Pod-Canon #6: The Outrageously, Wildly Entertaining 90 Day Fiance Podcast 90 Day Bae Is My New Podcast Obsession
Welcome, friends, to the latest entry in Pod-Canon 2.0. In previous entries here and at its previous home at Splitsider, I singled out specific episodes of various podcasts, mostly Hollywood Handbook and The Best Show, as a way to articulate what makes them so goddamn special and great and important.
I still very much intend to write about micro as well as macro level but from this entry forward I will also be spotlighting podcasts as a whole, not just specific episodes, beginning with 90 Day Bae. I first learned of the podcast while researching a Big Whoop post on my obsession with 90 Day Fiance, TLC’s ratings juggernaut and multi-tentacled pop culture phenomenon.
90 Day Bae is a Patreon-only podcast, which means you’ve got to pay in order to listen so I took the plunge and pledged the only level they offer: five dollars, which entitles you to the catalog and all the new episodes.
It was a gamble but a reasonable one. I don’t want to boast of my incredible wealth and privilege but I do have just enough money that I can afford to pledge five dollars to a podcast I strongly suspect I will enjoy without relegating my family to a lifetime of poverty and deprivation.
I chose wisely. I fell in love with 90 Day Bae immediately. I wasn’t just impressed: I was obsessed. It was full-on podcast infatuation. For weeks/months now I have been forsaking all other podcasts, well, mostly forsaking all other podcasts, so that I can listen to the entirety of the 90 Day Bae catalog along with new episodes.
I found 90 Day Bae because I was specifically looking for media related to 90 Day Fiance but subject matter is only half of the grand gestalt of a great podcast. The other half is the talent and chemistry.
90 Day Bae benefits from the perfect combination of host and subject matter. Hosts Nicole Byer, of Nailed It, standup comedy and the Best Friends and Why Won’t You Date Me podcasts (in other words she’s so busy and in demand that it’s remarkable she can find the time to do the podcast with all the accompanying research) and Nancy Jarreau, a writer for Brooklyn 99 are the gossipy, endlessly entertaining friends you wish you had, and could kibbitz with delightfully whenever you like.
Part of the joy of getting unhealthily invested in a new podcast lies in the fascinating glimpse you get into the friendship, lives and personalities of the hosts. Byer and Jarreau have a deep and fascinating bond. Byer is the unmistakable star, a powder keg of charisma and personality in any format but a particular goddamn delight in podcasting. Jarreau is hilarious and magnetic in her own right but Byer is such an unstoppable comic force that Jarreau if relegated to wry sidekick status by default.
You might know of Byer from her many successful projects or from that one time a doddering John Cleese humiliated himself by coming at her via the bitchy, sarcastic sub-tweet, always the most dignified manner for a 79 year old man to express his thoughts and opinions with the general public.
To his eternal discredit, Cleese cluelessly tweeted “In December I visited Netflix to pitch the idea of a 'Special'
They must have hated the idea because they never got back to me, or returned any of my agent's phone calls or emails !
Recently someone showed me one of the 'Specials' they did commission.
It was very original..”
He then followed it up with
“A hgely likeable and jolly young woman did a highly original routine based on the fact that she was so 'fat' that she couldn't find her own 'pussy'
My only disappointment was that when I approached Netflix in December
I had not known the sort of material they were looking for”
White privilege is being so incensed that a large bisexual black woman who talks about being in therapy and on medication and tells jokes about her body has so many unfair advantages, professional and otherwise, that straight white veteran comedy legend John Cleese that this horrible injustice must be addressed publicly, in the court of public opinion known as Twitter.
Even more shamefully, once Cleese realized what kind of material, subject matter and attitude Netflix was looking for, he cynically pitched a “Special” called John Cleese: I’m So Fat I Can’t Find My Own Pussy But At Least I’m I’m Hgly Likable And Jolly About It that, to be honest, probably does not reflect his true sensibility or specific set of life experiences.
Cleese is right in at least one respect: Byer is indeed hugely likable, with the kind of mega-watt presence that lights up a room and the kind of sonorous purr that makes podcast listeners feel like she’s talking directly to them.
To use what appears to be her favorite word, Byer is wild in the best possible way: spontaneous, effortlessly witty, unfiltered (I just listened to an extended, not out of character riff about the fuck pillow she recently bought for the purpose of onanism) and rightly delighted by herself and the endless array of clever things that come out of her mouth.
Byer and Jarreau treat the many different iterations of the show, including 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After?, 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way, 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days, The Family Chantel and most recently, 90 Day Fiance: Not Actually a 90 Day Fiance Spin-Off But A Cop Procedural Show But Why Stop Now? With the exact right note of gleeful irreverence, as real-life soap operas full of outrageous, larger than life cartoon characters locked in impossible romantic entanglements that can’t help but make you feel grateful that your own romantic and family life is not such a fascinating shitshow.
On 90 Day Bae the hosts hilariously express the kinds of thoughts you try not to have because they’re too mean. There’s something wonderfully liberating and cathartic about hearing your cruelest snark given life by people much funnier and more eloquent than you.
Byer and Jarreau glean particularly big laughs out of the often intense imbalance in attractiveness between many of the couples. On 90 Day Fiance men who look like flesh-colored versions of Grimace, sentient pillows or the Batman villain The Penguin woo women who look like, and sometimes are, models, or at least low-level sex workers while there are also women involved with men decades younger and leagues more attractive.
The various versions of 90 Day Fiance give the hosts an embarrassment of riches to work with. The largely doomed couples’ complete lack of self-awareness and self-consciousness makes them perfect for mockery; they have no idea how ridiculous they come off and the gulf between how they see themselves and how they actually are never stops being hilarious as well as sad.
You don’t need to be a 90 Day Fiance fanatic to love 90 Day Bae. I wasn’t familiar with any of the reality shows Hayes Davenport and Sean Clements made fun of on The Reality Show Show, their pre-Hollywood Handbook Earwolf vehicle, but I loved the podcast all the same because the hosts were so funny and worked in a state of such perfect symbiosis. The same I imagine would hold true for 90 Day Bae; Byer and Jarreau are the real attraction, the juicy subject matter is just the icing on the cake.
It wasn’t until I was thinking about this article that I realized that 90 Day Bae does not have guests. At all. That is pretty fucking rare. Comedy podcasting, perhaps more than any other medium, with the possible exception of early 1990s Native Tongues posse cuts, is dependent on the quality and, to a lesser extent, quantity of guests.
Podcasts generally need guests. They’re the spice that gives every podcast that special flavor and uniqueness that only comes with comedian podcasters in Los Angeles interviewing other Los Angeles comedians about what it’s like being a comedian and a podcaster in Los Angeles.
Yet Byer and Jarreau are so effortlessly, consistently, explosively entertaining that I literally did not even realize that the show was just two friends talking 90 Day Fiance and nothing else despite listening to it, and pretty much only it, for the past two months or so.
That’s how good they are: not only do you not miss the big names you would expect on pretty much every other funny podcast; if you’re me you don’t even notice the dearth of guests .
You may have to pay modestly for the privilege of listening to 90 Day Bae, and it is a privilege, but even if you are not obsessed with 90 Day Fiance the way my wife and myself are, that’s still the biggest bargain in podcasting.
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