Transcript #526


MuggleCast 526 Transcript


Transcript for MuggleCast Episode #526, In Defense of Slytherin House

Show Intro

[Show music plays]

Andrew Sims: Welcome to MuggleCast, your weekly ride into the wizarding world fandom. I’m Andrew.

[elongated pause]

Micah Tannenbaum: I’m Micah.

Laura Tee: Am I’m Laura.

Andrew: I was like, “Is my Internet already busted?” [laughs]

Laura: Nope, we were waiting for Eric.

Micah: Between last week where I had to be like, “and I’m Micah,” and this week now I have to go second, I’m just all messed up.

[Andrew and Laura]

Andrew: Poor Micah. On today’s episode, we are going to do a deep dive into Slytherin House to discuss its history, legacy, and whether or not we think there can be a defense of Hogwarts’s bad House. This is actually the first half of a two-part series where we defend the Hogwarts Houses who catch the most flak in fandom; you can guess which House we are tackling next week. And to help us with today’s discussion, we’re joined by Tylor Starr. Tylor is a longtime member of the Harry Potter fandom. He is president of the wizarding world-inspired animal rights nonprofit The Protego Foundation, and co-host of The Chickpeeps podcast with actress Evanna Lynch. Hi, Tylor. Welcome to the show.

Tylor Starr: Hey, everyone. So excited to be on my favorite Harry Potter podcast. Let’s do this. Let’s defend the best House. [laughs]

Andrew: Oh my gosh, that is very nice of you. We appeared on The Chickpeeps podcast a few months back; it was an honor and so much fun, and ever since then, we’ve been itching to have Tylor on. Tylor is a huge, huge, huge Harry Potter fan, and as you could tell, a friend of the show as well. And it was so great seeing you today because it’s been a while since we’ve spoken, so we’re so excited to have you here.

Tylor: I know. We’re almost out of this pandemic, hopefully. Maybe. We’ll see. [laughs]

Andrew: Hopefully maybe, yes indeed. And Eric, he was so disgusted with this idea of defending Slytherin House that he wanted to abstain from the episode, so we were like, “Tylor, come on in!”

Laura: Wow.

Andrew: I’m kidding about Eric. Eric didn’t feel that way.

Laura: Are you sure?

Micah: Not really.

Andrew: It was just a coincidence that he couldn’t make today’s episode.

Micah: Uh-huh.

Laura: Does somebody need to sit out for the Hufflepuff defense, then?

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Yeah, I was going to say, we should have flipped it on him. Actually, Tylor, we’re talking about Hufflepuff today. We didn’t tell Eric, so this is all a ruse.

Andrew: Oh no!

[Laura laughs]

Tylor: Sweet. Nice. Can’t wait.

[Andrew and Tylor laugh]

Andrew: But Tylor, there’s something else I wanted to bring up with you.

Tylor: Yeah, go.

Andrew: Ever since speaking with you I think on The Chickpeeps podcast – maybe that’s where we initially heard this – your favorite character in the Harry Potter series is Lord Voldemort. Please explain.

Tylor: Yeah. [laughs] I don’t know what it is, but I’ve just always been a fan of really well-written villains. And in my humble opinion – I know nothing about writing – but at least for me growing up, I’ve always found Voldemort to be a very compelling and kind of, I don’t know, persuasive villain, somebody who I could be like, “Whoa, okay, I can see why some people would go with him.” But I love Voldemort; I think his entire story, his backstory, how he was conceived, the emotions that he can and cannot feel… I think everything about him is just so well written, and that’s also why Half-Blood Prince is my favorite book, because that’s where we dive into Voldemort’s history and everything about that. But in addition to that, I also find that if the entire Harry Potter series is based on the idea that love really is the most powerful magic we have, Voldemort fills that role as the key antagonist, because his entire story and very existence gives us a peek into what that antithesis to that whole message even is. So I’m a big fan of the T-Riddle, and yeah, always will be.

Andrew: [laughs] Of the T-Riddle! I also have to observe that Tylor brought a wand to today’s recording, and he’s been brandishing it so far. Very nice touch. I think we need to do that. I don’t know why we haven’t.

Tylor: I can’t believe y’all don’t!

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: It seems like a no-brainer for us! What have we been thinking? And also, in case anybody didn’t realize, Tylor is in Slytherin House. That’s another big reason why we wanted to have him here today. So anyway, thank you for explaining that. Thank you for defending your love for T-Riddle, as you call him. [laughs]

Micah: Can we just borrow that and use that moving forward?

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: T-Riddle?

Tylor: Yeah, please. Take it. My small contribution to this wonderful show.

Laura: There you go.

Main Discussion: In defense of Slytherin House

Andrew: So Laura, you’re going to lead us through today’s discussion, actually, on Slytherin.

Laura: That’s right. Feels a little weird because I’m a Ravenclaw, but I like to think that Ravenclaws and Slytherins have quite a bit in common.

Tylor: Yep.

Laura: So I’m hoping that I do Slytherin House justice today. And I first wanted to say that I really love that we got to prime today’s conversation with Tylor’s take on why Voldemort is favorite character-worthy. It’s that level of nuance that I’m hoping we can carry into our main discussion about if we think there can be a defense of Slytherin House, and before we jump in, Micah, I was wondering if you could give us a reading from the Sorting Hat’s song in Book 1.

Micah: “Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means,
To achieve their ends.”

Laura: Perfect, thank you.

Micah: Minus the British accent. Sorry.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Yeah, that’s all right.

Andrew: You got the deep voice part right.

Laura: That’s the thing. I heard that there was some talk about having Micah maybe do ASMR on another podcast?

Tylor: Nice.

[Andrew laughs]

Tylor: I would subscribe for that.

Laura: I think a lot of people would.

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: But I do have a question for the panel about this passage: Do we feel this verse of the Sorting song sets Slytherins up to seem bad from the outset? Or do we think that our interpretations as readers were already set because of meeting Draco Malfoy before this?

Andrew: Ooh.

Tylor: Good question.

Andrew: I think Draco definitely played a role. There aren’t many opportunities to be told that there’s a lot of good people within Slytherin. In terms of the word “cunning,” too, I think if you look at just this little section right here, possibly the worst word you could find here is “cunning.” And maybe people don’t think too far into it, so they just add up all the pieces and there’s a bad picture being painted here.

Micah: I would say even worse than that are the two words – or three words, actually – “use any means.” That gives you a pretty good insight into who they are going to ultimately become.

Tylor: See, I have a bit of a different reaction when I see this part of the song, and I think the two worst words, or worst-seeming words, in this little passage are “real friends.” It sets up the reader to think, “Oh, Slytherins are surrounded by people who are fake friends, but within their own House they have their real friends, so what are they doing with these fake friends?” And it kind of plays up the idea of using someone, right? That’s how I’ve always read that part of the song as, like, “Ah, real friends; that’s the bad part.” And throughout the entire Harry Potter… well, at least this first book, right? I subscribe to the idea that the author was going through and she was very much like, “Oh, I just have to have a bad House. I have to have the bad guys of the story, because this is going to be a kid’s book, right? There aren’t going to be a lot of deep adult themes, so we just need a bad guy.” But hopefully, as we’ll go through the rest of the books in this discussion… but I think she had to pull back on that idea, and so when we get this song, it’s like, “Oh, I’m setting this up as this is the bad House. These are the bad guys.” And then she walks it back a little bit. And anyway, I think the terms “real friends” are the sketchy ones.

Laura: It’s so interesting you say that because when I read that, I get some of that, but it also makes me think of isolation, and it makes me feel like the Sorting Hat here is setting Slytherin up to be the odd man out, as it were. Like, yeah, these are the good Houses, they all have varying different degrees of quality that you can quibble about amongst yourselves, but this is definitely the one that sticks out. It’s the odd one in the bunch. So I feel like the Sorting Hat is in a way setting Slytherins up to seem like it’s either… it’s a protagonist or antagonist-like type view, depending on what you’re walking into that Sorting ceremony with, what your family’s background is, what information you’ve been provided with about the Hogwarts Houses… so you’re going to read into this exactly what you want to see. I actually think that’s kind of dangerous that the Sorting Hat does this.

[Andrew laughs]

Tylor: What a jerk.

