Maeve visits heartthrob astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Natural History Museum to chat about global migration and moving to Mars. She calls up socio-political comedian W. Kamau Bell about speaking truth to power using jokes. And she talks with Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef about finding his footing in America - and his hopes of playing more than just the role of Terrorist #3 in action movies.
Millions of Americans have immigrant parents, some of whom came here to escape oppression, some for economic opportunity, and some for the pizza. The very funny and very wise Aparna Nancherla (Womanhood on Refinery29) helps Maeve understand what it’s like to navigate American culture while honoring the culture your parents grew up in. Alex Karpovsky (GIRLS) relives his Slavic Communist throwback kindergarten outfits. Mona Chalabi learns more about her mother’s experience as a UK doctor after growing up in Iraq. The effervescent Charla Lauriston tells her mother, who moved as a teenager from Haiti, why she loves being the child of immigrants. Ashok Kondabolu chats with his dad Ravi about what he did in disco-era NYC, spoiler: it wasn’t dancing. It’s possible to literally be from somewhere completely different than your own parents, in more ways than one.
Maeve’s co-host is her no. 1 girl crush, the hilarious and super smart Negin Farsad. Negin gave a TED Talk about her work in social justice comedy. She’s a filmmaker who took her live show on the road for a thought provoking and funny documentary called ‘The Muslims are Coming’. The women discuss the role of comedy during oppressive times. Poet Majid Naficy has faced much tragedy in his life, including the execution of his wife and friends during the Iranian Revolution, and he explains how writing helps. As does music, and performing, in the case of Vietnamese-American Lynda Trang Dai, it’s self expression that helps break down stereotypes and move everybody further. And it’s St.Patrick’s week, so Maeve checks in with her fellow Irish immigrant, Chris O’Dowd on just how many shamrocks he’s hoping to eat.
Maeve discovers she’s not the only 01 visa in town - stat queen Mona Chalabi is also an “alien of extraordinary ability.” Nationally acclaimed poet, Yosimar Reyes, talks to Maeve about his life as an undocumented immigrant, recalling his childhood fear of being deported and not getting to hear the latest Destiny’s Child album. Host of ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ Aminatou Sow gives the rundown on her immigration story - from Guinea to Belgium to Texas. Maeve opens up about her own struggle with customs and border patrol, to much laughter. Jokes about Jew-boos from Naomi Ekperigin provide our Cheer Up Charlie moment and to end, Emmy the Great soothes anxieties with her music.
Maeve gets the latest from Mona Chalabi about what Syrian refugees will face in Trump’s USA. She meets Zaza - there are 350 Mohameds in his company, so he has to go by his surname. His life has been turned upside down by the conflict in Syria, and he describes life in Homs under a dictatorship. On the waitlist for over two years for an asylum interview, he opens up about the struggles he faces in this new life, as well as the joys. Our context queen is one of the world’s foremost authorities on what civilian life has been like under Assad, Leila Al-Shami. She explains how peaceful protests descended into the deadliest war of our time, and we learn what it’s like to survive that, and escape, but still be haunted by Syria. Plus comedian Dave Hill leaves a voicemail on the White House answering machine.
Maeve and Alexis Coe (host of Presidents Are People Too!) co-host a special episode about the immigration policies of our first, last and current president. They head to Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation, to reflect on what Washington and the founding fathers envisioned this country could be. All men were equal? Except slaves forced to move from Africa and indentured servants sent from Europe. And, by chance, they come across an anti-hate gathering. Back in the studio, Carl Lipscombe with the Black Alliance for Just Immigration explains Obama’s immigration legacy and Palestinian-American comedian, Mo Amer, tells the bonkers story of how he got an inside scoop on the Muslim registry from sitting beside Eric Trump on a transatlantic flight. Eugene Mirman comes through with the details of the kompramat the Russians have on the President.
Maeve plays matchmaker with Mona, but things don’t go as planned. We get a first-hand look at what it’s like to be a Muslim immigrant dating in the shadow of the ban. Our spirits are lifted by Nalina in Jersey City describing her arranged marriage 33 years ago in India. Nessia moves to Crown Heights from Canada to find her love match - a Hasidic Jew with a Country-Western flare. And Minori from Japan is tired of guys who just want one night stands, and finally gets her meet-cute in an NYC Starbucks. Nao and Shiraz are tying the knot at City Hall, hoping their strength as a couple will help them through the next four years. These stories bring light and laughter to dark days for immigration in the US.
