Transcript – Episode 204

[Show music begins]

Alison Siggard: This is Episode 204 of Alohomora! for October 15, 2016.

[Show music continues]

Alison: Hello, listeners. Welcome to another episode of Alohomora!, which… Having recently finished our reread of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we are going back to a topic-based discussion of the Harry Potter books. I’m Alison Siggard.

Cristina Bailey: I’m Cristina Bailey.

Kristen Keys: And I’m Kristen Keys, and today our guest is Mandy. So Mandy, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you fell in love with Harry Potter?

Mandy: Okay, I can do that. Thank you for having me on. I’m Mandy. I’m a teacher by trade. Currently, I’m staying home with my three-year-old and home-schooling him, and I’m also a freelance writer. So being a teacher and a writer predisposed [me] to [be] in love with Harry Potter. Yeah, I’ve just always loved Harry. My grandma bought me […] Goblet of Fire first, so I started reading that, and then I realized I had to go back and read…

Alison: Wow.

Mandy:[laughs] everything before that, so I stopped halfway through, but that was right before the fifth book got released. So ever since then, I’ve been doing midnight releases and reading them every summer between school semesters and stuff. Yeah, I just really love it. And it’s actually my husband [who] introduced me to Alohomora! because true love is making sure that your significant other…

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: … knows about awesome Harry Potter things, so thank you, husband. He’ll be listening.

[Kristen laughs]

Mandy: [laughs] Yeah, and I guess if I had to choose a House, I think I’d be some kind of Hatstall between Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, but I’d probably pick Ravenclaw. I don’t know. Being a teacher, I love learning, teaching, and Gilderoy Lockhart, so…

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: And that’s basically what you need to know.

Kristen: Perfect. Well, we’re glad to have you on.

Alison: And Cristina, why don’t you introduce yourself to our listeners too? Cristina is our fill-in host today. She’s a MuggleNet staff member.

Cristina: Yeah, hi. I help run the Instagram account for MuggleNet, @mugglenet. Everybody, go follow. We’re amazing.

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: Awesome.

Cristina: And I am a Slytherin for sure.

Alison: Patronuses. Let’s talk about that before we move on too. What’s everybody’s Patronus? Kristen?

Kristen: Mine is a West Highland Terrier, which is funny because that is our family dog.

Mandy: Wow!

Alison: Nice!

Kristen: Yes, it’s my parents’ dog, and we have a love-hate relationship…

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: … so it’s just really funny that that’s the animal I got. But reading about it, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I am like my dog. That’s why we have a love-hate relationship.”

Mandy: Wow.

Kristen: So it worked out. [I] read the description and everything, and it’s pretty much accurate. The only thing is, it says they’re more social? That was the only one piece that… I am social once I get to know people, which is funny because that’s how my actual dog is, but when you read the description of a Westie, that’s not how they’re supposed to be. So I’m more like my family dog.

Alison: Nice.

Mandy: Interesting. Cool.

Alison: Cristina, what’s yours?

Cristina: I am a Deerhound, which is a big dog. I didn’t like being a Deerhound at first, but it grew on me. I’m still pretty sure it’s a panda, but that doesn’t seem to be one of the options…

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Cristina: … so I will settle with my Deerhound.

Mandy: Wow. What’s yours, Alison?

Alison: Mine is a pine marten. We talked about that last week.

Mandy: A pine marten, okay.

Alison: So I’m very happy. His name is Louis. I named him.

[Kristen laughs]

Mandy: Wow. So mine’s a St. Bernard, so we’ve got a lot of dogs here.

Alison: All dogs.

Kristen: Wow.

Alison and Cristina: Nice.

Mandy: There’s really nothing remarkable about my Patronus as far as my connection [laughs] to it, but yeah, that’s interesting that we’re all dogs.

Kristen: I felt like I learned about a lot of different dog and cat breeds…

[Alison, Cristina, and Mandy laugh]

Kristen: … than I ever did before due to this test.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: Colors and…

Mandy: It’s so specific too. It’s a specific dog breed, where in the books, it’s like, “Oh, an otter” or “Oh, just a stag.”

Kristen: Or like a cat, but yet these people… I thought there were three types of cats, but apparently, that’s not true.

Alison: There are so many cats.

Kristen: People would get these crazy different cats, and I was like, “Never heard of that before. But yeah, I see it.”

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: All right, so this week, we are going to be discussing the women in Harry Potter. So I’m very excited to talk about all these kick-ass women who are in this series.

Cristina: Woo-hoo!

Mandy: Can’t wait.

Cristina: But before we do that, this episode is sponsored by Allan Wright on Patreon. You could become a sponsor for as little as $1 a month, and we will continue to release exclusive tidbits for sponsors, so [it’s] something you definitely want to check out.

Alison: Thank you, Allan!

Alison and Kristen: Yay!

Cristina: Woo-hoo!

Alison: I was trying to clap, but I’m struggling today. [laughs] That’s okay.

Mandy: Awesome.

Kristen: So let’s get into our discussion of the amazing women in Harry Potter. And honestly, the first one that I thought of, immediately, has to go to Hermione Granger.

Alison: My girl.

Kristen: Yes. I mean, intelligent, hardworking, desperate to prove herself – just like I think all of us awesome, intelligent, hardworking women [are] on this podcast right now.

Mandy: I think… One of the things that I really love about Hermione… And I think you can see this in the women in the series as a whole, is they’re all just so confident in who they are. They’re not perfect by any means. Jo does a great job of writing flawed characters [that] we can all see ourselves in that seem realistic to us, but they still somehow manage to stay secure in who they are. They don’t really change for other people, I guess, or change to fit in. I think Hermione is a good example of that. I don’t know if you guys have any thoughts on that?

Alison: Definitely. I’ve said this before, but I… Hermione was the first character that I really, really found myself in, in all of literature. I have curly brown hair and slightly bucked teeth and brown eyes too, and I was very, very bossy [laughs] as a kid. Like over-the-top, as in my fifth grade class tried to impeach me from being class president because they were sick of me.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: And it’s just – I don’t know – so nice to have… And maybe I was just so young, but I felt like this was one of the first real examples of that in children’s YA literature, of this kind of girl who just… She wasn’t perfect, and she was bossy, and sometimes she wasn’t the greatest. I mean, especially at the beginning when she’s very uptight, but to have this girl [who] was such a leader but so loyal to her friends and proud of being smart, and willing to show off, which is one of her flaws in some ways, of showing off of how smart she was… She was just everything that is Hermione. I feel like she has become the standard that a lot of YA heroines are now held up to, is, “Is she a Hermione? Is she not a Hermione? How does she contrast with Hermione?”

Mandy: Right. And before her, there weren’t really that many characters like that. I didn’t know of any girls – in literature, especially – who were smarter than the boys or taking control of situations if they are in danger or something like that. And I think, lately, you see a few more examples of strong females. The Fault in Our Stars comes to mind right off the top of my head, Hazel Grace. I just think that’s really important, especially for girls who are younger, to see that it’s okay to be yourself, to be true to who you are and to own your intelligence in a sense as well.

Alison: And I think that’s continued on even in Cursed Child with Hermione. We see this woman who has learned so much, and she has become a leader for her community, and yet she’s trying to do what’s best for herself and her family and her community, and it was so amazing. I wrote an article about how [important] that was for me for MuggleNet a little while ago, and Hermione just continues to be, I think, one of the greatest characters. All the way through.

Kristen: Oh yeah. Definitely. And I put in here that one of my favorite parts of Hermione as well was early on in the series, is just her hitting Malfoy straight in the face…

[Alison and Mandy laugh]

Kristen: … instead of Ron or Harry doing it. If you guys remember in Prisoner of Azkaban. She stood up for herself yet again. It was like, “I’m not going to put up with this.” Especially a male bully tried to do this for me, and instead of a male figure, like Ron or Harry, stepping in, she took care of it herself, and I always looked… I don’t go around punching people but…

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: … I can pretend I’m Hermione and do it.

Cristina: No, but she does it with Rita Skeeter too. She totally owns that situation.

Alison: I think that’s a real moment for her, actually, is that snapping point she has where she ends up hitting Malfoy. That’s the moment she just says, “You know what? I get to a point that I’m sick of it, and I’m going to do something about it.” She can ignore it for a while because she’s been ignoring it for two and a half years at that point, but she just gets to a point where she’s just like, nope, smacking point… [laughs] snapping point. And it’s just time to put [it to] an end.

Kristen: And I feel like she’s still young enough that she can get away with hitting him. [laughs]

Alison: Oh, right. And let’s all be honest: Malfoy deserved that one.

Kristen: Oh, definitely. I would’ve done it sooner. [laughs]

Alison: [laughs] But I love that after that, she doesn’t necessarily go after Malfoy anymore. They reach this agreement where she has basically said, “This is what’s going to happen if you keep pushing me.” And Malfoy stops pushing her.

Kristen: He’s scared of her, honestly.

Alison: He’s either scared of her or it somehow got into his head that what he was doing wasn’t okay. And so he stops in a lot of ways.

Kristen: I mean, it would. “She’s not only smarter than me, [but] she now is also physically…”

[Alison laughs]

Mandy: “… hurting me.” [laughs] I’m definitely not going to pull one over on her anymore.

Cristina: Yeah, it’s one of the very few physical fights we see in the series without any magic involved.

Alison: They all seem to be against Malfoy.

Mandy: That’s a good point.

Alison: [laughs] All of those fights.

Kristen: Her Muggle upbringing.

[Cristina laughs]

Kristen: All magic set aside, she’s like, “I’m just going to sock it to him. He needs this.” [laughs]

Alison: That’s another great thing about Hermione too, is that I love that she finds her own place in the wizarding world. I always got the sense she wasn’t necessarily ashamed or uncomfortable in the Muggle world, but she finds her place in both of them, and she’s secure in who she is and where she is. In both with her parents and in living with Muggles and when she comes to Hogwarts and when she starts to learn magic.

Mandy: And just quickly going back to that comment about her desperation, I guess, in classes where she always has to call attention to herself or always has to show that she knows what she’s talking about or that she knows what she’s doing and she’s always going above and beyond, […] I really think that’s part of Hermione that I can personally relate to, and I think a lot of women can relate to that, feeling like you have to go beyond what your classmates are doing just to be taken seriously. I don’t know if that is just a Muggle-born aspect where she feels… Maybe at first she might feel a little insecure about fitting in, in the wizarding world. Or if it’s just… I know a lot of women feel like that in the workplace or in the classroom, having to be over the top just to be taken seriously or to be seen to be able to compete with men. I don’t know. Just thoughts.

Kristen: And what about Hermione’s relationship with Harry? How do you guys feel about that?

Alison: I think it’s really, really great that they’re just friends. Yeah, I think that’s so important to show a platonic male and female friendship that’s as strong as theirs is. And I know there are a lot of people [who] ship them, including some of the filmmakers, it seems like sometimes. [laughs]

[Cristina, Kristen, and Mandy laugh]

Alison: But I think to show such a strong… It’s almost like they become siblings over the course of this series in a lot of ways and that they just need each other in so many ways.

Mandy: Harry needs her all the time. Always.

Alison: Oh, definitely. He’d be dead.

Mandy: Harry would be nothing without Hermione. He’d still be trying to get to Quirrell.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Cristina: Harry definitely leans on Hermione throughout the entire series.

Kristen: Oh, yeah. For sure.

Alison: But I think that’s mutual. I think Harry teach Hermione a lot about friendship and about doing what’s right instead of just…

Kristen: Going by the book.

Cristina: That is a good point.

Alison: Yeah, following the rules letter by letter. And so I think they learn so much from each other, and it’s so beautiful in a way. She has got the line at the end of the first book where we go from, “the worst thing is to be expelled” to “there'[re] more important things than books and being clever, and that’s being a friend and friendship, bravery.” These things are more important, and I think Harry really helps teach her that. And she taught him that sometimes you have to go by the book, sometimes you have to follow the rules. There are things that you can’t just go crashing into and hope they’ll work.

