this person is always well put together.

Salina: They're extroverted.

Salina: They're involved in everything.

Salina: They know everyone.

Salina: They're a little bit of a busy body.

Salina: Everyone's.

Salina: Darlin and honey pie and sugar bunch.

Salina: And for me, I think most stereotypes are it's true that they are based in some reality.

Salina: The same is true here.

Salina: At least for me.

Salina: I've known many libbies in my lifetime.

Salina: They come in all forms.

Salina: Some are truly genuine people.

Salina: Others I would say you may want to watch what you do and say in front of them because it might be weaponized at some point.

Salina: This is just my experience.

Salina: It's certainly not something that you can back up with data or anything.

Salina: I tried.

Salina: I was, like, looking around.

Salina: I was like, does anybody know about this stereotype?

Salina: But does any of that sound familiar to you?

Nikki: I think I understand what you're saying.

Nikki: I don't know that I've met that person frequently.

Nikki: I do.

Nikki: As I'm looking at you, I'm thinking of someone that I know that might fit that stereotype.

Nikki: As I'm looking at your face, I'm thinking of you.

Nikki: So, yeah, maybe.

Nikki: But I think that person probably six.

Salina: Months that you lived outside of the south.

Nikki: I think that person probably exists in most societies, southern or not.

Nikki: It's just the way they talk might be different.

Salina: Right.

Salina: It's the Darlin Honey sugar bunch that really puts it over the top.

Salina: But it is kind of the I mean, it's like they're kind of shiny, and they're very magnetic and charismatic.

Salina: I do think there's a little bit of a busy body quality to them.

Nikki: Yeah, for sure.

Salina: I say all that to say, in the future, it would be interesting to do a deeper dive into Southern women's stereotypes, because there are many, especially in entertainment.

Salina: I think some get it right, some get it wrong.

Salina: I think there are some things that are very flattering, and I think there are some things that are very unflattering, and I thought it could be kind of interesting.

Salina: And maybe with us talking about it this far in advance, maybe people have some thoughts that they want to share about things for us to look into.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: I think all of my reactions are stray, which I feel like is my general observation about this episode, which is, like, not much of it resonated with me, except that I'm super interested in this concept of a multilevel marketing organization, if you will.

Nikki: Good.

Nikki: I did have a question for you.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: Have you ever been approached about joining something like the Junies?

Salina: I feel like, in my life, everyone knows we are going to talk about multilevel marketing in this week's Extra Soca.

Nikki: You're welcome.

Salina: And I'll go into a little bit on my experience, but I will say and what my thoughts are, but I will say here that I've seen many people that I know, or people's parents.

Salina: It's usually like our family friends get involved in different things, but I've never really even if someone approached me, I would just be like, I'm good.

Nikki: Oh, my gosh.

Nikki: I think that I get really anxious about someone approaching me without me having the jump on it.

Salina: Oh, a stranger.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: Oh.

Salina: The only thing I can think of it's not multi level marketing, but I will literally turn around and go somewhere else is if they're outside selling Girl Scout cookies, because I can't tell people, no, I don't really want them either.

Salina: I'm just ready to go somewhere else.

Nikki: Well, that's what happened to me, actually.

Nikki: So one time recently, I was in my mid twenty s, I was at Michaels.

Nikki: I think it was I think I might have even been getting ready for my wedding.

Nikki: And I was like, on a lunch break at Michaels, this woman approached me and she said, hey, there my name's.

Nikki: Whatever.

Nikki: I just couldn't help but notice how pulled together you look, how professional you look, and you just don't see a lot of young women that look like that or something along those lines.

Nikki: And she was like, that's exactly the kind of person we're looking for.

Nikki: And being in my early 20s, mid twenty s, I was thinking like, oh, am I about to get offered a job?

Nikki: This woman doesn't know anything about me.

Nikki: And she was like, My name is whatever, and I'm with Whatever organization.

Nikki: I honestly couldn't tell you what it was, but she said, Could I give you a call sometime?

Nikki: And let's just talk, because I think we have some opportunities for you.

Nikki: And I think she was intentionally vague about what she was with so she could talk to me later and get me more in the weeds with her snared.

Nikki: Yes.

Nikki: And I also cannot say no to a person.

Nikki: So I was like, yeah, sure, of course.

Nikki: Here's my phone number.

Nikki: I'd love to talk to you.

Nikki: And she started calling me.

Nikki: Oh, this woman called me multiple times a day for about a week and a half or two weeks.

Nikki: And I kept having to avoid her because she would not go away.

Salina: She was in a pyramid scheme, and she really needed to get you in.

Nikki: She was 100%, because I think I did end up getting her name or her phone number or something.

Nikki: I ended up googling this person.

Nikki: And somehow I was able to see, like, it wasn't something like Mary Kay, but it was something similar.

Nikki: It wasn't Mary Kay, but something similar to that.

Nikki: Some sort of makeup company or something like that.

Nikki: And she really libied me.

Nikki: She went and fortunately, in this day and age, it was like, where I was was not where I live, so I didn't run into her again.

Nikki: You can avoid people pretty easily by phone, so that was weird.

Nikki: And then I had another experience that I'm just remembering as I'm telling this story.

Nikki: My dental hygienist tried to recruit me.

Salina: Oh, you told me.

Nikki: She looked up my phone number in the records and called me on a Sunday to try to get me to join her.

Nikki: And I stopped going to that dentist because I found that so uncomfortable.

Salina: Yeah, that's brave.

Nikki: It is, isn't it?

Salina: But I think we'll get into it.

Salina: I think that's how desperate people become.

Salina: I don't mean this in a rude way, but the etiquette goes out the door.

Salina: And I think it's because a lot of people wind up being in some rough situations.

Salina: But it's funny because it sounds like you got almost like a Warm Chattering.

Nikki: Yes.

Salina: Which is my second general reaction.

Nikki: Okay.

Salina: Whether or not we want to want need is probably strong to talk about any of the techniques incorporated by the Junies.

Salina: Did any of them stand out to you?

Salina: I have a list.

Nikki: You have a list?

Nikki: Okay.

Salina: Do you want me to run through them real quickly?

Salina: Okay, so the warm chattering now, this is where you go to the supermarket in Pears, and the two people who work for the Lady June, they get together and they talk about Lady June products and how good they are.

Salina: Then they go up to someone and they surround them and they get them involved in the conversation.

Salina: So you can tell me which one.

Nikki: Of these so that was not the technique this woman used necessarily.

Salina: It was just her walking.

Nikki: It was just her and like she.

Salina: Was love bombing you, I think.

Salina: But we'll get into it.

Nikki: Okay, that sounds right, but she immediately flattered.

Salina: Extra sugar.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: Of course.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: I think that technique probably is the one that resonates with me.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: But how do you feel about Warm Chattering, though?

Salina: How would you love that?

Nikki: Well, I kept trying to figure out how they would ever suck me into the conversation, because when I'm out in.

Salina: Public, I am heads down.

