Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Alex Cooper’s The Unwell Network is anything but

Illustration by Shveta Shah
Alix Earle and Madeline Argy have both released their podcasts for Alex Cooper’s new Unwell Network on Spotify

Any member of Generation Z right now knows what it feels like to be unwell.

It’s fitting that Alex Cooper gave this name to her new venture, The Unwell Network, a media outlet aimed at providing Generation Z with pop culture and lifestyle content. Cooper is currently the highest paid female podcaster in the industry, bagging at least $60 million for a three-year deal with Spotify. She’s clearly doing something right.

Cooper launched The Unwell Network in August with the help of TikTok “It” girls Alix Earle and Madeline Argy. The two influencers, with a combined total of over ten million TikTok followers, are bringing their own podcasts to the network. However, it’s unlikely these women’s perspectives bring something new to Generation Z content.

Cooper’s selection of two other white women as the face of the network makes it unrepresentative of its audience. The lack of diversity in Unwell makes it impossible for Cooper to accomplish Unwell’s goal to highlight “unique voices.”

Cooper, a millennial who is commonly referred to as “Father Cooper” by her loyal “Daddy Gang” (I can’t believe I’m typing this right now) got her start with viral podcast “Call Her Daddy.” Cooper describes the show as “female locker room talk,” and it is chock full of advice and hilarious stories.

Now, Earle is trying to do something similar with her show, “Hot Mess,” which she calls the podcast equivalent of a friend group debrief after a night out.

And, Earle’s podcast achieves this goal. It does sound like a casual conversation with a friend … if that friend had over three million followers on Instagram, a situationship with an NFL player and an estimated net worth of an estimated six million dollars. She opens the podcast describing herself as “a normal girl,” then launches a story of her meet-cute with an anonymous NFL player that turned into a date on a helicopter. Last time I checked, most college students I know aren’t frequently taking spontaneous helicopter rides with famous athletes.

So, it’s hard to believe that The Unwell Network truly is that “unwell.” Despite her horrifyingly messy college apartment, Earle doesn’t seem to be much of a “hot mess” at all.

Argy’s podcast takes a similar tone to Earle’s. The show’s name, “Pretty Lonesome,” matches Earle’s in an attempt to show the audience that she is just a normal girl.

However, “normal” is a stretch for Argy, too. Also known for her relationship with British rapper Central Cee, it’s unlikely Generation Z audiences will relate to these women. Watch them with a curiosity similar to the way people watch the Kardashians? Possibly. But that doesn’t seem to be what Cooper, Earle and Argy are going for.

Both podcasts touch on Generation Z struggles: from ADHD diagnoses and eating disorders to Greek life struggles and friendship difficulties. However, these topics, untethered from expert opinions, are simply extensions of unfiltered, and occasionally harmful, content already on TikTok.

I’m hesitant to underestimate Cooper. She has turned her raw conversations on sex into a media empire worth millions. “Call Her Daddy” has also found magic in Cooper’s ability to snag coveted interviews with some of pop culture’s most highly debated celebrities, including Hailey Bieber, John Mayer, Ariana Madix and Gwyneth Paltrow. There is no doubt that, regardless of the seemingly trivial nature of her conversations, Cooper knows what she is doing.

Despite the network’s initial success, it seems unlikely that, with their lack of relatability, Earle and Argy’s podcasts will have longevity. By setting the tone with these two works, I am curious to see if Cooper really can push “Call Her Daddy” into greater heights or if she should just focus on growing her own Daddy Gang, for now.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @emilymlichty

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