Mandy: That’s their Gryffindor showing.

Alison: Especially with magic. There [are] rules.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: And I like how you brought up the point, Alison, how there [are] so many people who do ship them, but it’s just great to see that pure friendship, that a man and a woman can be a friend. And to be those best friends who can lean on each other and just support each other through everything in their lives. And it can be… Yes, they love each other, but it’s almost like a sibling love, and it’s just awesome to see. They’re of course two of my favorite characters, and I love their bond together. Of course, when I first read it, I shipped them, but I love them as friends.

[Alison laughs]

Mandy: I mean, even Ron ships them at some point, so…

[Kristen laughs]

Mandy: … you’re not at fault.

Kristen: Yes. Another favorite quote that I love from her is “The truth is that you don’t think a girl would have been clever enough.” And this is Hermione saying it in Half-Blood Prince when they’re discussing if the Half-Blood Prince could actually be a woman, which [it] could be.

Alison: I think Ron’s response is really important, though, too. Because he says, “How could we have hung around you for six years and not…?”

[Kristen laughs]

Mandy: Harry says that, actually.

Alison: Oh, was it Harry?

Mandy: Yeah.

Alison: Oh, I thought it was Ron.

Mandy: “Stung,” he says.

Alison: Guess who needs to reread Half-Blood Prince?

Mandy: Oh, no. It’s okay.

Alison: But I think it is important to confront the fact that that is a lot of male thinking, is that there is that automatic assumption that male is the default. And so to have Hermione come out and say, “Well, you don’t think a girl could do this. That’s why you keep defaulting to a male. That’s part of why it is” and then to have Harry come back and say, “Wait, we’ve been hanging out with you for six years. You basically do our homework and everything for us. I think we get that point by now”…

[Alison, Kristen, and Mandy laugh]

Alison: It’s really important, I think, in addressing a really destructive societal, cultural idea. Which of course Harry Potter does multiple times throughout its…

Mandy: Yeah, I think that goes back to her own desperation: She wants to be taken seriously. She demands to be taken seriously, and I think that’s great about her. And I think you do notice that kind of clash – the societal clash – more with her and Ron in the books, how Ron views her. Even though they end up together, Ron always has some kind of comment for her: “You’re supposed to be doing this or gathering the food because you’re the best at magic.” And Hermione thinks it’s because she’s a girl in the seventh book…

Alison: I actually just read a really great little meta-analysis about that and about Ron and Hermione arguing so much and why that shows that they’re so good for each other. It was talking about, that’s both of their ways of showing investment in each other, that they care enough about what the other person thinks that they’re going to respond. They both just need that way of talking and getting things out and confronting each other in order to come to peace with each other and understand each other’s point[s] of [view]. I think that’s also really… Man, I love Hermione, and I love her and Ron’s relationship because it’s such an interesting, different one. It’s not [that] one of them is deferring to the other one; it’s that they’re going to stand up next to each other. They’re going to argue with each other to make sure that they’re on the same page. And I like that Ron gets to a point where he can stand up to Hermione, but Hermione holds her own too.

Mandy: Yeah. That’s very true. Now, does he stand up for himself to most people or just…? I feel like I see it more to her than anybody else. So that’s a great part in the relationship too. And we also know that Hermione does have her flaws, as all the women characters in the series do, but she manages to really stay true to who she is, which is amazing.

Alison: I think she develops who she is too. I almost want to say, “Hermione might be the character that changes the most over the series.”

Mandy: Why do you think that?

Alison: Well, I teach seventh-grade [English] now, and we just finished Sorcerer’s Stone, and they had to write essays on a character that changed. And the most I saw came in on Hermione because she has the very obvious change from the beginning of the book of being this very uptight… Harry and Ron don’t like her because she’s annoying and always in their face… to becoming their friend, to loosening rules, to helping them break the rules to go get the stone, completely. And that’s the way she is throughout the whole series, how she works through. She still very much likes order and likes people to be following rules, but she loosens up a lot throughout. And I feel like, of the trio, she’s the one [who] develops the most. Harry is always Harry; he’s always this awkward, feels-like-an-outcast, very impulsive… Ron is always Ron; he’s the lighter-hearted one. I mean, that’s not all he is – the light-hearted one – but he’s loyal always. He’s always a little disgruntled sometimes about his lot in life. But Hermione really goes from being this strict girl to being a little bit more directive with what she’s strict about. And she’s strict about things for certain reasons, and she’s looser about other things for certain reasons because she’s developed not her morality, but…

Mandy: Maturity, maybe.

Alison: Yeah. Do you guys not see that?

Cristina: I have a different thing with Hermione. When I was growing up, all the cool kids at my school were really studious, really uptight, followed the rules and everything. So when I was introduced to the books, I didn’t like Hermione all that much. And it wasn’t until the end, maybe about Goblet of Fire, when I started realizing she wasn’t really going to be with Harry; she might end up with Ron. She’s starting to really understand the wizarding world and what’s going on, like when she started SPEW and that all started taking shape. And then by the end of the seventh book, I just loved her. But it was a long journey with her and me. To me, she was very stereotypical in the beginning, but that’s just how my worldview was at the time.

Alison and Kristen: Interesting.

Kristen: What do you mean by stereotypical?

Cristina: Well, that’s how all the “cool kids” were at my school. They studied all the time and made really good grades. Hermione didn’t look down on people who didn’t do their homework, but a little bit. She judges the boys…

Kristen: Like showing off in class and stuff?

Cristina: Yeah. Hands up, answering the questions, and I was more like Ron in the back, not really paying attention: “Who’s got a homework I can copy?”

Kristen: Exploding Snap.

Cristina: So I was really frustrated with her at the beginning, but by the end, she really develops into somebody [whom] I could relate to. It was a nice journey the two of us took.

Mandy: That’s awesome.

Alison: That is nice. Aww.

Kristen: I haven’t really heard that side. Everybody’s always for her from the beginning, so it’s good to get other people’s opinions and see it that way. And that’s pretty cool because your school was different.

Cristina: It was a weird place.

[Everyone laughs]

Kristen: But that’s good that it’s different. Mine definitely wasn’t like that. I wish it was, or I would’ve been a cool kid.

[Everyone laughs]

Mandy: Yeah, right?

Alison: Right?

Kristen: Let’s be honest: I’ll never be a cool kid, and I love it that way. That’s pretty awesome. So does anybody have anything else they would like to say about Hermione before we move on to another wonderful woman in the series?

Cristina: I think that pretty much covers it.

Alison: We just love Hermione. I love Hermione.

Cristina: Yeah, and we talk about her every episode, so…

Kristen: That’s true, that’s true. We give her so much love.

Alison: Shower the praise.

Kristen: There you go.

Alison: Shower the love.

Kristen: All right. So our next woman, of course, we have to go into is Minerva McGonagall. And I guess the first thing that we want to talk about is how she chose teaching over Ministry work and also over being a mom. She’s not a mom or anything like that. She chose to help the students and [be] a part of the school system, which is amazing as well to help out those kids even though they’re not necessarily hers. She’s still helping youth and growing up and everything like that.

Alison: I think it’s interesting, and part of me wonders – just having worked other jobs too and teaching now – if some of her moving to be a teacher was a little bit of independence. I almost get the feeling that the Ministry has always been an all-boys club. And she might have even been looked down on or not really…

Mandy: Taken seriously? Yeah.

Alison: … seen as serious. Yeah, taken seriously as much as the Ministry. But I get the feeling that at Hogwarts, when she became a teacher, she had a little bit more autonomy over what she was doing, and obviously, Dumbledore respected everything she was and all of her opinions and really put trust in her. So I wonder if that had something to do with it.

Mandy: It definitely could have. We don’t know much, other than what Jo released online about her previous life. I have a burning question about McGonagall, though. What position did she play in Quidditch?

Alison: Didn’t it say she was a Chaser?

Mandy: Was she a Chaser? I was looking this up the other day and couldn’t find it.

Alison: Maybe that’s from the movie where there was that speculation of…

Mandy: Oh yeah, when they look at James Potter in the trophy case or whatever. “It’s in your blood.” Yeah, I don’t know. I just wondered if anyone knew.

Kristen: What position do you think she’d be?

Mandy: Oh, I don’t know. I could see her as a Chaser. I could see her doing awesome at anything. She could be a great Keeper. I don’t know. She seemed to have a very good eye for Quidditch talent, so perhaps she was captain. That’s probably all I can safely say. I don’t know.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: I could definitely see that.

Alison: I feel like McGonagall’s Quidditch practices as captain would be as bad as Wood’s.

Mandy: Oh my gosh.

[Everyone laughs]

Kristen: Oh, yeah. Three times as bad.

Alison: That’s probably why she let him do so much because she was like, “You’re doing good, you’re doing good.”

[Cristina and Kristen laugh]

Cristina: “I see myself in you, Wood.”

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: Right? I could see her being a Beater, just hitting Bludgers at people when she’s frustrated at them too.

Cristina: Letting her hair down.

Mandy: [laughs] There you go!

Alison: Yeah, she probably broke some Slytherin noses in her time. [laughs]

Kristen: I would have to say, “I would figure her to be a Beater as well.”

Cristina: My guess was Beater.

[Kristen laughs]

Mandy: All right, it’s decided, so…

[Alison, Cristina, and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: She’s the captain!

Cristina: It’s canon now. Write it down. Get it to Wikipedia.

Mandy: I’ll tweet Jo right now and just let her know that that’s what’s happening, so…

[Alison, Cristina, Kristen laugh]

Kristen: Perfect.

Alison: [laughs] Nice.

Kristen: Now they can put it on Pottermore.

Mandy: [laughs] But I don’t know. I really like McGonagall, and especially being a teacher, you can see how she holds her students to such high expectations. Even somebody like Neville who’s probably so frustrating to teach. Poor Neville.

[Alison laughs]

Mandy: I love Neville, but I mean, even when she’s hard on him… That’s how you know it’s a good teacher, when they’re hard and firm, but they’re not mean like some other Potions teacher [whom] we all know.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: I’m not sure, yeah. How does he have a job when he’s so mean, to calling Hermione a know-it-all in class and whatever he says to Neville – every book there’s something horrible he says to Neville – but McGonagall… She’ll write to his grandmother or something, but she still pushes him to be better. I like that about her.

Alison: That’s one of the reasons why McGonagall and Lupin are my teaching examples of what I want to be as a teacher because you really see that she pushes them, but all the students respect her, they learn a lot in their classes, and they excel. I think they actually learn a lot; she has a very difficult subject. But they can do awesome things. And she even pushes them outside of class. She pushes them to do their best in their other classes so they can win the House Cup. She pushes them to be the best at Quidditch. She pushes them to do the things they need to do, and she gets results because she’s firm, but she’s not mean or cruel.

Mandy: Or unfair, yeah.

Alison: And so she does. She gets the results out of Neville, and she gets the results out of Harry and Ron even if they’re sitting in the back of her class playing with fake wands half the time.

[Kristen and Mandy laugh]

Alison: She’s able to… And they grumble about her homework, but they learn a lot, and that’s important.

Mandy: Right. So what other…? She’s the real female teacher [whom] we get to know other than Trelawney, right? What other female teachers are there? There’s Grubbly-Plank…

Alison and Kristen: Sprout.

Mandy: Oh, Sprout. I was totally…

Alison: Grubbly-Plank, Grubbly-Plank! We should talk about her more. She’s awesome.

Mandy: Grubbly-Plank. [laughs] Yeah, she truly is. Those Care of Magical Creatures…

Cristina: There’s the Astronomy teacher too.

Mandy: Oh, that’s right.

Alison: Oh yeah, I always forget.

Mandy: Sinatra? Something like that.

Alison: Sinistra?

