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Sounds Like A Cult

Author: Amanda Montell & Isa Medina

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A podcast about the modern-day “cults” we all follow. Hosts Isa Medina and Amanda Montell ask the culty questions we’re all wondering… Do you think SoulCycle is a cult? What about Elon Musk stans? Or the Royal Family? What about spiritual influencers? Is Instagram itself a cult? We’re Sounds Like A Cult, a podcast that analyzes a different zeitgeisty group every week to try and answer the big question: This group sounds like a cult, but is it really? And if so, how bad is it? 

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Show Instagram - @soundslikeacultpod

Isa Medina -  @isaamedinaa

Amanda Montell - @amanda_montell

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63 Episodes
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The Cult of Momfluencers

The Cult of Momfluencers

2023-01-3101:07:491

Motherhood is hard, lonely, and exhausting... except, apparently, if you're a momfluencer. Since the mid-2000s, a crop of seemingly perfect, all-knowing mommy goddesses in billowy tunics have emerged on social media—and we can't help but feel that their highly monetizable (often misinformation-ridden) internet presences basically exist to make other moms feel less than. This week, with the help of journalist and real-life mother Sara Petersen, author of the forthcoming book MOMFLUENCED, Isa and Amanda spill the (organic, non-toxic, totally baby-safe) tea about how famous internet moms have become their own kind of 21st Century cult leader. To support Sounds Like A Cult on Patreon, keep up with our live show dates, see Isa's live comedy, buy a copy of Amanda's book Cultish, or visit our website, click here! Thank you so much to our sponsor, Modern Fertility! To receive 50% or more off your first month of therapy, go to modernfertility.com/CULT. 
The Cult of Preppers

The Cult of Preppers

2023-01-2447:511

The end of the world... but make it cute and consumerist! "Preppers" are the latest iteration of doomsday survivalists, who band together on social media to talk canning, stockpiling, and first aid, but also multi-million-dollar bunkers in rural New Zealand?? Um, yeah, there are also billionaire preppers, and if the apocalypse weren't coming already, these guys are definitely speeding up the process. This week, Isa and Amanda are unpacking the so-called "doom boom" to judge how cultishly bananas (freeze-dried, obvi) modern-day "prepping" has gotten.  To support Sounds Like A Cult on Patreon, keep up with our live show dates, see Isa's live comedy, buy a copy of Amanda's book Cultish, or visit our website, click here! Thank you so much to our sponsor, Cerebral! To receive 50% or more off your first month of therapy, go to cerebral.com/cult. 
The Cult of Apple

The Cult of Apple

2023-01-1750:041

The stigma around the green text bubble alone could ruin a man's life. How has Apple's secretiveness, superiority complex, and (admitted) marketing genius put our culture's social dynamics and behaviors in such a chokehold? In this week's much-anticipated 'sode, Amanda and Isa analyze how Apple built not just a multi-trillion-dollar tech business, but a "cult" (allegedly!!!), and spoiler alert: We're all a part of it, whether we like it or not. To support Sounds Like A Cult on Patreon, keep up with our live show dates, see Isa's live comedy, buy a copy of Amanda's book Cultish, or visit our website, click here!
The Cult of Diet Culture

The Cult of Diet Culture

2023-01-1001:09:251

We’re baaaaaaack! We can barely record an episode of this podcast without a snack, so how are millions of people supposed to escape the "cult" of dieting when its mission is to keep everyone hungry, tired, and riddled with self-loathing? Let's count the red flags: a strictly controlled eating regimen, shame and peer pressure up the wazoo, false promises, hidden costs, viciously addictive cycles that offer no exit strategy... um, how is diet culture *not* a cult? In our highly requested relaunch episode, Amanda and Isa analyze the dangerous (and highly profitable) "cult" of dieting with special guest, actress and host of the I Weigh podcast, Jameela Jamil. To support Sounds Like A Cult on Patreon, keep up with our live show dates, see Isa's live comedy, buy a copy of Amanda's book Cultish, or visit our website, click here! Thank you to our sponsor! Go to Zocdoc.com/CULT and download the Zocdoc app for FREE Diet Culture Resources: Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings: https://nyupress.org/9781479886753/fearing-the-black-body/ What We Don't Talk about When We Talk About Fat Aubrey Gordon: https://bookshop.org/p/books/what-we-don-t-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-fat-aubrey-gordon/14443277  The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor: https://www.sonyareneetaylor.com/the-body-is-not-an-apology  I Weigh Community: https://iweighcommunity.com/  Hooked by Michael Moss: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/246273/hooked-by-michael-moss/  NRP diet culture article: https://www.npr.org/2021/12/23/1067210075/what-if-the-best-diet-is-to-reject-diet-culture  Diet culture podcasts: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/27/arts/podcasts-diets-healthy-living.html 
The Cult of Kitchen Culture

