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Are People Going On Reality Shows To Find Love Or Just Start A Podcast?

I’m old enough to remember a time when people went on reality shows for the right reason: to get a brand deal with PLT or Boohoo. They diligently tried to find love, pretended to be attracted to absolute clowns, and acted out massive catfights, all for the end goal of adding the word “ambassador” to their Instagram bio. But those days have passed, and now our contestants have a new objective in mind: the golden podcast deal.

Podcasts are more popular than ever before. As of 2024, there are over 400 million podcaster listeners across the globe. Whether you’re tuning in for gruesome murders, whatever Meghan Markle is selling now, or just girlies chatting to their pals, you’re a part of that figure. But with that rise in listeners, comes a huge growth in the number of podcasts available. There are now over 2 million independent podcasts — and I bet reality TV stars count for about half of that.

Our fave reality stars are leaving set and heading straight to the podcast booth. Is it a coincidence? Is it their only way to make money now that influencers and 15-year-old TikTok stars snatch the brand deals? Or is this a part of their master plan to go on a reality show in the first place? This detective girlie is going to find out.

Which reality TV show has led to the most podcasts?

I first noticed this trend when examining the fate of various Love is Blind contestants (spoiler: love isn’t blind). Time and time again, they turned to the classic podcast. The first four seasons of the show had spawned six different podcasts. Only one was about LIB (Out of the Pods with Natalie Lee and Deepti Vempati), and another was about Netflix reality shows in general (We Have the Receipts with Lauren Speed-Hamilton, who has now left the podcast! #sad). None of these contestants were remotely involved with podcasting prior to the show, so why had a week in the pods and drinking out of golden goblets led them to be qualified for this?

But when I put on my internet goggles and deep-dived into podcasts hosted by previous reality TV stars, I realized that the problem went far deeper than LIB. We had an epidemic on our hands. I found over 70 different podcasts by contestants of some of our favorite shows, including Love Island, The Bachelor, Dance Moms, and The Hills. A few were related to their creation show and recapping episodes of it, but for the most part, it was just about… them. 

I soon discovered that Love is Blind wasn’t the epicenter of the issue, far from it. The real hub for future podcasters was the Real Housewives franchise. It makes sense when you really think about it. Many of these stars are on multiple seasons, which builds up their initial fan base and commercial interest in them. They’re given more air time to show off their speaking skills and highlight just how much shit they can chat. They also tend to be rich enough to think people want to hear everything they have to say. Out of 71 podcasts, 19 were spawned by the Real Housewives. As for which branch of this iconic show, the biggest source of future podcasters was The Real Housewives of Orange County, which produced six different podcasts, including Heather Dubrow’s World and PopCandy Podcast with Jo De La Rosa. Beloved OC housewife Vicki Gunvalson was so determined to find success as a podcaster that she started two podcasts, Whoop It Up With Vicki, and then Reality With Vicki, once the first one failed. We even got crossovers, with Beverly Hills meeting Orange County in Two Ts In a Pod by Teddi Mellencamp and Tamra Judge.

A close second goes to Bachelor Nation, which has led to at least 14 podcasts over its many spin-offs. The real kicker in this is that it’s rarely ever the main Bachelor or Bachelorette who starts a podcast, it’s usually someone who was eliminated midway through the show. For example, Ashley Iaconetti was left rose-less in week 6 of the 19th season of The Bachelor, and has since had not one, but TWO DIFFERENT PODCASTS. 

A final shoutout to Love Island — the UK version, obviously, as we just love the accents. Eight podcasts can be linked to this show and its thirsty contestants. Most notable are Chloe Burrows and Toby Aromolaran, the runners-up on season 7. Each has their own podcast now, making them one of the few semi-famous couples to embark on this audio journey. Did they bond over their podcasting ambitions? Did they stay up late discussing potential guests and sponsors? The talkative duo have broken up now, perhaps the cutthroat competitive nature of podcasting got to them. 

What do they get out of a podcast?

Aside from the bragging rights, let’s consider what all these C-list celebs-turned-podcasters are getting out of the situation. First, it’s a sense of legitimacy. They have something to add to their bio alongside “LIB season 2” with some heart-based emoji that isn’t the basic bitch red heart. It gives them a purpose, a direction, a way to channel their fleeting fame while they have it. They’ve come off the show to a bunch of new fans, and now they want to use them before they expire/unfollow.

Then there’s the podcast itself. After some internet sleuthing, I learned podcasters earn money through advertising and sponsorships hosted on podcast platforms.

But many of our reality podcasters do so through a specific podcasting brand, like iHeart Radio or Dear Media. These hosting companies sign a contract with the C-list celeb, pay them a set amount for the podcast, and then earn through all the deals. It gives the celeb a money guarantee and removes the effort of dealing with sponsors. 