Mandy: Sinistra? I don’t know. Oh, dear.

Cristina: She’s fabulous.

[Alison and Mandy laugh]

Mandy: She is too. Just another quick thing about McGonagall: She does all those things: supporting her students, pushing her students, she’s firm, but she’s a character who is not a mother in this series, and I think… I just remember a few months back seeing the big discussion about mothers on the chat boards and people saying that, or arguing for, “Are mothers overly glorified in this series?” or “Is she [Jo] saying that only mothers can be this way” or “Only women who want children are glorified” or whatever, but I really think that McGonagall is a great example of someone who… She still has so many good qualities, and I don’t think that Jo is saying that only mothers can have this kind of love for people. I think McGonagall is a good example of that.

Alison: But yeah, I think she’s showing that you don’t have to, that biological ties, too, aren’t the only ways to love someone or care about them. Because I think, in a lot of ways, McGonagall is a mom to some of her students. I think she’s a mother figure to Harry in a lot of ways.

Mandy: To Harry, for sure.

Alison: He definitely sees her as one of his female role models and guides. He freaks out in Order of the Phoenix when she gets hit by Stunning spells, and she’s gone, and he’s like, “What are we going to do? Dumbledore is gone, McGonagall is gone… What are we going to do? Who[m] do we turn to now?” Because he… She’s such a constant in his life and such a support that I think that’s so important to him. And I think a lot of the students feel that way, that, yeah, she’s firm, and she’s not handing out cookies or something – unless she is, – but… [laughs]

Cristina: Those biscuits.

Kristen: Yeah, those biscuits on the desk. “Have a biscuit.” [laughs]

Mandy: The biscuits. Yeah, I was going to say, “Don’t be ridiculous. Have a biscuit.”

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: But I think she’s their advocate in a lot of things. She tells Neville, “I’ll write to your grandmother and tell her that it’s fine for you to take Charms NEWTs,” that you need to go in the direction that’s best for you, and I’m going to stand up for you and that she stands up for Harry to go be an Auror because…

Mandy: I love that scene.

Alison: … Umbridge is terrible. It’s so great. [as McGonagall] “Would you care for a cough drop?” [laughs] But yeah, I think she’s… If Hogwarts is their home away from home, McGonagall is their mom away from mom in a lot of ways. [laughs]

Kristen: Yeah, I can definitely see that.

Cristina: Yeah, even in the first book, they go to McGonagall when they hear Dumbledore is gone, and they think Snape is up to no good, trying to steal the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Alison: Yeah, she’s the first adult they’re really straightforward with about what they know and what they’re worried about.

Kristen: She’s also a very proud woman, proud of what she does, proud of her strength. She’s able to stand up to anyone, just like you were talking about in Order of the Phoenix. But when she stands up to that scene with Umbridge and helps Trelawney out and everything like that, and especially [in] the Battle of Hogwarts, protecting the school, just true, amazing, strong, powerful woman right there, protecting […] all her students and wanting to try [to] keep them safe if she can and just protecting her home, which is amazing.

Alison: What do you think she was like during Deathly Hallows? How do you think she really handled that? Part of me wonders how she made it through the year without snapping at somebody or someone coming after her because she was so close to Dumbledore.

Mandy: Regressing to her Beater ways.

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: She’s out on the Quidditch pitch every Friday night.

[Alison and Mandy laugh]

Mandy: Maybe she just goes and hits… I could see her hitting Bludgers to relieve some frustration. I don’t know.

Alison: Like batting practice. Like going to the batting cages, you go to the Bludger cages.

Cristina: I think her commitment to her students was her main motivation. She knew she couldn’t leave them there.

Kristen: Yeah. Or she knew something bigger was coming. She knew herself that Dumbledore had a plan and that Harry would somehow have a plan – even though she never was a part of it but still believed. Because Dumbledore believed so much in Harry, she was putting her belief in him too. So having that hope, I think, helps people hold on, as hard as it probably was for her. As were a lot of people holding out on that hope for him, she was as well.

Alison: Do you think she was ever upset she had to stay behind?

Cristina: Hmm, no. I don’t think so. I think that… I don’t know! I have a feeling about it.

Mandy: I feel like she would feel the responsibility to the school. I mean, she was Headmistress after Dumbledore died, right? She could get into his office. I mean, and being an intelligent, strong woman, I think she knew that she could defend the students to an extent and try to do it. I feel like she might have felt that responsibility, like, “I’m the only one who can do this. I’m going to do this.”

Cristina: Yeah, that was her post, and she was going to hold it.

Kristen: Stand strong for it.

Mandy: Can we just lament one more time, quickly, that the movie didn’t have her fight Snape in that awesome, long scene that we all pictured so beautifully in our minds?

[Alison, Cristina, and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: Yes!

Alison: That was so good! So good. She’s amazing. Homegirl.

Kristen: But at least we can keep it up in our head[s].

Mandy: Yes! [laughs]

Kristen: Imagine it that way. And it’s probably way better in our head[s] than it would have been [in] the movie anyway.

Mandy: Right. And some day, in 20 years, they’ll remake it, and maybe they’ll put it in!

[Alison and Mandy laugh]

Kristen: Yeah, maybe! [laughs]

Alison: If we’re talking about McGonagall, we should probably just give a shout-out, too, to Dame Maggie Smith for being the only McGonagall that could ever be. [laughs]

Kristen: Oh my gosh, yes! Exactly.

Cristina: She might actually be McGonagall.

Kristen: She probably is, yeah. I could see that.

[Alison laughs]

Mandy: We would never know.

Kristen: Yeah, no. She was wonderful. Both Maggie Smith and McGonagall. I mean, a silent shout-out, I guess, to Caleb for “Minerva is [my] homegirl,” so…

[Alison and Mandy laugh]

Kristen: Got to say that at least once during this episode, right?

[Alison, Kristen, and Mandy laugh]

Alison: Yes, we do.

Kristen: So next we’ll go into Luna Lovegood, who is a fearless individual who doesn’t care what anybody thinks and is just… She’s probably the girl I looked up to in the books, [whom] I felt more in tune with, because at my school, the cool… I don’t know. She was just amazing. She’s the girl [whom] I used to love – especially reading these in middle school and high school – [whom] I really connected with, I think, in the beginning.

Mandy: She’s so refreshingly different [from] anyone you read about in literature. And it’s just awesome to read about someone so unique. And maybe she’s a little bit aloof at times, but at the same time, she might seem aloof, [but] she’s actually more in tune to people than Harry is. He says she has that knack for uncomfortable truths. I mean, she can see people and read people really well.

Alison: I honestly… Luna really annoyed me when I first read her. Again, I think it’s one of those things that I’m like Hermione. She was just so weird. I was just like, “Be normal for a while!”

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: But I mean, I’ve come to appreciate her now. I’m in awe of how she just lives and is herself and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. But yeah, I was really annoyed by her at the beginning! I mean, she was just so strange and out-there, and… I don’t know.

Cristina: I’ve always liked Luna.

Alison: I was just like, “Don’t put your wand behind your ear; that’s unsafe!”

[Alison, Cristina, and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: “Better wizards than you have lost a buttock.” Sorry.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: Exactly.

[Alison and Mandy laugh]

Cristina: I always loved Luna, the free-spiritedness of her in a world where everything seems very closed. Hogwarts is isolated and closed. Harry, when he’s at home with the Dursleys, is isolated and closed off. Even at Sirius’s house: isolated and closed off. And she just seems to really embrace anything and everything and finds beauty… I don’t know. A tiny insect on the ground – anything! I just found her so wonderful, and as a character, I would love to see something from her point of view because I figure that she’s always listening and analyzing in the background somewhere.

Mandy: Right. I think she’s just so much more in tune to people than maybe any of the trio is.

Alison: She’s very much an observer, yeah. I wonder, though, how… I’ve always gotten the feeling that she was not really accepted by other Ravenclaws, though, even though they’re known for being okay with eccentric people, but… Did any of you get that feeling that she wasn’t really accepted in her House?

Cristina: I did. Yeah, well they were stealing all of her stuff!

Mandy: And her shoes.

Alison: Yeah, that’s true. [laughs]

Mandy: Right? And I always feel like there are types of intelligences – if you could call it that – that are more valued by different groups of people than other types. My family is very much into medicine, so they would really value someone who has medical knowledge or biology knowledge versus… I knew a lot about children’s literature. [laughs]

[Alison laughs]

Mandy: But there are just different types of knowledge, and Luna, maybe she’s very introspective or thought very… Maybe “critical thinking” isn’t the right word but almost like critical thinking or viewing something in a different way than other people traditionally would, than what we would traditionally just label as “Hermione is smart because she can rattle off facts from a Potions book.” And I think Luna is that different kind of introspective, and I think that’s great but maybe not always valued. It’s a shame that it’s not always valued as much as book knowledge, I guess.

Cristina: I think that the Ravenclaws traditionally see everything very black and white, yes and no, and Luna lives her life in a sea of gray. She doesn’t discount anything.

Mandy: That’s a good way of putting it.

Kristen: Yeah, definitely. I always was – as much as I loved her too – jealous of her because she was teased and bullied because she was different, but she never changed who she was. She never cared what they did or anything like that, which is just… It notes it in here that to have that at such a young age is hard, especially in today’s society, being different and kids getting bullied so much. And for her to just rise above it and be able to… Just, it’s amazing. And I wish… I know it’s really hard because I was bullied younger too, and I always looked up [to] her, to try to be like that as well, just to try [to] rise above it as much as she could and never changing who you are. It’s a great character.

Mandy: I think she’s Jo’s message to us. I wish I could have been more like her as more just secure. And I wonder… I mean she was raised just by her father, and she watched her mom die, and I wonder if maybe that had an effect on knowing who she is and… I don’t know. What are your guys’ thoughts on that?

Alison: I think having her mom die at such a young age, it was so… She had to group up faster, I think, than everyone around her. Because I feel like she might have had this feeling that she had to hold her dad together in a lot of ways and therefore hold herself together. I’ve always gotten this feeling that Luna is one of those characters in the series that has the highest capacity and ability to love – just unconditionally love – and she just hands it out, and anyone and everyone and everything she meets, she just loves in some form. She just has such an open heart, and she’s just willing to share it with everybody. And so she doesn’t really care what other people do to her because I think she’s just looking for ways to love them. And I think part of that could be because – at least from the picture that we see in Dealthly Hallows of her and her mom that Harry sees – it seems like her mom was a very loving person. And so to have Luna maybe inherit that or think that she wants to be like her mom, because her mom is gone now, and to just decide to embrace and open her heart up to everything forms a lot of who she is.

Cristina: Hmm. I think, too, that seeing her dad while she was growing up with the Quibbler and everything else, she understood what that bullying was and how to discount it. “They don’t know anything. They don’t know us. They don’t know me. Why can’t this be a thing?”

Mandy: That’s maturity right there, really.

Kristen: So next we’ll get into Nymphadora Tonks.

Alison: Yay!

Kristen: Woo-hoo! A fun, all-around-great person who never lets a man or anyone tell her what to do. [laughs]

Mandy: Especially Mad-Eye, right?

[Kristen and Mandy laugh]

Kristen: Always just being in charge of her life and in charge of herself and not letting anybody push her around. She’s going to do what she wants to do, and that’s that. [laughs]

Alison: I love Tonks. I think she’s another one of those ones [who] just goes to the beat of her own drum and is so secure in herself. Like Luna, but she’s just like, “Here we go. I am me, and I’m going to do what I do, and I don’t care what anybody else says or thinks.”

Mandy: Right. So I mean, what I really like about her – and here’s this tie to the greater society here – she’s a Metamorphmagus, being able to change your appearance at will. That’s something that I feel like we, as women, are just like… We would love to have that. We would love to look different or in my case, look awake during the day, [laughs] not have bags under our eyes.

