Hosted by Ethan Klein and Trisha Paytas, “Frenemies” was a series by h3h3Productions, Klein’s YouTube channel. After featuring Trisha as a guest on several episodes of “After Dark” — h3h3Productions’ podcast channel titled H3 Podcast — the two realized that their on-screen dynamic made for an entertaining show — and they were right. The series was highly successful, launching both YouTubers into a new stratum of fame. It also brought them together as friends, and Trisha even announced her recent engagement to Klein’s brother-in-law, Moses Hacmon.
The name “Frenemies” is a nod to Paytas and Klein’s rocky friendship. In the first episode, Klein described their dynamic as “two big personalities” and even posed the question of how long the two would be able to stand working together. Unfortunately, it seems like we have our answer. Eight months after the release of the first “Frenemies” episode, a heated argument erupted between Paytas and Klein while they were on air. The episode ended with Paytas walking off the set and quitting the show.
What Went Wrong?
During Episode 39 of “Frenemies,” titled “Talking About Gabbie Hanna,” Paytas insulted a segment of the show where they offer fans advice, calling it lazy and stupid. Klein then accused her of being rude to the crew and said she had no right to insult other people’s ideas when she doesn’t contribute any of her own. It was immediately clear to viewers that, even though this was the first time either of them aired these grievances out loud, they were both holding onto these thoughts for a long time.
The next day, Paytas posted a video called “stepping down from frenemies” in which she claimed that her fight with Klein made her realize that their issues came down to creative differences. She expressed a desire to take more control over the projects she works on and no longer feels comfortable working for someone else’s production company. As for the rumors that she was rude to the crew, Paytas apologized for her delivery but said that she is “not really sorry” about her message.
After receiving a great deal of backlash from this video, Paytas then went on to post several more videos, in which she accused Klein of everything from fostering a toxic work environment to sexually harassing her and making racist comments. However, these videos were deleted from her channel soon after she posted them.
Klein responded to this series of videos in his own video titled “Regarding Trisha Quitting Frenemies.” Despite his clear hurt and distress in the video, he began by saying that he still values Paytas as a friend. However, he expressed his frustration at the inequities in their friendship. “She can say whatever she wants, what she puts out publicly, and if I just sit and take it, everything’s distorted, and if I say anything, I’m the bad guy for coming after her or something.” Klein insists that he tried to accommodate Paytas’ needs, but nothing was ever good enough.
The main problem that Klein cited in their dynamic was that Paytas seems to wield all of the control over what could and couldn’t be said. “It’s gotten to the point where I’m just not speaking my mind anymore,” he said, describing their conversations as “walking on eggshells” to keep Paytas from flying off the handle. He also pointed out the way that Paytas makes no effort to spare his feelings when she speaks, reminding the audience of instances when Paytas insulted Klein and his wife Hila’s parenting, made anti-Semitic remarks and mocked Klein’s Tourette syndrome.
Paytas then posted a video titled “apology to ethan” in which she addressed Klein’s remarks. She did not deny any of Klein’s claims but instead took accountability for her wrongdoings — sort of. While she did apologize for breaking Klein’s trust, communicating badly with the crew and making “distasteful jokes,” she bounced between topics and often went on tangents about everything from her self-care routine to the new podcast she was working on. Viewers were also put off by the 11 ad slots that she put in the video.
The comments demonstrated an overwhelmingly negative reaction to the video. One user commented on Paytas’ apparent manipulation of Klein: “Ethan lost a best friend. Trisha lost a pawn in her chess game.” Even those who didn’t express anger at the apology didn’t seem to appreciate Paytas’ tone. “I just feel bad for her at this point. She’s her own worst enemy.” Although most fans didn’t approve of the apology, some still held out hope that Klein would accept it and that “Frenemies” might have another chance.
Forgive and Forget? Not Exactly
In a video titled “Trisha’s Apology & Ace Family Scam – Off the Rails #3,” Klein revealed that he never received a personal apology from Paytas. “If this is an apology to me, why do I have to watch it on her YouTube channel with 10 midrolls? A phone call would have been nice.” Fans were then quick to call Paytas’ video out for its inauthentic and performative nature. One comment under “apology to ethan” read, “Let’s be real: this wasn’t for Ethan. This was to save your image. You are so self-absorbed it’s unbelievable.”
Even though fans felt that Paytas’ apology was half-hearted, Klein did say that he appreciates the effort to make peace. However, he’s not ready to forgive her just yet. “It’s not that I don’t accept her apology, it’s that I don’t want to gloss over too much what went down. It’s a lot for me to forgive this fast because this is a person who I considered family.” Klein cites the false accusations Paytas made about him as the most hurtful part of the entire ordeal. “She honestly, without mincing words, was trying to ruin my life.”
While it’s clear that Klein is still deeply hurt by Paytas’ actions, he did end the video on a positive note. “I’m sure there will be a time and place where we can reconcile, but I’m not ready for that yet.”
As for “Frenemies,” it seems that the drama that attracted people to the show in the first place is what ultimately led to its downfall.