I’ve gone through TV this pandemic like the stages of grief. The first stage was the prestige drama. “It’s the perfect time to finally watch The Wire,” I thought! Turns out, the intricacies of the drug trade in Baltimore were heavy and complicated. Who can handle that in a time like this? Next came the trashy reality TV stage. “Watching people get drunk, naked, and make bad decisions is exactly what I need to get me through this pandemic! Too Hot To Handle will heal me,” I reasoned. Turns out, watching people get closer than six feet apart made me jealous, angry, and a little bit panicky. On to the next! The third stage was comfort TV. “Time to settle in with all my old friends! A little Jess Day-Nick Miller time is what I need.” Turns out, New Girl just made me long for the simpler times when I first discovered it.
So I’ve finally made it to my final stage of TV. The true crime documentary. THIS is exactly what I need. Something that keeps me up at night out of fear that someone will break in and dismember me and not because I’ll never be able to buy a house! And the great thing about true crime is that there’s a little something for everyone. Murder? Good! Scams? Good! Cults? Good! It’s all here. And lately we’ve been blessed with an embarrassment of true crime riches. So which one should you watch? Oh don’t fret, I’ve got you covered and will be breaking it down for you by interest. Because when my therapist says, “maybe you should slow down on the crime so you don’t have to clutch a butter knife all night long” I like to double down instead of taking the suggestion. You’re welcome!
*Friendly warning: There might be some light spoilers in here, so tread carefully if you’re going to be mad that I mentioned something that happened 20 years ago was already splashed all over countless newspapers and magazines!*
If You’re A Late Night Reddit Fiend You Should Watch…
Unsolved Mysteries – Netflix
— Cancelled♡ (@Thatsovirgo) July 2, 2020
Unsolved Mysteries dropped on Netflix in July, and it’s a revival of an old show that was on TV way back when The Bachelor was but a twinkle in Mike Fleiss’ eye. There are six new episodes detailing crimes or weird happenings (aliens are real y’all, change my mind) that have never been solved. So if you’re the kind of person that likes to spend all night theorizing to strangers as to why a man would sleep with the ashes of his murdered wife, or if you enjoy combing through letters that were left by a dead man and comparing them to the plot of a movie then this. is. your. show. And hey! If you solve one of these cases, all that time you spent maniacally whispering to yourself, “it wasn’t suicide”, neglecting showers, and subsisting only on Cheetos and then the left over Cheeto dust that collected on your shirt will just be called a “cute phase” instead of a “mental breakdown”.
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich – Netflix
Speaking of it not being suicide, it’s obviously time to move on to Jeffrey Epstein. The theories abound about what actually happened to him in that prison cell, but this documentary actually focuses on the girls (now women) he abused and how his money, access, and power allowed it to happen without consequence for years. It’s terrifying. Netflix even calls it a “molestation pyramid scheme” and now I’m actually thankful that all the girls I went to high school with only got involved in makeup pyramid schemes. But in all seriousness, Jeffrey Epstein was very connected to some of the most powerful people in the world and it makes me suspicious that literally every man in charge of anything was involved. My mom always did tell me growing up that everyone’s a perv. This series made me believe it.
Outcry – Hulu
This one is for all of you out there that love Friday Night Lights, but wish it had involved more ruined lives, child molestation, and shoddy detective work. Greg Kelley was a high school football star in Texas when he was accused and convicted of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old that attended daycare in the house where he lived. I know, a tough pill to swallow. But this series follows Greg as he is in prison, and then eventually is exonerated for the crime. Throughout the documentary we see how poorly the case was handled, how important leads were not investigated, and how because of that, this child never got justice. I have my theory of who actually committed this crime but for legal reasons I’ll not publish it here, so maybe this time that anonymous person you see speculating on Reddit is ME.
*Cue Beyoncé* If You’re Into Girl Power You Should Watch…
Love Fraud – Hulu
Friends, Love Fraud brought me so much joy. I mean, not the part where we hear from multiple women that they were conned out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. That brought me rage. I mean the part where these women connect with each other, hire themselves a badass female bounty hunter, and attempt to find this life-sized maggot dressed in a suit and masquerading as a man on their own. I mean, the part where one of the women, Sabrina, says right to the camera, “Scott, you lying sack of sh*t, you f*cked me. And I’m coming after you.” Sabrina is my raison d’être. I mean the part where they’re out for revenge. Ladies, if you’re like me and you need a little joy in your life, it’s time to cue up Love Fraud.