[Alison and Kristen laughs]

Mandy: Not have zits or whatever or lose five pounds, gain five pounds, those kinds of things. But Tonks never uses it in the books to make herself more desirable for anybody. I think she turns blonde for a wedding or something or she’ll dye her hair pink or purple to be fun, but it’s because she wants to do it, and it’s because of her. And even Harry, at one point, thinks, “Oh, it’d be great to be a Metamorphmagus.” I think when he first meets Tonks, she says, “I bet you wouldn’t mind hiding that scar sometimes.” But I just really love that she uses that ability for herself. It’s no one else’s. She has that sense of self-ownership, like you don’t owe your parents or anybody else kind of thing. And I feel like…

Alison: Yeah, she uses it to reflect her internal self more than try [to] appeal to someone else.

Mandy: Right. And that’s so important for especially young girls to read and really think about.

Kristen: Yeah, especially in today’s society, in social media and covers of magazines and all this pressure to be somebody, and to see her, who can change herself…

Mandy: Instagram, challenges, yeah.

Kristen: Oh, gosh, yeah. And to see someone who can change themselves, and she’s like, “Meh.”

Mandy: “Meh. I’m going to have a pig nose, yeah!” [laughs]

Kristen: Yeah! Ugh, it’s amazing!

Alison: And with that, she’s so kick-A. She is just like, “I’m an Auror, and I don’t care that maybe I was clumsy or whatever. I’m going to go out there, and I’m going to do the right thing.” And I mean, she’s so loyal to people. I mean, she’s a Hufflepuff. She’s just loyal to people [who] are doing good things, and she’s just out there, and she goes after what she wants. I mean, she keeps after Remus for a while that whole year when she’s in love with him, and she’s just saying, “No, I don’t care! I love you, and that’s what’s important here, not anything else.”

Cristina: Do we ever see her confidence get shaken?

Mandy: Maybe in the Battle of Hogwarts, when she doesn’t know where Remus is. But that’s not even confidence as much as I would say she’s just scared.

Kristen: And I know when – toward the end – Harry thinks that she’s sad [about] Sirius’s death. I guess this is the beginning of Half-Blood Prince, and she doesn’t want to stay for dinner and stuff like that.

Mandy: Oh, that’s a good point, though.

Kristen: She is upset about the whole Remus thing and everything. Because again, she sets her mind to something, and this is what she wants, and she’s not going to back down. And so I think that lets her down a little bit, that it is taking longer than expected to get her way. Because she loves him so much. That’s the only time I really see that from her.

Alison: And I think some of that, too, is that she’s upset that he doesn’t understand how sincere she is, I think, in her feelings, that she’s saying, “No, I love you!” And he’s like, “No, you don’t want me.” And she’s like, “No, I do!” [laughs]

Kristen: Like, “Look at my Patronus.”

[Alison and Mandy laugh]

Alison: Yeah. “Look, it changed! It’s you now!” [laughs] But I also appreciate, at the same time as she’s doing that and while she’s upset about that, she’s still going about doing what she needs to do. I mean, she’s not pining after him. She’s not…

Kristen: Yes, yes. She may be upset, but she’s…

Alison: She’s not necessarily…

Kristen: … keeping to life. And in helping the…

Alison: Yeah, she’s not chasing after him. I mean, Molly is like, “Oh, you could stay. Remus will be here.”

Mandy: She doesn’t sulk.

Alison: She’s like, “No, I’m going to go. He doesn’t want to see me. I’m going to go for now until he figures out…”

Kristen: That’s really empowering, yeah.

Mandy: Also, how hypocritical of Snape to criticize her Patronus? Like, really, though?

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: “Okay, you were the one who’s going to talk to me about this?” Ugh. I just… I don’t like that part when he says that it’s weak.

Alison: [gasps] That’s so true!

Cristina: Another reason why I don’t like Snape, but that’s another…

Alison: [laughs] We’re not getting into that debate right now.

Mandy: The women in Harry Potter. The women.

Kristen: Yeah. Another great character by Jo that young girls need to learn from, I really think.

Alison: I could also take a series of books about Tonks too. Just Tonks. Tonks and her mom. I want to see how Tonks and Andromeda get together.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: What is that like? [laughs]

Mandy: Yeah, I wonder what Andromeda is like.

Alison: I get the feeling she’s got a lot of Tonks’s feistiness. I feel like Ted was probably the peacekeeper in that family a lot of times. [laughs]

Kristen: All right. Next, we’ll go to Ginny Weasley, another amazing woman and [one] who grew up in a household of men, which… She’s one of the [characters] who[m] I could [most] relate to because I grew up with four brothers, no sisters. Yes. [laughs] So I felt her pain all the time, dealing with all the brothers. Oh my goodness. Love them, but it can definitely be hard being a woman in a household full of men. But at least they recognize – and I love how George says – “Yeah, size is no guarantee of power. Look at Ginny.” Even though she is small, she is powerful. She probably got some of that [by] being around all those men, having to prove herself and everything, but she has turned into a powerful woman, which is great.

Mandy: That Bat-Bogey Hex…

Kristen: Yes!

Mandy: I shudder to think of what that entails, even now. [laughs]

Alison: I don’t think I really understood Ginny for a long time. I guess I saw her… I mean, I loved her. I always thought she was great. But I always just saw her as “Oh, she’s your stereotypical athletic girl. She likes to play, and all the boys think she’s really awesome because she’s sporty” and whatever. But then my niece was born and started developing her personality, and oh, boy, is she a Ginny. No fear at all. None. And just, really, I don’t want to say “aggressive” but just goes for what she wants and knows what she wants…

Mandy: Maybe that feistiness that Tonks has.

Alison: Yeah, yeah. And I think that that’s something that a lot of people forget about Ginny, because she was not written very well in the movies, and she lost a lot of that feistiness. So I think Ginny’s independence, her… yeah, that feistiness, and I think, too, she’s a problem solver, and she wants to go out there, and she wants to help other people. Which is really a theme for all of these really strong women [who] are on the light side of things, is that they really want to help people, and they do it the best they can. And I mean, she was 11 and lonely, and someone started writing back to her in a diary, so she kept writing. I mean, she wants connection too.

Mandy: I mean, she’s the youngest, and she’s the girl in the family. I think they wanted to have a girl, but they had Ron instead, so they had to have another kid…

[Kristen and Mandy laugh]

Alison: Aww!

Mandy: At least, I mean, according to the Horcrux in the sixth book. I don’t know how accurate that is. But I think that she probably wanted to have her own place and be taken seriously in her own sense as well or have her own person to confide in. I mean, it’s hard. I mean, she has so many brothers. They didn’t have a lot of money, and Hogwarts is probably intimidating enough as it is, and then you have a crush on Harry Potter, who is awesome. Well, so she thinks.

Kristen: And he’s best friends with your brother. You can’t talk to your brother because Harry is always there.

[Mandy laughs]

Cristina: I think with the diary, she was searching for privacy. I don’t think she had a lot of privacy when she was growing up, and then you’re at Hogwarts at a dorm with ten other people or however many people go to Hogwarts. I think she was just trying to find that privacy, and it turns out to be somebody in the diary.

Kristen: A very handsome, swindling somebody in the diary.

Alison: That sucks!

Cristina: It would have worked for me, so I don’t blame her.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Cristina: That’s a Slytherin talking.

Alison: Poor Ginny. That’s true.

Kristen: But he was nice. He listened to her. He was patient with her. He knew how to play her, basically.

Alison: Master charmer.

Mandy: That was him, though.

Alison: Yeah. That’s an interesting thought about Ginny wanting privacy. I wonder how that plays into her personality of trying to…

Mandy: Her brothers are always asking her, “What is this I hear about Dean Thomas or Michael Corner?” Ron is always trying to get involved in her business, and yeah, I think that’s a really interesting thing to read into Ginny, and I think that you’re absolutely right, that keeping certain things private, which is interesting in the dawn of our social media age, where we don’t keep that many things private anymore. It’s interesting to think about Ginny that way.

Alison: I think that might be something that draws her and Harry together too, thinking about that that way, because Harry always wanted his own life, his own private… He didn’t want to be in the spotlight. He didn’t want everyone paying attention to him. So I wonder if that’s something that draws them together, is that… or they bond over a lot is that they both just wanted their own space, their own life, their own private time. And so they decided to make it together.

Mandy: Aww. So adorable.

Kristen: Aww, that’s so sweet. I like that idea, though. It definitely works.

Alison: And that’s why they spend so much time out on the grounds.

Alison and Kristen: Aww.

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: So no one can hear them talking about all their privacy plans in privacy.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: There’s another great quote from Ginny in Order of the Phoenix:

“You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”

Cristina: That is a Gryffindor for you, goodness.

Mandy: Totally.

Cristina: That sentence gives me anxiety.

Mandy: [laughs] Oh my gosh, me too.

Alison: See, I think it sounds exciting! [laughs]

Kristen: Yes, me too! I like it.

Alison: Dang! Sometimes, I wish I had enough nerve to do anything!

Kristen: Yeah, and don’t do it but…

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: … I mean, it’s great, though, to think about. But I mean, I guess some things. I never would have traveled outside of the country, but I did for the first time last year, and now I’ve done it four times and just something just due to anxiety in meeting new people and everything like that, but that one little… I got just enough nerve to do it, and I did it. So even though it can be smaller steps or something like that, just that little bit of drumming up a little bit of nerve, anything can be possible. And that’s just my little personal experience, but I just love that she’s put that in there.

Alison: And determination is so much a part of Ginny. And I think it’s one of the things that, in a lot of ways, sets her apart from her brothers. Because you’ve got Ron, who is gung-ho to a certain extent. But I mean, Ron can… [I] love Ron but he wimps out sometimes. He just does. And then you’ve got the twins, who are just so laid back that they’re not really… I mean, I can’t imagine Fred and George digging in their heels for anything because they’re just going to charm or laugh or…

Mandy: Except for their joke shop.

Alison: Well, yeah, but that’s… I don’t know. It’s a different way than I see Ginny’s… Ginny just is ready to dig in and do whatever it takes for however long it takes, which I think is a very different thing than any of her brothers really show us. I mean, Percy is determined to get to the top, but Percy is… I don’t want to say ruthless in that, but he’s a little ruthless.

Mandy: I could see Ginny being a little bit like Bill, if I had to say she’s like any of her brothers. Not that we know enough about Bill to say the kinds of things that you’re saying about her perseverance and determination, but I don’t know. I just picture her to be similar to Bill.

Alison: I can see that.

Mandy: I don’t know.

Cristina: I think she’s got a little bit of all of her brothers. Because I was thinking [of] Charlie doing his own thing.

Mandy: Oh, Charlie. Why do you say Charlie?

Cristina: Well, because he’s with the dragons, doing his own thing. He’s got a lot of determination of his own to just… His mom doesn’t like what he’s doing, [but] he’s going to do it anyway.

[Kristen laughs]

Cristina: He gets burned? Too bad, keep going. Which… A dragon burn would be enough for me to say, “Forget this.”

Mandy: Bill has his fang earring.

Cristina: Oh, that earring…

[Everyone laughs]

Mandy: I’m fond of that fang earring.

Alison: But I think Ginny’s is different, though. I definitely think Ginny’s is very much her own, because it’s almost a quieter kind of determination. I feel like it’s the thing that helped her hold out so long in the Chamber, that she was just so… She just digs in and she just goes for what she wants, and while her brothers are going for things that they want definitely too, I feel like she’s more laser-beam focused, in a lot of ways, than they are. Which is special for her.

Mandy: That’s cool.

Kristen: No, I like that.

Mandy: I have a question about Ginny quickly. So in Chamber of Secrets, do you think she writes that Valentine that goes to Harry: “His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad”?

Alison: Oh yeah.

Mandy: Does she write that?

Alison: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Kristen: You think she “wrote it” wrote it?

Alison: [laughs] At least I believe she writes that.

