Sweet Valley Diaries
By Marissa Flaxbart
To listen to an audio podcast, mouse over the title and click Play. Open iTunes to download and subscribe to podcasts.
After years of wide-eyed blogging about the surreal 1980s perfection of Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley High book series (and the surprising psychodrama that lurks below the town's perfectly-tanned surface), host Marissa Flaxbart is now forcing friends and family to read the series with her. Every other week, Marissa and a new guest – many of whom are new to the very idea of a "Sweet Valley" – unpack one of these soap-operatic tales, starting with book #1. It's all good fun for both die-hard fans and new blood...but watch out, because nostalgia can get ROUGH.
||ExplicitExtra Drama #17: Natural and Unnatural Disasters||Marissa and guest Jeremy talk about the diverse lessons of LOVE LETTERS, from "be yourself," to "once you have a boyfriend everything will be okay," to "San Francisco is a cesspool." To top it off, Marissa reads a love letter of her own...kind of....||10/18/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #17: LOVE LETTERS||My Dearest Caroline, Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken! What had I on earth to do With the slothful, with the mawkish, the unmanly? Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless, did I drivel —Being—who? Your fake boyfriend, that's who!...||10/11/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitExtra Drama #16: What Older Men Are Like||Guest Mike Yarksy returns for a little bit of sensitive discussion of how we portray disability...and a little bit of ragging on Lila's stupid flat face. Stay tuned till the end for a word from our new sponsor, THE BOSTON SHOP!||10/4/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #16: RAGS TO RICHES||Fate has forced Roger Barrett to trade his mother's life for a fancy new last name, a fancy new mansion, and a fancy pile of money. Meanwhile, his girlfriend (frizzy haired Olivia Davidson) is feeling SO NOT money, and Jessica is giving Machiavelli a...||9/27/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #15: What is Art? (No, Seriously)||"What you put on paper can be very personal and revealing...that's what art is all about. It's a way of communicating." When Jason made this innocuous statement to Betsy in Sweet Valley High #15, PROMISES, he had no idea that over 30 years later two...||9/20/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSweet Valley Diaries #15: PROMISES||Cancer, death, secrets, Luke Skywalker, alcoholism, teen drug use, threesomes at Miller's Point...and that's just Chapter One! Marissa is joined by guest Kali Baker-Johnson to unpack what PROMISES to be the greatest SVH book yet...or at the very...||9/13/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitExtra Drama #14: It's Hard to Get||Speaking of DECEPTIONS: When is telling a dude you don't want to date him secretly a coded message that you DO want to date him? And is it NEVER? Marissa and guest Elizabeth Yarwood consider and fail to answer this question, then read a delightful...||9/6/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #14: DECEPTIONS||After several weeks of non-stop crisis in Sweet Valley, Marissa returns to the relatively placid territory of bad decisions and new boy problems (Nicholas Morrow, to be exact). But as guest Elizabeth Yarwood can attest, sometimes it’s the seemingly...||8/30/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitExtra Drama #13: Tactlessness & Corrupted Superpowers||Marissa and guest Mischa Stanton eavesdrop on an upsetting conversation between Jessica Wakefield and Cara Walker, then travel in their mental time machines back to the days before cell phone ubiquity.||8/23/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #13: KIDNAPPED!||Q: What happens when you’ve just published a book about impending girlfriend death and every fiber of your writerly being says, “Can we go darker?” A: “KIDNAPPED!” Marissa is joined by accomplished podcast producer Mischa Stanton (in...||8/16/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #12: OMG [Spoiler] is [Spoiler]!||Katie LaDue joins Marissa once again, this time to examine WHEN LOVE DIES (and a few of the Sweet Valley boys therein) through a new lens. All I can say is SPOILERS SPOILERS SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL SPOILERS! BEWARE! Marissa's Initial Take on SVC...