Suits actress the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle-Mountbatten-Windsor got Mariah Carey on the horn for the second episode of the smash-hit pod Archetypes with Meghan. Meghan frames the episode around that one unspeakable word that’s done psychic damage to every single woman on earth who is the type of person who would listen to Archetypes with Meghan (loves meal prepping, stalking Rae Dunn drops at HomeGoods, and Margarita Mondays). What is that word? You ask. Well. It’s unspeakable. Uncouth. Unacceptable. It’s…..
And Meghan and Mariah are going to break down that pervasive, pernicious archetype.
The problem I’m experiencing aurally as the No. 1 Meghhead on Planet Hillary is that Meghan is too much of a star student to excel at podcast conversation: she is unwilling to abandon the conceptual premise of her project in favor of the improvisational art that makes a podcast shine: going on tangents. She hits her one talking point (archetypes box women in, don’t forget it) over and over again, and she wants her guests to do the same. When they don’t, she diverts them or cuts them off. Much like her niece the Princess Charlotte Markle-Mountbatten-Windsor, she’s not a ton of fun.
For example: Mariah and Meghan, who are both mixed-race women, swap stories about how stylists in the beginning of their careers shellacked their hair with old-school Murray’s pomade. Meghan offers a genuinely funny aside about her maternal grandmother telling her to “hold onto the sink!” while she styles tender young Meghan’s hair, but that casual prattle is faded into silence by an audio engineer no doubt with a gun to his head so as not to reveal any of the Duchess’s real personality. Later, Meghan says she and Mariah could’ve talked about hair forever, but that we’re all moving on. Then she brings in an academic to go over a Webster’s dictionary definition of “diva.”
It’s not like I went into Archetypes with Meghan thinking it would be a gay alt-comedy bonanza like I normally like, but Meghan needs to let it all hang loose a little. Mariah always does. Her ethos, as she explains, has always been about playing with identity and persona “for a laugh.” Remember her feud with Eminem that Eminem didn’t realize was a joke? Remember when she made a dolphin laugh? The audio engineer was, perhaps, the sole person at Archewell having a laugh when Mariah said “Sorry to anyone in Long Island who is not racist” while recounting her childhood in the episode.
Meghan simply can’t keep up with the former Mrs. Tommy Mottola. There’s one moment in particular where Mariah tells Meghan that she gives us “diva moments.” Listeners can hear Meghan, who has already clarified that she’s a dumpy-frumpy mum in a “mom dress covered in dog hair,” panicking.
In the episode’s post-mortem, Meghan tells us that Mariah meant “diva” as a compliment and Meghan heard it as a dig, which, to me, is typical diva behavior. As Meghan later elaborated:
In that moment, as she explained to me, she meant it as chic, as aspirational. And how one very charged word can mean something different for each of us, it’s mind blowing to me. And it actually made me realize that in these episodes, as I've opened the door for conversation surrounding the archetypes that try to hold us back. What I hadn't considered was that for some, reclaiming the words is what they feel will propel us forward.
So there you have it, another week of Semantics With Ms. Markle (or is it Sewomantics?). Next week Mindy Kaling’s on, whose comedy mostly revolves around delusional nerds with inflated self-confidence refusing to learn lessons. I can’t wait to see what Meghan does to her ethos.