Micah: And going back to what Andrew had said about the cunning part of it, I think that initially when you read it, you’re meant to think that cunning implies they’re tricksters and they’re going to do whatever is necessary in order to achieve their ends. But I think if you look at it after seven books, or even as a little bit older, you can look at it, “Well, they’re a bit more intellectual,” and looking at cunning as a little bit of a different definition than maybe when you read it for the first time.

Laura and Tylor: Yeah.

Laura: Well, and we know that originally the founders were all great friends; the Sorting Hat tells us about this in the Sorting song in Order of the Phoenix, but that Slytherin’s preference for Hogwarts to only accept students from pure-blood wizarding families ultimately drove this particular core four apart. Andrew, I’m wondering if you could read this passage from the Sorting Hat song in Book 5.

“And at last there came a morning
When old Slytherin departed
And though the fighting then died out,
He left us quite downhearted
And never since the founders four
Were whittled down the three
Have the Houses been united
As they once were meant to be.”

Laura: So obviously, the big legacy here for Slytherin that hangs over everything is his preference for only educating pure-blood wizards, and I think oftentimes, it causes discussions about Slytherin House to boil down to: Are they prejudiced or are they not prejudiced? And I’m wondering if there might be a little more nuance in this conversation in thinking about this. I think it goes without saying that there’s no context that justifies prejudice, but I also wonder if there could have been an additional layer in there somewhere that influenced Slytherin beyond his bigotry. So a common theory I’ve heard is that perhaps due to persecution of magical peoples by Muggles during the time, that might explain Slytherin’s preference, but I wanted to get y’all’s thoughts.

Tylor: I love this theory so much because to me, there are certain parts of both Grindelwald and Voldemort that I really do think is right in a certain way. Not dominance or ruling over Muggles and Muggle-born witches and wizards, but this idea that wizards in and of themselves are somewhat an oppressed class of people, right? They are living in shadow on purpose because they had to put in effect the International Statute of Secrecy to go into hiding and defend their people and protect their people from Muggle persecution that was happening. This fear that Muggles have of magic and of this ability that they don’t have has caused an entire class of people to hide within the shadows of our everyday lives, and I do think that there is something to be said about this idea of breaking free as a magical person and living your authentic life not in hiding, right? Why should they be so hidden away because of this fear and this persecution that has plagued the wizarding community for for decades, maybe even centuries? I love the idea that Salazar Slytherin was at one point maybe even a good person and had this idea, but through the retelling of this story, a giant game of telephone, and then with the introduction of the International Statute of Secrecy, that the wizarding community has viewed him as bad and painted him as this bigot. Now, there’s something to be said about whether or not there really are portraits of the Hogwarts founders within Hogwarts and that kind of thing, and whether that does capture who he is, because then you could get a sense of what he does truly believe. But I love this theory, and I wish that we could get a little bit more of that expansion and think about it as in maybe he was at one point really just trying to protect witches, wizards, and magical people.

Laura: Yeah, I think it’s possible, or maybe not, but at the end of the day we just don’t know. And what I find so fascinating about this discussion is if we think about it in a real world context, bigots and racists, they’re not born. You don’t spring into existence that way, right? Those are taught philosophies and ideologies, so presumably Slytherin must have gotten it from somewhere; we just don’t know where it was.

Micah: Yeah, and I wonder, too, how much of his own experience created this mindset? So going off what you were saying, Tylor, did he have any of his own personal experiences in his life with the Muggle community that made him adopt that type of philosophy? I’m also thinking about in the Fantastic Beasts series with Dumbledore, did a lot of his philosophy originate out of the fact that his sister was attacked by Muggles? So it may seem like a layer of protection that they’re trying to implement as opposed… or just something that grows into something that’s a little bit stronger than just the initial protection, right? It becomes this bias, it becomes this prejudice, and that’s when I think we see it as being taken as a step too far. But yeah, I definitely would have never even looked at it that way, so I like the fact that Laura, you and Tylor framed it in that context.

Andrew: Yeah. There’s no doubt that Muggles look down upon the idea of magic, right? So if we know that to be true, and we know to be true that Salazar wanted wizards to live openly, or just simply live and be accepted, then this theory can make sense.

Laura: Absolutely. I mean, people are more complicated than just you were born good or born bad, right? It’s interesting because that tends to be the rabbit hole we go down when we’re talking about Voldemort, like, is Voldemort’s issue nature versus nurture? And that’s a separate line of conversation, but at the same time, I think is one that we will see with some of the prominent Slytherins that we discuss a little bit later. I also wanted to point out, just because I was doing a little bit of reading, and this may be something that’s common knowledge – it wasn’t something I was aware of, or it’s not something I’ve been made aware of recently – but apparently, a distant descendant of Slytherin’s was one of the founders of Ilvermorny.

Andrew: Oh. I don’t know if I was aware of that.

Laura: Isolt…

Micah: Sayre?

Tylor: Oh, right.

Laura: Sayre, yeah, that’s the name. And I just think, again, it’s very interesting to point out that his legacy is not necessarily just his own, that there are other descendants and members of that family that have gone on to do great things.

Andrew: [imitating Ollivander] “Terrible, but great.”

[Micah laughs]

Laura: And she actually married a Pukwudgie.

Andrew: Oh!

Laura: If we’re assuming that Pukwudgies are the American equivalent of Hufflepuffs. There you go.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: More proof.

Tylor: And she was a Parselmouth too.

Laura: Ah, yeah.

Tylor: She was able to speak to that horned serpent. God, I completely forgot about all the Ilvermorny canon. I did want to also bring up how this whole situation is presented to us as the reader when it comes to Muggles, right? In the Harry Potter canon we’re taught the International Statute of Secrecy was brought about because wizard persecution, all these things, so we have this in our heads that “Hey, Muggles really, really, really hated the wizarding community.” And then we get Tales of Beedle the Bard and we get the story of the Wizard and the Hopping Pot, where the local community is literally begging for help. They don’t know that the person who’s helping them is a wizard, of course, but in the story, the son is walking down the street curing ails left and right, freely doing magic, but doing magic for good. And so I always find that that contrast between all the good that the wizarding community has done or could have done for the Muggle community, and the persecution that they face at the hands of the Muggle community, to be a really, really fun and nuanced and really invigorating conversation.

Laura: Well, I wanted to shift focus to… about 50… well, 50% of our panel today are Slytherins, which is great.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Andrew, I know in particular, you’re a Slytherin convert.

Andrew: Yes, I am.

Laura: So I’m wondering if you can tell us about why you switched Houses, and then Tylor, if you have something you’d like to add about your realization of what makes you a Slytherin, we’d love to hear that too.

Andrew: Yeah, so I started as a Gryffindor because it’s where you want to go; you want to be in Harry’s House and the trio’s House, so I think I just went there. And I think Pottermore told me Gryffindor, and I was pleased that Pottermore agreed with what I had thought all these years. But then come 2016; I was coming out of a multi-year relationship, and 2016 was also ending and 2017 – Micah is already laughing, I don’t know why, Micah – [laughs] 2017 was beginning, so I was entering a new year. I was like, “You know, my relationship’s over. New year, new me. You know what? I want to break free of the rules. I want a change of scene. I want to feel bad.” So I joined Slytherin and…

Micah: But bad in a good way. Like, baaad.

Andrew: Bad in a good way. Like, badass.

Tylor: Oh, okay. I was like, “Oh!”

Andrew: Yeah. And then I killed four people.

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: No, I wanted to feel like a badass. Slytherin is cool. It feels cool to be a part of. So I just wanted a change of scene. So I literally… I remember the exact moment I decided to change my House. I was at the Wizarding World in Hollywood and I saw that Slytherin crewneck sweater and I was like, [snaps fingers] “That’s cool. I’m in.” [laughs]

Laura: That’s me.

Micah: So it was the sweater that did it.

Andrew: It was the sweater that did it. No, but you start… so that was really it for me. It was kind of just a fun change. But then I started thinking about it more; like we mentioned a few minutes ago, Slytherins are cunning. I feel that way. Slytherins are also described as clever and resourceful and determined. Check, check, check. These are things that I am, and I’m not perfect; trust me, I’m extremely flawed, but I really identify with some of the leading traits of Slytherin, and so… and even the one “a certain disregard for the rules,” as Dumbledore put it, as he heard about Salazar. [laughs]

Micah: Yeah, you’re such a rule breaker, let me tell you.