Mandy: Does she write it or was it just something that the fat Cupid says?

Alison: I’m pretty sure she wrote it.

Cristina: I think she wrote it.

Mandy: Because that’s funny that she’s a sports writer now, and that was her first… That’s probably something posted on their fridge or tucked away in their home somewhere.

Alison: He recites it every day, every anniversary.

Kristen: Oh my gosh! [laughs]

Alison: She hits him because she’s sick of it… [laughs]

Kristen: Oh, I love it.

Cristina: Poor Ginny.

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: Sick of being reminded of that embarrassment. [laughs]

Cristina: You know she was so proud of it too.

Kristen: [laughs] I know. I bet she totally was.

Cristina: God love her.

Mandy: That would be hilarious.

Cristina: So cringe.

Alison: I just see her writing it in Tom Riddle’s diary.

[Everyone laughs]

Cristina: Like, “Tom, what do you think of this?”

Mandy: Crossing things out, drafting it…

Alison: Writing drafts…

Mandy: Tom is like, “This is great stuff. Good job.”

[Everyone laughs]

Mandy: [as Tom] “Keep going.”

Alison: He’s like, “Oh my gosh.”

Cristina: [as Tom] “You write beautifully.”

Mandy: “I wish he was mine, he’s really divine, / The hero who conquered the Dark Lord.”

Cristina: Oh my God.

Kristen: [as Tom] “Can you write something about me in this journal?”

Alison: [as Tom] “Maybe we can cut that last line.”

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: Riddle is like, “Maybe we can cut that last line about defeating the Dark Lord?”

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: [as Tom] “I don’t think it’s working.”

Mandy: Exactly. Yeah, let’s scratch that.

Kristen: It just keeps disappearing; she has to keep rewriting it.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: [as Ginny] “I don’t know what’s going on!” [as Tom] “I don’t know what’s going on either. I guess you’ve just got to rewrite it.”

Cristina: [as Tom] “Weird.”

Alison: [as Tom] “You’ve got to do it again.”

[Everyone laughs]

Mandy: That’s one of my favorite Ginny parts.

Kristen: No, it’s a great one. That was young Ginny. [laughs]

Alison: It’s also a lesson in holding on to your dreams, I feel.

[Everyone laughs]

Mandy: Hold on, yeah.

Alison: It is possible. Hold on.

Kristen: She got that embarrassing moment of “Okay, I didn’t use the best word choice. Now I’m going to strive to get better at my writing.” And now she’s a writer. [laughs]

Mandy: There you go.

Alison: Yes, there we go. She’s written Harry all sorts of Valentines he’ll never see…

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: … because she’s too embarrassed.

Cristina: Oh, Ginny.

Kristen: How amazing. Well, now I guess we can talk about Ginny’s mother, Molly Weasley, and…

Alison: Yay!

Kristen: … go into a little series about the different mothers and mothers’ love or desperation. So my first thought with Molly is that she’s more that stay-at-home mom [and] also kind of everyone’s mother as well. She takes on Harry and Hermione all the time, which is amazing, and she reminds me of my mom. Just always being the stay-at-home mom and all the friends always coming over to my house, and my mom making dinner for them and they’re always being welcomed. So I really always loved Molly Weasley because she always reminded me of my mom and always being in charge, and she’s the one who holds down the fort and is in charge of the household, which is awesome as well.

Alison: Yeah, I’ve always loved Molly. I know there are a lot of people who don’t like her, but I think she does remind me of my mom, in making sure everybody’s taken care of but also the intensity.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: She knows what everyone’s up to at any moment, and if you’re doing something she doesn’t approve of, here she comes to smack you down for that. Stealing the car? She’s right there.

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: She knows you weren’t in bed last night. [laughs] And also, the way that she cares more about the people in her house, I think. Whereas if you contrast her to Aunt Petunia, who cares about what her house looks like, Molly cares more [that] the people in her house are happy and healthy and doing well and succeeding. She’s helping them, giving them a safe place to stay, making sure they’re fed, and making sure that they have nice, warm sweaters when it’s cold and things like that – and knowing that they’re loved. Whereas Petunia, I think we see a lot… She’s more making sure her house is sparkling clean and everything looks right, and then she’s going to go spy on the neighbors to see how she compares to them. But Molly is just like, “Here, Harry, here’s your twelfth helping of dinner.” [laughs] [as Molly] “Everyone make sure you have your sweaters on!”

Mandy: Well, it’s like… Okay, I will address this since I sort of am a stay-at-home mom. I don’t work full-time right now. I’ve heard a lot of criticism with Molly Weasley: “Oh, she’s just a mom. She doesn’t do much else in the series.” Okay, stay-at-home moms don’t do nothing all day, first of all. [laughs] She’s not sitting there. Okay, maybe Aunt Petunia is at a point where Uncle Vernon makes enough money where she’s comfortable, she can sit there and just vacuum for a minute and then maybe watch Grey’s Anatomy all day.

[Everyone laughs]

Mandy: I think… [laughs] Well, you know Aunt Petunia watches Grey’s Anatomy.

Cristina: Well, of course.

Mandy: [laughs] But I think with Molly, she’s just a very different personality. And it takes a lot of… Okay, first of all, I can’t even fathom having as many children as she has. I have one, and I’m pregnant with my second, and I can’t even… I won’t even go there.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: It takes so much work and so much self-sacrifice and that. Maybe she would like to be doing something else, but instead, she has to stay there and make Ron’s sandwiches. And maybe she knows Ron doesn’t like corned beef, but that’s all they have, and she’s at least giving him food and making sure they have enough whatever for the kids, making sure they all have sweaters, making sure they all have different things. And I think especially because maybe they don’t have a lot of money, I think she adds a lot of value to their lives by being the “everyone mother,” like you were saying, Alison. And so I think… I don’t know. [laughs] She’s a very different version of staying home than Petunia, like you were saying. I think that she’s spent a lot of time worrying about people or trying to do things for her kids or trying to do things for Arthur. Even doing things for the Order, making sure that the Order has everything they need and making sure that Grimmauld Place is fit for habitation and whatnot. I mean, she does a lot of work, and that’s work that needs to be done as well. I mean, you could argue that house-elves can do it, but that’s a whole SPEW conversation that we’re not getting into, so…

Alison: How do we think that works in, then, to how she thinks about her sons’ relationships? I mean, the ones we see. So we see her reacting to Fleur, and we see her reacting to Hermione sometimes too. So do you think that…?

Mandy: What did she call her? The scarlet woman?

[Alison, Cristina, and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: Is that what Ron says that she calls Hermione? Yeah.

Alison: Because I think some of it is that she… it’s that protective, fierce kind of mothering style that she has, that she sees these other young women who want to take her sons away and take them out from under her charge in some ways…

Mandy: Oh, I have a son, and let me tell you: It’s terrifying.

[Alison and Mandy laugh]

Mandy: But it’s very normal. That’s a normal mom thing. I think a lot of moms are like that with their sons. And yeah, a lot of people have criticized her for how she treats Fleur and like you were saying, Hermione as well at certain points.

Kristen: And I think… Again, I have four brothers, and my oldest brother is married. And I remember when he brought… She was a girlfriend at the time. Even I was like, “Mm…”

[Alison, Cristina, and Mandy laugh]

Kristen: “… I don’t really like you at all. I don’t know why I don’t, but I don’t.”

Alison: Yeah, I was like that with my brother’s now wife too. [laughs]

Kristen: It really took me a solid year to… and gosh, I was 13 at the time when they met, but I was just like, “Who is this other woman?” It’s just siblings, but still, it’s just this other girl in the house. It’s just, [my mom and I] are the only females, and it’s just, we’re surrounded by all these males, so it’s like coming into our territory almost, and it’s… I don’t know. I always felt that way. I mean, of course I love my sister-in-law now, but I remember just definitely feeling on edge and just like, “Ugh, why are you here?” [laughs] but for no apparent reason at all.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: Well, I think that’s normal. I mean, I don’t know if it’s right or wrong. I think that’s a pretty normal emotion that a lot of people will feel, though.

Alison: Definitely. I think it’s interesting, too, to how that contrasts, then, with what Ginny does, that Ginny isn’t as much of the stay-at-home mom as Molly was, and the kid [who] seems to get that in Cursed Child is Ron. Ron is the stay-at-home dad. He’s taken the Molly-esque route where he’s like, “My kids are here, and yes, here are all my nieces and nephews. I’m going to take them in too.” And he lets Hermione be the breadwinner of the family and the working one, and he’s like, “I’m staying at home. I’m good with this.”

Mandy: Do you think Ron knits sweaters every Christmas?

Cristina: I hope so.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: I don’t know if he’s that good. [laughs] He helps Molly pick out the new patterns…

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: … and colors for everyone. [laughs]

Kristen: He holds the yarn while she knits. [laughs]

Mandy: There we go.

Alison: Man, now I want a Ron-designed and Molly-made sweater. [laughs]

Kristen: Also, we get this different side of Molly just a little bit when she is battling Bellatrix. I mean, this whole mama bear comes out to the max. And of course, her famous line, “Not my daughter, you bitch”… She really disses Bellatrix right there and then kills her, which is amazing.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Can we talk about the word […] and how that works into a feminist reading of this line? Because obviously, it’s trying… I mean, it’s been historically used very derogatorily toward women, so to have another woman using it…

Cristina: I kind of love it.

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: Oh, I think it’s great, but I just…

Cristina: Yeah, I think that she really conveys… As a woman, you know what that word means, and it really conveyed her message to Bellatrix, what she thought of her. I thought it was a great line. Loved it. Not a huge Molly fan, but [I] love that moment.

Kristen: Why aren’t you a huge Molly fan?

Cristina: [sighs] It’s the overbearing lovingness. It’s just too much for me. It’s too much control over the family. That clock with the stalker-y stuff… I’m having a moment. I can’t with Molly.

[Kristen laughs]

Cristina: She would cause me great distress as a stalker-y mother of mine.

Alison: And I definitely think that that’s one of her flaws, is she’s almost too overprotective sometimes.

Kristen: I mean, instead of the clock, it’s like that app where you know where your kids are at all times by turning that on…

Alison: [laughs] Yeah, the Find Friends app or whatever?

Kristen: … and she knows where her friends are at all times by turning that on. [laughs]

Mandy: Which might also tie to why Ginny is really craving that privacy that we talked about a minute ago.

Alison: But I think having someone almost that protective is good for Harry in a lot of ways. That fills in a gap in Harry’s life, I think, and that’s why he’s almost so… not enthusiastic about it, but he’s so welcoming of Molly, even though everyone else is like, “Oh my gosh, Mom, really.”

Cristina: “Mom, please.”

Kristen: Yeah, because he didn’t have that with Petunia. So he’s welcoming it like, “Sure, I’ll have a second helping.”

Mandy: Petunia was probably like that with Dudley. And I can’t imagine… If Molly is bad, I can’t imagine how you view Petunia. Ugh.

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: Yeah, but that’s a great point on Petunia. She definitely acts like that to Dudley but not to Harry at all. So then for Harry to see that, like, “Oh, that’s what a mom should do” or something…

Alison: I think Petunia, though, was more stifling, because Molly will disagree with her kids, and she’ll try [to] talk them out of it. she’ll try [to] talk Bill into cutting his hair and not wearing his fang earring, but she’s still going to let him. She’s not going to stifle who he is and let him live his life. I mean, she’ll get after him for it. [laughs]

Mandy: I definitely see what you mean, though, Cristina, with the “a little too overbearing sometimes.” But I think for Harry, an orphan who’s never really known love or care, I think seeing that… If we’re looking at it from Harry’s perspective, I guess the feeling that when he’s never felt a mother’s love like that before… I mean, he has tons of mother figures throughout the series, I think – multiple different ones – but I think that might have made him feel special, even though it’s probably to a flaw with her own children.

