The “Frenemies” podcast was a YouTube series that — while extremely toxic at times — got me through the online school year. Every week I looked forward to the release of an episode, especially later on in the series when Ethan Klein and Trisha Paytas formed an authentic friendship.
I’m not going to pretend I’m a tea channel and give a detailed recount on everything that’s been happening these past couple of weeks. You can find that here, or here or a million other places on YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and other platforms. If you’re reading this article, you know that.
That’s why I’m going to take this time to focus on the good that’s come out of the bad. Here are four reasons why I still think “Frenemies” was a good thing, even after every betrayal that’s happened since its cancellation.
Klein’s Evolved Character
Klein and Paytas have both made some not-so-PG mistakes. One of Klein’s is a video he made a few years ago that mentioned Paytas. “Instagram vs. Reality,” a video posted by H3H3Productions in 2019, was supposed to be a message to embrace your faults instead of (literally) filtering them for social media. Unfortunately, it wasn’t done so tastefully. Starting around the 3:30 minute mark, Klein proclaimed that Paytas is the “spokesperson of Instagram reality” and described their actual appearance as “beauty queen to WWF wrestler in two seconds.”
He continued the insults by making comparisons between their Instagram photos and their more “natural” selfies. Paytas’ response was that Klein’s comments were, bottom line, more damaging to women than helpful, and I agree. Klein is in the right when it comes to the message he tried to send with this video: We should stop pretending to be perfect online since nobody is perfect in real life. He went wrong when he compared Paytas’ authentic selfies to an open casket. He attempted to take the “we’re all ugly” approach instead of the “we’re all beautiful” approach, which is hilarious but unproductive for a topic as important as this.
I’m not going to ignore the horrid things Paytas has said to Klein since the end of “Frenemies,” but at the end of the day, they helped him become more self-aware. At the beginning of the podcast, it really seemed like Klein was trying to make Paytas the butt of every joke instead of seeing them as a complex human being.
As time went on and they gained respect for each other, Klein began to listen to Paytas. This helped him learn how conversations on social topics can be held productively without bringing people down. As someone who has been a fan of Klein’s for about eight years now, it’s refreshing to see a version of him that manages to crack me up while also not bringing down people who don’t deserve it, and we have Paytas to thank for it.
We Finally See Paytas
On a similar note, Paytas was finally humanized during this entire experience. “Frenemies” gave them a platform to speak on their horrific past traumas, their mental health struggles and their life regrets, as well as showing off their caring side. Before “Frenemies,” Paytas had an inescapable reputation for being the ultimate drama queen of YouTube. They totally are — but there’s so much more to them. Their instances of opening up to their best friend Klein and receiving support was a beautiful thing to see. What they’re currently doing to Klein isn’t right and their past isn’t an excuse to be abusive, but I don’t think that should completely take away from the openness and vulnerability we had the pleasure of experiencing while “Frenemies” lasted.
As I’m writing this on Aug. 25, it has been announced that “Families” is coming to an end after 10 unexpectedly fantastic episodes. This series was the perfect way to cope with the nasty halt of “Frenemies.” We got to know Klein’s incredibly sweet mother, Donna, and his smart-ass cunning father, Gary. I never thought I’d learn so much about monarch butterflies, the importance of dumping people, porn and how to pop beach balls at baseball games. It was seriously the series we didn’t know we needed, yet needed desperately. Not to mention that Donna is now the No. 3 most popular user on Cameo and has gained a cult following that calls themselves the “Donnarchs.” What a world we live in.
There’s been a lot of top-tier memes to come out of this s—-y situation. My personal favorite is the 5% meme, which came to be because Paytas often complained about 5% of the revenue going toward the crew and other costs to run the series. There’s especially been a lot of memes created from the video of Paytas’ sister bringing up the 5% to claim that Klein is cheap and selfish. It’s brought up all the time, whether through Joe Rogan sound bites, skits or just occasional mentions for goofs and gaffs.
Another personal favorite of mine is the TikTok page contradictionsoftrish. Created two days after “Frenemies” came to an end, the first TikTok has a whopping 2.5 million views. The videos brilliantly showcase Paytas’ hypocrisy throughout filming, to the point that Klein himself duetted one of the videos after Paytas went on Keemstar’s podcast. It takes a bummer of a situation and turns it into something I look forward to viewing.
Was “Frenemies” a Good Thing?
A lot of greatness came from this series, but a lot of trauma did, too. This isn’t a black and white situation, and most things aren’t. It’s good that it ended when it did, but I’m glad that Klein didn’t private the videos. After all, who’d want to forget such an iconic duo?