Andrew: I really can be, though. I really can be. Of course, I’m not about to go into that. I have never broken the law, for the record.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: But sometimes I step around the rules a little bit to get things done.

Laura: You step around the law.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: So can we expect another change of House post-pandemic when you’re coming out of another big moment?

Andrew: [laughs] Not a breakup, though, right? Is that what you’re…?

Micah: No, no, no. Post-pandemic, like you got through the pandemic; you’re feeling… I don’t know, Hufflepuffy. [laughs]

Tylor: Like you’ve just emerged from your den?

Laura: There you go.

Micah: Got a tray of cookies or something.

Laura: Be like, “Yeah, I just want to bake some goods and make some friends. I think I’ll be a Hufflepuff now.”

Andrew: [laughs] No, yeah, I don’t think… I don’t see myself changing Houses again, unless I run into a really cool new piece of apparel at a Wizarding World theme park. [laughs]

Laura: There we go.

Andrew: Just to close this out, I want to say despite the story about the sweater, I’m very proud to be a part of Slytherin House. I really feel like I am a Slytherin.

Tylor: Good. We’re proud to have you.

Laura: What about you, Tylor?

Tylor: Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always identified as Slytherin. And I think once you get past the idea that we’re experiencing the wizarding world and the story through Harry’s eyes, so we’re not going to get every little bit of what it truly means to be a character in that House, once you get past that and you see Slytherin for what it is, a House that values ambition, determination, cunningness, staying true to the people who are important to you, that I think will start to resonate with a lot more people. Once you get past that hurdle of “Slytherin are the bad guys,” that surface-level understanding of it, you really do see that Slytherin has some really, really great qualities, and I saw that right away when I started. In this fandom back in 2000 was the idea that Slytherin is just ambitious, and that’s always been the one key trait about myself about others that I value the most is ambition, the desire to want to do something, and there’s no House that does it better than Slytherin, so I’ve been a very proud Slytherin ever since the beginning of this fandom.

Laura: That’s awesome. So for you it was more being able to maybe look past some of the greater interpretations about Slytherins and what it meant to be a Slytherin, and you were able to see a positive side of it. Andrew just wanted to be a badass.

Tylor: Yeah, exactly.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: He just wanted the sweater.

Tylor: Andrew wanted the leather jacket.

Andrew: [laughs] But I do see the positives now. I do.

Laura: Yeah, no, I’m just teasing.

Micah: Well, I mean, while we’re on the topic, when I did the Pottermore quiz, I was a Hatstall between Ravenclaw and Slytherin, so…

Tylor: Nice.

Andrew: But you had identified with Ravenclaw prior to taking that quiz, right?

Micah: I did.

Andrew: That’s why you picked it, okay. I wonder what would have happened if it was proposing either like, Gryffindor or Slytherin. Which would you have chosen?

Micah: Hmm. Slytherin.

Laura: Ooh.

Andrew: Oh, you would’ve?

Tylor: Good. There you go.

Laura: I think I would make the same choice, honestly.

Tylor: I always take those Sorting Hat tests that give you the percentage breakdown afterwards, that super, really long one, and for me, Slytherin was like, 98%.

Andrew: Whoa.

Tylor: It was huge. And then I took it another time and it was a little more even, but even between Slytherin and the next House, Ravenclaw, it was a good 40 point difference between the two.

Micah: Wow.

Andrew: Interesting. I need to take one of those.

Micah: Now that you say that, do you think that Ravenclaws would lean more towards being in Slytherin and Hufflepuffs more towards Gryffindor?

Laura: I think so.

Tylor: 100%.

Laura: Yeah, like I said at the top of the episode, I feel like there’s quite a bit of overlap between Ravenclaw and Slytherin in terms of the qualities that make them who they are, make the House what it is anyway. I do want to address the elephant in the room with both of you, though: Neither of you are prejudiced people, but Slytherins are often stereotyped as being blood purists and prejudiced themselves. We do see examples of Slytherins who are not, but I think it’s fair to say the vast majority of the ones that we spend a lot of time with in the books are. So what do you make of this? How do you reconcile not agreeing with that particular ideology but still being Slytherins yourselves?

Andrew: Yeah, when I think of encountering other Harry Potter fans and they tell me what House that they are in, and if they tell me Slytherin, for example, I never think of the bad things. I’m thinking of my House in the scope of the fandom, fellow Harry Potter fans, so I just focus on the good parts of it. Because we in the fandom, we’re deciding on our Hogwarts House to identify for each other’s amusement, to share for each other’s amusement what House we’re a part of. It’s a fun discussion topic. And I put all that aside; I put Salazar’s history aside and some of these other Slytherins aside and all the terrible things, and I’m just talking about it from a positive trait perspective. “I’m in Slytherin because of these reasons.”

Tylor: That’s real good. I take a different route, where when it was revealed that Merlin was a Slytherin, I would tell every single person, because I would tell people “I’m a Slytherin,” and they’re like, “Oh, you’re the bad guy.” I’m like, “No, what? What are you talking about? No, there are good people… let me find them, though.”

[Andrew laughs]

Tylor: And then when it was revealed that the greatest wizard to have ever existed, this great Merlin was a Slytherin, I was like, “Done. Ting. We win.” The best wizard in wizarding history, aside from Dumbledore and whatever, but this wizard who was so strongly revered as being the greatest being a Slytherin showed me that it really was… you could break out of those stereotypes. It isn’t so much that Slytherins are all prejudiced; it’s just that there are a lot of prejudiced people in Slytherin. And that the greatest wizard in wizarding history was a Slytherin, there has to be something more beneath that surface. So that’s what I would always tell people, is “Well, did you know the greatest wizard that ever existed, Merlin, was a Slytherin?” and they’re like, “Whoa!”

Andrew: [laughs] I love that.

Laura: Well, I feel like Slytherin also gets a lot of… I mean, obviously, for Salazar and his prejudices, this is warranted on him. But they get a lot of flack for the overarching theme of anti-Muggle discrimination, but I think what a lot of people forget is that there are people across all four Houses who discriminate on the basis of blood purity, but also your personhood. Like, if you’re a magical creature and not actually a wizard, plenty of people across all four Houses who discriminate on the basis of that, so this is a larger problem in the wizarding world. And I agree that while there are quite a few people in Slytherin who exhibit these tendencies, it’s unfair to say all Slytherins are racist, essentially.

Andrew: Right. Don’t get it twisted.

Tylor: [laughs] Don’t get it twisted.

Micah: One of the things that came to mind – and I think we mentioned this; it may have even been on the last episode – with respect to Slytherin is that all the Houses have some level of inherent bias. If you think about the Sorting Hat and how it’s essentially classifying all of the students within the school, there’s bias just inherently, whether you’re in Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin; it doesn’t really matter. It’s just that with respect to Slytherin, there happens to be essentially one or two wizards who have put a massive stain on the House, and they need to do some work to clean that stain up. But I think if we were to dig in the histories of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, we would probably find things that may be on the same level, or in some cases even worse than what we saw from some of those that were in Slytherin.

Laura: Yeah, that is such a good call-out because the other three founders bounded together against Slytherin based on his prejudice, which was the right thing to do, but it also means that… history is written by the victors, right? So there probably is a good chunk of history about the other founders that even in the wizarding world people would not be privy to, and chances of us being privy to it are, I would say, slim to none. So yeah, that’s absolutely a good call-out. And with that said, I’m wondering how much of Slytherin’s legacy should be used against current members of Slytherin House, particularly the ones who follow in his footsteps, thinking of the Book 2 Draco Malfoys of the world who are saying, “I’m so excited for the Basilisk to murder all the Mudbloods. I hope Hermione is next.” [laughs]

Micah: But – and people are probably not going to like that I’m going to say this – but Draco at the time is 12.

Laura: Yeah.

Andrew: I agree with that.

Micah: He probably finds it somewhat cool what’s happening and he doesn’t really understand the full impact of what it is that he’s saying. And I also thought about when he’s calling Hermione a Mudblood, does he really understand truly what that represents? And is he just saying it because it’s cool and it’s fun? Because I think if we look back, there are probably things that we’ve said in our younger years that would be offensive to some people, but we just thought it was funny or cool to say it in the moment because it made us look cool, or we thought it made us look cool.

