Those of us who watched YouTube around five years ago might remember the cult of lifestyle creators. Personalities like Bethany Mota, MyLifeAsEva and Alisha Marie witnessed their channels grow by the millions by catering G-rated, saccharine content to a largely preteen audience. But by 2020, viewers have far outgrown the content that made these creators so successful, leaving YouTubers with the choice to either grow with them or be left behind. Lauren Riihimaki — also known as LaurDIY — recently stepped up to the plate in her clash against irrelevance and triumphed with the release of her acclaimed new podcast, “Wild ‘Til 9.”
Lauren’s Climb to the Top of the DIY World
Between 2013 and 2016, YouTube brimmed with oversaturated DIY room decor videos, highly produced fall morning routines and aesthetics ruled by Tumblr. Lauren, a creator with a knack for doing-it-herself, launched her channel’s upward trajectory by riding the wave of lifestyle content’s marketability toward younger viewers.
As a viewer myself, I can attest to the appeal of the videos that ooze with cringe in hindsight. Back when I was 13 years old, there was something so cool about seeing these 20-somethings living lives seemingly fueled by sparkles and peppy music. Sure, I had to experience the grays of reality as I trudged to middle school every morning. But after school, I could dream of a life that others were living, one that I might achieve in 10 years’ time — days full of neon pinks, unwavering positivity and an easy hack for every one of life’s problems.
Lauren’s authentic dedication to arts and crafts strung me along as a casual viewer for half a decade despite never having done one of her DIYs myself. Even though she did play into the synthetic image of the lifestyle creator, Lauren truly cared about the content she made. She held onto her creative spirit as the others in the field moved on to whatever trends would guarantee views. This spirit, over the years, amassed her an empire of brand deals, clothing merchandise, DIY craft kits on superstore shelves and her own show on HBO Max, “Craftopia.”
Despite her unquestionable success, the “Pretty Little Laur” fanbase that grew up with Lauren’s content also inevitably grew out of it. This left Lauren with a career-defining choice: Stick to what had worked in the past, or finally dispose of her threadbare, family-friendly filter to reveal her genuine self.
‘Wild ‘Til 9’ Peers Behind the Curtains of the LaurDIY Persona
The fans who stuck around through quarantine noticed a transitional phase in Lauren’s content. Although she still honors her channel’s namesake with DIY thrift flips and craft projects, Lauren also spotlights the happenings of her daily life on a vlog channel that shows her viewers who she really is. This time, instead of showcasing the neon pinks of some distant reality, Lauren can attract her viewers with glimpses of joy in the very world we live in.
Her embrace of online authenticity culminated in the release of her new podcast, “Wild ‘Til 9.” Co-hosted with her boyfriend Jeremy Lewis, the podcast delves into relationship red flags, hookup “dos and don’ts” and the motivations behind Lauren’s aged-up content.
“The vlog channel was a big part of how I wanted to organically just have a refresh and restart, and not like rebrand myself, but just start slowly welcoming viewers who were my age to connect with me,” Lauren said in the first podcast episode.
And it worked. As I slowly slipped away from the charm of Lauren’s videos throughout my college years, seeing her drop some f-bombs on “Craft Girl F*cks” — “Wild ‘Til 9’s” debut — was enough to reel me back in with the promise of laughs and relatability. The glimpses of Lauren’s compelling personality that used to peek out in her videos now shine on in full force, especially in her witty, crude banter with her boyfriend.
Jeremy also pulls his weight, contributing to the show’s personality by interjecting snide remarks with a deep voice that stands in contrast to Lauren’s high-pitched musings. Seeing his incredulous facial expressions makes watching the YouTube video upload of “Wild ‘Til 9” even more worth it.
Even as the podcast sails on a flowing current of humor, it stays grounded in reality as Lauren and Jeremy discuss their seemingly opposite journeys through life. Jeremy’s career in the media industry and role as Lauren’s boyfriend also give him the tools to offer unique insight into her world that viewers might have never otherwise understood.
“I feel as if you are a different person to me, and a happier person to me, than the people you’re creating content for,” Jeremy said in response to Lauren’s fears of irrelevance. “And I don’t think you’re allowing yourself to be the person that you actually are to your fans, and I think that’s stifling your creativity.”
“Wild ‘Til 9” delivers entertainment in a way that’s marketable even for listeners unfamiliar with LaurDIY’s YouTube success. Millennials and Gen Z can turn to the podcast to hear hilarious Tinder horror stories and advice on all things ex-related. Or, witness second-hand therapy as the couple discusses how their drastically different upbringings led Lauren to become a serial dater while Jeremy became a “f—boy,” even as their winding journey eventually led to each other.
And, for fans of Lauren, “Wild ‘Til 9” is actually what we’ve all been waiting for — an opportunity to demystify Jeremy, a figure long kept hidden from Lauren’s YouTube videos. After having a highly public breakup years ago, Lauren swore off of broadcasting her romantic relationships to avoid having to manage all of the resulting complications. However, the podcast format lends itself to disclosing personal stories in the form of a controlled narrative such that Lauren’s relationship can take on the spotlight without becoming solely an object for entertainment.
Having a front seat to Lauren’s personal growth and shifting content has made the experience of listening to “Wild ‘Til 9” even more gratifying. For me, it’s a reminder that growing up doesn’t just mean losing the neon pink, life-hack-filled ideals of perceived adulthood; but rather it’s an open door into the light-filled experiences that real life has to offer.