In her late 20s, Lisa Ling was co-hosting The View and enjoying single life in New York. "When I think back on it I see myself, you know, dancing on tables sometimes," she laughs. But her decision to leave her previous life in Los Angeles behind had long-lasting consequences. "As soon as I got to New York, this whole world opened up to me and I was invited to every party. And given where I grew up in this kind of middle, lower-middle class home and community, it was it was exciting for me," she recalled. But, Lisa says, her long-distance relationship with a serious boyfriend back home suffered, and ultimately ended, as a result. "In retrospect now, it was really sad because he really, really loved me," she says. "I kind of—you know, I in many ways sort of abandoned the relationship."
At the same time, she was having difficulty with talking about her personal life at her very public job. Even though Lisa had been working as a reporter for teen shows like since she was 16, The View required something different of her. "T he expectation of me was to be totally open about every aspect of my life," she says. "And I really struggled with that in the beginning because I was so out of my element." But it was a skill she was later grateful for—in her marriage. Lisa got married in 2007, and she says communication between her and her husband, Paul, hasn't always been easy. But she says they've found a language that works. "Our mutual therapist once said to us, if you were in a business, you would do everything in your power to make sure that that partnership worked," she told me. "And you need to apply that same work ethic to your marriage. And that really kind of resonated with us."
You can watch Lisa's new web series for CNN, called This Is Sex, .
A Bitcoin Mogul Goes Broke
When Charlie Shrem was growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn, he learned a lesson about money the hard way. " I got a credit card in the mail [...] the day I turned 18. I had a $6000 credit limit. And I was taking people to Vegas," he told me. It was a lifestyle that got him in ten thousand dollars worth of debt. He repaid that debt in full, and then started looking for a way towards financial independence.
He landed on Bitcoin. Charlie was an early adopter of the cryptocurrency, and his gamble paid off. By the time he was 22, he had co-founded a company called BitInstant, which helped its users convert dollars into Bitcoin. It made Charlie rich, but it also landed him in legal trouble. One of Charlie's customers was making a profit reselling Bitcoin purchased on BitInstant on Silk Road, an underground marketplace known for illegal transactions. Charlie knew about it, and ended up being arrested for it. He plead guilty to a reduced charge, and served a year in federal prison. "When you're in prison, it's not like TV where everyone's like, oh, I'm innocent," Charlie told me. "Everyone tells you they're guilty. I'm guilty. Because to say you're innocent minimizes all that hard work you're doing to get out."
I talked with Charlie about money, prison, and ultimately leaving his Orthodox community live onstage at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. Our conversation took place in conjunction with an exhibit there called Generation Wealth . It's a series of photographs by Lauren Greenfield about money, status, and the ways we show them — you can learn more about that exhibit and see some of the photographs .
Watch Anna and Charlie Shrem in conversation at the Annenberg Space for Photography.
Why She Steals: Your Reactions
Last month, about her shoplifting habit, how she justifies it, and her reluctance to go on food stamps. And a lot of you responded to her story. Here's just a sample of some of the comments we got:
I grew up poor, but stealing was never the answer for my family. And I don't think it's the answer here either.
My moral core was grossed out.
This episode made me enraged. That's all.
It seemed like there was more to talk about here. So this week, we dug into your reactions with a couple of listeners who wrote to us after we released the episode. Alyssa, a listener from Atlanta, told us that she felt "betrayed" by the show. " This interview was so empty for me," she initially wrote us. "Alice was so openly selfish, I couldn't really believe you were giving her a voice bigger than she apparently already has on Tumblr. A platform to speak about her ridiculous lifestyle like it was something fascinating, something to be proud of. I couldn't tell why you had chosen her." Another listener in Brooklyn, Trevor, commented on a point Alice made about how her whiteness would help protect her from legal repercussions if s he got caught. "Be cause of people like her," he wrote, "I am the one followed around the store."
I called Alyssa and Trevor to talk to them more about their reactions —a nd then, I called Alice.
Life in Our 20s: Advice from Niecy Nash, Alia Shawkat & Terri Coleman
Your 20s can be hard — but getting advice from people who've been there can make things a little easier. And that's exactly what we're doing this week, in a live show we recently recorded at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
With the help of guests Alia Shawkat ( Search Party, Arrested Development, Transparent ), Niecy Nash ( Claws, Reno 911 , Getting On) , and Terri Coleman , we take on life advice questions from listeners in their 20s, and talk about the most challenging and exciting parts of young adulthood.
One listener named Sumaya asks how to handle tough conversations about money with friends who, all of a sudden, are making more than she is. Mia wants to know about how to make friends in a new city, without the help of a social life centered around school. And a listener who wants to be known as "Rebecca" asks about how to figure out exactly what she and her partner like in the bedroom.
We also talk with Alia Shawkat and Niecy Nash about their 20s. Niecy was married with three kids by the time her 20s were over. Alia's still in her 20s, and talks about what it was like to get famous young on Arrested Development , and how her view of relationships and money has shifted during this decade of her life. Plus, Terri Coleman tells a story, accompanied by drummer Bianca Richardson, about an important lesson she learned in her 20s from an unlikely mentor — Jose Cuervo.
Ellen Burstyn's Lessons on Survival
I talked with Ellen Burstyn three years ago, sitting on wicker furniture in her New York apartment. She told me about getting on a Greyhound bus to Dallas at 18 with 50 cents in her pocket, and about surviving an illegal abortion. And she described adopting her son, leaving an abusive marriage, and starring as a newly single mom in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore . The role was based in part on her own life, and it won her an Oscar. "I know I’m a successful actress," she told me. "But I don’t feel I’m necessarily a successful person."
Ellen also told us about her "should-less days" — days she sets aside "where there’s nothing I should do." As she explained to me, "I have wiring in my brain that calls me lazy, if I’m not doing something. I haven’t been able to get rid of it. But what I can do is I can put in another wiring, I can put in should-less days, so when that voice goes off and says you’re being lazy, I turn to the other wiring in my brain that says, no, this is a should-less day, and I’m doing what I want."
This month, we're celebrating Ellen Burstyn and should-less days with our new Death, Sex & Money should-less day mug. Support our work by becoming a sustaining member at $8/month, and we'll send you one! Just go to or text "DSM" to 70101.
Listen back to Ellen Burstyn's conversation with Gloria Steinem on Death, Sex & Money last year .