The parasocial relationship between me and my favourite podcast hosts

I’m not crazy, but I do consider them some of my nearest and dearest

A fun fact about me is that when I get into something, I don’t just like it, I obsess over it. If I get hooked on your podcast, then you’re definitely earning an engaged listener because I will binge listen to its entire back catalogue, follow it on social media, and even pay for its Patreon page when my bank account allows it. 

When I choose to subscribe to a podcast, I’m making a commitment to its hosts. They’re not just these funny personalities that make me giggle out loud on public transport making random strangers look weird at me; they’re my friends. When I’m listening to my favourite podcast, it feels like I’ve gone to brunch with my besties. I’m invested in the small, mundane updates about their day-to-day life that don’t mean much to anyone on the outside, but mean the world to me. 

This may sound like obsessive behaviour, but I know that’s not just me who likes to binge-listen to their favourite podcasts; many of my fellow Gen Z friends can also relate. It’s further validated by the fact that, according to SXM Media’s Gen Z podcast listener report with Edison Research, 78% of listeners aged 13-24 reported that they often binge-listen to podcasts as they get engrossed in their favourite shows. 

The first time I got hooked on a podcast was in 2020 when, like many people, I first started listening to get through lockdown. I stumbled on the Seek Treatment podcast one day while browsing through the Apple Podcast app after getting sick of binge watching meaningless TV shows on Netflix and tired of the same playlists on Spotify playing over and over again. 

The podcast is hosted by two New York-based stand-up comedians who have been running the podcast since 2019, with a catchy theme song talking about sex, relationships, and love. It started with just one episode a day, two if I’m working or running errands, then it increased to three, and four… and suddenly it was all I could listen to, from the moment I woke up to right before I went to sleep. 

It was like an addiction, and I couldn’t get enough. Now, reading this, you may think that I’m talking about the most genius piece of audio ever created - but while I do love this podcast and will defend it with my whole heart, it ain’t that. It’s literally just two best friends having a conversation about what they’re ordering for dinner and updates in their relationships, with an occasional guest cameo - although I’m sure most of my fellow fans would agree that the golden episodes are really just between them. 

In August last year, I got to see them in person when they performed in London as part of an international live tour. I, with barely enough money in my bank account for groceries and transport, decided to pay the £25 to go see them. Since none of my friends had any idea who they were, no one wanted to tag along. I tweeted a few days prior, asking into the void whether any of the other fans in attendance would want to accompany me, and Catherine Cohen - one of the co-hosts - quote tweeted it. I got a DM from a fellow fan who ended up going with me; proof that podcasts aren’t just a solo activity, they can even help you make friends. 

I laughed for two straight hours, non-stop. I was on the tube giggling to myself like some complete weirdo on the way home, but I didn’t care because as dramatic as it sounds, it was like a dream come true. I had the same feeling I did watching my favourite artist perform at a concert, except it was my two favourite podcast co-hosts interviewing a bunch of fans on stage about their relationship dilemmas. 

Since first listening to the podcast in lockdown, my consumption of the podcast has admittedly been up and down. Sometimes I’ll go through weeks and weeks of not tuning in only to re-discover my love for it while on public transport one day and going back to binge-listening all the episodes I missed. This is one of those times where I’m thankful for podcasters incorporating video to use on social media as highlights of the show, because if it wasn’t for me coming across one of these clips on Instagram when scrolling mindlessly through the app, I probably would be forgetting to tune in at all. 

Every time I come across their Instagram accounts and see that they’ve achieved a new accomplishment in their career - whether that be writing a book, wrapping up a movie shoot, or adopting a dog - a sense of pride overcomes me as if I’m seeing my own friends go through these milestones. 

Although I may dip in and out sometimes, I’m sure I’ll continue listening to this podcast for however long the hosts keep recording it. They’ve made a commitment to consistently put out content for fans on a week by week basis. So I, their long-distance best friend that they’ve never heard of - and would probably find really weird and obsessive if they ever happen to read this post - will make the commitment to continue listening to them too.