||8/9/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #12: WHEN LOVE DIES||This is what it sounds like...when love dies. Sweet Valley High goes full soap opera and Marissa talks through the pain with teen television drama aficionado Katie LaDue. Oh, and file this one under "Very Special Episodes" because the topic of facing...||8/2/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #11: Two GOOD Two BE Two||Are modern day teens woke enough to laugh at Suzanne Devlin? Were 12-year-old readers in the '80s indoctrinated into the grand tradition of victim-blaming and rape culture? Does Jessica Wakefield know what sex is? Marissa and guests William J....||7/26/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #11: TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE||It's the premiere of Season 2 of Sweet Valley Diaries! Let's celebrate by shipping Jessica to New York and getting beloved teacher Roger Collins fired for unspecified sex crimes! Don't panic, everyone. Marissa and her guests, William J. Stribling and...||7/19/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSuper Edition #1: PERFECT SUMMER||Technically summer doesn't start until next week, but here at the Diaries, summer break is in full effect...and it's PERFECT. In this special between-seasons episode Marissa and guest-friend Alex Bishop dig into the series' first SPECIAL EDITION...||6/14/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #10: "Wrong Kind of Girl: The Musical!"||In this final episode of Season One, Marissa uses the power of the internet to call guest Mary Parker in Boston, and they BOTH use the power of imagination to invent several possible stage adaptations of the comitragic saga of Annie Whitman and...||4/19/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #10: WRONG KIND OF GIRL||It's the final main episode of Season 1, and we've come full circle. This is the tale of a wannabe cheerleader with a bad reputation that started Marissa's obsession with Sweet Valley High lo, those many years ago. Mary Parker was there to see that...||4/12/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #9: Memories of Valle Dulce High||Marissa is joined once again by her dad, Don Flaxbart, and she's steering him straight down Memory Lane. Was high school in the 1960s Southwestern US anything like that Sweet Valley High life?||4/5/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanSweet Valley Diaries #9: RACING HEARTS||So you love Ned Wakefield's dad jokes? We'll do you one better: a real life dad! Marissa's own actual father, the wise and weird Don Flaxbart, joins shares his thoughts and insights on this, the first "teenage romance of any kind" that he's ever read...||3/29/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #8: Relevant Surf Terms||Outtakes, b-roll, and real talk about the actually important moral of HEART BREAKER. Marissa is joined once more by former youth body-surfing competitor Russ Nickel, who points out all the dad jokes in the book and reads some favorite passages.||3/22/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #8: HEART BREAKER||Now that all that coma/personality swap/assault unpleasantness is behind us, let’s get back to what really matters in Sweet Valley: the beach, boys, and miscommunications involving suntan lotion. Marissa is joined by Russ Nickel, funny guy, writer,...||3/15/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #7: DEAR Fictional '80s Highschooler||We’ve read about fictional 1980s highschoolers, but what is it like to play one on TV?! Alex Jennings, who plays Carla on ABC’s The Goldbergs, is uniquely equipped to answer this question. But mostly we just talk about dry shampoo, what it would...||3/8/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #7: DEAR SISTER||In this tearful conclusion to the Sweet Valley High series, Elizabeth stays in a coma forever…PSYCH! But seriously, has Elizabeth awoken only to find that the events of DEAR SISTER are a fate worse than death? Actress Alex Jennings and Marissa give...||3/1/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #6: Let's Try Something DANGEROUS||What's more dramatic than a dramatic reading? Just to keep us all on our toes, here's something new: an impromptu audio drama rendition of the final paragraphs of Book 6, DANGEROUS LOVE – the very paragraphs that lead up to our ultra gargantuan...||2/22/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #6: DANGEROUS LOVE||Strap on your hot pink crash helmet! Just after Valentine’s Day comes a tale to warm the heart and then chill it so fast that it bursts and ruins your freezer. Pop culture lover and all-around funny gal Denise Boylan joins Marissa to unpack this...