Laura: It’s how he was raised, too.

Micah: Oh, absolutely.

Andrew: Yeah, he doesn’t know any other way. But in terms of the adults, we can compare them to Salazar in certain ways and look down upon them, because they do hold some of the values that he does as well. There’s less room to forgive a Bellatrix or a Lucius or any of these others who are very problematic and are full-grown adults. It would be one thing if Draco didn’t change. Draco did change.

Laura: Well, and I think people will tend to take characters from other Houses on a case by case basis. I mean, look at the Marauders; with the exception of Lupin, they were bullies, and people are willing to forgive that about them because they were kids when they were doing a lot of that. So I think it’s fair to say that someone like Draco Malfoy, who has shown over time that he was able to grow and overcome that ingrained prejudice – or at least work very, very hard to try and do so – I think that deserves recognition, absolutely.

Micah: Right, and don’t forget about Pettigrew either, who’s probably the best example of a Gryffindor turned bad. We tend not to think of Gryffindors as being evil, but certainly, Pettigrew would fit that category.

Laura: And to be honest, I feel like I see some Slytherin in Dumbledore too.

Tylor: Without a doubt. 100%.

Laura: Yeah. Nobody likes to talk about it, but Tylor, I get the sense you do.

[Andrew laughs]

Tylor: Oh, all the time. I always say that Dumbledore was mis-Sorted because he is a Slytherin at heart, 100%. I really do think that in addition to Dumbledore being a Slytherin, I think we should abandon this idea of defining the Houses based on the characters who are put in them, because I always like to bring up “Hey, if we’re going to do that, don’t forget Gilderoy Lockhart was a Ravenclaw.” Like, “Wow, what an awful dude that guy was.” And when we get down to what the actual traits are for each of the Houses, that’s what we should focus on, not “x person was in x House so therefore x House is bad” or anything like that. And I think it would have been a little bit of a credibility boost to have Dumbledore in Slytherin, but we can’t have everything.

Micah: You have Merlin.

Laura: You do have Merlin. That’s a pretty big one.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Tylor: That’s right. That’s right!

Andrew: Well, and this also goes back to the point of “Hogwarts Sorts too soon.” Yeah, Lockhart was a Ravenclaw when he was 11; he turned into a different person. We all change from when we were 11. We’ve no idea the type of person we are at 11.

Micah: I mean, you could make the argument, though, because intellect is often associated with Ravenclaws, you have to be a pretty smart person to do what he did and to hoodwink all of those people. That’s why I think there’s a scale for a lot of these Houses.

Andrew: Right, right.

Micah: Except Hufflepuff.

[Laura and Tylor laugh]

Laura: You’re just really teeing it up for the Hufflepuff discussion.

Micah: [laughs] For next week.

Tylor: Poor Eric.

Laura: Well, Micah, you put together a pretty comprehensive list of notable members of Slytherin House, and we’ve also broken some of those folks down based on some quotes to help define where they are if we’re thinking about Slytherin as a spectrum and we’re thinking about one end of it being the extreme Salazar Slytherin super prejudiced blood purist, to the other end of the spectrum, where it’s like, no, this is just a normal person who just so happens to be in Slytherin. So if you’d like to run us through the list, we can jump in with thoughts.

Micah: Yeah, should we start with Salazar Slytherin?

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Who?

Laura: I think we’ve covered him pretty well.

Micah: I think we know what end of the spectrum he is on.

Laura: Yes, I think so too. [laughs]

Micah: It’s hard to put Merlin on the spectrum, but let’s see just based on the information that we do have on him from Pottermore. Says that he was Sorted into Slytherin when he was at Hogwarts, and he went on to become one of the most famous wizards in history. The Order of Merlin, named to commemorate him, has been awarded since the 15th century, and legend has it the first Order of Merlin’s green ribbon reflects his Hogwarts House. So you don’t get a whole lot of information there on what kind of a person he was, but I’m open to suggestions here.

Laura: I don’t know a whole lot about Merlin as a figure, apart from obviously he’s not just a Harry Potter canonical character, right? But it definitely carries a good deal of weight to think about someone like Merlin being a representative of that House. Tylor, do you have any other insights on Merlin? It seemed like you had some thoughts on him earlier.

Tylor: Yeah, I think the fact that we have so many colloquialisms or little sayings, right? Little phrases that are thrown into everyday wizarding vernacular. “Merlin’s pants!” All those… “Merlin’s beard!” All that kind of stuff.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Tylor: It seems to imply that Merlin at least was regarded as somebody positive, right? You don’t throw around “Salazar Slytherin’s beard!” Stuff like that.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: It’s more of a goatee, isn’t it?

Tylor: Yeah, exactly. If Salazar Slytherin is our bad guy and we don’t see any fun phrases or sayings with his name, but we see a bunch with Merlin, I think that says something in the fact that we do know that Merlin was at least in some kind of positive regard in the wizarding community. Same with the fact that we have these Order of Merlins, these awards that are talked about in such high regard, like, “Oh my God, Order of Merlin first class. Wow.” That has to… we don’t see an Order of Salazar or an Order of Slytherin, right? So I think, at least to me, it feels as though Merlin is a positive person in the wizarding community.

Andrew: That’s a good way to think about it.

Laura: I think so too.

Andrew: It’s like what we do with Batman in the wizarding world. Or sorry, in the Muggle world.

Laura: [laughs] Batman in the wizarding world.

Andrew: We’re like, “Holy bleep, Batman!” [laughs]

Tylor: Sure.

Andrew: And Batman is a good guy.

Laura: What House would Batman be in?

Micah: Hufflepuff.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: And I’m just thinking, too, I just wrapped up watching Merlin, the series, and going back to what you were talking about earlier, Tylor, he has to live in secrecy literally – spoiler alert – the entire series. It’s not until literally the very last episode that he reveals himself to Arthur and to others in the community. And so I think that if we’re keeping in line with the thought of why Salazar wouldn’t want to allow anybody other than pure-bloods into Hogwarts, that’s a perfect example why, because you have somebody who’s literally doing good the entire time, but is forced to live in secrecy because of who he is. Not dissimilar from the Wizard and the Hopping Pot.

Tylor: Absolutely.

Micah: All right, next one on the list is Severus Snape, the first half-blood in Slytherin that we’re going to talk about.

Laura: Yeah. And I find this so interesting, considering the number of half-bloods that we know of in Slytherin House, and I just thought it was a bit odd, just given the fact that we know about Slytherin’s preference. But we also know… there’s a quote from Voldemort, I think from Book 7, where he’s humiliating Narcissa and Bellatrix by talking about their sister marrying a Muggle and having a half-blood child, and he’s really giving them a hard time and humiliating them in front of all the other Death Eaters, and then he sort of waves it away and he’s like, “Oh, even the purest among us have had some decay in our family trees,” and it makes me wonder if that is how some pure-blood members of Slytherin House might feel about this, about the increase in half-blood members of the House. And Snape, I think he’s a great example of someone who turns the reputation of Slytherin on its head, right? I mean, he ultimately sacrifices himself to to prevent Voldemort from ascending to power that second time.

Micah: Did Voldemort know that Snape was half-blood? Did any of the Death Eaters? Or did they just assume that he was a pure-blood?

Laura and Tylor: I don’t know.

Micah: Because I’m just thinking about it now; I feel like that would be a point of contention for somebody like Bellatrix.

Andrew: But does it matter if Voldemort still respects Snape?

Micah: Well, no, Voldemort is half-blood, too, so he probably doesn’t care really.

Andrew: My point just is that if Voldemort is okay with it, then Bellatrix doesn’t have any reason to complain, or won’t be allowed to complain. I don’t know.

Tylor: I don’t think so.

Laura: Yeah, I don’t know. She really hates Snape, so I feel like if she knew, she would probably use this against him. But at the same time, I kind of… I don’t know. I feel like with Voldemort and the Death Eaters, it’s a little bit like “The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and if you’re willing to team up with us and you can show your loyalty, if you can prove that, then you’re in.” As long as you’re not a Muggle-born. To my knowledge, no Muggle-borns fought with the Death Eaters. [laughs]

Micah: All right, well, keeping on track with Death Eaters who were in Slytherin and betrayed Voldemort, let’s talk about Regulus Black.