Cristina: No, I agree. And with Harry and Molly, his was really in short bursts with interacting with Molly.

Mandy: It wasn’t constant.

Cristina: I don’t feel like he got the full smother.

[Everyone laughs]

Kristen: The full blast, yeah.

Mandy: Interesting. I’m glad you talked about that, though, because I think that’s a good point.

Kristen: Well, next we will talk about Harry’s actual mother, Lily Potter. She gave her life for her son – which was an amazing act in itself – and she was a strong woman and was in the Order of the Phoenix in the beginning and was trying to save the world and everything like that, which proves to be another strong characteristic, another strong woman in this series.

Alison: I wonder, though. Lily is very much always put on a pedestal. And I think it’s been discussed before. I think Jo might have even said something about, or implied, that that’s about her own mother – who… of course, her mom passed away when she was writing Sorceror’s Stone – and it’s almost like, yes, Lily gives her life for Harry, but we actually really don’t know a ton about her. I mean, we know that she’s very bright, that she and Petunia had a falling out, that she and Snape had a falling out, that she was antagonistic toward James for awhile until he got his act together, so she was mature, but other than that, she’s almost this ethereal being and…

Mandy: Well, I have a theory about this – kind of a theory – but I feel like throughout Harry Potter as a whole, this kind of love is the central message of everything. I mean, love is Voldemort’s downfall, and I think that that’s one of the things – I don’t know – people will criticize and say that it’s like, “She’s only talking about a mother’s love,” but I think if you look at what Harry does in the final book, how he sacrifices himself for everybody, there’s not a greater love than that – and that’s from the Bible – but I think that is the central theme of the whole series, is that that kind of love can conquer anything, and I think that that kind of love is most easily… and I think it’s very brilliantly and best illustrated in that love that the mother has for their child. And I think that that’s just… I view it more as symbolic, in terms of reading of that, more than… not that I don’t believe Lily as a character or something like that; I definitely think she’s real. It’s not like a Sixth Sense thing.

[Alison laughs]

Mandy: But I view that kind of act and her existence as more, maybe, of a [foreshadowing] or a symbol of the whole theme of this series, is that kind of central love, if that makes any sense. I don’t know if I communicated that clearly enough. But I think that the fact that Harry does that and wants to lay down his life for everybody at the end, when he goes willingly into the woods for Voldemort to murder him, that shows that anybody can have that kind of love for their friends. But I think that it’s just easily illustrated by the mother giving her life for the son, so I don’t know. If that makes any sense. I view her as more symbolic in that sense.

Alison: I like that.

Mandy: Something to think about. I don’t know.

Kristen: No, I like it. That works, very much so. And just speaking about the woods scene, you have Narcissa Malfoy, again, another mother and her love, as she’s surrounded by all these awful people and the Death Eaters, yet she doesn’t care, again, about her own life or those people. She’s just there to save her son, and that’s why she says that Harry is gone, because she just wants to know if her son is safe, if he is there, so she can save him and not worry about anybody else.

Alison: So [with] this scene, I see a lot of people… It’s almost like Snape, where it’s this one moment [that] forgives. People will forgive Narcissa for everything because of it, but does it? Because she is awful in a lot of ways.

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: When we first really meet her in Half-Blood, she’s really very prejudiced, and she’s very nasty to the trio, and she’s not the nicest person. I mean, even… I don’t know. We see that she’s willing to basically go ask someone else to die for her son, which makes sense, but I always got the sense she was a little bit more like Bellatrix, like Lucius, in a lot of ways, but everyone seems to just forgive her because she saves Harry in this moment.

Cristina: My problem with this moment is, if Harry had said, “No, Draco is dead,” would she have said, “Harry is alive; you didn’t kill him.” And I know that’s a huge “What if?”

Alison: I think so, yeah.

Cristina: But I like Narcissa as a character. She’s actually one of my favorites because she is so snotty and rude; I just live for it…

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Cristina: … but I don’t think that this redeems her.

Mandy: I view her as more gray. I mean, you can be an evil person and still love your son. I mean, I wouldn’t even say “evil.” I think maybe she thinks that they’re safer sticking to the pure-blood line, kind of like Regulus thought or something. I mean, we don’t really know enough about her other than, like you said, her snottiness. We only see that from Harry’s perspective. We don’t know a ton about her. I guess we do see from Snape’s perspective; I guess we see the Unbreakable Vow and how she really wanted him to go to any length to protect Draco, but I don’t know. I guess I just… I don’t know.

Kristen: Yeah, I don’t think I’d put her as a good person or a bad person. I like how you said, she’s more [in] that gray area, but I wouldn’t say that she’s a bad… She’s definitely not as bad as Snape was, in my eyes. I just feel she’s still a loving mother, but the people [who], due to her husband and sister, she’s surrounded [by] all the time, she has that… I don’t know if it’s a front or maybe she is… I mean she’s definitely a little snooty and everything, but is that always who she really is or is it a front with the people she’s surrounded [by]? So she’s got to keep up with that personality and everything like that, but you do see she does care about other people.

Mandy: And you have to wonder, what was it like to be a woman in Voldemort’s ranks? It’s Narcissa, and it’s Bellatrix, and is it anybody else? Any other women?

Alison: Not that we really know of.

Kristen: The sister.

Mandy: The sister? Oh right, Alecto.

Alison: Oh, Alecto. Yeah, yeah.

Mandy: Okay, but men vastly outnumber women in that, so I wonder what it was like for them. Maybe it was just terrible and they were just horrible and mean to the women. I mean, I can’t see them tormenting Bellatrix because she would just murder them, but…

Cristina: Well, [she] and Voldemort had their own thing going on.

Mandy: Yeah, I think… I don’t know.

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: Well, Lucius was such a – I don’t know – sissy, almost.

Cristina: I think by the end of it, they seem to almost stop believing in the cause, if you will, Narcissa and Lucius.

Kristen: Disenchantment, yeah.

Cristina: Narcissa and Lucius. When we see them at their house in Book 7, they’re just trying to find a way back into the good graces of Voldemort with Draco identifying Harry as Harry. It didn’t seem for the bigger cause going on.

Kristen: It seemed more out of fear than… yeah, definitely.

Cristina: Yeah. To save themselves. They’re in over their heads.

Kristen: Yeah. They realize, “We don’t want to do this anymore.” So we already talked about Petunia Dursley and her love for Harry and Dudley, but there’s another thing. As a sister…

Alison: Petunia I find so interesting because she and Lily are almost the biggest sister relationship we are familiar with in the books. And at the end of Deathly Hallows… I mean, you get her outburst at the beginning of Sorcerer’s Stone where she calls Lily a freak and she says that she absolutely despised her because everyone thought Lily was so special for being a witch, and then we get the end of Deathly Hallows, where we see the memory of their relationship shattering, but we also get the moment where she almost turns around and says something to Harry.

Kristen: But she doesn’t.

Alison: Yes. And so do we think the time and maybe some regret about not making up with Lily before she died and never having that chance to reconcile changes Petunia at all? As a person?

Mandy: No. I think she’s the kind of person [who] will go to lengths to not feel those emotions, unfortunately.

Cristina: I think that a lot of Petunia’s life was fueled by jealousy of her sister. She didn’t get to be a witch; she didn’t get to be that amazing. She even wrote to Dumbledore to try to get in there. Wasn’t happening. And I feel like that comparison carries through her whole life, even into when we see her again and she’s trying to compete with the neighbors and all of that. I think that that comparison between her and her sister is how she views the outside world a lot. So this is horrible, but Lily is not there to love Harry, so Petunia is going to love Dudley in an insane way. I think that we see a lot of that.

Mandy: And I’m not saying that she might… She could have some regret deep down, but if she had the regret, I feel like she would have said something to Harry. And I feel like the fact that she was silent is that she won’t admit it. She won’t admit this.

Alison: Is that a lack of regret, though? Or is that just having a lot of pride?

Mandy: I would think more pride, than lack of. But yeah, I don’t know.

Cristina: Never in her wildest dreams did she think Harry was going to see those childhood memories. She didn’t think anybody was going to be there to literally show him what happened. I mean, don’t really blame her for leaving it alone at that point. But I do think there is some regret there. Maybe an inkling.

Kristen: All right. Next, we’re going to dive into Merope, who was also an abused victim. So this is definitely a completely different woman characteristic that we haven’t really come across yet.

Mandy: What I find so interesting and the question that I have about Merope is, could she have saved her own life when she was giving birth to Voldemort? That’s left up in the air. Dumbledore hints at the fact that she could have if she wanted to, but she didn’t want to. And I think that that’s really interesting if you look at that compared to Lily, who gave her own life to save her son. Merope wouldn’t save her own life for her son, to be around for her son. If we view it like that. I’m just curious. What are your thoughts? Could she have saved her life? Would she have?

Kristen: I mean, I completely understand, but it’s two completely different backgrounds for the women as well. For her to go… always being abused and everything like that. She didn’t really ever stand up for herself or anything like that, so “Maybe my son would be better off without me anyway. Maybe without me in the picture, he could have a better life.” Which is awful to have to think about, but when you’re beaten down so much emotionally and physically, you have those dark and deep thoughts. Compared to what Lily had: a happier house, a loving husband, family and friends.

Alison: Some of it could have been the time period too. I mean, she was an unwed mother in what time period? The ’30s? The ’40s?

Mandy: She was married, but the guy left her. Tom.

Cristina: And that’s its own set of circumstances.

Alison: So she was, I mean, a poor woman whose husband left her. She was pregnant. At that time period, I mean, she didn’t have a lot of options.

Kristen: And she had a rich husband. He came from money, so again, maybe my son would be better without me because possibly the father could come back and he could get into the money. I don’t know. I just felt that that side was… Even though she could have done something, she didn’t because she felt he would have had a better life without her.

Alison: Well, that was a thing that happened back then. I mean, people would leave their kids, hoping that they could get them into better circumstances if they weren’t there.

Mandy: That has to be… you almost feel sorry for her, but she totally abused Tom Riddle’s dad as well. She totally tricked him into marrying her and beyond tricked him into having a kid with her, and then thinking that he’d be okay with all that… I mean, I do feel like being a victim of abuse for so long probably messed with her mind quite a bit, and I don’t think she knew what was right and wrong. But still, it’s just an awful, sad situation. I wonder how Voldemort views it.

Cristina: I think, here, we see the effects of long-term, untreated depression and probably anxiety, more than anything.

Mandy: She couldn’t use her powers because she was so scared all the time.

Alison: Yeah. And then the one time she really used them ended so badly for her that she just stopped using them. The one time she really made an effort to do something magical ended up completely backfiring on her. She definitely is a pitiable case. But it’s interesting, too, to put her up, though, to other women and mothers in the series and say, “Okay, yes she’s a pitiable case, but there'[re] also choices involved there a bit.”

Mandy: And did she have that choice? Like you were saying, I mean, she didn’t have the money, the background, the circumstances that Lily had. Or even Narcissa had. It’s a little different situation. But yeah, I don’t know. She’s just a tough character, and I like that she is a character in the books for the reason that it raises all those questions: Why was she like this? Or what happens to women when we neglect them as a society, turn our backs on them? And especially women in very dire circumstances, as Merope was.

Cristina: Yeah, no support system at all. Whereas Harry didn’t have one either, so you can see the parallel there, but Harry… I don’t know.

Alison: Harry finds one.

Cristina: Yeah, he creates his own.

Alison: People take him in. Whereas Bob Ogden sees Merope, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any indication that he tried to do anything or send anyone to assist her. I mean…

Mandy: Yeah. Well, Harry is famous too. I mean, every wizard knows Harry. Whereas the Gaunts are said and done, live in a shack, and are the laughing stock of the Muggle village.

Kristen: She’s such a depressing character, unfortunately. [laughs]

Alison: She tugs at my heartstrings. I don’t know. I feel for her.