Nikki: Pretty heads down.

Nikki: I'm actually the person that I have to chide myself on this sometimes that if something's going down, that's not cool.

Nikki: So if something bad was happening, if someone needed help, I'm not the person to help them because I'm not paying attention because I'm heads down, trying to avoid any interaction that is outside of what I'm here for.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: I've actually also taken to wearing my air pods.

Nikki: I can't bring myself to do that quite yet.

Salina: It's good.

Nikki: I feel weird doing it.

Salina: Nice podcast time.

Nikki: But it is unlikely.

Nikki: Unless it's like somebody dealing with a child or something I can readily identify with, I'm unlikely to ever have any reason to interact with them.

Nikki: So that probably wouldn't work with me.

Nikki: And I've never had it happen to me.

Salina: I would freak out if somebody did that.

Salina: It's the most egregious of all the ones for me.

Nikki: It's just reminding me, though, about the time I was at Costco and this.

Salina: Is not an MLM approached more than.

Nikki: Anyone, I have a problem.

Nikki: I was at Costco, and I was shopping for vacuum cleaners, and I had really done a bunch of research on vacuum cleaners, and I thought this woman standing next to me was a fellow consumer.

Nikki: So I start telling her all the reasons I was going to buy this vacuum over this vacuum, and she starts talking back to me.

Salina: You don't sound heads down to me.

Nikki: Knowledgeably.

Nikki: Well, I think she asked me a question or something.

Nikki: She responded knowledgeably.

Nikki: And I thought we were two people who were just going to figure this out together.

Nikki: Turns out she was a salesperson for the first company I wasn't going to buy.

Nikki: I ended up buying the first one she sold me hard.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: And I can't say no.

Nikki: She was standing there.

Salina: That's how I became the owner of a $40 thing of cookies one time from Boy Scouts.

Nikki: I'm very happy with my purchase.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: I still think I might have liked the other one better.

Salina: I wasn't happy with my $40 box of cookies.

Salina: They weren't good.

Nikki: $40 I might have been able to say no to.

Nikki: It was for cookies.

Salina: This is why I'm almost close to just turning around and going to another grocery store.

Salina: I'm like, no, okay.

Salina: Another one that they had was where there's different levels of sales ladies and they're named after flowers with orchids being the best and Ragweed or something being the entry level.

Nikki: I don't know anything about that.

Salina: Well, this is just, like, your reaction to it.

Nikki: I don't know anything about that.

Nikki: And that sounds like it could either be wonderful or terrible.

Nikki: So, like, if they call you ragweed yeah, I'm not going to join.

Nikki: But if they called me something like Daisy, that sounds nice.

Salina: Oh, there are daisies.

Salina: I think that's what Charlene might have been trying to work towards.

Nikki: Or maybe a sunflower.

Salina: That's nice.

Salina: That I don't find as problematic.

Salina: It's kind of cutesy.

Salina: I get it.

Salina: It's fine.

Salina: Listening to inspirational sales tapes.

Nikki: That sounds awful.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: And like mind control.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: What is it called?

Nikki: A subliminal messaging.

Nikki: Like, underlying it all with, like, sell more product kind of.

Nikki: More product.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: I'm really weird about that sort of stuff.

Nikki: There's a podcast that I occasionally listen to if the topic interests me, but it's very much like make yourself a better business person sort of podcast.

Nikki: And sometimes it feels very gimmicky and very quotable, like an inauthentic way.

Nikki: So I'm very sensitive to that.

Nikki: And if it feels too inauthentic, I can't do it.

Salina: Sure.

Salina: Their motto is, don't think of excuses to fail.

Salina: Think of reasons to succeed.

Nikki: It reminds me of what is it called, that positive framework where you're supposed to always be positive?

Nikki: Toxic positivity or something.

Salina: We'll talk about that.

Salina: A little bit extra sugar.

Nikki: That's what it makes me think of.

Salina: Right.

Salina: I think that's a fine saying.

Salina: And who doesn't love a work poster with a kitty hanging from a tree?

Nikki: I mean, who hang in there, Jack.

Salina: Hang in there.

Salina: But at the same time, when it is used with no room for other emotions right.

Salina: Then it's problematic for me and maybe the world, but whatever.

Salina: There's a Lady June anthem that they hold hands and sing together.

Nikki: So I was in a sorority, and this sounds sorority ish so I guess I'm not allowed to say it sounds culty.

Salina: So that sounds beautiful to you?

Nikki: I didn't say beautiful.

Nikki: It just sounds normal to me.

Salina: After a warm chattering, that is the next thing that I'm like is this.

Salina: No.

Nikki: Until you're in it.

Nikki: And I think maybe you'll get into this everybody's in the cold until you're part of it and you feel like you're one of a group and then you feel like you're keep going.

Nikki: I am so lucky I didn't get sucked into one of these things because I am the sort of person I guess I could be super influenced because I'm like we're all daisies together.

Nikki: We are wood selling fun.

Salina: Honestly, I think that the thing that strikes me more than anything else in that research, just as a foreshadowing, is that the human race in general is very susceptible to both cults and groups that use culty techniques.

Nikki: I think we're pack animals and we want to be part of a pack.

Nikki: And so anything that makes you feel included or purposeful to a larger purpose is appealing.

Nikki: I think that's right.

Salina: All right, solved.

Nikki: We won't even do extra sugar this week.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: I looked for things to see if there was anything about MLMs in the news at the time, and I didn't see that.

Salina: But I did run across this article that indicated that I'm going to start saying MLM instead of multilevel marketing because.

Nikki: Pyramid scheme apparently is ugly.

Salina: That indicated MLM really came into its own in the 80s.

Salina: They go into several reasons.

Salina: This was the case from court cases to technology.

Salina: But the one that really resonated with me makes a lot of sense, and that's the promise of a more flexible lifestyle, this idea that you're your own boss and in charge of your own time and you're not just a cog in the machine.

Salina: And I just think generally, as I watched this episode, that felt like it was very relevant to today because we're sounds nice.

Salina: We're still having this conversation, right?

Salina: But a lot of it's around telework and remote work and things that really amped up after in and after the pandemic.

Nikki: I think you're selling me on the MLM.

Nikki: I like that structure.

Nikki: I like the idea of songs.

Salina: Oh, did I not tell you that this is going to end with me trying to get you involved in Mary Bay?

Salina: I swear it was a pink Cadillac.

Nikki: When I think of MLMs, I think of at least two storylines.

Nikki: One is Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite selling tupperware.

Nikki: Do you remember the screen backs up for the Tupperware.

Nikki: Dang it.

Nikki: That was one.

Nikki: And two is there was an MLM plotline on Working Moms this last season.

Salina: Oh, the very, very newest one.

Nikki: Yes.

Salina: I haven't watched it yet.

Nikki: It's really good.

Nikki: It's very similar to what's happening here.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: I think you'll see that thread and.