Tylor: What a hero.

Laura: Right?

Tylor: Love this guy.

Andrew: [laughs] He’s a good one. We approve of him.

Tylor: Yeah, I think he’s towards the spectrum of normal person, right? Just a ambitious cunning dude.

Laura: And he kind of always struck me as someone who may have changed over time. Sirius always got the impression that Regulus was totally gung-ho with the Dark Lord’s mission and wanted to be his servant, but something changed. Somewhere along the line, something changed; either that, or this guy was way ahead of the game and was a double agent from the very start, which seems doubtful to me. It seems more likely that he probably evolved in his thinking over the course of serving Voldemort.

Andrew: I think it was when he was looking at what Voldemort was doing, he decided to tap out, so I can respect that.

Tylor: Although, I have read a really fun fan theory that Regulus did everything that he did because he wanted to be the next Dark Lord. That was just a fun little thing that I was like, “Ooh, I like that.”

Laura: Oooh.

Andrew: And he would compete against Voldemort?

Tylor: Yeah, he would go after the Horcruxes, destroy all the Horcruxes, destroy Voldemort, and then take over. It was a fun little thing.

Laura: Honestly, I love stuff like that that delves into all the little nooks and crannies of what could have been in this story. And it’s interesting to think when Regulus is writing that note about “Hopefully when you meet your match, you’ll be mortal again,” he was referring to himself. [laughs]

Tylor: Yeah, right?

Laura: That’s great.

Micah: I always struggle with the fact that Sirius never really knew Regulus’s true allegiance before he died. I feel like that would have been really just important for him to have learned. But sticking with that family, Phineas Nigellus Black. I’m wondering is he better in portrait form than maybe when he was around as a real person? [laughs] But he seems to have softened a bit in his portrait form and is certainly ready, willing, and able to help as needed. I mean, he comes in clutch many times throughout the series, so maybe he’s a little bit tired of the pure-blood mania.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Yeah. I also wonder, too, if he’s just holding his duty to help the Headmasters of Hogwarts as something very sacred.

Andrew: Yeah. It’s his school.

Laura: Yeah, I mean, do portraits have motivations?

Tylor: I would say so.

Laura: Yeah. I mean, beyond what’s assigned to them, I guess. If you’re intended to be a messenger, is there any other…?

Micah: Well, he’s there to advise the other Headmasters, right? He was a former Headmaster himself. It’s noted that he didn’t really like students, [laughs] so I don’t understand how he ended up being a Headmaster.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: But he seems to do pretty good when he is tasked with certain responsibilities, so I give him a thumbs up.

Tylor: Me too.

Andrew: Yeah. And maybe all that hanging around Dumbledore inspired some change in him.

Laura and Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: And that’s why he became a little softer.

Laura: Very likely.

Micah: Next up…

Laura: I was going to say, I think we can skip the next one.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Oh, I was going to say, unless Tylor wants to take on T-Riddle.

Laura: Well, that’s true.

[Everyone laughs]

Tylor: No, my boy is very much on that Salazar Slytherin spectrum of… towards the end.

Laura: Yeah, he is.

Micah: Okay.

[Andrew laughs]

Tylor: He’s down there, so we can definitely skip him. [laughs]

Micah: How about Horace Slughorn? He’s an interesting one. While I’m not sure he’s a pure-blood maniac, he certainly has a problem with collecting people, and I don’t know that that’s a really valuable trait to have. It seems like that’s ultimately what fuels him as a person, to surround himself with celebrity and those who have really done great things, and of course, they all usually are students that he himself has taught, so I’m sure he takes some level of credit for their success. But we do see him really kind of round the corner towards the end of Half-Blood Prince with the memory, but certainly in Deathly Hallows in coming to the Battle of Hogwarts and even at a point, I believe, dueling Voldemort, so that should speak for itself to have the Head of Slytherin House dueling the Dark Lord.

Andrew: Yeah, that is pretty cool. You mentioned collecting, though; he only came back to Hogwarts because he wanted to collect Harry. That’s how Dumbledore lured him there, so his intentions in coming back to the school weren’t very good and were extremely shallow. So I guess in terms of the scale, I would put him somewhere in the middle.

Tylor: Really? I’m very much… if Salazar is one end, Horace Slughorn to me is the exact opposite end, right? I see Slughorn as Jo trying to fix her mistake that she made in earlier books where she’s just attributing Slytherin as always bad, always bad, always bad. And in Half-Blood Prince, she has to introduce a character who’s in Slytherin and who has a strong affinity for Slytherin and becomes the Head of Slytherin but isn’t bad in and of himself, kind of what Micah was saying; the fact that he duels Voldemort at the end I think really does show that Horace is not a bad guy because he’s in Slytherin. We can have that conversation about him being bad in regards to wanting to collect students, but I don’t think that part in and of itself is related to Slytherin, right? If we’re just talking about the Slytherin attributes, and whether or not Salazar’s influence on him determines how these characters are, I don’t think the collecting part plays into it. I think it’s purely him just wanting to be this great networker and collector of famous people. So if we were to boil him down just to the bad Slytherin traits that we know, if we were to put him on the spectrum, I think he’s on that far left side. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I think he really is the epitome of what it means to be a true non-bigoted Slytherin.

Laura: Yeah, I tend to agree that he’s closer to the opposite end of the spectrum, but I think that he’s a good representative. And I’m sure we all know someone like this in real life of someone who would never wish harm on another person ever, but still tokenizes Muggle-borns a bit. I pulled this passage from Half-Blood Prince where Harry says, “One of my best friends is Muggle-born, and she’s the best in our year,” and Slughorn says, “Funny how sometimes that happens, isn’t it?” And Harry is like, “No, not really, you weirdo,” and Slughorn immediately launches into this “You mustn’t think I’m prejudiced! No, no, no! Haven’t I just said your mother was one of my all-time favorite students?” And then he starts name-dropping other Muggle-borns that he’s been impressed with. So he still has that ingrained sense that somehow makes different blood statuses very distinct to him, and that doesn’t mean that he’s a bad person, it doesn’t mean that he would wish harm on any of these people, but he’s definitely not seeing everyone as equal, at least at this point in the series. Who knows? After the Battle of Hogwarts, he might completely change his tune.

Micah: Definitely.

Andrew: This line just… “Funny how that sometimes happens, isn’t it?” [laughs] Like, “Can you believe somebody intelligent is a Muggle-born? Funny how that happens sometimes!”

Laura: Unfortunately, people in the real world have made similar comments about groups of people that they can’t believe could possibly have the kind of intellect that they do, so I feel like he’s reminiscent of perhaps some people’s grandparents a little bit. [laughs] That’s what he reminds me of somewhat.

Micah: Definitely. And just a note that Bag Boy pointed out in the Discord that Phineas Nigellus was not always an enthusiastic helper…

Laura: That is true.

Micah: … and mentioning Order of the Phoenix when Arthur Weasley gets attacked. Look, everybody has a bad day at the office, okay?

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: But generally, he’s helpful. All right, let’s talk about Leta Lestrange, and then we could talk about Bellatrix, Narcissa, and Andromeda, the three sisters. But with Leta, I don’t think we know enough about her yet, but I would say going back to the point that was made about Jo trying to correct things towards the end of the Harry Potter series with Slughorn, I feel like that’s also going on now with Leta in the Fantastic Beasts series. I don’t know, Tylor, what you think about that.

Tylor: Yeah, I 100% agree with that as well. We see Leta as this kind of outcast, this very vulnerable young woman who’s by herself. She’s not around… when we think of Slytherin we think about connected, and you’re walking around with your “real friends.” But when it comes to Leta, here she is all by herself, totally alone, and I don’t know, she doesn’t feel like she fits in, and I think that’s showing a more vulnerable side of Slytherin. What happens when you enter a House that is supposed to be the most connected House with your fellow Housemates, and you feel like the outcast? And I think that writing and setting her up in that way with Newt Scamander is a really fun way to see Slytherin that we don’t see Slytherin that often. But I do think, yeah, again, Leta is not prejudiced herself, at least that we know of. I want to say that she’s not. But yeah, I think she’s a really good new representation of what it really means to be a Slytherin.