As confusion reigns, we document what’s happening right now, speaking to Iranian-Canadians, Pakistani-Americans and also, a Russian, all demonstrating against the ban and we get immigrants’ reactions to this new reality. Maeve also introduces a couple of our Season 2 guests, including a Syrian asylum seeker who’s trying to quit smoking, and an undocumented Mexican man who tells the absolute best stories.
For the season finale, Maeve follows Dan-el Padilla Peralta on a journey to rival Odysseus; from an undocumented child living in homeless shelters in New York City to a Classics professor at an Ivy League college, she learns of his continued fight to become a legal resident of the United States. Plus, data from the always fresh Mona Chalabi and sage wisdom from Define Americans’ Jose Antonio Vargas. Jeff Sessions looms large, with his infamous 2006 words from the Senate Floor still booming today. Oh, and Maeve forces a reluctant robot to do her dirty work.
In an historical love story for the ages, Maeve flies over the Atlantic, ferries to Ellis Island and wanders around the Lower East Side - all in search of our guest today, Annie Moore. Well, the ghost of Annie Moore, the first immigrant through Ellis Island in January 1892. There are parallels and shadows of Annie’s story in so many immigrant stories, including Maeve’s. Like, Annie married a German man who worked in a bakery, and Maeve’s favorite place to meet guys is in bakeries. This episode is funny and fascinating, but it’s sobering too - as we hear the echoes of anti-immigrant attacks get louder and louder.
The last time Maeve went to an aquarium, she fainted. This time, with the big-hearted aquaponics farmer Yemi Amu by her side, she totally looked at a fish and stayed conscious! Yemi was a high achieving school-girl in Lagos, Nigeria who came to New York and had to start over, helping her dad at his janitor’s job, learning to deal with some strange ideas Americans had about Africans, and figuring out how to overcome an eating disorder on her own. Mona Chalabi tries to talk Maeve into finding her a husband, and a security guard interrupts a night time ice-cream raid.
Maeve whisks us around the city and checks in with immigrants from all over the world to see how everybody is preparing for the holidays. We meet a group of Trinidadians having a Kwanzaa feast, we crash a Mexican Posada and hear from Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani, who shares his memories of Eid celebrations in Pakistan and his love of dessert days here in the U.S. - that’s a tradition he invented where you have dessert for every meal. We glimpse some Diwali lights still glittering across Queens as an Israeli couple delight in the freedom of Hanukkah away from home. And Kavita Pawria Sanchez, the assistant Commissioner at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, plays Two Truths and a Lie with us.
A special live comedy show hosted by Maeve, featuring Eugene Mirman, Mehran Khaghani, Josie Long, Todd Barry, Jon Ronson, Joel Kim Booster, Tanael Joachim and Mike Birbiglia. Maeve in America raised the roof at the Bell House in Brooklyn to benefit INARA, an organization that helps Syrian children. Plus: Backstage interviews with the comedians exploring their own immigration stories.
Maeve speaks with Amy Mihyang Ginther, an assistant professor, a Korean adoptee and performer, who shares her story of moving to America as a tiny baby and her journey back to Korea two decades later to meet her birth mother. Plus: Mona and Maeve share their collective guilt about not speaking Arabic and Irish, we hear about the sad and strange tale of Adam Crapser and an adoption gone awry; and the hilarious comedian Joel Kim Booster processes his story through jokes. Oh! Spoiler alert. Maeve’s double life as a giant Irish doll is revealed.
Maeve meets Nayyef Hrebid: an Iraqi translator whose wartime service necessitated a Special Immigrant Visa to the US. Nayyef shares the terrible dangers facing the LGBT community in Iraq, his intimate story of finding love in a warzone, and how he fought through years of frustrating setbacks to keep that love intact. Mona Chalabi is back with the numbers, and an attorney in an inexplicable pair of New Balance warns the US not to ghost on on the local people who’ve served.
Food is the thing, according to comedian Naomi Ekperigin, a Harlem native with Jewish in-laws who needs a day to recover after their epic dinners. But Maeve has a fuzzy idea that Thanksgiving started in the old days, when everyone made friends? But there’s got to be more to this story of happy Pilgrims and helpful Native Americans, right? Right. A Native American attorney explains why Thanksgiving is a bittersweet occasion for him. Then, back to food of course, we find out about San Francisco cops that deliver meals to Chinese seniors, and finally Grace Young stir-fries a treat for Maeve under the watchful eye of Huggy the cat.
Maeve grapples with perhaps the hottest topic of Trump’s USA, immigration. More importantly, she meets Roz Koo: business woman, activist, and professional butt-kicker of the highest order. Roz recounts a childhood in occupied Shanghai, a high flying career in 1980s San Francisco, and a bold life of service that merges two countries into one.
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