Aside from sponsors on the podcast, the hope is that a podcast will increase your following enough to get your ad deal offline as well. Well, on social media, at least. You hope that people enjoy your podcast enough to follow you on Instagram and TikTok, and that this translates into a deal with Fabletics. A prime way to achieve this is to have famous guests who will bring their own followings over to you. 

To conclude: money, duh. 

Who is most likely to start a podcast after their show?

As mentioned previously in my tirade, I kind of expected the leading lads and ladies of the Bachelor nation to be picking up the podcast mic — or those tiny mics that are a total ick. But it’s rarely the rose-giver, but rather the rose-non-receiver (copywriting that immediately). Like Carly Waddell and Jade Roper, who were eliminated in week 7 and week 8 of the 19th season, and hosted Mommies Tell All until 2022

Perhaps it’s the ones with something to prove. They got a small taste of fame and now eagerly reach for it, trying to amplify their voices with a podcast. They’re too famous to go back to their regular lives (or at least feel that way), but not famous enough to promote anything better than detox tea on social media. This seems like their way of using their tiny slice of fame and turning it into more. They saw what Nick Viall did, they can do that too!! Right??? When reality TV gives you lemons, make a podcast.

Interestingly enough, it’s not always the most memorable faces that lead to a podcast. Like we’d all get if Micah and Irina had banded up for a savage podcast post-LIB, but Kelly Chase telling us to Chase Life With Kelly? Jarrette of season 2 hosting The Gentleman’s Lounge? These were essentially the wallflowers of their season, overshadowed by Shayne, Shake (gag), and GiGi. Literally, who are you? I’m sorry to say that it makes me doubt whether they were approached by anyone to host, but rather just bought a ‘How to Start a Podcast’ set off Amazon and gave it a go. It proves my point that this isn’t some natural progression, but rather a grab for any fame, and jealousy over what other contestants got out of things.

Sometimes it isn’t people we recognize, but not necessarily the ones we like. I think we all know who I’m talking about. It’s time to drag out Scandoval one last time (hopefully). Tom Sandoval cheated on his partner of nine years, Ariana Madix, with her bestie Rachel Leviss, all of whom star on Vanderpump Rules. Six months after the drama blew up, Tom announced his new podcast, Everybody Loves Tom. Notable episodes include Tom taking a narcissism test, Tom chatting to JoJo Siwa, and all the guests Tom could pay to say that he isn’t a bad guy. Then in November, his partner in crime, Rachel, announced her own podcast, Rachel Goes Rogue, where she tells her side of things. In subsequent episodes, she breaks down stuff currently happening on VPR and tries to excuse her behavior.

We’re seeing a rise in reality “villains” driving into the podcast lane. It makes sense, as it’s the perfect place to say your piece without having to engage in a conversation actively. Interviews or reunion episodes can involve hard questions you don’t want to answer, while a podcast gives you the final say over your own editing. Rachel and Tom can point fingers and shirk the blame, because Ariana isn’t there watching them, and Lala isn’t actively calling out their choice of words. 

Perhaps the future of podcasts is to act as the villain redemption arc. We already see this in how these characters will appear as guests on other people’s podcasts, such as Rachel’s interview with Bethenny Frankel and Francesca Farago on Everybody Loves Tom

We’ve known for a long time that people weren’t really going on these shows for the “right” reasons, and now they’ve got a different ambition. So to fulfil my own podcast dreams, all I need to do is sign up for the next season of Too Hot to Handle and do what I always do, not have sex. You’ll be seeing me on Spotify soon enough!

An Extensive List Of Reality TV Stars Who Have Podcasts (So Far)

