Is It A Lizard?

Jan 22, 2021

From the Showtime docu-series Love Fraud, directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady answer the most important question of all: Is it a lizard?

Heard on Michelle Buteau: 'The Circle' And Van Halen.

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

I am so excited to talk to these women, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady co-founded Loki Films, the studio behind the documentary "Jesus Camp," "Freakonomics: The Movie." And their new series, "Love Fraud," is available on Showtime. Hello, Rachel. Hello, Heidi.

RACHEL GRADY: Hello. Hi. Hi. Hi.

HEIDI EWING: Hello, Ophira and Jonathan.

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Hi.

EISENBERG: I watched and loved "Love Fraud," which is a docuseries about a con man who seduces women and they fully fall in love with him. And then he basically drains their savings and has many women going on at the same time. And, you know, your presence as your voice is in this series. We hear you asking questions to the guy at the end, the con man. We hear your voice trying to, like, sort of deal with things throughout that. That is a little unusual.

EWING: We'd never done it before. We didn't want to do it. They made us do it.

GRADY: We - no. Stop.

(LAUGHTER)

EWING: She made us do it. She made us do it.

GRADY: We never - we have never chased a con man with a long lens around the United States before either. So...

EWING: That's true.

GRADY: ...This was a first for us.

EISENBERG: A lot of firsts.

GRADY: A lot of firsts. And, you know, basically, after the first few weeks of filming, Heidi and I decided, like, we are going to help these women try to bring some justice because, you know, these are single moms that don't make a lot of money. And they didn't have the resources or time or bandwidth to, like, get this guy to stop. And Heidi and I said, dang it, we got nothing else to do. We're his worst nightmare. And that's what happened.

EISENBERG: Do you still - I know that at one point you tried - maybe attempted, maybe it's completed - to do a documentary on your son's pet snake, Stripey (ph).

GRADY: No, no, no. This is a leopard gecko.

EISENBERG: Leopard gecko.

GRADY: A leopard gecko. Yes. Well, Heidi and I did try and make a short film. We did make a short film about him.

EISENBERG: OK.

GRADY: Very short. It was a minute long.

EWING: It was part of something called - I don't know if you guys know what an exquisite corpse is.

GRADY: It's almost like playing a game of telephone. You get the last shot of what the person before you did.

EISENBERG: Awesome.

GRADY: And it's supposed to inspire you. And the last shot was a...

EWING: Snail.

GRADY: ...Was a snail. And I said, Heidi, this is Stripey's moment.

(LAUGHTER)

EWING: So I went to Petco, and we shot a snail. And then from there, we got the shopping for Stripey's food, which is disgusting.

GRADY: Which is crickets.

EISENBERG: Yeah - don't like it.

GRADY: And it was just one of those things that when we got it for my son, who was 6 at the time, we didn't realize they live for 20 years.

(LAUGHTER)

GRADY: Yeah.

EISENBERG: You were hoping for, like, a couple - two years.

GRADY: Two is fine. Two is fine.

GRADY: Twenty years. I was like, oh, no. And then...

COULTON: Oh, no (laughter).

GRADY: But then you have to keep them. You can't - you need to model well. You can't just throw out pets because you realize that they're going to live.

GRADY: It's too much. Yeah.

COULTON: I'm glad you said that out loud. Yeah. You cannot.

EISENBERG: But that - you've just set up so beautifully, thank you, without even knowing it, the game we would like to play with you, your first game.

GRADY: Oh, my God. Is Stripey about to bust out?

EISENBERG: Here's what's happening. You get to play America's favorite quiz show game. It's called Is It A Lizard? That's right. See? This is what I expected - crickets.

EISENBERG: Your silence indicates your confusion. We get it.

EISENBERG: So this is all it is. We are going to describe an animal, and you just have to tell us whether it is or is not a lizard (laughter).

EWING: OK.

GRADY: All right. All right. And then - OK. And Heidi and I are doing this together?

EISENBERG: No. We'll go back and forth.

GRADY: OK. Got it. OK.

EISENBERG: We'll go back and forth. So you are - you're competing against each other. I mean, you work together all the time. Are you competitive?

GRADY: We're competitive against ourselves. We're very hard on ourselves. And we kind of compete who can be [expletive] to themselves.

(LAUGHTER)

EWING: Yeah.

COULTON: That sounds fun.

EISENBERG: Who can beat themselves up. And who wins that? Is - or do you trade that - with that win?

EWING: That's a tough one. That's a tough call.

GRADY: She's Catholic, and I'm a Jew. So we're really, like, neck and neck.

EWING: That's a good point.

EISENBERG: Both bring your expertise.

EWING: Exactly.

EISENBERG: All right. Heidi, this one's for you. I'm going to describe this thing, and you just have to say, is it a lizard or no? OK. Every part of the common five-lined skinks' name is accurate. It's commonly found through the eastern half of the U.S., it has five white or yellowish lines running the length of its body, and it's a skink. But is it a lizard?

EWING: I don't - I think it's - I don't think it's a lizard.

EISENBERG: I'm sorry. It is a lizard.