Laura: I think so, too, particularly with how wracked she is with guilt over what she thinks her role was in Corvus’s death, right? And she’s lived her life determined to turn over a new leaf. And she’s working in some kind of official capacity with the Ministry now; I forget what it is. It’s Magical Law Enforcement, I think it is.

Tylor: Yeah. I think she’s an Auror.

Laura: So she’s trying to be very lawful. And she also sacrificed herself, spoiler alert. [laughs]

Tylor: Maybe.

Laura: Maybe.

Micah: Perhaps.

Tylor: I’ve read a really fun theory, yeah, so we’ll see.

Laura: What’s your theory?

Tylor: The theory that came about was that the Protego Diabolica doesn’t actually kill you; it actually just takes you to a special cell in Nurmengard. I don’t know, but I really, really doubt that Leta Lestrange is going to be introduced and then taken away in one film like that. I think we’re going to be seeing her again.

Laura: I agree, definitely. We have “sacrificed” here in the doc with quotation marks because that’s an outstanding question. But still, one way or another, she performed some kind of sacrifice in an attempt to distract Grindelwald from what he was doing in that moment.

Micah: Definitely.

Laura: So yeah, definitely a very… I would say maybe Leta is the other end of the Slytherin spectrum.

Tylor: I could see that too, yeah.

Laura: Maybe it’s her.

Andrew: And she was friends with a Hufflepuff. You’ve got to give her credit for that.

Tylor: That’s right.

Micah: You do. Don’t tell Eric I agreed with you.

[Laura and Tylor laugh]

Micah: But we’re talking about Slytherins on a spectrum, and I don’t think there’s probably any better representation of that than Narcissa, Bellatrix, and Andromeda, and opening it up just to discuss, but I would say Bellatrix would probably be on the Salazar end, Narcissa would be somewhere in the middle, and Andromeda would be on the Slughorn/Leta side of things.

Laura: I agree.

Andrew: I like that.

Tylor: That’s exactly where I’d put them too.

Micah: Especially marrying a Muggle.

Laura: I agree with that, yeah. Although, I was refreshing myself on Narcissa a little bit ahead of this discussion because I feel like when we talk about her, we only touch on her in the context of how her character arc rounded out in that it was a mother’s love once again that saved the day, but she’s not the greatest outside of that. There’s this one scene where the trio comes across Draco and Narcissa in Madam Malkin’s; Draco is getting fitted for his robes. This is after Lucius has gone to Azkaban, and at one point Draco has a fit and just throws his robes to the ground and decides they’re going to go somewhere else, and Narcissa says, “‘You’re right Draco,’ said Narcissa, with a contemptuous glance at Hermione, ‘now that I know the kind of scum that shops here… we’ll do better at Twilfitt and Tatting’s.'”

Andrew: Oh my gosh.

Tylor: Yuck.

Laura: So yeah, she’s definitely… maybe middle, but erring closer to the Bellatrix side of things, at least at this point in the series. But that tells me that she’s an opportunist, because the second that this ideology was not going to work out well for her family, she’s like, “Oh no, whatever. I don’t care. Voldemort who?” [laughs]

Tylor: Yeah, exactly. The whole Malfoy family is trash.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Well, I don’t think we can talk about Slytherin House without talking about its House ghost. So the Bloody Baron… he killed somebody, so I don’t know what end of the spectrum that warrants him receiving. Whether he did it out of love or any other justification, it’s still murder at the end of the day. [laughs]

Laura: I wonder if that was selfishness.

Andrew: Yeah?

Laura: I mean, we hear about crimes of passion and people doing things out of love, but it’s like, if you kill somebody because they won’t have you, [laughs] that’s not love. That’s just selfishness.

Tylor: That’s some real Snape energy.

Laura: Yeah, it’s like Snape if you turned him up to an 11, basically.

Andrew: [laughs] Snape plus.

[Laura and Tylor laugh]

Laura: Snape plus. Snape max.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: That’s actually… I like that.

Andrew: To interact with the Bloody Baron is only $9.99 a month.

Tylor: You get ESPN and Hulu with it.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Now, there are a few Slytherins we notably omitted here, but Laura, you noted how a few of them are still down with the founder’s pure-blood mania, and two of them are Malfoys and one of them is our good friend of the show, Dolores Umbridge.

Laura: Yep. Punching pillow, patent pending.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Laura: But I mean, you don’t really need to go much further than Book 7. Of course, we could dig way back through Book 5 and find a ton of substantiating evidence, but when Harry comes across her office in the Ministry in Book 7, she has a plaque on there that says “Senior Undersecretary to the Minister,” and below that a slightly shinier new plaque that reads “Head of the Muggle-born Registration Commission.” She’s kept detailed notes on anyone that she deems to be undesirable, their blood statuses as well as their perceptions of Muggles and Muggle-borns, and will refer to pure-blooded wizards as “blood traitors” if they’re friendly to Muggles and Muggle-borns. So it’s a pretty easy one. She’s Salazar Slytherin end of the spectrum for sure.

Micah: And she’s another half-blood too. We should just call attention.

Laura: Yeah, anytime there’s a character like this, it feels like their whole approach is that they feel like there’s something deficient in themselves because they’re not pure-blood, so they’re having to make up for it.

Andrew: Double down on the evil.

Laura: By being maniacs.

Micah: Well, and if I’m remembering correctly, it was something about how her father wasn’t rising enough within the Ministry and she considered him a disappointment, and then she had a sibling who was a Squib. So it’s just like she wanted to basically purge herself of that and pass herself off, essentially, as a pure-blood.

Laura: Yeah, exactly.

Micah: What about father and son Malfoy?

Laura: So Lucius is definitely another very obvious example. I pulled a quote that I had actually forgotten about from Chamber of Secrets, and I know this is earlier in the series, but I think Lucius holds pretty true to this line of thought throughout the whole series. When he comes to inform Dumbledore that the school governors have all signed a petition asking him to resign, and he literally ends this statement by being like, “Two more attacks this afternoon, wasn’t it? At this rate, there’ll be no Muggle-borns left at Hogwarts, and we all know what an awful loss that would be to the school.” Doesn’t even try to hide it.

Andrew: And again, the thing with Lucius is that he is an adult.

Laura: Yep.

Andrew: He is set in his ways. He’s not going to change at this point. With very few exceptions, in my opinion, very few people do change at this point in their adulthood, especially in these deeply rooted issues that are ingrained in them from the start. So yeah, he’s towards the Salazar side for sure.

Laura: Oh, for sure. What’s interesting about Lucius, though, is we know that after the first wizarding war, he denied everything. He claimed to have seen the light, and I think he also claimed to be under some kind of spell that was causing him to participate in all of Voldemort’s nefarious acts, so he’s also a creature of opportunity. I mean, we see this at the end of Deathly Hallows too; he’s just trying to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Tylor: Yep.

Laura: I felt like it was one of the portrayals they did really well in the movie, actually, was showing the Malfoy family nope-ing out. [laughs]

Tylor: Literally running.

Laura: Just being like, “Bye!”

Tylor: [laughs] See ya!

Micah: And Draco?

Laura: Yeah, and Draco… I think Andrew really summed this up beautifully earlier in the episode just by speaking about the fact that Draco, much of when we see him in the books, he’s a child. And I think looking at Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince are really interesting use cases, because thinking about ring theory, of course, Books 2 and 6 are connected. And in Book 2, Draco was so boastful about wanting to know who the Heir of Slytherin is, he wants to help with the Basilisk, he wants to help rid the school of Mudbloods, and then in Book 6, when he finally gets his chance to serve Voldemort, he’s like, “Oh, snap, I didn’t realize it was going to be this serious.”

[Laura and Tylor laugh]

Laura: And he’s incredibly overwhelmed and starts to falter in some of those deeply ingrained ideologies, so I think he is an example of somebody who evolved in his thinking over time.

Andrew: Definitely.

Micah: You also have this interesting note here, too, about how he had thought about attending Durmstrang versus Hogwarts, and we learn later really the importance of saying something like this because of Grindelwald.