Nikki: Anything you see because with the well, if you haven't seen it, I'm not going to say it, but there is one key difference between that plotline and this one.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: What else you got?

Nikki: I don't even know where we are in Strays or General, so I'm just going to jump into what's next on my list.

Salina: Sure.

Nikki: An identification on Anthony's College?

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: They call it Kennesaw Junior College.

Nikki: We call it Kennesaw State University now, but at the time it opened in 1966 until 1976 when it became a four year school, it was Kennesaw Junior College.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: But if you ask me to count my Southern references at the end of this season, I'm counting it.

Nikki: Yeah, why wouldn't you?

Nikki: Oh, because it's in your Southern references.

Salina: Just making sure it can go in the Southern reference count.

Nikki: I don't think I put it there, but sure counts.

Salina: This is my last general reaction.

Salina: Not that it matters.

Salina: I'm not entirely sure who Lady June is.

Salina: Emulating.

Salina: It seemed to me to be a mashup between Mary Kay, which is a very female centric business.

Salina: Lady June has diamonds.

Salina: Mary Kay has pink Cadillacs.

Salina: But the product is different.

Salina: The product, to me, reminds me more of Amway, who like Lady June, sells home products.

Salina: And Amway, for those who don't know, is like, that's the largest MLM company in the world.

Nikki: I didn't know that if we were.

Salina: Trying to find some real world roots for the not true company that we were seeing there.

Nikki: Strays real world roots is interesting because that's my first stray that I have listed here, even though my last one held it like a stray, too.

Nikki: I did some googling, but I wasn't successful in finding anything.

Nikki: But I'm super curious if either LBT or Pamela Norris, since they co wrote this episode, if either one was Homecoming Queen in school.

Nikki: The reason I bring that up is because that speech that Suzanne gave about the queen felt like something only a former Homecoming Queen or someone who loves a former Homecoming Queen could have given.

Nikki: It was pretty impassioned.

Nikki: Let me tell you something about homecoming, Queen Anthony.

Nikki: Homecoming Queen is not just a gorgeous, beautiful, elusive love object, but a symbol.

Nikki: A symbol of pride and dedication to one school.

Nikki: You know, someone chosen by the students as their representative at a time when all students, past and present, come together to salute their alma mater.

Nikki: Doesn't that feel like something a Homecoming Queen would say?

Salina: Okay, yeah, you know, I didn't think about that when I was watching it, but you've sold me the first part.

Nikki: Like the very Suzanne part.

Nikki: The elusive love object, a beautiful wonder.

Nikki: I feel like that's something someone who has only seen Homecoming Queens would say.

Nikki: But for someone to take the step back and say, like, this is what they represent, whether it's true or not, I don't actually know why we have Homecoming Queens, but that sounds as good of a reason as any.

Nikki: It just feels like something a Beauty Queen would say.

Nikki: Someone who's known a beauty queen.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: Homecoming queen.

Nikki: Sorry.

Salina: Homecoming thing.

Salina: Get it right.

Salina: Well, on that note, that brings me to astray for me, which is that I felt like Anthony's College seemed pretty progressive regarding their stance on homecoming queen for 1989 because they didn't call it that anymore.

Salina: It was a representative because homecoming queen is sexist elitist and outdated, and they didn't want to be exclusionary to men.

Salina: And I thought that was a real progressive for the times.

Nikki: And on that note, oh, I feel like we learned something about Suzanne we probably already knew but was a helpful reminder, because when all of that is coming up, anthony tells her it's a changing world.

Nikki: And she said, well, I don't care for it.

Nikki: It's very much her.

Nikki: She's not terribly progressive, does not want to be.

Salina: She's a traditional gal.

Nikki: She's very traditional.

Salina: My last ray is that I'm pretty sure Anthony was like 24 years old last season.

Salina: And in this episode, Julia says he's 30.

Salina: How old are you, Anthony?

Salina: How old are you?

Salina: What else do you have?

Nikki: I have two more strays.

Nikki: They said Libby Coker made 60,000 digits in one year.

Nikki: I pulled a Salina, and I looked that up in 2020.

Nikki: $2.

Nikki: It's about $141,000.

Nikki: That's a lot of digits.

Salina: Yeah, that's pretty nice.

Nikki: I thought that was interesting.

Nikki: And then also, I should note we got a Helen Van Patterson Patton throwback, which is Suzanne's alias.

Salina: I loved it.

Salina: That made it into my likes, which sounds like a really good way to segue into likes.

Salina: And I'll go ahead and just say that specific one, which is really a lot of Suzanne parts I liked in this one was that her distracting Libby at the convention is none other than Helen Van Patterson.

Salina: So I love that.

Salina: That was great.

Salina: But it was also her take on women like Libby.

Salina: And maybe this is what put me in the mind of that stereotype, too, because she really kind of drives it home here.

Salina: But here's what she says.

Salina: No offense, Julia, but if this Libby person is as bad as you say, you are way out of your league.

Salina: I know these kind of women.

Salina: They'll kiss you and call you honey and slop sugar all over you, while all the time they're just thinking about themselves.

Salina: I mean, that terminator stuff doesn't work with them.

Salina: You've got to fight sugar with sugar.

Salina: They'll find that's a job for professionals.

Nikki: Again, building on that, I just build a bridge.

Nikki: I thought their writing in this episode was really, like, economical is the word I would think of.

Nikki: It was brief but very funny.

Nikki: So, one example I wrote down was when Julia says, charlene, did you or did you not say to me this very morning, I do not want to sell Lady June anymore.

Nikki: I don't want anything to do with Lady June anymore.

Nikki: Help me, Julia.

Nikki: I can't get out.

Salina: Help me.

Nikki: Please help me.

Nikki: And I just thought, one, the way that was delivered was hilarious, but two, it.

Nikki: Was just such a to the point description of how Charlene was feeling.

Nikki: And all of that obviously happened off screen, but we got to hear what the conversation was and help remind Charlene why they're there to help her.

Salina: Yeah, I agree.

Salina: There were a lot of just really enjoyable lines in this one.

Salina: In fact, this isn't really like a funny line.

Salina: I just want to say that I get and I think that's what the show was not subtly alluding to but why people really wanted to join the ranks of Lady June.

Salina: She's kind of awesome.

Salina: She has a whole little thing that she says that kind of gives some insight into why this company existed in the first place and that there was a little bit of method to her madness for getting a company off the ground in the specifically to help women.

Salina: You okay if I read that part?

Salina: Sure.

Nikki: Okay.

Salina: She says this is Lady June.

Salina: Honey, let me tell you why I started this company.

Salina: When I started working 20 some odd years ago, there weren't many chances for a woman with a good business head.

Salina: That's why I wanted my business to be full of women.

Salina: Women buy cleaning products, so I knew women could sell cleaning products.

Salina: All my top executives have cleaned plenty of bathrooms.

Salina: I'm proud to say you're my top executives.

Salina: All you here tonight.

Salina: Now, I know a lot of people think we're just the silliest company around with our flower names and our lavender golf carts and our diamond rings, but that's okay.