Our bounty hunter, ladies and gentlemen.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – HBO
I can’t say enough good things about this documentary. It started as a book about the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara that transcended the true crime genre. The documentary details the case and features survivors, while also including Michelle’s writing process, her dogged efforts to solve the case, and her tragic death before completing the book. It’s different from any documentary you’ve ever seen (much like the book was) and the best part? They actually caught the son of a b*tch that did it using a genealogical website! And less than two weeks ago, they rolled that old murdering prick who thought for so long that he got away with it into court and sentenced him to life in prison without parole. How often does that happen?! It’s hard to watch and beautiful to watch, and I highly recommend it. And it also teaches you to maybe warn your family members before you spit in a tube and send it off to 23 and Me, because you might find out you aren’t as Italian as your mom said you were, but they might get arrested for murder.
If You Think Everything Is A Scam You Should Watch…
(Un)well – Netflix
This one’s for you, Goopers. Believe it or not (believe it) shoving a jade egg up your vagina is not a good idea. And if you’ve done that, it’s time you check out this series. (Un)well examines the wellness industry and how it takes advantage of unsuspecting folks like you and me to make billions of dollars. Each episode examines a different wellness trend like essential oils or breast milk and shows us both sides of the issue. It might not sound your typical true crime series, but I promise you when you hear a grown man talk about his “mother’s milk smoothie” you’ll certainly be ready to commit murder yourself.
The Vow – HBO
And finally we’ve made it to The Vow, the new HBO series detailing the NXIVM cult. I’ve only watched the first episode so far (the new episodes are still dropping) but I’m obsessed. We haven’t gotten to the part where anything bad happens yet so I’m full-steam ahead invested in this organization. Yes I DO want to find my higher purpose! Yes, they DID cure Tourette’s! Yes, I DO need one of those sashes! Needless to say, I can see how people got roped in. I’ve got to see where this goes quick, before I start writing to Keith Raniere in prison. Help.
I think there’s something for everyone on this list, so I hope you all get everything your true crime seeking heart desires. Did I miss anything? If you know about a crime doc I forgot please hit me up in the comments, lord knows I need more fuel for my constant nightmares.
Images: Netflix; thatsovirgo/Twitter; memetides, grkelley2, pattonoswalt, hbo/Instagram; Giphy (1)
In “Justice Is Finally Served” News of the week, cult leader Keith Raniere was just found guilty and faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on September 25th. The jury took less than half a day to decide this because, no sh*t, he’s a piece of sh*t.
If you aren’t familiar with NXIVM, it was a sex cult under the guise of being a “self-help” group that was extremely brutal and abusive to women. Pronounced like the heartburn medication Nexium (sorry, their public relations team), it was built on members recruiting new members to try and advance their “personal growth,” and particularly in Hollywood, their careers. If you’re interested in a full on deep-dive into their inner workings, and how Smallville is involved, I recommend our podcast Not Another True Crime Podcast’s most recent episode that goes all into this. Listen below.
But, for the quick rundown, here’s what happened with his trial: Raniere was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking after a six-week trial that exposed the disgusting and painful details of what he made his “members” go through.
As previously mentioned, NXIVM found a way to work itself into Hollywood and get some high-profile members to join, like Smallville actress Allison Mack and Seagram liquor heir Clare Bronfman, who were also found guilty on various other charges. The main sex cult aspect of the organization is actually a sub-group of NXIVM, known as D.O.S. (which translates from Latin to “Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Comapnions, cool) where Raniere would make women perform sex on him or other members of the cult and also brand them with a painful tattoo that ended up being the shape of Keith and Allison’s initials.
Additionally, he would basically make them create blackmail for themselves—either with naked photos or videotaped confessions where they would say awful things about their family members and friends to hold over them if they tried to leave. One woman even went so far as to falsely report her dad for sexually abusing her to their local newspaper.