Laura: Yeah, originally Draco was boasting that Lucius wanted him to go to Durmstrang because they actually taught the Dark Arts there. Not Defense Against the Dark Arts, but the Dark Arts themselves. The only reason he didn’t go is because Narcissa didn’t like the idea of him being so far away from home, so again, another example of her choosing convenience and the safety of her family over her purported ideologies.

Tylor: Is Durmstrang just one big school for Slytherins?

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Tylor: You know what I mean? If we were to follow that surface level thinking of “Slytherin is bad, Dark Arts, blah,” is Durmstrang really just a school of only Slytherins? Slash if that’s not the case, where does that fall? Would the equivalent of Slytherin be Gryffindors, and then is there an even worse House at Durmstrang? Like a super Dark Arts? Like a super Slytherin?

Andrew: Slytherin plus.

Tylor: Yeah, there you go.

Andrew: [laughs] Maybe. I don’t know if we know much.

Laura: It’s kind of hard to compare, because Krum goes to Durmstrang, right?

Andrew and Tylor: Yeah.

Laura: And he does not strike me as a Slytherin at all.

Tylor: He’s up on Hermione.

Andrew: And Hermione likes it.

Tylor: True.

Micah: Though, I mean, I was going to make the point that its headmaster is a former Death Eater, but I feel like we have former Death Eaters in positions at Hogwarts, too, so not sure that’s the best argument. All right, just to wrap up: One other Slytherin that we do know about is Albus Severus Potter.

Andrew: He’s a good one! He’s a good egg! We know this. Sure, he’s made some mistakes in the Cursed Child, but he’s a kid. Those things happen. Temptation got to him.

Laura: I think it’s really telling that first of all, that Harry in his adulthood was able to see past his own prejudice from his childhood and tell his son, “Hey, if you’re Sorted into Slytherin, then Slytherin just got a great wizard,” right?

Tylor: That’s right.

Laura: And the fact that I mean, I have to imagine that Albus Severus would have been aware of the childhood rivalry between his father and Draco, who’s the father of his best friend, and he’s able to see past that and be friends with someone who comes from a long line of people who, up until very recently, were adversaries of his family. I think that’s one of the greatest traits anyone could have, Slytherin or otherwise.

Andrew: I think…

Micah: And Laura… oh, sorry. Go ahead, Andrew.

Andrew: Well, I was just going to say on the point of Harry being supportive of Albus being Sorted here, that’s part of being a parent, a good parent, saying, “Hey, you were Sorted into Slytherin? That’s okay.” And I think that moment also illustrates Harry’s profound growth over the books.

Laura: I think so too. Harry could have been a good Slytherin too.

Andrew: Right, yeah.

Tylor: Yes, he could.

Andrew: And of course, like I think what was said earlier, the Hat was considering putting him in there, so that’s kind of a full circle moment as well.

Laura: Yeah. I would like to see an alternate telling of the Harry Potter books where Harry is Sorted into Slytherin. I think that would be fascinating.

Tylor: So good.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Tylor can write it. [laughs]

Laura: Tylor, do you write fanfiction?

Tylor: No, but I’m down for that. Could you imagine Harry finding the not prejudiced Slytherins? The ones in the background that we don’t get to experience? The ones who were like, “Man, that Draco Malfoy really sucks”? I’m sure that they’re there, and I’m sure Harry would find them.

Laura: Yeah, they’ve got to be there, right? Because I mean, we see Gryffindors who suck. I mean, think about Cormac McLaggen. Everybody hates him, but he’s in the good House.

Tylor: It’s true. I think if Harry was in Slytherin and had made those connections, we would have had some Slytherins stay behind for the Battle of Hogwarts.

Laura: Ooh, that is interesting. I always thought it was a bit odd that none of them stayed, with the exception of Draco and company. It just seemed… it felt… to me, it was a little disappointing because it felt like so much work had been done to make the portrayal of Slytherins more nuanced, and then in the end, it was like, “Eh, no, they all dipped.” [laughs]

Andrew: Yeah. And that was Rowling’s last chance to kind of be like, “Look, there’s a lot of good Slytherins out there.” Oh well.

Micah: Enter Leta.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Micah: Pretty much.

Laura: Exactly. Leta is the answer to everything.

Tylor: And the author kind of doubles down on that, too, by having Pansy Parkinson be like, “Well, there he is! Grab him!”

Laura: I know.

Tylor: It’s like, ugh, come on.

Laura: I know, and I think doesn’t McGonagall in the film encourage Filch to take Slytherins to the dungeons? That’s not what happens in the book, right? They just leave.

Micah: Except Slughorn. He’s there.

Laura: Yeah. It felt like they were attempting to do fan service in that moment, but it makes me wonder if they understood the fandom’s perceptions about Houses.

Micah: McGonagall fan service? When does that ever happen?

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Only like twice in that 20 minute span of time in that movie.

Andrew: And they’re both very good, in my opinion.

Micah: Well, no, I was talking about Crimes of Grindelwald.

Andrew: Oh.

Laura: Oh, yeah.

Micah: But anyway.

Tylor: I got you, Micah.

Micah: Thank you, Tylor.

Laura: Poor McGonagall. They’re just messing with her timeline and everything. Well, I’ve really appreciated the conversation. I’ve liked how we’ve been able to explore that in Slytherin House, just like any other House or any other group of people, there’s good and bad there, right? It’s like Sirius said in Order of the Phoenix, “The world is not split up into good people and Death Eaters.” It’s a lot more complicated than that. So hopefully, that’s something that we were all able to take away from this. Andrew, it looks like you want us to say one or two nice things about Slytherins, right?

Andrew: I do. I do, Laura, because I see this episode and next week’s episode as a resource for people who are looking to be able to defend Slytherin, whether that’s because they’re in the House or they feel like they want to defend this House. They just want to see it differently than it’s joked about in fandom. So I can start; I just want to say, getting back to my conversion earlier in the episode, again, revisiting these traits, being clever, being resourceful, being determined… I am someone, personally – I’ll toot my own horn for a moment – who is self made and it’s because of my Slytherin traits. So if you are Slytherin, you can know you are somebody who can go at it on your own. You can be streetsmart instead of booksmart; even though Slytherins can be booksmart too. You are a very intelligent person who is capable of taking on anything, and I applaud all the clever ways that you take on life. And please share them with me because I admire that type of thing very much.

Tylor: Snap, snap, snap.

Andrew: Just don’t admit to breaking any laws. Tylor, what do you have to say about Slytherin?

Tylor: If somebody ever comes to you and says, “Slytherin is bad because of x character,” bring up some of the characters that we’ve talked about who were in other Houses who are just equally as bad. That in and of itself will destroy your opponent’s argument. And then remind them of the good people who are in Slytherin: Regulus Black, Merlin, Horace Slughorn… these other characters who are good and who value ambition. I think that that will really help with your argument, right? And tell them, “What is it that makes somebody a Slytherin? It’s their ambition. It’s their cunningness.” And that’s all that really, I think, people need to know about what it means to be a Slytherin and why people should be proud to be a Slytherin.

Andrew: Love it.

Laura: I’m coming at defending Slytherin ultimately because my partner is a Slytherin, and he’s the best person I know.

Andrew: Thank you. Thank you very much.

[Everyone laughs]

Tylor: I ship it.

Andrew: Joking!

Laura: No, it’s fine. I ship it too.

[Andrew and Tylor laugh]

Laura: No, but genuinely speaking, he’s so smart, and I see so many of those attributes in how hardworking he is. I think that Slytherins don’t get enough credit for how hardworking they are.

Andrew: Damn right.

Laura: I know hardworking is supposed to be a Hufflepuff trait, and I very much think that it is, but just like you’re not born any one thing… you’re not born cunning, right? That’s a skill that you have to develop over time, and it requires a lot of focus and a lot of effort in order to get there, and I just don’t think that Slytherins get enough credit for that. So I just look at anyone I know who – like Andrew, you said you run your own business, or anyone who just creates anything – and I very much see that as a Slytherin trait, a very positive one. So don’t let the past define what you allow your House to stand for in the future, is what I would say.

Andrew: Heck yeah. Amen.

Micah: I think you all made great points.

Andrew: You’re not going to…? Come on.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Name one good thing.

