I’m not writing next weekend. Sorry. You’ll be fine.  

My father-in-law Dave is visiting from Minneapolis. We’ll be too busy drinking, playing cribbage, sitting by a fire, and listening to classic rock at our cabin – at least between gorging grilled meats. 

Not to brag, but I hit the father-in-law jackpot. 

Dave hit the son-in-law jackpot too – twice. Tara’s sister, Rachel (one of my all-time favorite humans), married another one of my all-time favorite humans, Zach. I scored a brother from another mother. Dave went a sparkling 2-for-2.   

I hope Noelle and Maddie have such impeccable taste in life partners.

My dad got along with most of my sister’s various suitors over the years. Maybe too much. I remember one guy, Ted, who fished and golfed with us long after he and my sister broke up. I was six years younger than my sister, so I didn’t think anything of it. She was noticeably less enthused about the situation. 

Somewhere along the way, in-laws have become a cliché. Tell someone your in-laws are coming to visit and you often get a “sorry, dude” reply. 

It’s ironic, because an overwhelming 79% of people say they have a good relationship with their in-laws. It’s similar across gender, age, income, and education groups. The only notable variance is that non-white Americans have better relationships with their in-laws than white ones.  

The 79% number makes sense if you think about it. Asshole kids usually have asshole parents. Naturally, it holds that nearly 4 out of 5 people don’t marry assholes – knowingly, anyway. 

It also stands to reason that a lot of people factor their prospective in-laws into the “should I or shouldn’t I?” marriage calculus. The in-law Sorting Hat does take your choice into account.

I certainly fell even more in love with Tara the more I got to know her Minnesota family. It helps that Minnesotans are universally lovely people. Scandinavians are the best. 

So, yeah, I nailed it on the in-law front. Thankfully.  

Life can be hard, especially right now. We may never be able to fully measure the impact these past few years had on our collective mental health. I hope you have the family, friends, and acquired family to help you through it, like I do.

And I hope you have as much fun over Memorial Day weekend as I will.

See you in June.

Here’s what we’re seeing:    

Streaming has finally – and forever – supplanted linear TV as the primary way Americans watch most of their TV. This was inevitable, but in the past couple months, more U.S. adults said they watch the majority of their television via streaming service than over live/linear platforms. It varies pretty widely by state, with a clear trend of higher streaming usage in more non-urban places like Alaska, Oklahoma, and Idaho. There’s a ton more in this study we published this week, including the growing number of streaming services people pay for, the mix of ad-supported and non-ad-supported platforms, password-sharing, and much more. But if you want to get down to each of the individual services, you’ll need to reach out.


Despite all that extra TV watching, COVID was good for sex apparently. A definitive study from the Kinsey Institute in 2017 found that married couples had sex, on average, 1.2 times per week, representing a steady decline over the prior decade. If our latest data is any indication, those numbers improved (either in quantity, quality, or both) in the COVID era. Twenty-three percent of Americans say their sex life is better than pre-pandemic, with 18% saying it got worse. Driving this trend is an identical ratio of adults who say their romantic relationship is more satisfying than before (cause or effect?). There’s also a head-scratching correlation between happy, sex-filled relationships and whether people got COVID in their household. But you can read that for yourself.

Restaurant traffic is feeling the pressure of inflation and depleted disposable income. This may have been as inevitable as streaming’s conquest of linear TV. The percentage of Americans who say they are planning to dine at a restaurant in the next week has fallen four points since the beginning of May. While the numbers were still much worse in January, that was purely about COVID safety. The current trend is being accelerated by financials. Fifty-nine percent of U.S. adults say they have chosen not to eat at a QSR, at least once in the past month, because of rising costs. This feels like the beginning of a pattern, not the middle or end.

This may not be the best time for Instacart to go public. Grocery delivery missed its big chance at the beginning of COVID. When consumers desperately needed them, grocers and delivery platforms weren’t ready for the non-linear increase in demand – it was nearly impossible to schedule appointments and empty shelves almost always led to incomplete orders. Nearly half of the people who tried grocery delivery services say they had a negative experience with them. Today, groceries are expensive enough, without the added surcharge. Good luck, Instacart. I think you’ll need it. 

On the other hand, you should be bullish on Aldi, even in a rough economy. Brand loyalty is the best way to overcome skittish spending and Trader Joe’s less pretentious sibling has it covered. Aldi shoppers value brand over price to a remarkably high degree, which means they’re far less price sensitive than, say, those who shop at Kroger or Harris Teeter. It helps that Aldi is generally affordable to begin with, but so is Walmart – where brand loyalty takes a backseat to convenience. Walmart may lose share to Dollar General and Family Dollar as inflation rages on. Aldi should be just fine. 


More awesome CivicScience stuff this week:

  • Interest in life insurance has skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic;
  • Wordle keeps growing, especially among Twitter users, and I’m 100% here for it;
  • New Mexico has the highest % of dog people, Maine the highest % of cat people, and here you can see where your state stands;
  • Fewer Americans reported being comfortable with working, eating out, attending large events, and traveling this week.

The most popular questions this week: 

Answer Key: Mostly, yes; Never; Hell no, I love long movies; Depends how drunk I am; Driver, for sure; Baguette.

Hoping you’re well.


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