Earlier this month, Spotify announced that the platform’s much-touted partnership with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s podcast production company, Archewell Audio, was being terminated after only two years, meaning that the royal exiles failed to deliver on the promises they made as part of the $20 million deal they signed in 2020.
What was supposed to be a multi-year alliance resulting in a slew of “uplifting” audio projects ultimately spawned just one show: Markle’s feminist-leaning Archetypes, a podcast meant to “investigate, dissect, and subvert the labels that try to hold women back.” Archetypes debuted in 2022 to middling reviews and released only 12 episodes, in which Markle conducted interviews with other extremely famous women that involved a lot of back-patting on both sides.
Since news of the terminated Spotify deal broke, the reactions have been scathing: “If Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex ain’t complaining about the royal family, I don’t know if anybody cares what they have to say,” ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith said on his eponymous podcast.
To make matters worse, a report claimed that some of the interviews on Archetypes were not even conducted by Markle herself, but instead by staffers on the show, and that her questions were edited in post-production.
It’s safe to say that Markle’s ambitions of becoming a prominent celebrity podcaster have resoundingly flopped. But she’s far from the only famous person eager to get in on the podcast boom who’s ended up abandoning their half-baked audio projects.
Take, for instance, In Bed With Nick & Megan, co-hosted by beloved celebrity couple Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman. On paper, it seemed like a no-brainer, considering many successful celeb podcasts—think Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard or High Low with EmRata—involve two or more famous people in a room talking to one another, thus removing the hesitation many stars increasingly feel about talking to journalists and igniting the digital outrage cycle.
In Bed’s episodes had many such conversations, but with so many celeb podcasts clogging up the space with meandering, boring digressions about high-class hobbies, you really had to stick it out. Mullally and Offerman’s attempt was certainly creative: “In some episodes, they’ll even kick the guest out of bed and get extra personal in what some have called the most searing and rawly sexual conversations ever to burn their way through a voice recorder,” the podcast’s description reads. But at the end of the day, sex talk from a Boomer married couple just wasn’t what anyone wanted to hear. After launching in late 2019, the show fizzled out less than a year later.
Another great example of “Sorry, but who asked for this?” was Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen’s deeply annoying but thankfully short-lived Renegades: Born in the USA, which dumped eight episodes in February and March of 2021 and left it at that. Renegades consisted mostly of platitudes about the American struggle, the nation’s “loss of innocence,” and “the romance of the open road.” The appeal only went so far.
Ditto for poor Alicia Silverstone. The Clueless star will always be an icon on the strength of that one role alone, but her wellness podcast, The Real Heal, in which she dug into such fascinating topics as intuitive eating and plant-based nutrition, was so dull that it began and ended without much fanfare in 2022.
And R.I.P. to The Lohdown With Lindsay Lohan, which was born in April of 2022 and passed away that September after 12 episodes. “Unlistenable,” wrote one Apple Podcasts commenter about LiLo’s show, in which she interviewed such guests as Bobby Berk from Queer Eye and Salt-N-Pepa. “Needs to be better curated,” another weighed in. “You can tell Lindsay has little to nothing in common or interest with her guests, inconsistent launches and Lindsay is not very engaging….I thought this was gonna be a little more intimate.”
That’s the thing about podcasting: you either have to be genuinely invested in hearing what your guests have to say, or you yourself must be interesting enough to carry the show on your own.
When the stakes aren’t at all high—say, if you’re just a bored famous person looking to luck your way into a fresh income stream, like the Smartless guys did—it’s much likelier that you’ll fail in radio. The graveyard of abandoned celebrity podcasts proves as much.