Salina: We're just us now.

Salina: Hon.

Salina: I founded this company on love and Christian principles.

Salina: When somebody decides she doesn't want to do Lady June anymore, we try to talk her out of it because we don't want any woman to sell herself short, to think that she can't do it because she's just a housewife or just a secretary or some silliness.

Salina: But, Charlene, believe me, I want you to have the best life you can have.

Salina: And if you don't want to do Lady June, don't worry about it.

Salina: We love you just the same.

Nikki: I was ready to join as you're reading that.

Nikki: So one of the things I was going to say that I liked in this episode was that Lady June was so likable, which I think is dovetailing nicely with what you're saying.

Nikki: That said, as I was watching it, I was expecting a cutthroat businesswoman to come out.

Nikki: And as you're reading that and I don't know if it's your delivery, what I know about you or if it's hearing the words it's almost a sales pitch again.

Nikki: And Charlene wanted back in, and I think Lady June would have taken her, but the women pulled her away.

Nikki: And so I do still wonder, is Lady June authentic or not?

Salina: I'm somewhere between that might be something that LBT wanted left in the air.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: Or I think this was a really hilarious way to shine a light on a problem like we know LBT.

Salina: Does, that she takes things because I do think that people think that this Mary Kay stuff is frivolous, but I don't think it's frivolous.

Salina: So I think maybe she wanted people to see that.

Salina: I think that's really interesting that you picked up on that.

Salina: Because for me, I thought maybe what she was trying to do is say, like, there were good intentions at the top of some of these companies being created.

Salina: And that piece about females not feeling like they have the ability to break through into the workforce and things just sort of going Awry.

Salina: Especially as you build out these big networks of people, you can't control what someone 18 lines down necessarily is doing.

Salina: But the way they're using those techniques.

Nikki: Yes, but I don't control that.

Nikki: The techniques you're proposing are I'm with you, aggressive.

Salina: I'm with you.

Nikki: It's interesting to me.

Nikki: And both of these things can be true.

Nikki: No, but it just says something about the person at the top who's pulling all the strings and saying, like, we need to tell them to what did you call it earlier?

Nikki: Love bombing.

Nikki: We're going to talk about that?

Salina: Love bombing?

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: I don't know.

Salina: It's also like, I think a certain kind of person who starts these things.

Salina: What else did you like in this episode?

Nikki: I think that's it for me.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: Mary Joe recounting her experience with Charlene trying to quit the Junies was really funny and she had a really good impersonation of Libby that I just really enjoyed.

Salina: Another thing I really liked was Anthony winning the Homecoming representative and only telling Suzanne they're best friends.

Nikki: I sort of got the vibe the other women already knew because when they went to leave, there was this subtle, like, patting him on the back or something.

Salina: Oh, really?

Nikki: Something about their body language and maybe I'm totally reading something that's not there.

Nikki: Something about the body language made me think they already had the news and they wanted him to have the chance to share it with Suzanne.

Salina: Well, I might have misread that scene.

Salina: It's happened before.

Salina: The last thing I wanted to say that I really liked, especially since I've been a little critical of the Amb plots this season, is I want to be sure and say that I really like these two plots together.

Salina: The Junis and Anthony as Homecoming representative really complemented each other nicely.

Salina: But also, I think, spatially, I feel like I was getting enough to understand each one and I thought it worked well.

Nikki: Every time I think you're going to zig, you zag.

Nikki: I thought for sure, and as we've been talking about that, because you've opened my eyes to how these episodes are structured and this is somewhere that when LBT.

Nikki: Comes on the show, I'm hoping she can kind of help educate us a little bit.

Nikki: How does that decision come about that this is going to fit with this because they are so not related.

Nikki: And I almost expect the folks in the A plot to be totally separated from the folks in the B plot.

Nikki: So it was weird that Suzanne is, like, in the weeds with Anthony on Homecoming Queen, but then also goes to this, like, junie event and is part of that plotline, too.

Nikki: I almost just expect them to be teased out in separates.

Nikki: Then I don't understand why the two exist.

Nikki: Maybe LBT can help me understand.

Salina: Maybe she can help come explain.

Salina: What do we not like?

Nikki: On that note, I didn't like that we didn't get more of Anthony's experience as the Homecoming representative or through the process of it because it seemed like it really meant a lot to him in the end.

Nikki: Like, in the beginning, obviously he was against it.

Nikki: But do you remember when Bernice had that pageant she was preparing for and we got, like, Suzanne coaching her and we got the catwalk and the wardrobe choices?

Nikki: I wish we could have seen more of that interplay between Anthony and Suzanne as she was like, because I got the sense the reason Suzanne was involved is because they wanted her to sort of help him get ready for it.

Nikki: It's different than what Suzanne's used to, but it's all the same, right?

Nikki: Like smiling and making people like you.

Salina: Sure.

Nikki: So I wish we could have seen more of that.

Salina: I think part of me has gotten used to the fact that things that I would be interested in seeing teased out, they're not going to do that.

Nikki: Yeah, for sure.

Salina: But I'm glad that you mentioned the Bernice thing because I'm like, well, we don't leave anywhere from Sugar Bakers.

Salina: But that's not true because we got to go see Bernice.

Salina: And then also in this episode, we leave.

Salina: But I guess we can't leave twice.

Nikki: Oh, I guess that's true.

Salina: In one episode.

Nikki: It would have been funny to see the other people who are running for representative.

Salina: They could have played with that.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: What does a group of part time.

Salina: Adult students man, can you just imagine how progressive Kennesaw was in the 1980s?

Salina: Yeah, so progressive.

Nikki: I think that it's that situation of survival.

Nikki: Like, if they want to have a Homecoming queen and they're a junior college and it sounded like most of the students were adults anyway, you're not going to get a bunch of cute 18 year old girls running for Homecoming Queens.

Nikki: It's almost like a matter of survival.

Nikki: If you want a homecoming something, you got to have a homecoming something.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: Also, I should have looked up whether homecoming whether Kenneso Junior College had a homecoming queen in 1989.

Salina: I've been some deep research.

Salina: This is like one of those things again where I feel weird about sticking it and that I didn't like it category.

Salina: But one thing that stood out to me that I would just say, like, I did not really like Roger, or as I like to call him, Hashtag.

Salina: Me, too.

Salina: Roger.

Nikki: Is Roger the one that has, like, come to my room?

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: That tried to lure Suzanne.

Nikki: Have some cleaning products for you.

Salina: Well, and then one of the women insinuating this has happened before?

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: It was like a 32nd stint for How To Catch a Predator, and the fact that it just gets played as a joke at that time, which, I mean, it was kind of funny, but you're just kind of like, jeez.

Salina: But anyways, I don't take it away from the show at all.

Salina: Just one thing where I was like, all right, Roger, we see you.

Salina: Do you want to rate this sucker?

Nikki: Sure.

Nikki: My rating scale is Labrador retriever.