Micah: I said plenty of good things when we were discussing all these characters. But I wouldn’t necessarily label individuals based upon the story. I think this is something that Tylor had brought up earlier; look at the qualities of the House. And if you were to just take away Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and just look at the qualities themselves, I think those are qualities you’d probably want within yourself, a lot of which have already been touched on, like ambition and cunning. And so I think if that was any advice that I could give, that was what I would have to say. Remove the labels and just look at the characteristics of the House and you’d find that you probably might have some things in common with your Slytherin counterparts.

Laura: Yep, I definitely do.

Andrew: Definitely. So on our social media channels, we also asked listeners to send in their things, their supportive messages about Slytherins, and we got a bunch. If you have any defenses of Hufflepuff, or Slytherin, by the way, feel free to reply to our posts that we made on social media, and we’ll try to include those in a future Muggle Mail episode or maybe on the Hufflepuff discussion next week. KoolBerries said, “I’m a Slytherin and my sister is a Hufflepuff and we are great travel buddies because I have all the street smarts that come from having more cunning, and she has all the friendliness that helps us get into places.” [laughs] That’s good.

Laura: That’s smart.

Andrew: LunaLeClaire said, “I think Slytherins are very perceptive about the people, places, and events around them and can read whether or not to engage with the situation. The Slytherins I have met can easily read emotions and behaviors and know how to help those they are loyal to. They also appear able to influence a situation to turn in their favor or their group’s favor more easily than some of the other Houses. Manipulation of a situation is not necessarily a bad thing and can help deescalate or improve whatever is happening. I might not always see that from the books, but I definitely see that in my personal life and in fandom.”

Laura: Oh, that’s so true.

Andrew: Yeah. Getting back to my point earlier, it’s about your role in the fandom. It’s about who you are in real life. Sophia says, “Everyone says that Slytherins run away because they’re scared. They quit things or get other people to do them because they’re just lazy or scared. I say it’s because Slytherins are smart enough to know when it’s not worth doing anymore, and we stop because it’s the right thing to do, not out of fear.” You like that, Tylor?

Tylor: Oh, I’m here for that.

[Laura laughs]

Micah: Except the Battle of Hogwarts. You might’ve wanted to stay for that.

Andrew: We know when to quit. We know when to move on. [laughs] Molaliec – hopefully we’re pronouncing your name right.

Laura: Please let us know if we didn’t. That’s a pet peeve of mine.

Andrew: “I think all the non-racist Slytherins got killed off or forced into hiding (like Slughorn) during the first Voldy war and that’s why we don’t see any in Harry’s generation.” I like that. “Or ambition enough to be worrying about other things and cunning enough to hide away and help in ways we can’t see.”

Laura: Like Snape?

Andrew: Yes. [laughs] 100%. MeganMoon said, “As a Slytherin, I pride myself on being clever and tend to be able to work myself out of any sticky situation.”

Laura: Rose says, “Slytherin is a proud House; we strive to achieve greatness. Slytherins can be unstoppable forces when pursuing our ambitions. Slytherins don’t always play by the rules because we’re goal-oriented, but generally we strive for improvement and progress, and the pride that comes with it. Rules that get in the way of our objective are like roadblocks to us, but we’re resourceful and cunning to find ways around them. Of course Slytherins are proud to have magical blood, because magical abilities facilitate us greatly. However, a true Slytherin shouldn’t discount non-magical folk, because anyone with vision and determination can lead a prosperous and affluent life.”

Andrew: Well said. That is our defense and analysis of the Slytherin House. If you have any feedback today, you can email, or use the contact form on You can also call us, 1-920-3-MUGGLE; that’s 1-920-368-4453. You can also record a voice memo on your phone and send that to; just try to keep your message about a minute long, please, and we may include that on a future Muggle Mail episode, probably coming up in two or three weeks.


Andrew: All right, well, Eric is not here. Like I said, he abstained because he can’t stand Slytherins.

[Micah laughs]

Andrew: But it is still time for Quizzitch.

[Quizzitch music plays]

Micah: Last week’s Quizzitch question was: As of the late 20th century, Tina Goldstein lived with her husband Newt Scamander in Dorset with their pet Kneazles. What were their pets’ names? And the correct answer to that question was Hoppy, Milly, and Mauler. Last week’s winners included Newt and Tina Forever; Snitch101LauraFan…

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Okay.

Micah: … Amazing Autism; The Real Slim Shady; Countess Vermicelli; MaKayla; Aberforth’s Second Favorite Goat; and The Toy Car You Lost Under Your Bed When You Were 6 Wants to Order an Extra Large Firewhiskey.

Tylor: Cool.

Laura: Wow.

Andrew: I know, right, Tylor? Right? We need to put a character limit on this form. [laughs]

Laura: No, no, I love it. We get some real winners in here.

Micah: Yeah, we do.

Laura: I’m disappointed no Count Ravioli this week.

Tylor: Aww.

Andrew: They got it wrong.

Laura: Where you at?

Micah: Countess Fettuccine?

Laura: Yeah, where’s Countess Fettuccine? [laughs]

Andrew: Countess Vermicelli is in here. What more do you want?

Tylor: True.

Laura: That’s true.

Micah: All right, next week’s question: What living creature are both Marvolo Gaunt and Salazar Slytherin compared to in appearance? So very appropriate for our defense of Slytherin episode.

Andrew: Good job, Micah. A couple closing reminders before we wrap up the show: Don’t forget to join our community of MuggleCast fans today at Sign up now before September 1 and you will be eligible to receive this year’s physical gift, whichever you choose. By the way, y’all, I received a couple samples of the socks a couple of days ago and they turned out perfect.

Laura: They look so good.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. I’ve been meaning to post a picture on social media. I had my sister model the socks on her legs because my legs and my brother’s legs… a little too hairy for a leg model, you know? So anyway, you’ll see those pictures soon. [laughs] Check out my sister’s legs on our social media.

[Laura and Tylor laugh]

Micah: Nobody’s going to believe that it’s your sister now. We’re all going to think it’s you.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: There’s nothing wrong with hairy legs, Andrew.

Andrew: No, I just… I don’t know; it grosses me out a little bit.

Laura: [laughs] It shouldn’t.

Andrew: And I’m talking about my own. [laughs] So anyway, you’ll see the socks on the social media channels. And we also have the car as well, so two options this year to choose from. If you pledge at the Slug Club level, you can pick either/or, or both. You will also receive instant access to years of bonus MuggleCast installments, our exclusive Facebook group where fellow Harry Potter fans hang out; that group is awesome. You will receive a personalized video thank you message, all kinds of things. Thank you, everybody, for your support. Be sure to sign up before September 1 in order to be eligible for that gift – that’s very important – and you have to fill out that form. Finally, make sure you are following the show for free in whatever app you use to listen to podcasts, and if they have a review feature, please do take a moment to review us. We would really appreciate that. And last but not least, do follow us on social media. We are @MuggleCast on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Tylor, thanks so much for joining us today. You are awesome. I am so glad we had you on the show.

Laura: Same.

Andrew: You can check Tylor out at the Protego Foundation and also The Chickpeeps podcast, which is in between seasons right now, but coming back at some point. I don’t think we want to make any promises at this point that it might be coming back. [laughs]

Tylor: Right.

Andrew: But it will return! I think that’s safe to say.

Tylor: Yeah. Thanks for having me. Loved it.

Andrew: Awesome. And Tylor has been holding that wand the entire podcast, folks!

[Laura laughs]

Andrew: I love it. I need to try that now. I gotta know how that helps with my hosting. I’m sure it’ll help a little bit.

Tylor: It’s so nice.

[Andrew and Tylor laugh]

Andrew: Whose wand is that, by the way?

Tylor: It’s Voldemort’s.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Of course!

Tylor: I found it to be apropos of our conversation today.

Andrew: I should’ve known. I didn’t see the handle because you were gripping it. Wow. Love it.

Laura: Man, you came prepared. I love it. [laughs]

Tylor: What can I say? I really like the V.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: That works. That works.

Micah: And on that note…

Laura: I love it.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: Thanks, everybody, for listening. I’m Andrew.

Micah: I’m Micah.

Laura: I’m Laura.

Tylor: And I’m Tylor.

Andrew: Bye, everyone.