Best of Culture 2022: Day 24 – Highs & Lows of the Year: The H3 Podcast
Day 24 of our Cultural Advent Calendar, in which we’re counting down our highlights of 2022 day-by-day all the way to Christmas and beyond. Our Highs & Lows of this cultural year continues with the H3 podcast.
For the past two years I have religiously watched The H3 Podcast, a YouTube channel with 2.89M subscribers that livestreams four shows a week, mainly focused on covering internet and pop culture.
It’s hosted by husband and wife duo Ethan and Hila Klein, who rose to online fame in the mid-to-late 2010’s through their other YouTube channel, H3H3 Productions, where they would mostly share memes and reactionary content.
Their most famous video? VAPE NAYSH YALL.
The backstory to the H3 Podcast is important, because it involves A LOT of internet lore.
Cast your mind back to early 2020. Whispers of a virus spreading across the world are growing louder. Lockdowns are on the horizon. The ‘King of YouTube’ Shane Dawson is yet to be cancelled.
H3 (which symbolises Hila and Ethan’s initials, by the way) now have an established podcast where they interview people like Post Malone, Bo Burnham and – whispers – Jordan Peterson.
Then, on 22 February 2020, they published an interview with controversial YouTuber Trisha Paytas, perhaps best known for crying on her kitchen floor and claiming to be a chicken nugget.
The interview was a massive hit, with the bickering, oversharing, sibling-like dynamic between Trisha and Ethan so popular that they later decided to create their own separate H3-hosted show called ‘Frenemies’.
‘Frenemies’, along with the pandemic, completely shifted the direction of the H3 Podcast channel and blew its audience – and cultural significance within the influencer sphere – up. It became the go-to for hearing about the latest YouTube dramas from an insider perspective.
But alas, ‘Frenemies’ didn’t last. It wasn’t hugely unexpected, especially when the entire concept of the show was built around Ethan and Trisha hating one another.
It ended with the two dressed like Uncle Fester and Debbie from the 1993 movie Addams Family Values, eating pizza and arguing over Ethan taking an extra 5% cut from the show’s earnings.
I’m skipping past a lot of information and hearsay here, because honestly, there’s just too much. Also, I’m guessing you probably don’t care.
The main thing to know is that after the ‘Frenemies’ fallout, the majority of its audience sided with Ethan, and chose to continue watching and supporting H3 content. All of this created a much bigger, and more invested community of viewers who, interestingly, are mostly female. The podcast has even become a sort of litmus test for some women to check the values and compatibility of the men they are dating. (If he prefers Joe Rogan, run.)
Nowadays, H3 streams four shows a week (five for paying members), all live and with a much bigger crew of people that have become beloved contributors to the show. Watching feels a lot like hanging out with family – but like a cool, fun family that share insider jokes and introduce you to eccentric TikTok personalities.
While my consumption of traditional media has definitely plummeted since becoming an H3 fan, I love the comfort of its near-daily schedule, which is definitely a hangover from the COVID lockdowns, when weeks blurred and something as simple as a weekly show could become a tether to routine.
Throughout such turbulent social media times, where many content creators are either burning out or being outed for something, the H3 Podcast has also achieved something quite remarkable: retaining a loyal audience. It not only knows what its viewers want to see, but also collaborates with them via content ideas on their 500,000+ member-strong subreddit. The fanbase might be huge, but you always feel heard.
For the very online person, the H3 Podcast really has everything.
Come for the discussions on politics and pop culture; stay for the unwanted knowledge that American TV presenter Howie Mandel once uploaded a TikTok of a prolapsed anus. (Don’t look it up.)