||2/15/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #5: More Like ALL NIGHT WRONG!||#TIMESUP, Scott Daniels! Guests Jess and Brian Reece talk with Marissa about consent, Encyclopedia Brown, and fan mail(!!!).||2/8/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #5: ALL NIGHT LONG||What happens when Jessica Wakefield defies her parents and stays out ALL NIGHT LONG with a sleazy, pornstachioed college guy? No, seriously, I'm asking YOU: What happens??! Listen in as Marissa and her guests, Jess and Brian Reece, enumerate the many...||2/1/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #4: Lila Fowler Drives a Lime Green Triumph.||When did class snob Lila Fowler become the generous type? Why is Jessica Wakefield suddenly draped in old lady luxury from "Lila's Aunt"? Who does that bitchy clerk at Lisette's think she is? Marissa dials up her BFF Mary Kate Battles again to discuss..||1/25/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #4: POWER PLAY||Yes, it's THAT book. The one where Robin Wilson is publicly shamed, doesn't get into PBA, retreats inward, starves herself, loses a million pounds, and then becomes fun and popular. High school BFFs Marissa and her guest, photographer Mary Kate...||1/18/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitExtra Drama #3: He's STEALING Her WIND!||The "S" word ("Sex") isn't a part of the Sweet Valley High vocabulary, but in this bonus conversation, Marissa and her guest, film scholar Caitlin McCann, cover lots of tricky s-words: Sex, Slut Shaming, and Subtext. Sooooo Scandalous!||1/11/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #3: PLAYING WITH FIRE||Sweet Valley's two biggest players (Jessica Wakefield and Bruce Patman) are burning hot and heavy for each other, and the fire is only 37% contained. Be careful out there, kids! Marissa is joined by media scholar Caitlin McCann to give this serious...||1/4/2018||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #2: Keeper of the Sweet Valley SECRETS!||Marissa interviews her guest Adaora about what it was like reading about the Wakefields et al from across the continents. Together, they consider: Is Enugu the Sweet Valley of Nigeria?||12/28/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #2: SECRETS||Marissa is joined by filmmaker (and Sweet Valley aficionado!) Adaora Nwandu to discuss the past sins and present bad boyfriends of Enid Rollins, Elizabeth Wakefield's best friend. All secrets from Sweet Valley High Book #2 will be revealed!||12/21/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanExtra Drama #1: DOUBLE LOVE's Double Standard!||“Is Dad having an affair with his female coworker? She’s an attractive woman, right? So…probably.” - Every Wakefield Child Marissa and her guests Kat and Selah vent about this and other Book 1 B-Stories.||12/14/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitSweet Valley Diaries #1: DOUBLE LOVE||“Share the continuing story of the Wakefield twins and their friends – their laughter, heartaches, and dreams.”||12/7/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||ExplicitIntro to Sweet Valley Diaries: THE TEASE||What is the Sweet Valley Diaries Podcast anyway?||12/7/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
Sweet Valley rides again
Marissa is one of the best podcast hosts I have ever listened to. She’s very cool and she doesn’t hesitate to be funny or cutting as required.
Decent podcast, worth a listen. Both fun and nostalgic of the books I read as a kid in the 80s and 90s.
Where have these books been all my life?
I stumbled across this podcast over the summer, binge listened to the entire first season, and not so patiently waited for new episodes to premiere. As someone who missed the craze surrounding these books due to being a 90s baby, this was the perfect introduction to the series, and it left me wanting to know more. I'm getting ready to do some binge reading so I can catch up to the podcast and then read along with Marissa Flaxbart and her various guests as they dive into the beautiful insanity that is Sweet Valley High. I honestly can't recommend this podcast enough. Flaxbart makes the perfect host because while she's not afraid to shy away from talking about the problematic bits of this series, her humor and her critiques are the perfect fit, and they help to show why these books are so enthralling. Whether you've been a fan of the series for years or are a new reader like me, anyone who loves the cheesy goodness of a crazy teen drama will love this podcast.