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Julia Louis-Dreyfus wants older women to be heard in Wiser Than Me

The second season of the podcast has a stellar guest list, including Billie Jean King, Patti Smith and Julie Andrews.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

The actor Julia Louis-Dreyfus, best known for the TV comedies Seinfeld and Veep, is in her early sixties. As she got older, she started to notice something about Hollywood. “Old women are so easily dismissed and made invisible,” she remarked. “Man, I want to hear from the old ladies.” It’s a clear, straightforward premise for Wiser Than Me, in which Louis-Dreyfus interviews great women over 70.

The roll call for the first season, aided by her celebrity connections, was something to behold: Jane Fonda, Isabel Allende, Fran Lebowitz, Amy Tan, Rhea Perlman and the wonderful 90-year-old Carol Burnett, who recalled with wit, wisdom and perfect clarity her days living in a performers’ boarding house in 1950s New York. “What’s the most surprising thing about getting older?” Louis-Dreyfus asked her. “That I got older!” she countered. At the end of each episode, Louis-Dreyfus debriefs her 90-year-old mother on the conversations she’s had.

This second series has just as impressive a roster: episodes to come will feature Billie Jean King, Patti Smith, Ina Garten and Julie Andrews. The first conversation, with actor Sally Field, ranges through sexism and ageism in Hollywood. They discuss the Amy Schumer sketch “Last F***able Day”, in which Schumer, Tina Fey and Patricia Arquette celebrate Louis-Dreyfus’s last moment as a sexual being in Hollywood by putting her in a boat and pushing her out into open water (graffiti inside the boat reads “Sally Field woz here”). The discussion moves on to looking back at your life from the perspective of your sixties, when Field finally confronted the sexual abuse she experienced as a child and how it had impacted her in adulthood. “The task as a grown-up person is to realise what garment you have knit for yourself to survive as a child, the winter of your childhood. But when you’re in the summer, so to speak, of your adulthood, you’re boiling hot and you can’t figure out, ‘Why am I so f***ing hot all the time?’ And it’s because you can’t take off this garment that you knitted for yourself as a child that you no longer need.”

Wiser Than Me
Lemonada Media

[See also: The strange history of the pill]

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This article appears in the 03 Apr 2024 issue of the New Statesman, The Fragile Crown

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