From there, he would have women starve themselves in order to get to the body type he found appealing, making them both too weak to fight or think about how unfairly they were treated. All around, he is an awful human who is getting the least of what he deserves. See ya in hell, Keith!!
Images: Keith Raniere Conversations / Youtube
We all know that Scientology is a cult religion that loves to flaunt its relationship with celebrities. Despite the alien attacks, pay-for-salvation method, and alleged blackmail/harassment, the rich and famous seem to really love being apart of it. We all know some famous Scientologists, such as Scientology’s favorite mascot/droid Tom Cruise, former devotee Leah Remini since she exposed their f*cked up asses (you go girl), and face-molester John Travolta (never forget). But who else has been seduced by the science fiction world of L Ron Hubbard, man of many pretend degrees? Here are celebrities you probably didn’t know were famous Scientologists.
I adore Elizabeth Moss from her badass role as Offred in the Handmaid’s Tale. As such a feminist character, you’d think she would be, you know, normal IRL. Or at the very least, not part of a scary cult. But instead, she often defends Scientology. Even though there are many, many parallels between it and Gilead, she doesn’t seem to see these as red flags. Both are anti-women, anti-LBGTQ, think the news is evil, are secretive, and have been accused of harassment, assault, and even murder. The only true difference I see is that one features a Galactic Overlord (and strangely enough, it’s not the TV show).
This is one that hurt too. I love Laura Prepon, from her days as resident cool chick Donna on That 70’s Show, to her portrayal as Karla Homolka in Lifetime’s most f*cked up movie ever, Karla, (seriously you have to watch it, it’s the best), to playing sexy drug lord Alex Vause on Orange Is The New Black. Laura Prepon has decided to severely disappoint me, though, as she joined Scientology in 1999 and credits it with becoming her “true self” and being more relaxed.
He’s not just a loser, baby, but he’s also a Scientologist, having been born into the religion. Yikes, and you thought your parents were embarrassing. He notoriously refuses to talk much about it in interviews (LIKE THEY ALL DO, #REDFLAG), and seems to shrug it off by being all, “I’ve just been around it a lot”. Although he admits to reading the books (and probs drinking the Kool-Aid), he claims not to be doing any “weirdo stuff”. Given what they think is normal and chill, I would love to know what “weirdo stuff” to a Scientologist consists of.
What the f*ck was going on the set of Grease? Not only is Danny Zuko a Scientologist, but so was my childhood crush, Kenickie! It turns out that Jeff Conaway got into Scientology from Travolta after yet another drug relapse. He claimed that Scientology saved him and ~*cured*~ him from his addiction, only to relapse once again. RIP Jeff, I’ll still love you always.
Not even cartoons are safe. If you’re like, “who the f*ck is this”, you know Nancy as the voice of Bart Simpson, Mr. Burns, Maggie Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, Chuckie Finster, Rufus the naked mole rat, and many, many more. In fact, she even got in trouble with Fox for using Bart’s voice as advertising for a Scientology event. Nancy credits Scientology with all her success which is super weird, because it’s probably just that you’re like, good at your job. And you didn’t have to pay me $15 million to tell you that. But like, I’ll take it if you’re offering.
Want to know more about Scientology beyond this list of famous Scientologists? Listen to our in-depth episode of Not Another True Crime Podcast. We get into the history, recent scandals, and a possible missing persons case. Sketch!
Images: Giphy (5)
People believe in a lot of really strange stuff. There’s your generic “aliens secretly exist” and “the Illuminati run the world” conspiracy theories, and those people that actually believe they’re like, mermaids, or whatever. And then there’s actual crazy cult stuff, like Scientology and sex cults that people get arrested for on the news.
But then there’s the cultish stuff that seemingly normal people believe in. Like, it’s not enough to get them thrown in jail or admitted to a psych ward, but it’s a little questionable, and seems like it could be a really good plotline in a horror movie that ends with, like, ghosts murdering everyone (idk I don’t watch horror movies). So here’s some of the more plain weird, less criminal things people actually believe in.
1. Human Design: A More Cultish Horoscope
For starters, I came across people talking about Human Design on Instagram a few days ago, and I was confused (wtf does it mean to be a generator??) so I investigated. According to some website, Human Design is the idea that humans were pre-coded (so ~techie~) at birth, and that if you can figure out what you were “designed” to be, then you can have a “user manual” for your life.