Nikki: Homecoming queens.

Salina: All right.

Salina: And how many Labrador retriever homecoming queens do you have?

Nikki: Four out of five.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: I feel weird when I don't have a lot I didn't like about the episode.

Nikki: I feel weird rating it anything other than five.

Nikki: And I watched this one a couple of times, and I didn't hate it.

Nikki: It was just a little something to me.

Nikki: I did like that Lady June ended up being likable in the end, although as we've been talking, I've been thinking more about her character and wondering, is it all a facade?

Nikki: And I like the storyline just fine.

Nikki: I did appreciate, true to character, that Charlene would be the one to get sucked into this because it is true to character.

Nikki: They had tried to play that off on Julia or Mary Joe.

Nikki: I would have been a little annoyed by that.

Nikki: So I was glad they knew their character and used this as a vehicle for her.

Nikki: Four out of five.

Salina: I gave it a 4.8 out of five.

Salina: Smiling chirping bulldozers.

Salina: This is what Julia calls the junies.

Salina: I thought the plot was interesting, but also a hair realistic, especially for that time period.

Salina: I'm also giving it high marks for good pacing, as I mentioned before, and giving us a good B plot that complemented and didn't distract from the A.

Salina: And I think that's what I mean.

Salina: Not necessarily that Homecomings and multilevel marketing go together.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: But that neither one distracted from the other, and I think that was my problem, especially in the one where their nieces come in is, like, they're both interesting enough separately, where together I'm like, what?

Salina: I just don't they were, like, also too equal, I think, in the amount of time that we spent with each of them, where technically a B plot should be less important and you spend less time there.

Salina: As much as I love Anthony, I do think that is less important than Charlene accidentally joining a cult, and I think that we could spend less time there, and I think that makes sense.

Salina: But we still get to get the warm fuzzies, and that's nice.

Salina: I also like that it captured their closeness as friends not just them going to rescue Charlene, but also this blooming relationship between Suzanne and Anthony.

Salina: Even if the women did already know the rest of them, that was a real special moment, I thought, between Suzanne and Anthony.

Salina: And I really liked that you could tell for as much as sometimes we're like, gosh, Suzanne, why you be nice to Anthony.

Salina: Like you could see that love and affection.

Salina: There more than I think we've been able to see since maybe stranded.

Nikki: Yeah, I think so.

Salina: So who won the episode and who buttered our biscuits?

Nikki: I think it's another victory for the dynamic duo.

Nikki: You were just talking about Anthony and Suzanne.

Nikki: She was so proud of him and they kind of worked together as a team and bonded over this.

Nikki: So I liked that warm fuzzies, the way you just said it.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: Sometimes you need a warm fuzzy.

Nikki: That's true.

Salina: I guess I'm doing maybe not the best job, like narrowing down but Anthony literally won homecoming representatives.

Salina: That feels like an easy win.

Salina: But lady June, she has her own cult and enough charisma to have one.

Salina: I mean, company.

Salina: Who lost the episode and who served us lumpy gravy?

Nikki: The lady June bells.

Nikki: They lost charlene.

Salina: Oh, I like that.

Salina: That's good.

Salina: I'm going to go on the other side and say charlene.

Nikki: She lost.

Salina: Technical.

Salina: No, she got saddled with some pretty expensive cleaning products.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: But I'm also tempted to say that anyone on the receiving end of a lady June warm chattering is also a loser.

Salina: That's a lumpy, girl.

Nikki: You're already miserable.

Nikki: You're already at the grocery store.

Nikki: Now someone's approaching you about cleaning products.

Salina: It's just like an extra kick in the pants.

Nikki: Good call.

Salina: Did you have 80s things on your list?

Nikki: I didn't have any this time.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: Just this whole concept about like a lady June philsbury of this time period when I'm thinking about the classics like the Avon's and the Mary Kays and the shackleies or maybe not.

Salina: We'll find out.

Nikki: Definitely not.

Nikki: After that lady approached me, two different people have approached me about joining one of these.

Nikki: One at least I know was beauty products.

Nikki: I can't remember what the other one was.

Salina: Yeah, you're a real target.

Salina: We'll have to watch you.

Salina: I got some things that might make you feel better about that.

Salina: Southern things.

Nikki: We had a couple of southern sayings.

Nikki: I thought I'd call out.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: Owe my soul.

Nikki: Flop sugar all over you.

Nikki: Get the heck out of dodge.

Nikki: All felt southern to me.

Nikki: That's it.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: In addition to that, we get Julia calling her Mary Joe.

Salina: H***'s bells.

Salina: Just this again.

Salina: This libby.

Salina: Sorry.

Salina: We just got a string of those.

Salina: But like the sugars, the honey pies, the sweeties, the honeys, just like replacing someone's name with I do think, just an aside, I think some people can get away with that just fine.

Salina: I think others don't get away with it as much references that we need to talk about.

Nikki: I think I have three.

Salina: Talk to me.

Nikki: The first one is the moonies.

Nikki: This term refers to members of the Unification Church of the United States, which is a religious movement.

Nikki: It began in the when missionaries from Japan and South Korea were sent to the United States by the International Unification Church's founder and leader, Sun Myung Moon.

Nikki: The term moonies is considered derogatory to mean someone who is brainwashed and major news outlet style guides discourage its use.

Salina: Yeah, it's interesting.

Salina: I've heard of the moonies before, but I think it's just one of those things that I'd never really looked into and I didn't really understand it.

Salina: But they're most known, I guess, for these mass weddings.

Salina: And so just to kind of round this out about why there would be mass weddings.

Salina: So Reverend Moon as a child, he saw himself as being charged with completing Jesus's work, which to Moon was never being married.

Salina: Without getting too in the weeds, marriage to me read like the centerpiece of the church because it was believed that the blessing of their marriage in these massive ceremonies helped to establish God's kingdom here on earth.

Salina: So in addition to when it really came to the US.

Salina: By the was being identified as a cult, and then people were trying to deprogram their kids suing the church.

Salina: And there were even congressional hearings that led to Moon being convicted of tax evasion.

Salina: There's always money.

Nikki: Always money.

Salina: What else did you have?

Nikki: The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Nikki: Mary Joe did an interpretation of that.

Nikki: So it was a 1956 American science fiction film about an extraterrestrial invasion that begins in the fictional California town of Santa Mira.

Nikki: I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone, so, ear Muffs, if you haven't seen this and you plan on it, alien plant spores have fallen from space and grown into large seed pods, each one capable of producing a visually identical copy of a human.

Nikki: As each pod reaches full development, it assimilates the physical traits, memories and personalities of each sleeping person placed near it until only the replacement is left.

Nikki: These duplicates, however, are devoid of all human emotion.

Nikki: Little by little, a local doctor uncovers this quiet invasion and attempts to stop it.

Nikki: The slang expression pod people that arose in the late 20th century refers to the emotionless duplicates seen in this film.

Salina: Yeah, which has really kind of stayed in the culture for a really long time.