TV Show Name of Podcast Contestants
Laguna Beach Back To The Beach Kristin Cavallari and Stephen Colletti
Queer Eye Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness Jonathan Van Ness
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Brandi Glanville Unfiltered Brandi Glanville
Jersey Shore It’s Happening with Snooki & Joey Snooki
Jersey Shore Here’s The Sitch with Mike & Laurens Mike and Laurens
Jersey Shore Just Sayin’ Podcast Sammi Sweetheart
The Simple Life This Is Paris Paris Hilton
The Hills Make Speidi Famous Again Spencer and Heidi Pratt
The Hills Asking for a Friend Lauren Conrad
The Hills With Whit Whitney Port
The Hills Was It Real? The Hills Rewatch Audrina Patridge, Brody Jenner and Frankie Delgado
Love is Blind We Have the Receipts Lauren Speed-Hamilton
Love is Blind Chase Life With Kelly Kelly Chase
Love is Blind Eyes Wide Open Nick Thompson
Love is Blind Out of the Pods Natalie Lee and Deepti Vempati
Love is Blind The Gentleman’s Lounge Jarrette Jones
Love is Blind Feel in the Blank Iyanna McNeely
The Real Housewives of New Jersey Namaste B$tches Teresa Giudice
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Orange County Two Ts In a Pod Teddi Mellencamp and Tamra Judge
The Real Housewives of New Jersey On Display Melissa Gorga
The Real Housewives of Potomac Reasonably Shady Gizelle Bryant and Robyn Dixon
The Real Housewives of Potomac So That’s What We’re Doing?  Candiace Dillard-Bassett
The Real Housewives of Dallas Kam & Kary Do Dallas Kameron Westcott and Kary Brittingham
The Real Housewives of New York Just B with Bethenny Frankel Bethenny Frankel
The Real Housewives of New Jersey Absolutely Danielle Danielle Staub
The Real Housewives of Orange County Whoop It Up With Vicki & Reality With Vicki Vicki Gunvalson
The Real Housewives of New Jersey Caviar Dreams on a Tuna Fish Budget Margaret Josephs
The Real Housewives of Orange County Knot Too Taboo Gretchen Rossi and Slade Smiley
The Real Housewives of Orange County Intimate Knowledge Meghan King 
The Real Housewives of Orange County PopCandy Podcast Jo De La Rosa
The Real Housewives of Dallas I Don’t Give a Rip D’Andra Simmons
The Real Housewives of Dallas Weekly Dose of B.S. Brandi Redmond and Stephanie Hollman
The Real Housewives of New Jersey The Lookover Ladies Jacqueline Laurita
The Real Housewives of Potomac Not for Lazy Moms Monique Samuels
The Real Housewives of Atlanta House of Kim Kim Zolciak-Biermann
The Real Housewives of Orange County Heather Dubrow’s World Heather Dubrow
Vanderpump Rules Everybody Loves Tom Tom Sandoval
Vanderpump Rules Rachel Goes Rogue Rachel Leviss
Vanderpump Rules When Reality Hits Jax Taylor and Brittany Cartwright
Vanderpump Rules Scheananigans with Scheana Shay Scheana Shay
Vanderpump Rules The Good The Bad The Baby Stassi Shroeder
Vanderpump Rules Give Them Lala Lala Kent
Vanderpump Rules Sex, Love… and What Else Matters? Kristen Doute
The Bachelor The Viall Files Nick Viall
Dance Moms JoJo Siwa Now JoJo Siwa
Dance Moms Take 20 with Maddie and Kenzie Ziegler Maddie and Mackenzie Ziegler
Dance Moms Christi’s Couch Christi Lukasiak
Dance Moms Back to the Barre Christi Lukasiak and Kelly Hyland
Dance Moms Adulting with Teala & Nia Nia Sioux
Bachelor in Paradise Bachelor Happy Hour Joe Amabile and Serena Pitt
The Bachelor The Ben & Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast Ben Higgins and Ashley Iaconetti
The Bachelor I Don’t Get It Ashley Iaconetti
The Bachelor Scrubbing In With Becca Tilley & Tanya Rad Becca Tille
The Bachelorette Bachelor Happy Hour Rachel Lindsey and Becca Kufrin
Bachelor in Paradise Date Night With Raven & Adam Raven Gates and Adam Gottschalk
The Bachelor Mouthing Off With Olivia Caridi Olivia Caridi
The Bachelorette Help! I Suck at Dating With Dean, Jared, & . . . Dean Unglert and Jared Haibon
The Bachelor The Betchelor Podcast Derek Peth
The Bachelor Mommies Tell All Carly Waddell and Jade Roper
The Bachelor Off the Vine With Kaitlyn Bristowe Kaityn Bristowe
The Bachelorette Your Favorite Thing With Wells & Brandi Wells Adams and Brandi Cyrus
The Bachelor Let’s Talk About It With Taylor Nolan Taylor Nolan
Bachelor in Paradise Down to Date With Kendall Long Kendall Long
Love Island Chloe vs The World Chloe Burrows
Love Island Fancy A Chat? Toby Aromolaran
Love Island Grazia Life Advice Kaz Kamwi
Love Island Love Island: The Morning After Sam Tompson and Indiyah Polack
Love Island Sorted with the Dyers Dani Dyer
Love Island Olivia Attwood’s So Wrong It’s Right Olivia Attwood
Love Island Your 5 Minute Call Amber Davies
Love Island Stompcast Dr Alex George
RuPaul’s Drag Race The Trixie & Katya Show Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova

 

Fleurine Tideman
Fleurine Tideman
Fleurine Tideman, a European-based copywriter. She’s interesting (cause she’s from Europe), speaks multiple languages (again, she's from Europe), and is mentally unhinged (despite socialized healthcare). You can find her European musings on Twitter @ByFleurine and her blog, Symptoms of Living, both of which are written to the sounds of unhinged Taylor Swift playlists.