Wow. Sounds like it was dreamed up by someone on LSD, and guess what, it was founded in the ’80s, so probs! The founder is named Rob Krakower, but he changed his name to Ra Uru Hu because tbh Rob just doesn’t sound like a cult leader name. His eight-day experience with a Voice (so, like, a really bad acid trip???) led him to create the Human Design System.
It’s based on pseudoscience—your “design” seems to be determined by a sub-atomic particle called a neutrino (which does, apparently, exist). Their existence was proven in 2015, but this website proudly informs me that Krakower claimed their existence in 1991 (um, sure, Jan). Basically, these weird subatomic particle things shoot through you at birth and imprint your personality, somehow. Makes a lot of sense.
Anyway, if you’re curious what the universe coded you to be, you can take a test to figure out if you’re a generator, manifestor, projector, or reflector. Sounds like lighting equipment, NGL, but cool!!!!
2. Rumpology: A New Way To Read A Person
Sure, you could just get your palm read and learn that you’ll have seven husbands and die rich, but why go for a normal palm reading when you could have your butt read?!?!? Yes, people are really doing this. I pray for the human race.
Sure. That sounds totally appealing. There’s a small—but stalwart—field of “scientists” who believe that reading someone’s butt shape tells a lot about a person’s character, and can even predict their future. One leader in this ~vast~ field is none other than Sylvester Stallone’s mom. Like, I’m sure your mom embarrasses you ever so often, but imagine if your mom was world-renowned for reading people’s butts.
Honestly, I just typed the word butt so often that I feel like I’ve turned into Tina Belcher. Ok, moving on.
3. Flat Earth: Everyone Has Been Lying To You, Your Entire Life
As soon as you’re old enough to know what, like, a circle is, you learn that the Earth is ROUND. (You also learn, erroneously, that Christopher Columbus thought the earth was flat and that’s why he ran into America instead of reaching India. Also, Christopher Columbus was a murderer, but that’s another issue for another time.)
Some people, however, disagree on this most basic of concepts. Maybe they hated their kindergarten teachers. Maybe they just take life really literally. Idk. But apparently, since the sky seems flat from, like, the ground, then the Earth must be flat!
The flat earth society not only argues that the earth is flat, but also that NASA is a hoax (obviously, they need an explanation for all that scientific proof that the earth is, in fact, round). Some fairly well-known athletes believe in it, and so does B.o.b., and tbh it’s a little concerning.
Read: The Top 5 Conspiracy Theories You Need To Know About
4. Body Earthers: Go Hug A Tree
Apparently, the cause of disease isn’t your genes or pollutants or random mutations, but the fact that you aren’t connected enough to nature. Yes, let’s take the world’s current obsession with homeopathic medicine one step further and say that you can cure any and all diseases by just putting your toes in the grass. Wait until my weird essential oils aunt hears about this! Body earthers believe the earth apparently transfers positive electrons into the body that kill all the “free radicals” that are messing everything up. Basically, all your problems can be blamed on your shoes. Somebody tell the entire medical field.
5. Memetics: Ideas Will Take Over The Planet
Memes already might take over your life (especially if you don’t actually have a life beyond Instagram… hi) but some people believe memes actually have a life too.
This idea started wayyyy back in the 1970s, before the internet and memes as we know them today. This guy named Richard Dawkins wrote a book called The Selfish Gene, and used the word “meme” to describe an idea. According to Dawkins, memes would use the human mind as a host (this is giving off Invasion of the Body Snatchers vibes), and the meme would replicate or change as it jumped from individual to individual. An idea succeeds in culture if the host is willing to contribute to spreading around the idea.
This science of thought is called memetics, and though it seems harmless, I just can’t get the idea of an idea as a parasite breeding in someone’s head. Haven’t there been multiple movies made about this?
So basically, evil Kermit the Frog memes are going to kill us all. Honestly, it’s the way I want to go.
If you love cults, conspiracies, true crime, and sh*t like that, listen to the newest Betches podcast, Not Another True Crime Podcast!