Salina: And then there was also a remake in 1978 that featured Donald Sutherland, keefer Sutherland's dad, I think one other thing, what I actually find the most fascinating about this is that the conversations are about whether or not it's an allegory for the Cold War and communisms.

Salina: Some also believe that it's about consumerism.

Salina: That's the one I hear more often than anything else.

Salina: And just a side note, more than that scaring me.

Salina: There's something about people in pods, in growing.

Salina: That just kind of grosses me.

Nikki: Freaks you out.

Salina: Yeah, it's just a little weird.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: It just sounds like I don't know, but I guess that's what it's supposed to do.

Nikki: I was going to say, Wait till you find out what happens inside a woman's stomach when she's pregnant.

Salina: Don't tell me.

Nikki: Earma.

Salina: You got a third one?

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: Yes.

Nikki: There was a mention of stepford wives.

Nikki: It's kind of in the same vein as pod people, in a sense.

Nikki: This was a movie from 1975 originally, but I mostly remember the buzz of the early 2000s rendition with Nicole Kidman.

Nikki: Basically, it's a psychological thriller about a town of very subservient wives.

Nikki: That one is more recent in terms of the remake, so I won't spoil that one.

Nikki: Except they're very yeah, okay.

Nikki: I just saw this movie in, like, 2017.

Nikki: Yeah, maybe 2016.

Nikki: Right after I had one of the kids and I was like, home on parental leave, had extra time, and I was like, I've never seen this.

Nikki: It is really creepy.

Salina: Yeah, we don't have to spoil it for people.

Salina: I also feel like you either know what it is already or you don't.

Salina: But I didn't really have much appreciation for it when I saw it in the theaters at 19.

Salina: Now I think it's probably been like four years or something since I re watched it.

Salina: And I have much more appreciation for it as an older woman, old woman who's kind of, like, been through a little bit more life.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: And I think the very current cultural environment around women's rights and women makes it all the more prescient, I think.

Salina: I think you're absolutely right.

Salina: I think this idea just embodies this segment of the world who would love for women to stay in their traditional roles.

Salina: It was wife and mother.

Salina: But I think there's something to it that we see captured in this episode, which is sort of like these ridiculously high expectations that we put on women.

Salina: We must do everything.

Salina: We must be everything.

Salina: We must be some sort of unreachable level of perfection.

Salina: And I think that's a very persistent concept that keeps getting fed to women in different ways through different channels and means.

Salina: But when you boil whatever that new shiny package is, it always comes back down to the same thing.

Salina: That was your last one.

Nikki: That was my last one.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: I got a couple of other ones on here, but I don't think any of them are that important.

Salina: I will say that just because there's been several times where a commercial or something gets mentioned and I usually either fail in finding it or it takes me, like, longer than I want to admit to find it.

Salina: Anthony describes his homecoming win as a feeling.

Salina: Like that dude in the Marjorie commercial.

Salina: I found it on the very first try.

Salina: It's an Imperial Marjorien commercial from the 80s with a little kid eating a muffin singing the Muffin Man song and then suddenly he's in a Polaroid picture wearing a crown.

Salina: And I just want to say that was my crowning achievement, that I found that sucker on the first.

Nikki: Congratulations.

Salina: Thank you.

Salina: Should we talk about any cut lines?

Nikki: I have three, but I'm only going to mention two because one's really, really brief.

Nikki: After Charlene said she joined because Libby needed her diamond ring, this part was cut and I'm sharing it because it gives us some perspective on why this was so appealing to Charlene.

Nikki: Excuse me, but did I hear you say diamond?

Nikki: Yeah, lady June gives all sorts of prizes, but if you recruit a certain number of sales ladies, you get a one carat diamond.

Nikki: I'll just be doing it for a little while.

Nikki: I could use a couple hundred dollars.

Nikki: My Christmas bills were real big this year.

Nikki: They say later, like a couple of lines later or maybe a couple of scenes later.

Nikki: But haven't you earned more than a couple of $100?

Nikki: That's why they're saying that, because that was her original goal.

Nikki: So with that line cut, it glosses over your ears.

Nikki: You barely notice, but if you're watching in the detail we are, you notice, right?

Nikki: And then when Mary Joe tries to give Charlene out for needing to clean her apartment that weekend, this exchange happened.

Nikki: I think this is relevant to what you were just saying about expecting women to do the most of the most.

Nikki: I think this is relevant.

Nikki: And even in the scheme of this business that is designed maybe because of the business that's designed to give women flexibility, this is relevant.

Nikki: It's I really need time to take care of certain things.

Nikki: I like to keep up with my family and all.

Nikki: And then I think Libby says, oh, I didn't know you had children.

Nikki: And Charlene says, oh, I don't.

Nikki: And Libby says, Honey, I had three children, two of them still in diapers when I started.

Nikki: And bills doctors said I had psoriasis over 85% of my body from nerves.

Nikki: I just kept on working.

Nikki: A burglar once held me at gunpoint for 6 hours.

Nikki: If it hadn't been for the self confidence I learned from Lady June, I never would have been able to talk him out of it.

Nikki: So when Mary Joe says a couple of lines later, don't you feel sorry for those burglars?

Nikki: That's where that came from.

Salina: I did look up that cut line because that really sat with me as I was working on this week's extra sugar.

Salina: That's great.

Salina: But also, if you have 85% of your body covered in psoriasis, it might be time to gee, I wonder what it is.

Salina: Could it be all these things that you're doing?

Nikki: So our next episode is episode 13 one Sees, the Other Doesn't.

Nikki: We'd love everyone to follow along with us and engage Instagram and Facebook at sweetteantv.

Nikki: Our email address is and our website is

Nikki: As always, there are several ways to support the show.

Nikki: You can tell your family and friends about us, rate us and or review the podcast wherever you listen.

Nikki: We also have some additional ways available from the website on our Support US page of ways that you can support us.

Nikki: Wasn't that a delightful sentence?

Nikki: Support us, go to our website and hang tight for Extra Sugar.

Salina: Talking about oh, me.

Salina: That's me.

Salina: I'm sorry.

Nikki: You're cute.

Nikki: What are you talking about, Salina?

Nikki: Excuse me.

Salina: I lost that thread.

Salina: So, in this week's Extra Sugar, as I've alluded to about 18,000 times sorry, y'all.

Salina: We're going to dig into the cult of multilevel marketing.

Salina: And you know what that means.

Nikki: What does it mean, Salina?

Salina: It means that I forgot my second queue.

Salina: And also that we will see you around the bend by.

Salina: Well, hello and welcome to this week's edition of Extra Sugar.

Salina: So, Nikki, when I first set out to work on this segment, my plan was going to be to focus on the scheming of multilevel marketing organizations.

Salina: But the more I researched, the more I was compelled by something else.

Salina: And that was how much they put me in the mind of cults.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: Awkward, right?

Salina: So I'm certainly not the only one making the comparison.