EWING: A skink.

GRADY: Oh, definitely.

EISENBERG: It is a lizard. And you know what? I'm going to say it looks like - it does look very common. I know it's always insulting when they put that in a description...

COULTON: Common.

EISENBERG: ...I feel - common. You're just like, oh.

GRADY: It's a common skink.

EISENBERG: It's a very common - you look at that, and you're like, I've seen that around.

COULTON: It's also extremely...

GRADY: You're ordinary.

COULTON: It's extremely basic, that particular skink.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Yeah.

EWING: So basic. That's too bad. But I'm going to start saying - instead of, like, rats or damn, I'm going to start saying, skink. It's good.

EISENBERG: Skink.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: All right, Rachel. The black and white tegu is about four feet long with alternating dark and light stripes. Its high intelligence and ability to use a litter box made it a popular pet, but it has become an invasive species in Florida and Georgia. Is it a lizard?

GRADY: I'm going to answer that, but the litter box thing is gross.

EISENBERG: Gross.

COULTON: For sure.

GRADY: Super-gross. It's gross under the best circumstances. It is indeed. I think it is. The answer is yes.

COULTON: You are correct. It is indeed a lizard. That's right.

EWING: All I got to say is Georgia does not deserve invasive species.

EISENBERG: No.

COULTON: Agreed, agreed.

EISENBERG: Also...

EWING: They deserve better than that.

EISENBERG: Nobody should keep a lizard that...

GRADY: Needs diapers.

EISENBERG: Yeah. I was like, oh, my - no. It's gross. All right, Heidi, how about this one?

EWING: All right.

EISENBERG: Alligator gars - that's - those are - alligator gars look menacing, with long snouts filled with needle-like teeth and heavily armored bodies. Not only are they voracious predators; gar eggs are highly toxic, which is one reason they have been around for millions of years. It's called an alligator, but it is not an alligator. Is it a lizard?

EWING: Hell, no.

EISENBERG: You are correct. It is not a lizard.

EWING: Hell, no. That's a - that ain't no lizard.

EISENBERG: It's a fish.

EWING: Really?

GRADY: I have a question, though. How big are the eggs? - because aren't fish eggs, like, teeny weeny weensy weensies (ph) like caviar?

EISENBERG: Oh, they are fish egg size.

GRADY: Oh, they are.

EISENBERG: They are fish egg size.

GRADY: Got it. Got it.

EISENBERG: So they are - but they are very toxic. Do - if anyone ever serves you alligator gar caviar, say uh-uh (ph).

COULTON: Don't eat it. It's a trick.

EISENBERG: I understand what's going on here.

GRADY: Exactly. Say, I got a lion I need to sell you.

COULTON: Yeah. That's right.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah, exactly.

COULTON: Yeah. Here's the last one, Rachel.

GRADY: OK.

COULTON: Named for a legendary monster with a killing gaze, the basilisk has a distinctive high crest similar to a rooster's comb. It also has its own superpower - the ability to run across water by moving so fast it traps pockets of air under its feet. Is it a lizard?

GRADY: One hundred percent.

COULTON: You are correct. Very confidently, you are correct.

GRADY: That is so lizard-y (ph), all of that.

COULTON: Super-lizard-y (ph).

GRADY: The trapped pockets - and it can run really fast and has a jowly rooster thing.

COULTON: Totally a lizard.

GRADY: I felt good about that one.

COULTON: Yeah. It, because it walks on water, has a nickname of the Jesus Christ lizard because...

EWING: Yeah.

COULTON: ...When you see it running across the water, you're like, Jesus Christ.

EWING: Jesus Christ.

EISENBERG: That's - but that's the lizard they always show. Like, that's in the, you know...

COULTON: I feel like it's a promo...

EISENBERG: ...Beginning of every nature show.

GRADY: Right.

EISENBERG: Yeah. That's right - a promo or, like, the introduction.

GRADY: David Attenborough always talks about them. Yeah.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Exactly. You both did great.

EWING: Oh, thanks.

EISENBERG: I feel like we've learned a lot. Rachel, on that last one, when you were going through the traits, I felt like we were in your house just talking about everyday observations you have.

GRADY: (Laughter) No. This is just - like, when lizards become part of your life...

EISENBERG: Yes.

GRADY: ...You're one with them. And just, like...

GRADY: You get a feel.

GRADY: I get a feel. Just as soon as you said the air pockets in the feet, I just knew. I just knew in my heart.

EISENBERG: The lizard...

GRADY: The lizard literally does have a hole through his head, so you can see through it. And...

EWING: Amazing.

GRADY: Yeah. So I'm always like - so, you know, we've gotten some stuff out of it. But my son was interested in Stripey (ph) for about a day and a half.

COULTON: What's the - yeah. What's - how long ago did you get the lizard? What are we looking at on the countdown clock at this point?

GRADY: I have, like, 17 and a half more years.

EISENBERG: OK. All right. That's not bad.

COULTON: That's just, like - that's about as long as it would be if you had another baby right now.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

GRADY: Oh, my God.

EWING: Exactly.

GRADY: Yeah.

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