Penn Jillette Is An Atheist, And Judy Gold's Girlfriend Hears Alllllllll About It

Turn seventeen, Penn. And tell your kids to quit being so rude during Shabbos dinner, damn.

Our Players

Hello, I'm West Coast Editor Tara Ariano.
Hello, I'm East Coast Editor Sarah D. Bunting.

The Talk

I didn't expect much from the Judy Gold/Penn Jillette episode of Celebrity Wife Swap, honestly. I thought it would be fairly inoffensive. I was not correct!
Here is the thing about being an atheist in real life: it's okay if you say it once, and then people hear you and it's an established fact on the record. Apparently it's not possible to be a celebrity atheist without TALKING ABOUT IT CONSTANTLY. Yes, this is a Christian nation; yes, especially in the hours after the Hobby Lobby decision it's impossible to argue that people's religious beliefs can and often do screw people over. But someone should tell Penn Jillette and Bill Maher and Ricky Gervais that the rest of us got over the "subversive" thrill of declaring our atheism in our junior year of high school.
THANK you. Emily's passing utterance of "thank no God" totally wasn't passing at all, but very pointed -- and affected. I also get that it's weird to have an observant person in your house for a week, but it's Wife Swap, so maybe prepare yourself -- and your children -- for a single damn dinner that involves a prayer before it but isn't invasive as to ritual. They will have to deal with this sort of thing in the future, and knowing how to do it politely without subscribing to it is a part of life. Not that Elisa couldn't have done a better job explaining what might make it special on the non-faith tip, but maybe after Zolten whined nonstop about riding a bike, she had nothing left.
If I were Elisa, the moment the kids started talking gibberish back to her during the blessing would have been it -- not because of the religious aspect, because obviously she knows how reality TV works and that this whole segment was 98% for the purpose of drama creation as opposed to her trying to create a nice moment, but because those kids were being assholes and Penn was egging them on. The kids have an excuse to act immature; he doesn't. (And Emily's description of him as her third child: not cute.)
Yeah, his comment at the end that the kids are "old enough now" for him to participate in the dirty work of actually spending time with them is quite telling. No wonder Emily's so rigidly organized; he doesn't help her AT ALL. And, look: "sitting and reading is better"? I agree! The man has "reading quarters" in his home? A-plus life management! You know what's not for this person, perhaps? Children.
It's kind of amazing how many parents agree to come on this show when they have to know that it's going to make it obvious to America how little they actually participate in/enjoy parenting, and I agree, Penn Jillette is definitely among them. I was with him about the stupidity and pointlessness of sports too (duh), but...teach your kids to ride bikes. That's not a sport, it's a life skill. I know that hideous mansion had to have a pool and I hope he wasn't so married to his anti-sports stance to have taught them to swim.
Right? It's riding bikes, not lacrosse. I guess since they live in the middle of Area 51 or whatever the kids don't exactly have a bunch of other cul-de-sac friends to ride bikes with, but: not the point. Of course, another plank in that "think about how your parenting is going to look on TV, and realize that maybe it's time to make a couple changes" platform is the "let's be friends with the kids and not require shit from them because it's easier" parent. If I'd pulled a Henry and not showed up where I was supposed to at that age, I'd still be in my room -- and I grew up in Mayberry, NJ.
Holy balls, me too. And given what I know about Judy Gold just from having heard her on podcasts, I was kind of shocked that her reaction was basically "[shrug]." This is not a lady who has a difficult time expressing herself. Often in a screech. And I like her! I don't care whether Henry is argumentative: all the more reason to keep him in line at home before he goes out into the world to try that shit and get punched for it.
And in an apartment that small, trust me, being laissez-faire about towels on the floor is going to turn shit mushroomy in a hurry.
I couldn't live in that kind of disorder, and those boys have been old enough to pick up after themselves for the better part of a decade, so: not okay. Here's something I liked about the episode, just to change it up: how matter-of-factly it treated the fact that Elisa and Judy are a couple. No big deal to you or me or libertarian Penn or the majority of sensible TV-viewing adults in this country, but five years ago it would have had to be A Thing, and here it was not a big deal at all.
It's interesting that you point that out, because sometimes I forget that anyone still cares in a bad way about that stuff. Certainly I didn't think Penn would blink, and of course he didn't. I liked a couple things about the episode too, like Judy's new Inspector Gadget bedroom/study set-up...and whatever child was at the crafting party and said, "This is so magical right here!" It was very nerdy and cute.
And the boys coming to Judy's show with flowers, aw. They're not total monsters. Though I would have liked to see in the postscript that they were still cleaning their rooms. Crack the whip, moms, damn!
I can let that go on the theory that Judy's like, let's let this one go to college and fight with his roommate about it; we can start over with the other one when he's gone.
Sarah. You are wise. You should have kids!
Sorry, I can't hear you from way inside my reading quarters.


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