The homework for the episode:
Pete: The soundtrack to the 2016 musical Hamilton
Martha: Glee episodes 1.01 (Pilot) and 3.22 (Goodbye)
Lizzie: There Will Be Blood, 2007 film directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano
The story of one of our founding fathers told in catchy hip-hop verse, chronicling his rise from nothing to his final downfall at the hands of a political rival.
A plucky group of high school students from all social cliques join musical forces to compete in show choir.
A man builds an empire in the oil-rich fields of California, in a so-called epic tale of American capitalism, greed and violence.
Pride cometh before a fall, but does ambition necessitate isolation, violence, and sacrifice? That’s the question on everyone’s minds as we explore ambitious characters from the beginnings of America, to 1900’s California, and to the halls of modern day high school. Only now am I (Martha) realizing that this is the most musical material we’ve ever covered in one episode – perhaps ambition is too large a feeling to be discussed with mere words?
Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: Paradise, debut album by Knox Fortune
Martha: Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
Lizzie: Netflix original series American Vandal
Pete takes another opportunity to plug his brother’s music, but when your brother is Knox Fortune and putting out tunes like these, how can you blame him? Martha finally broke down and bought the super-sized book accompaniment to Hamilton, mostly so she can read along to “It’s Quiet Uptown” and cry a lot. Lizzie introduces us to another Netflix original series in the styles of true crime drama, which Martha immediately binged over the course of two days and can ALSO highly recommend. Anyone calling it an eight episode dick jock has thoroughly missed the point of the series, but that’s a topic for another podcast.
Today we’re talking about the potentially fatal character trait, Ambition.
- When we talk about characters having “ambition,” how do we differentiate that from goals or drive? Should we?
- Is ambition a positive or negative force in the stories we looked at?
- How does ambition get gendered in these narratives?
- What is the cost of ambition? Does ambition inherently require sacrifice or loss?
We kick things off by discussing the differences as we see them between ambition, goals, drive, passion, and greed. We diverge for a while to discuss Ratatouille, which pretty handily illustrates the shades of meaning there; we all get very emotional about Hamilton, and Lizzie and Martha get emotional over There Will Be Blood (but not really in a good way, TBH).
Other things for you to check out: Hamilton by Ron Chernow, the 2005 biography that inspired the show; the PBS documentary about the making-of Hamilton, titled “Hamilton’s America,” which you can watch on PBS.com with a WTTW Passport account
On October 11, we’re doing something a little different and diverging from our usual format to talk about Tabletop Roleplaying Games withe special guest Rachel HIlbert! Your homework for next episode is to try out an RPG if you’ve never played before – to get started, check out RPG Now for tons of free modules and rule sets.
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And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!