Kristen: Yeah. Definitely, the brother and father…

Alison: Yeah, I know. She’s…

Kristen: Just hurts myself as being a woman. I just want to help you. Next, we’re going to talk about those “evil women” in the series. The first one that always comes to my mind is Bellatrix, of course, and my first point for her is that she’s def following the man. She is all for Voldemort and…

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: … will jump off that cliff when he says, “Jump.” She is totally in it to win it.

Alison: She’s interesting, and I actually really appreciate that we get this strong woman. Because usually, especially in pop culture now, if you’re a strong woman, “Oh, you want to be the good one, though.” The good side has to have one. But to have this woman who is so ambitious and powerful and dedicated be this totally evil woman is so fascinating and interesting because she’s just crazy.

[Kristen laughs]

Alison: She’s straight up insane.

Kristen: She is.

Alison: And yet she’s this super powerful witch [whose] everyone’s afraid of. A bunch of these other Death Eaters are afraid of her, and Harry is afraid of her, and I think to some extent her husband is probably afraid of her. There’s a lot of…

[Kristen laughs]

Mandy: Prodigious skill and no conscience, right?

Alison: Yeah. And it’s almost a twist on the norm, but it’s also almost a thing that we need in media. You have to show both sides.

Mandy: Well, she’s a girl… She is good looking, she is rich, she is super intelligent and very skilled. She had everything going for her and look what she chose to put her efforts toward. Straight up racism basically. And so it’s definitely… I like that it’s just her choices. In Bellatrix, I mean, I could not know something, but it’s not her circumstances here pushing her to do anything. She’s just choosing to use her talents for torture and murder.

Cristina: Well, I think she’s partway brainwashed by Voldemort. I mean, we see Tom Riddle lure in Ginny the way he does, and I think he does that with Bellatrix too. But when we look at Bellatrix, I think we see complete, unconditional love toward Voldemort.

Mandy: Okay, that gray area again. We’re getting to it. Okay. Can you tell us more about why you think that? I’m interested.

Cristina: Well, it’s a balance between obsession and unconditional love. With the introduction of Cursed Child, we…

Kristen: Uhh, ugh. I can’t do it. I can’t do it.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Cristina: You relook at her character, and I think a lot of it stems from a weird, twisted loving place where she follows her man dutifully, which her sister also seems to do. Narcissa… she follows Lucius. And so I think that that might be somewhat how they were raised. Follow the lead of the husband.

Mandy: That could be the patriarchal, traditional society thing. Because I know Jo said that that’s where the wizarding world is, very traditional minded. I don’t know. I personally never read her as that; I personally read it as her own choices and her own ways to feel powerful, but I could see definitely how you could think that, especially with Narcissa as evidence.

Cristina: I keep forgetting she’s not married to him. She’s married to Rodolphus or whatever his name is.

[Alison laughs]

Mandy: Ahh, Rodolphus.

Alison: I think everyone just forgets about him.

Cristina: Poor guy.

Alison: He’s just there.

Mandy: Yeah, I think she forgets about him.

Kristen: Narcissa forgets about him.

[Mandy laughs]

Alison: Yeah, probably. [laughs]

Mandy: She’s coming up in something all together.

Kristen: I think Bellatrix is even… and I’m just going to jump ahead to Umbridge quickly because I think it’s interesting to compare them, these two “evil” women and their motivations. I know some people will differ on how they want to define that, but I don’t… Bellatrix using her powers just for straight up torture and murder and Umbridge using the umbrella of “Oh, we’re doing it for ‘Magic is Might’ or for the good of everybody that we’re locking up Muggle-born people and torturing them” kind of thing.

Alison: Well, Umbridge is definitely much more deceitful, whereas Bellatrix is just…

Kristen: Yeah, she’s not pretending. She’s just…

Mandy: No. She’s straight up evil.

Alison: She’s more honest. She’s more honest about who is she and what she’s doing, whereas Umbridge is just like, [imitating Umbridge] “Hehe, hem, hem. Everything’s fine.” That was a terrible Umbridge impersonation, I’m sorry.

[Kristen laughs]

Mandy: No, it worked out.

Alison: [laughs] And that’s just… I think that’s one of the reasons why people almost hate Umbridge more, because she’s evil, but she’s trying to not be.

Kristen: Well, and she tries with that pink color. So feminine. And “I’m wearing pink, so…”

Mandy: And the cats that look like Mad-Eye Moody.

Kristen: Yes, they’re adorable cats. I’m sorry. I’d love to have a kitten wall. But she tries to play it off. “Kittens are my best friends, I love pink, and I think you all should be locked up and…” yeah.

Mandy: “This is a matter of Ministry security.”

Kristen: Yeah. Exactly. Trying to use that voice and everything. “I’m good. Look at me. I’m really good. I’m just…” – like you said – “… being deceitful, but you really don’t know it.” And just going for what you want.

Mandy: Well, it’s almost like malicious righteousness.

Alison: Yeah. And I think that symbolic use of that pink color, of that traditionally feminine color, is so…

Mandy: It’s the perversion of it, using it with her.

Alison: I don’t know, yeah. Of this girlish color that you associate with little kids or people who are supposed to be more harmless. And instead, she’s this force of evil and terribleness that ruins everybody’s lives.

Cristina: Well, I think with Bellatrix, it’s more of a manic crazy obsession…

Kristen: Yeah, she cray.

Cristina: … whereas Umbridge, she is cunning. She is sneaky. She believes in her beliefs. I like her for how she worked her way up and… I don’t know. Sneaky, sneaky.

Mandy: You like all the sneaky characters, Cristina.

Cristina: I do.

[Alison and Mandy laugh]

Cristina: I like their ambition.

Alison: That’s not a Slytherin thing.

[Alison and Mandy laugh]

Cristina: I know. I know. It’s really bad of me, but…

Kristen: No, it’s all good. Everybody has their own opinions.

Alison: We need our Slytherins in the world. It’s okay.

Cristina: Please direct your hate mail to me.

[Alison, Kristen, and Mandy laugh]

Kristen: No. No bullying, no hate mail.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: Then we also have… and I always get her name wrong too.

Alison and Cristina: Delphi?

Kristen: Delphi, yes, who… master manipulator and very driven. She’s… On my side, I say she’s canon, so that’s why I brought her into this, as weird as she is, but…

[Alison and Cristina laugh]

Kristen: As weird as the whole story is, but [laughs] that’s just my philosophy.

Alison: We talked about her on the last episode and about her parentage and background, but I think… Delphi feels almost like a missed opportunity to me. I wish they would’ve gone into her character a little bit more because she is so crafty. And again, she’s got what Bellatrix has, this complete belief in what she’s doing as right, and so she doesn’t care who gets in her way, what she has to do to get there. She’s going to… She feels like she’s in control of everyone around her. She is on top. And so she’s going to win, she thinks. And that’s…

Kristen: But she does it more in a sly way as well. Which Bellatrix does not have. [laughs]

Mandy: No subtlety there.

Alison: No. So that’s the other side of that questionable pairing.

[Mandy sighs]

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: Definitely coming out there with the charm. But it’s one of those things where I wish they got into her more. Because I think she’s an interesting enough character already, but I wish we got more of her in the actual text because everything she is gets overshadowed by that little revelation at the end. [laughs]

Kristen: Yeah, truth. So I just thought I’d throw it in there just a little bit because I’m going to go with “it’s canon.” Everybody can hate me but whatever.

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: Then we also have Pansy Parkinson. And I love whoever wrote “the Hogwarts Regina George?”

Mandy: Oh, that was me.

Alison: So great. [laughs]

Kristen: Which is amazing, and I agree.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: I just totally… I don’t know. I just… We don’t have to spend a lot of time on her, but she just totally reminds me of Regina George. Just bullying people, bullying Hermione. “Her? Vividly pretty?” or whatever she says or always trying to fawn around Malfoy and… yeah, I don’t know. Basically everything she does is on Malfoy’s behalf, though, as well, or the behalf of somebody feeling bad.

Alison: And I think that’s an interesting way… Basically, that’s her only reason for existing as a character, I think, is almost to show Malfoy’s change because he doesn’t end up with her.

Mandy: Yeah, and I’m so glad that…

Alison: But he was dating her before. Yeah, I… Based [on] just what we know from Cursed Child, I love Astoria. She’s amazing. And she’s not even in it; we just hear about her.

[Alison, Kristen, and Mandy laugh]

Alison: But I love her. And so I think it’s almost the unfortunate thing that happens to a lot of female characters, is… I mean, obviously, that doesn’t happen a lot in Harry Potter, and obviously, that’s going to happen with male characters sometimes, but she’s just there to be the foil for how Draco changes.

Kristen: Interesting.

Alison: And that’s basically her whole role.

Mandy: And she says, “At the Yule Ball, we wear pink.” Because I’m pretty sure she wears pink to the Yule Ball.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: “You can’t sit with us!”

Mandy: You can hear her saying that in your mind, that whole… In the movie – I think she says it in the book too, like, “There he is! Someone grab him!” Okay, Pansy.

Kristen: Throw her in front of a bus already. Geez.

[Alison laughs]

Mandy: All right, we can move on from her. I just wanted to…

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: Mean Girls reference. So…

Kristen: No, it was a great point. No, I liked it. So my question… I just feel like, with Delphi and Umbridge and Bellatrix, it all seems… Well, I don’t know. Do you think their “evilness” is related to trying to please that higher man in their life and trying to just gain almost acceptance from them that they are their equal? Or how do you guys feel about it? Because it seems like they… I mean, two of them have the same one – Voldemort – but it just feels like they’re just striving for them instead of themselves.

Mandy: Umbridge would be for Fudge, right?

Kristen: Yeah, and just getting [to] that top because he’s the Minister of Magic and everything.

Cristina: I think Umbridge was more motivated by trying to get into power than so much pleasing a man.

Mandy: Yeah. I think she pretends to like Fudge more than she actually likes him.

Cristina: I bet she hates Fudge.

Kristen: [laughs] I bet she can’t stand him.

[Alison laughs]

Cristina: She can’t stand him. Because I can’t stand him.

[Kristen and Mandy laugh]

Kristen: So he… There you go.

Alison: I think that’s a really interesting way to read all of them and you could almost say that’s a message that’s coming out of this, then, of don’t be living and trying to do what you do for…

Kristen: Somebody else, yeah.

Alison: … male attention. Because especially if you contrast it with Hermione or McGonagall or these other characters who are on the good side, where they’re trying to do what’s right, and they’re trying to do the good thing, and they’re not trying to please anybody but themselves, really. I mean, we talked about how Tonks and Luna march to the beat of their own drum, and McGonagall decides to do her own thing, and Hermione doesn’t really care what people think when she thinks she’s right. And so that’s an interesting comparison to make between the two, then.

Mandy: I mean, I’m not 100% sure I agree with that because I think that when you look at people like the women [whom] we’ve spoken about previously such as – I don’t know – Tonks and Molly and Ginny and Hermione, they’re not necessarily just looking out for themselves. They’re looking out for – for lack of a better word – the greater good kind of thing. They want what is right more than what feels best for them or what’s going to put them on top, in a way. I don’t know. In my reading of Bella and Umbridge and Delphi, I feel like the three women we just spoke about are looking more toward what is going to put them in a position where they can feel good about themselves or where they can have power. And Delphi, I’m not sure how much she would actually fit into that because I know she… I don’t know. I have my own theories about Cursed Child, but I feel like there’s a difference between trying to look for what is right and do what’s right for everybody or right for the world or right for the situation and trying to do what’s going to advance your own life circumstances, career, kind of thing. Not that there’s not a place to do those things. I definitely think [there] is. But when it involves other people getting hurt or other people being put down for you to advance, I think that’s when it regresses into something bad, I guess, if that makes sense.

Kristen: Well, that’s it for our “evil” women. Next, we’ll go into a little bug of a situation with Rita Skeeter.