Salina: And I don't want to sit here and act like I've stumbled on something amazing.

Salina: There's a lot of articles that I came across and that formed the basis of this segment that asserted the same.

Salina: So today I'd like us to focus on the threads between MLMs and cults.

Salina: What are those threads?

Salina: What are those tactics?

Salina: And what should people be aware of?

Nikki: Okay.

Salina: This week's episode also provides a unique opportunity to talk about something that feels pretty significant.

Salina: I mean this from my research.

Salina: These companies affect millions of people in one way or another.

Salina: People who get caught up in these schemes, and it turns out a lot of them, to your point earlier, are women.

Salina: So we'll talk more about that for the lucky ones.

Salina: These companies might mean that you're out $50 and you have to shove some products you'll never use or sell in the back of your closet.

Salina: But for others, it's much more devious.

Salina: Take, for instance, Nexium, a company structured as an MLM.

Salina: They provided seminars and videos in the field of human potential development, but they had an offshoot organization where women were treated as sex slaves and branded with initials.

Nikki: I remember this.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: This was a big story in 2020.

Salina: So their top of the pyramid was Keith Ranier, who was sentenced to 120 years in prison for his part in these activities.

Salina: There's tons of information about this group out there now, but I would recommend the documentary The Vow on HBO.

Nikki: Max.

Salina: Okay, as usual, jump in anytime that you have questions because if you have questions, other people have questions, I'll do my best to answer them.

Salina: I did read 2000 articles, so I might know if I don't.

Salina: And it's super important we'll come back.

Nikki: If I ask it.

Nikki: It's super important.

Salina: That's true.

Salina: Everything you ask is super important.

Salina: No.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: What is an MLM?

Salina: We talked a lot about it in the episode, but I feel like maybe we just need to have a little bit of a primer here.

Salina: So did run across a Forbes article that boiled it down nicely for those who like you're, putting it together with the context clues, but you've never really paid that much attention.

Salina: MLM is also known as direct marketing, network marketing or influencer marketing.

Salina: It uses people instead of retail outlets to sell products to customers.

Salina: This puts the responsibility for selling into the hands of independent distributor networks.

Salina: Under this model, distributors are employees of the company.

Salina: Rather, they're individual business owners who recruit their own distributor networks to help them sell products.

Salina: MLM relies on these extended networks of independent distributors to generate revenue.

Salina: We also talked a little bit about pyramid schemes.

Salina: It's important to say not all MLMs are pyramid schemes, though many experts will tell you that's due to legal loopholes.

Salina: They do also both, incidentally, have a pyramid structure.

Nikki: I was thinking they sound very similar.

Nikki: I mean got the masses at the bottom, the one rich person or a couple of people at the top.

Nikki: Sounds like a pyramid to me.

Salina: Yeah, in some ways, it kind of sounds like life too.

Nikki: Sure.

Salina: But we're organizing this and maybe making it a little worse.

Salina: I'm not sure.

Salina: So according to the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, if an MLM is not a pyramid scheme, it will pay you based on your sales to retail customers without having to recruit new distributors.

Salina: Pyramid schemes, meanwhile, rely on continuous recruitment of dues paying members to stay afloat, even if they require members to keep buying products that they may not be able to sell.

Salina: So if that helps you make that distinction in your mind I actually don't think I really knew that distinction before I started researching that.

Nikki: So is Lady June, then, is a pyramid scheme?

Salina: Yeah, because I think also part of okay, I shouldn't say yes because I don't know, it's a show.

Salina: I can't see their entire business model, but it does seem like they're recruiting like crazy.

Salina: I think that's why Libby is so darned intent on keeping her network.

Salina: Right.

Salina: And wanting to keep Charlene.

Salina: It's not just because we just love you, sugar.

Salina: It's because you're part of my money.

Salina: And if you're not there, you're a.

Nikki: Revenue stream for me.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: So then let's go into what a cult is.

Salina: According to expert Janja Lelik, I was.

Nikki: Expecting you to give the definition of an MLM.

Salina: Well, you tell me.

Salina: A cult is a group or movement held together by a shared commitment to a charismatic leader or ideology.

Salina: It has a belief system that has the answers to all of life's.

Salina: Questions and offers a special solution to be gained only by following the leader's rules.

Salina: It requires a high level of commitment from at least some of the members.

Salina: Now, I could break down all the ways that that fits into an MLM kind of structure, but I think you can start just by thinking through the things that we've discussed, how those things might align.

Salina: A Huffington Post article, which we'll link to, discussed how MLMs use the same mind control techniques that cults do here we go.

Salina: Things like what they call love bombing, which is a type of toxic manipulative affection used to draw members in.

Salina: Now it's almost like a seduction, where the person recruiting them who they likely know is making them feel special and important.

Salina: Now, the flip side of this tactic is the guilt, shame and fear to keep you there.

Salina: And those seeds are sown from the very beginning with other manipulative tools like toxic positivity, which we also talked a little bit about in the episode, and gaslighting.

Salina: Let's real quickly say again, toxic positivity, because I do think that's a newer term.

Salina: And I've talked with a few people lately and they didn't really know what it was.

Salina: So I want to be really clear that this is not to be confused with optimism, right?

Salina: Optimism good.

Salina: Toxic positivity bad.

Salina: This is when negative emotions are seen as inherently bad and positivity and happiness are compulsively pushed.

Salina: Gaslighting, on the other hand, is a form of an emotional abuse where a person's reality and reality in general are denied.

Salina: So if you're not doing well, you're just not putting in the work right?

Salina: It's on you.

Salina: You're not being positive enough or trying hard enough.

Salina: It's never the system or the products, and they just go ahead and start working that on you from the very beginning.

Salina: That way they can just keep you ensnared.

Salina: It's interesting because the stakes weren't super high in the episode, but we do see that Libby used some of these same tactics on charlene other things to be on the lookout for an us versus them mentality.

Salina: Anything good that happens is because of the company or its leader.

Salina: And there's also usually like this weird insider jargon.

Salina: I think that's the only thing that gets me kind of whatever about the flowers and Lady June.

Salina: That's a much like, again, lower stakes version.

Salina: But it is this thing where we kind of have our own language and our own thing.

Nikki: I like that.

Nikki: This is all sounding really good to me.

Salina: Here we go.

Salina: It's also important that we don't write off those who get caught up in these situations.

Salina: I think I read a lot and you kind of hear these conversations or me talking now where people are like, oh, how could anybody ever get caught up in this?

Salina: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Nikki: Sounds easy.

Salina: Here's what Amanda Montel, who's author of Cultish the Language of Fanaticism, had to say about it.

Salina: We tend to hold these preconceived notions that cult followers are desperate, disturbed, or intellectually deficient.

Salina: But why would a cult want someone like that?

Salina: Cults desire outgoing, bright, optimistic people with lots of friends to recruit and money to burn.

Salina: And importantly, who possess enough faith that when things inevitably turn sour, they won't break down right away.

