“Decadence” is one of those familiar terms that is trivialized or rendered comic by overuse—perhaps you’d say from decadence itself. And while most people think decadent is mostly a synonym for “sumptuous,” it has a wider and deeper meaning, which is the subject of Ross Douthat’s new book, The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success.

Douthat, a columnist for the New York Times and author of several fine books analyzing the current American scene, looks at several markers of a decadent civilization and culture, from falling birthrates, slowing economic growth, declining innovation, sclerotic institutions, and cultural stagnation. Is there a way out of this dead-end road, or is America fated to become the modern-day Rome? Steve Hayward covers these and other aspects of the question in this entirely non-decadent conversation.

This week on The Big Show, we attempt to return to some sense of normalcy (while of course maintaining social distancing by at least 1,000 miles). Yes, we talk about that thing we’re all doing and what our new lives are like now. But then, we shift gears to visit with our good friend Ross Douthat, NYT columnist and podcaster (The Argument, which Ross co-hosts is one of our favorites) on the occasion of his new book., The Decadent Society. It’s a meditation on what happens when a rich and powerful society stops advancing  and how the combination of wealth, technology, economic stagnation, political stalemates, and demographic decline (among other things) creates a “sustainable decadence” that could stick around for a long time. Needless to say, it’s a provocative conversation that we’d like to get your take on in the comments. Finally, we do round of What Are You Watching,  and do a deep dive on toilet paper, courtesy of the Lileks Post of The Week.

Music from this week’s show: I.G.Y by Donald Fagen

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat joins the Remnant to discuss religion: new religions, religions fighting among themselves, hokey religions that are no match for a good blaster at your side, etc.


One of the constants on this podcast from the very start has been Game of Thrones. That’s despite the fact that one of the hosts can’t stand the show. That’s why when we really want to get into the weeds on the how, we call in two experts on the genre and the show: the Free Beacon’s Sonny Bunch and the New York Times’ Ross Douthat. Together with John and Jonah, they parse the good, the bad, what worked and what didn’t. Needless to say, this episode of GLoP contains MAJOR Game of Thrones spoilers so if you have not seen the series finale, you should not listen to this podcast until you have.


First, apologies to all of our faithful listeners for being 24 hours late with this edition of the Ricochet Podcast — we were felled by technical issues yesterday with the first half of the show. But this one is worth the wait: first, Original Cast Member Rob Long is back from making TV great again and has been seated in his rightful place in the host chair (from Miami Beach, no less). Then, NYT columnist Ross Douthat stops by to talk about his thoughtful new book To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism (yes, of course you should pre-order it). It’s a ruche discussion about faith, religion, and Pope Francis. Then, back to more secular matters with the always current Byron York, who brings us up to speed on the Mueller investigation,. the Omnibus spending bill, and some Stormy weather predicted for Sunday night. Uh oh.

Music from this week’s show: Melancholy Serenade  by The Jackie Gleason Orchestra


This week, we’ve pulled together the most knowledgeable quorum on the culture landscape to give you the finest in pop culture hot takes. Our good friends Ross Douthat and Kyle Smith from NR’s Projections podcast (yes, you must subscribe) join John and Jonah (Rob Long is off making TV great again) to do a deep dive on Black Panther, the best Best Picture of all time, and so predictions for this year’s winner. Also, why The Godfather is the best American movie. Don’t agree? Make us an offer we can’t refuse in the comments.

It’s been a bad week for Hollywood’s grasp on moral authority. First, Harvey Weinstein is fired for transgressions going back decades, and then some guy from Amazon gets fired for basically the same thing. To help guide us through the moral minefield, we call up New York Times columns extraordinaire Ross Douthat. We also talk Hefner and that pesky 25th Amendment. Then, Christopher Scalia, son of Antonin Scalia on this new book Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived. The book is a collection of Justice Scalia’s speeches and we talk about his influence, his passions, and his unlikely friendship with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Also, the President appears to have an issue with freedom of the press. Is this one of those times we shouldn’t take him literally?

Music from this week’s show: All I Really Want by Alanis Morrissette

As promised, here’s the GLoP Game of Thrones season 7 recap podcast with special guests New York Times columnist (and National Review movie critic) Ross Douthat and The Washington Free Beacon’s Sonny Bunch sitting in for the Game-less Rob Long. Need less to say, this show contains wall-to-Northern Wall spoilers as well as arcana and details that only people who actually live in Westeros or die hard Thrones fans will appreciate. That said, if you watch the show and want to hear some smart guys geek out about it, then this podcast is for you. Winter is here.