[Cristina laughs]

Mandy: Clever.

[Alison laughs]

Kristen: She definitely, for me, weaseled her way into it and just… I don’t know. She’s definitely a strong writer for the newspaper, she’s very ambitious, and again she’s another woman who goes for what she wants even if she goes a little too far, and most of the time a lot too far. But I mean, she’s definitely there for herself. She’s not doing it for anybody else, in my opinion.

Alison: Yeah. She’s definitely looking for the fame, fortune, scandal that’s going to… She’s an attention seeker. She really is an attention seeker. And she’s willing to be unethical to do that. Which, I mean, is one of the great things about why she’s such a commentary on media and modern media. What are we really reporting on and why? What’s really important and what’s shaping public opinion?

Mandy: And being willing to use whatever methods possible, regardless of their ethical implications, to get her information. Poor Bathilda Bagshot.

Cristina: Aww.

Kristen: Yep. That’s her. Anything else on good old Rita Skeeter?

Alison: Nope.

Cristina: I wonder what House she was in. But we don’t know that, do we?

Alison: Wasn’t she in Ravenclaw? Or am I crazy?

Mandy: That rings a bell. I don’t know.

Kristen: I have no idea, actually.

Cristina: Yeah, I’m not sure.

Kristen: I could see it, definitely. Same with Slytherin. We’ll see. Next, we have Moaning Myrtle. So she’s definitely a very interesting character, staying around just because she was bullied so much in her life and then again in the afterlife, but still sticking around at that school just to always be there.

Mandy: Or did she have to stay there because the Ministry didn’t want to have her continue to haunt Olive Hornby?

[Everyone laughs]

Cristina: So good. So good. I would haunt people too.

[Kristen and Mandy laugh]

Mandy: Poor Moaning Myrtle.

Alison: This is another interesting one of someone who didn’t mature, though. Again. I mean, if we talk about characters who are showing a great deal of maturity at a young age, it’s almost like – I mean, obviously, she did – Myrtle got stuck in this very immature stage, and so she’s just holding a grudge. And so now she’s forever this schoolgirl who can’t get over things people used to say about her.

Mandy: Destined to live in a toilet.

Alison: Yeah. She’s symbolic for “you have to let go,” a little bit. Or you’re going to be stuck in a U-bend.

Mandy: Hey, she gets to see Harry and Cedric naked. Probably the highlight of her afterlife.

[Alison laughs]

Cristina: I think she’s also desperate for a connection of some kind. She passed away in those years when you think you’re all alone and all angsty and stuff. And so I think that’s why she really reaches out to Draco in Half-Blood Prince when he’s in there all the time, and she tries to form that connection. That’s why she gets so upset when anybody says anything about her, even now.

Mandy: Yeah, and it’s not like any of the girls are that nice to her either, even in the afterlife.

Cristina: I feel bad for Myrtle.

Mandy: I do too. Peeves is so mean.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Yeah, well. It’s his purpose in life.

Cristina: Poltergeist.

Kristen: Then we have the stereotypical – I love this – supermodel, Fleur Delacour. Or I guess Weasley now. But again, we see her as that stereotypical supermodel, long hair, skinny, but she competes in the Triwizard Tournament. She is another strong character. What does she say? Something about when Bill gets his face all messed up.

Alison: [as Fleur] “I think I am beautiful enough for both of us!”

[Kristen laughs]

Cristina: I like her too.

Alison: I actually have come to quite like Fleur, because she’s one of those… You always assume you know people if you just see them. And sometimes you can tell things about people from just seeing them, but she’s so much more than that, and we really get digging past her surface. I mean, Molly is upset about her. Molly, our stereotypical caretaker. But by the end [of] Deathly Hallows, we see Fleur is really a caretaker as well. She takes care of Shell Cottage. She takes care of everybody at Shell Cottage, and she’s very attentive, I think, to people. I mean, after a while, when they’re not being grateful, she’s a little put out about it, but she’s willing to help those [whom] she cares about.

Mandy: I think we even see… In the Triwizard Tournament, you’d expect what’s most important to her is something like – I don’t know – a mirror or some kind of boyfriend or something like that, but she cares about her little sister so much that she’s beside herself at the even thought of something bad happening to Gabrielle. And so I think that shows a lot about her and what she actually really values. Like you said, I think it’s so easy to look at somebody and say, “Oh, that person obviously has the perfect life and doesn’t ever have to worry about anything.” But you never know somebody until you actually get to know them. And I love how Ginny and Hermione and Harry and Ron learn that about her at the end of Half-Blood Prince when she’s attentive to Bill and still is part of the family, just wants to be part of the family even if she’s not married to some super attractive guy.

Cristina: I think Fleur has a lot to prove, like Hermione does. Fleur is beautiful, but it’s because she’s part Veela. She doesn’t obsess over her looks and stuff. And that’s why she becomes so ferocious and able to compete with those boys in the Triwizard Tournament.

Mandy: I think that’s true, and that’s a good point too, is I know I’ve heard women say – I’m not one of them, but some of them will say – “You’re not taken seriously if you’re however good-looking or something.” And she might be an example of that. I don’t know. Or maybe she has to be tougher than she thinks she is or… I don’t know.

Cristina: Yeah, I like how tough she is. And unlike the movies, she doesn’t come from an all-girls school. There were boys in the draw.

Mandy: Yeah, that’s true.

Kristen: So then we go to our last character: Cho Chang. And so what I thought [of] her… She went through a huge ordeal of having her boyfriend be murdered, and she mourned and everything, but it’s something that doesn’t really define her. She still goes above and beyond it and joins Dumbledore’s Army and everything like that, so I liked seeing… She had a huge thing that also happened in her life, but it’s something that’s not always going to define her.

Alison: Cho is an interesting one because I think, in a lot of ways, she’s almost been diminished to that, because that’s the biggest time we see her. I mean, when we first meet her, she is a Quidditch player, and she has lots of friends. She seems like a very popular, intelligent – I mean, she’s a Ravenclaw – young woman who’s on top of things. And then, of course, I mean, she starts dating Cedric. And that’s power couple time at Hogwarts. They’re the Hogwarts power couple. And then, when we really get to know her, though, is during Order of the Phoenix, when she is still so upset, and she’s mourning Cedric. And so she gets diminished, I think, by a lot of people to just the weepy, whiny, heartbroken girl. But I think there’s a lot more to her that’s hinted at.

Mandy: Well, Hermione gets it, right? Hermione says that.

Alison: But unfortunately, it’s another one of those cases of “this is a story told from Harry’s point of view,” and Harry needed to learn more about what girls are about. [laughs] And so that’s why Cho shows up. Which is sad, in some ways.

Cristina: I think Cho is a great example of that there needs to be more therapy in the wizarding world.

[Kristen laughs]

Mandy: Right. Who are the counselors there?

Cristina: Yeah. That is a missed major that they need to start having people do.

Mandy: Wizard therapy.

Kristen: It’s okay to ask for help. People need to know that.

Mandy: Well, even after all that tragedy…

Alison: It’s okay to look for closure, I think, too.

Mandy: Yeah, I think even Harry gets impatient with her: “Don’t start crying again.” And then when Harry loses Sirius, I think he understands what that grieving process is. Because I think he lost his parents so young that I don’t think he was really that sympathetic to her, but it really is a big thing.

Cristina: Yeah. I think he gets mad at Cho because he’s trying to cope with the Cedric thing too. They’re having the same problem, and it’s awkwardly her ex-boyfriend.

Mandy: [laughs] That’s just a strange situation…

Alison: But now she’s dating Harry, or Harry thinks they’re dating.

Cristina: I think Harry’s more “just stop bringing it up.”

Alison: Who knows what’s actually happening?

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Alison: That is a weird situation.

Kristen: Very much so.

Cristina: So soap opera.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: Oh, yeah. And then the last woman, who[m] we all love and [are] appreciative [of] so much, I have to throw out there: J.K. Rowling herself. Duh. Just an amazing woman all around.

Alison: All hail the queen. [laughs]

Kristen: Indeed. We couldn’t have a woman episode and not mention her at all. That is for sure.

Mandy: Right. Because she managed to write seven books with the title of a boy and write so many beautiful, strong, interesting female characters that we… There'[re] so many different female characters that we can all see ourselves in, in some way. And I think that is what makes her an awesome writer.

Alison: I think that’s so important, too, to how the world has changed since she started writing. I mean, she used her initials because she was afraid people wouldn’t read a book about a boy written by a woman. But throughout these books, she’s introduced these strong, intelligent, wonderful women from all over the spectrum [who]… I mean, they’re all different. They’ve got different personalities, and they all do different things in their lives. And that’s… She’s almost said, “Okay, readers. Look: Girls, you can be like this. Boys, women are like this. Expect them to be like this. Encourage them to be like this.”

Mandy: Expect them to be themselves and true to who they are, no matter who that person is.

Alison: Yeah. It’s almost like she’s cleared the way so that other writers now – female writers – don’t have to feel like, “I’m writing a book about a boy protagonist. I have to use my initials so they won’t know I’m a woman.” She’s opening that up, and that’s awesome, I think.

Kristen: Oh, yeah. Oh, definitely.

Mandy: I really enjoy the Cormoran Strike books that she writes under the Robert pen name. But I think – if you’ve read any of them – even the character of Robin in those books is very similar, where – without giving anything away to anybody – she’s a very strong and different female character, one who[m] you think you know everything about. And as the series progresses, you learn more about who she is and you find out she’s more than just who[m] we assume her to be at the beginning. I guess that’s the spoiler-free version of it.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Mandy: So anyway. Thank you, Jo.

Alison: Thank you for giving us women to look up to.

Kristen: Yeah. Honestly, no better way to end a discussion about her than thanking her for everything, really, that she’s done. And she’s showing young girls who are reading the series – girls and women of all ages – it’s truly amazing.

Mandy: And that we continue to see ourselves in these is just amazing, awesome. You said it all.

Alison: Definitely. Well, we have some more amazing women to thank. We want to thank Mandy for being our guest this week. Thank you so much for joining us, Mandy. You were awesome.

Mandy: Thank you, guys, for having me. I had a great time.

Kristen: Woo-hoo.

Alison: Good. And thank you, Cristina, too, for filling in for us this week.

Kristen: Yes, thank you.

Alison: We appreciate you being here so much.

Cristina: Oh, yeah. This was awesome.

Kristen: Yeah, it was lovely to have an all-female panel today. [laughs]

Mandy: Yeah. It was a lot of fun.

[Alison and Kristen laugh]

Kristen: And our next topic will be… We are going to talk about the 35th anniversary of October 31, 1981. So be sure to keep an eye out for that one.

Cristina: And you can be on the show too. You don’t need any fancy equipment. Just a set of Apple headphones is enough. You can head to the main site to find out more info on that or you could submit a topic on the main site. Suggest away.

Kristen: And don’t forget to contact us on our many social media outlets. We are on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN, [on Facebook at] And again, don’t forget to check us out on our website at And while you’re there, why don’t you go ahead and send us an owl on AudioBoom. Just please keep it under 60 seconds.

Alison: And we just wanted to give one more shout-out to Allan for being out Patreon sponsor for this episode. Thank you so much. And if you would like to keep us going, and talking all these wonderful topics that we’re getting in, go check out our Patreon at You can sponsor us for as low as just a dollar per month. And we appreciate every single one of our sponsors. Thank you so, so much for everything you do for us. That’s why we are still here.

Kristen: Yes, thank you. Well, that is it for today.

[Show music begins]

Kristen: I’m Kristen Keys.

Cristina: I’m Cristina Bailey.

Alison: And I am Alison Siggard. Thank you for listening to Episode 204 of Alohomora!

Kristen: Open the Dumbledore.

[Show music continues]

Kristen: Definitely. [coughs] Sorry. [coughs] Just choking on life.

[Alison and Cristina laugh]