Salina: She goes on to say, it's not stupidity that makes people vulnerable to MLMs like Lularo.

Salina: Instead, it's a breed of optimism that comes more naturally to people who've been taught that the American Dream was made for them.

Salina: Like PTA Moms with sunshiny faces and saucerlike blue eyes, who believe white men in suits when they say their business is a pure meritocracy, and that those who work hard enough will undoubtedly succeed.

Salina: The next thing I wanted to talk about a little bit was the women aspect.

Salina: Okay, so it's no accident that Montel specified PTA moms.

Salina: Indeed, it is women who are targeted the most.

Salina: According to Direct Selling Association, three quarters of direct sellers are women.

Nikki: Oh, wow.

Salina: Why?

Salina: They're enticed with promises of flexible hours, unlimited earning potential, and the chance to be their own boss.

Salina: Who in the world doesn't want those things?

Nikki: I don't want to be my own boss.

Nikki: I'd be a real jerk.

Salina: I'd be the worst to work for.

Salina: The two biggest targets among women stay at home moms and military spouses.

Salina: Got some articles we'll link to, because this is actually just a segment, not a dissertation, that will kind of lead you through those things, but it still comes back to those basic things I just said with the flexibility, wanting to be with kids as much as they possibly can, and those kinds of things.

Salina: All right.

Salina: In addition, a Media Matters report released just this year found that it works.

Salina: Which is an MLM selling questionable diet products was targeting young, low income women and exposing them to possible physical and financial harm.

Nikki: Oh, no.

Salina: Physical harm because they're diet products.

Nikki: Got it?

Nikki: Understood.

Salina: So another kind of interesting thing that I was not expecting to find is, according to a Huffington Post article, apparently Mormons are often targeted by MLMs, specifically exploiting this emphasis on traditional family roles, quote, unquote encouraging women to be stay at home moms and maintaining a close knit community.

Salina: In fact, Utah, home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints that's quite the mouthful.

Salina: Is also the unofficial MLM and direct sales capital of the world.

Salina: The state has more MLMs than any other state per capita, and at least 15 MLMs are headquartered in Utah County alone.

Nikki: Wow.

Salina: So I don't know if you've seen the Docuseries Lula rich.

Nikki: I haven't seen it, but I've read.

Salina: About it really good.

Salina: You actually mentioned it, and I took that as recommendation and ran with it.

Salina: But in that documentary, they discuss DM Brady and Mark Stidham, the husband wife duo behind Lularau and their Mormon.

Salina: Now, that alone is certainly not problematic.

Salina: And I'm not trying to say that at all.

Salina: But what is also interesting is that former consultants in the documentary noted concerns with religious messaging being incorporated into their larger meetings and other aspects of the business.

Salina: So not only Mormonism, but my read on things was religion more broadly can be used as a sailing tool.

Salina: Well, that's different.

Salina: A selling tool.

Salina: So listen to what this keynote speaker said to attendees at a Plexus convention.

Salina: So if you're a believer, as I know many of you are, here's what you have to realize.

Salina: You have a responsibility to use the gifts that you've been given for something far bigger than yourself.

Salina: Because your gifts are much bigger than you, and you have a responsibility to share them with the world.

Salina: And this Plexus is the best vehicle you will ever have in your lifetime to do that.

Salina: I believe that your Plexus business is an assignment from God to help you build your faith.

Nikki: Oh, my.

Salina: So there's clearly a variety of manipulations going on, but the truth is this very few make money.

Salina: Most do not.

Salina: Studies have found somewhere between 73% and 99% earn nothing.

Nikki: Oh, no.

Salina: Research by the FTC found 99% of recruited sellers lose money in an MLM venture.

Salina: As of February, the FTC was considering a new rule to address deceptive or unfair earnings claims and published an advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Salina: It ran on the Federal Register, receiving more than 1600 comments, and most of them were negative.

Salina: But I also found a letter in June pushing back on the newly proposed rule signed by several members of Congress.

Salina: They felt it was overstepping and could hurt the economy.

Salina: So here we go again.

Salina: I guess it's not just government trying to intercede, though at least one social media platform has taken a stance TikTok banned content promoting MLM companies back in December 2020.

Salina: I kind of wonder if it had to do with the vowel and the information that was coming out about nexium or whatever.

Salina: But the truth is, enforcing these rules is really hard.

Salina: Representatives from It Works, the group I mentioned earlier, they've managed to circumvent their policies.

Salina: And the company itself remains on Instagram and Facebook with tens of thousands of followers survivors.

Salina: They're speaking out, whether it's on a docuseries like Lulu Rich and the Vow or their own podcast like Life After MLM or a little Bit Colty.

Salina: And it's going to take all of these things.

Salina: It's going to take the government.

Salina: It's going to take legitimate businesses and individuals standing up and pushing back.

Salina: Only time will tell.

Salina: There's big money in these MLMs, and they've adapted and survived for 100 years.

Salina: Now, I read a lot of unflattering articles about several what you might call well established or classic MLMs.

Salina: So tupperware.

Salina: Amway.

Salina: Mary Kay Herbalife.

Salina: But don't get it twisted, newer ones, like the ones approaching Nikki are any less problematic to quote Amanda Montel.

Salina: Now, MLMs exploit the sort of pinterest feminism and natural holistic organic proclivities of a younger audience.

Salina: MLMs will have chic or updated packaging.

Salina: They will use language like girl boss, boss, babe, vampire, CEO.

Nikki: CEO.

Nikki: Oh, my gosh.

Salina: I know.

Salina: They'll capitalize on whatever trendy pseudofeminist buzzwords are resonating with people at the time.

Salina: This is me talking again, not Amanda.

Salina: Saluluro, unique, arbon, plexus beachbody, doTERRA, young living rodent and fields, lip sense, new skin.

Salina: I see you.

Salina: We see you.

Salina: You may look different.

Salina: You may be more savvy on social media.

Salina: You are the same.

Salina: It's only fair to say I see how these businesses are enticing.

Salina: This is what I promised you earlier, that I would address my feelings on it.

Salina: Truly, I do.

Salina: In fact, some of these products are genuinely good and the lifestyle they claim to provide also sounds genuinely good.

Salina: I think the only reason I've dodged it my whole life is because I'm lazy and an introvert.

Salina: So every time they're like, all you got to do is work really hard.

Nikki: I'm like, no, thanks.

Nikki: Sounds hard.

Nikki: Yeah, says the person setting up a podcast in her interpersonal time, but not with the group.

Salina: If you just can't help yourself look, we're all human.

Salina: Just know what you're getting yourself into, please.

Salina: We'll link to some resources in the show notes because you need to know the rules of the road and what your options are.

Salina: If someone tries to take advantage of you, these companies are going to likely shower you with their good vibes only.

Salina: And something about dancing like nobody's watching.

Salina: I, on the other hand, am going to shower you with some classic cynicism.

Salina: If it sounds too good to be true, run like h***.

Salina: And that's this week's extra sugar.


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