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (3)
From watching pimple popping videos to watching the Vanderpump Rules cast self-destruct on national television, it’s pretty obvious that we love watching f*cked up sh*t. The most f*cked up sh*t that we enjoy reading about? Cults. They’re so creepy and horrific that obviously, we want to know more. And, of course, if celebrities are involved, that’s even better. Here are some crazy celebrity cults that your favorite (or least favorite) famous figures have some involvement in. And if, after reading this, you still can’t get enough of cults, listen to the newest Betches podcast, Not Another True Crime Podcast, where we talk cults, conspiracies, and crime.
It wouldn’t be a list of celebrity cults unless we included Scientology, which seems to attract a ton of celebrities. Maybe you’ve seen the documentaries. Or maybe you’ve fallen down the internet rabbit hole and learned all about dianetics and Sea Org. Then again, maybe you haven’t. But you definitely remember when Tom Cruise went psycho when he was dating Katie Holmes and got into a fight with Matt Lauer over how psychiatry is B.S. because Scientology said so. Sure, in retrospect, Tom Cruise may not be as sh*tty of a person as Matt Lauer, but at the time, it was pretty crazy behavior.
Other celebs like Danny Masterson and Laura Prepon (surely you remember That 70’s Show), Elisabeth Moss, Jenna Elfman, and John Travolta are part of the Scientology. Jax Taylor from Pump Rules even modeled for their brochures. Stassi said on her podcast that she and Jax went to some classes. Let’s be real here: Stassi probably went just to hate-watch the meetings and Jax probs almost joined because he is, to put it politely, an idiot. Jerry Seinfeld and Jeffery Tambor have even dabbled in Scientology as well.
Luckily, celebrity former members like Leah Remini, Jason Lee, and director Paul Haggis left the Church. However, when Paul Haggis left, several women had accusations of sexual assault against him during the #MeToo movement, and Leah Remini said it was likely Scientology was trying to ruin his life and reputation. Then again, this is 2018, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a creep. Leah has even said that Scientologists still come to her family’s restaurant in San Francisco to harass them. Damn, this is creepier than anything I’ve ever heard of before. If you want a deep dive into Scientology and all the f*cked up stuff they do when someone tries to leave, listen to the Scientology episode of Not Another True Crime Podcast below.
There are haters who say that The Illuminati is a myth. But honestly, I refuse to believe them because there seems to be some pretty legit proof that it exists. And also, I’m willing to blindly believe any gossip as long as it’s interesting. The Illuminati dates back centuries, and allegedly boasts members from Stalin and Hitler to Hillary Clinton and JFK to celebrities we actually wanna hear gossip about, like Kanye, Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Rihanna. First off, I bet Donald Trump is pissed that he’s not involved with The Illuminati, that he’s not part of a club this exclusive but Crooked Hillary is. In any case, the Illuminati is a secret society that allegedly “controls the entire modern world.” Okay, if it really controls the entire modern world, then why isn’t Kris Jenner a part of it? Anyway, there are traces of Illuminati influence on ancient Egyptian pyramids—that’s how far it dates back. It aims to establish a New World Order so that the elite will run the world. Again, why isn’t Kris Jenner a member of this society? The Illuminati works hard, but Kris Jenner works harder.
Remember Smallville? Probably not really, because not many people watched it even though it lasted for so many seasons. But the only thing more disappointing than hottie Tom Welling being married is that one of the actresses on the show, Alison Mack, was involved in recruiting young women for a creepy cult called NXIVM. (Kristin Kreuk, another Smallville actress, was involved for a bit but claims she never helped recruit anybody.) NXIVM would recruit vulnerable women to a sex trafficking operation that involved some pretty crazy brainwashing tactics, including an insanely restrictive diet that would lower inhibitions, isolate members, and make them feel overall weaker.
Alison Mack would try to recruit other actresses from struggling ones to successful ones. She even tried to recruit Emma Watson to her crazy sex cult on Twitter! Yeah, because someone who went to Brown and is an outspoken proponent of feminism would really join a shady cult because some random b*tch tweeted at her about it.
When you watched 7th Heaven as a kid, did you really think one of the Camden kids would date a future cult leader? Probably not. When you watched 10 Things I Hate About You, did you think the douchebag whom Briana punched in the face was capable of leading a cult? Well, it’s possible because high school kind of has a cultish hierarchy. Case in point:
But that doesn’t mean we weren’t shocked to learn that Andrew Keegan of 7th Heaven and 10 Things I Hate About You had become a cult leader as an adult. I mean, you’re a failed actor whose career never took off. So if you think about it, the cult leader is the next best career for you (that’s literally how the Buddhafield cult started, just saying). You get to use that charisma and those good looks of yours that never landed you a pilot, and you get an entire fanbase that worships you. That’s why people become famous in the first place, right?
Andrew Keegan started a cult called Full Circle, which he contends is a “spiritual organization” instead (LOL sure, Jan). It was busted for selling illegal kombucha, which apparently is a thing. That’s probably the biggest scandal that they’ve ever had, but it doesn’t make the cult any less creepy. I mean, they have sing-a-longs and talk about yoga concepts like crystal healing and chakra alignment. It’s basically like GOOP on non-GMO steroids. Is it harmless? Yes. But is it still creepy? Yes.
You’ve heard of Hillsong Church. Some say it’s simply a church, some say it’s one of the newer celebrity cults, but whatever you call it, it’s where famous people like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, the Karjenners, Nick Jonas, and Hailey Baldwin flock to. The fact alone that the celebrities I just listed have all slept with each other has to make it some kind of cult, right?
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The star-studded church touts itself as a more modern version of evangelicalism. But it is shrouded with accusations that it is, in fact, cult-like. Unlike other churches, the pastors get paid $30,000 to $40,000 to speak and rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year (are they hiring?). There have also been accusations of sex scandals. One being an incident at a Hillsong summer camp where counselors had 13- and 14-year-old boys strip on the beach and run around naked while the counselors screamed at them that they needed to bulk up and go to the gym. That’s not what happened at my summer camp, I’ll tell you that much.
Those who left the church claim that the church takes advantage of celebs like the Biebs in order to rake in more dough and to make themselves more credible in order to cover up the fact that they’re really shady. I’m getting major Scientology vibes. We’ll be keeping our eyes on Hillsong Church to figure out if it’s just a megachurch, or worse.
If you’re fascinated with cults, listen to Not Another True Crime Podcast!
Images: Justin Bieber / Instagram; Netflix
There comes a time in every young, budding journalist’s life when they must sit in a café and whisper to themselves, “wtf is up with celebs and sex cults?” This is precisely what just happened to me after stumbling across the news that former Smallville actress Allison Mack was arrested for her involvement in the sex cult NXIVM. Was this opening line an excuse for me to refer to myself as “young” and “budding?” Maybe. Was “journalist” the biggest stretch in terms of descriptions for myself in that sentence? Definitely. Anyway, the point is, Allison Mack is going to trial for being a recruiter for a sex cult and it’s just like, why are people trying to make sex cults happen?
So, what exactly was this sex cult’s deal? Great Q. It was called DOS or “dominus obsequious sororium,” Latin for “master over the slave women,” naturally. Allison Mack was allegedly a recruiter for the cult. Not to be insensitive, but like, tbh that’s a pretty hard job. Tough sell, man. Like, what exactly was her pitch strategy?
Allison Mack: Hey girl, wanna join my cult? It’s called “master over slave women” and it’s v chill and honestly we’re just here to have fun. You will totes love.
The cult is part of a group called Nxivm, which has reportedly branded its female members. The cult leader is Keith Raniere, and he allegedly made women of the group go on close to starvation diets so as to meet his beauty standards. He himself looks like a garden gnome with a middle part and is completely unfuckable, if you can believe. Also, of course his name is fucking Keith.
Allison Mack and Keith Raniere were both charged with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and forced labor conspiracy. Allison Mack pleaded not guilty on Friday, and will appear in court for a bail hearing today. This is all very dark and fucked up, and our hearts go out to any of the women who were affected by this atrocity.
Moral of the story is celebs, or anyone for that matter – looking at you, Keith – need to cool it with the sex cults. And that is my hot take. Ttyl, going to go into a wormhole of a Googling cults and then probs top it off with a Netflix documentary.
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