The Cult of Kitchen Culture

2022-10-1101:02:001

Summer 2022, it seemed like everyone and their cult leader was *devouring* the TV show The Bear: an inside look at the hierarchical, co-dependent, misfit-ridden, sometimes downright abusive—but also totally transcendent—“cult” of restaurant kitchen culture. This week, Amanda and Isa are chatting with Matty Matheson, a big-time chef and cast member of the show, for a no holds barred analysis of the culty power dynamics and rituals found in the world of knives, remoulades, shift drinks, “family meal,” and everyone screaming “behind!!!!” Get Tickets to Isa's Live Comedy Shows Here: https://linktr.ee/isaamedinaa Attend Amanda's Live Book Events: http://amandamontell.com/events/ Thank to our sponsors: Dipsea: Dipsea is offering an extended 30 day free trial at: DipseaStories.com/CULT Honey: Get Honey for FREE at JoinHoney.com/cult. ​BetterHelp: ​When you want to be a better problem solver, therapy can get you there. Visit BetterHelp​.​com​/​CULT today to get 10% off your first month​. Daily Harvest: Go to DAILYHARVEST​.​com​/​cult to get up to forty dollars off your first box! 
The Cult of Nonprofits

The Cult of Nonprofits

2022-10-0457:303

Cults tend to thrive during times of broader cultural questioning and turmoil, when institutional support seems to be failing so alternative groups swoop in to offer solutions to the world’s most urgent problems. War, famine, healthcare crisis. Hmmm… sounds not unlike the nonprofit industry, no? This week, Amanda and Isa look into the language, background, and structure of the nonprofit industry to try and figure out how cultishly sus it might be 👀  Get 20% off at honeylove.com with the code CULT.  Right now, get up to 55% off your subscription when you go to babbel.com/CULT. Get Honey for FREE at joinhoney.com/cult Check out jordanharbinger.com/start for some episode recommendations, OR search for The Jordan Harbinger Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
The Cult of Goop

The Cult of Goop

2022-09-2701:05:083

We've all joked about Gwyneth Paltrow's *candle.* But does this boho Hollywood elitist girlboss ever go too far? (As in, cult leader far?) This week, Amanda and Isa unpack the charismatic movie star’s ever-roastable wellness empire, Goop, and how its "cult" status may be a cause for concern, with extremely special guests Kirbie Johnson and Sara Tan, hosts of the Gloss Angeles podcast (glossangelespod.com / @glossangelespod). Head to FentySkin.com and use code CULT20 for 20% off a Start'rs Bundle, OG, or Fragrance-Free. For listeners of the show, Everlywell is offering a special discount of 20% off an at-home lab test at Everlywell.com/CULT Grab your Liquid I.V. in bulk nationwide at Costco or get 15% off when you go to LiquidIV.com and use code cult at checkout. Get started today - frame your photos or send someone the perfect gift. Go to Framebridge.com and use promo code CULT to save an additional 15% off your first order
If you don’t worship at the altar of this week’s “cult,” then simply sashay away! One of the most intense, vicious, fabulous reality TV fandoms in history is that of the competition show that put drag queens on the mainstream map: RuPaul’s Drag Race. Season 6 and All-Star queen BenDeLaCreme joins Isa and Amanda to offer an inside look at the most cult-like aspects of Drag Race, from the time she was physically stalked by a fan to the producers’ truly bonkers manipulation techniques. The tea is piping hot!!! For listeners of the show, Dipsea is offering an extended 30-day free trial when you go to DipseaStories.com/CULT Go to Zocdoc.com/CULT and download the Zocdoc app for FREE. For 50% off your first Care/of order, go to TakeCareOf.com and enter code cult50 Check out jordanharbinger.com/start for some episode recommendations, OR search for The Jordan Harbinger Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Did you know Dr. Phil is not actually a medical doctor?? When “physicians” like Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and Dr. Drew are elevated to TV star status, followers flock to their “wisdom” to feel safe in a society whose healthcare system is seriously lacking. But should doctors really be treated like rock stars? In pursuit of fame and fortune, these famous medical professionals def find themselves in a borderline cult leader-ish role. This week, Isa and Amanda chat with Buzzfeed culture reporter and host of the Scamfluencers podcast Scaachi Koul to figure out just how sus these docs really are. Head to FentySkin.com and use code CULT20 for 20% off a Start'rs Bundle, OG, or Fragrance-Free. Check out jordanharbinger.com/start for some episode recommendations, OR search for The Jordan Harbinger Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
The Cult of Weddings

The Cult of Weddings

2022-08-3001:05:173

Weddings: Filled to the brim with ritualistic ceremonies, patriarchal traditions, power abuse, bank-breaking costs, conformist uniforms, and false promises galore...sound familiar? Sounds like a freakin CULT to us. This week: Amanda and Isa discuss wedding ceremonies and the lengths people will go to for the "best day of their life" with writer, author of "Trick Mirror," and professional wedding critic, Jia Tolentino. This is Isa's Parent's flower business! danisaflowers.com Dipsea is offering an extended 30-day free trial at DipseaStories.com/CULT Go to DadGrass.com/CULT for 20% off your first order.
The Cult of Youth Groups

The Cult of Youth Groups

2022-08-2301:07:102

Welcome to our life-changing, missional, intentional ministry for young people from all walks of life to strengthen their faith in Christ while having soooo much fun!! Evangelical youth groups (think: Young Life, Teen Mania Ministries, etc.) love-bomb vulnerable adolescent recruits into joining the Christian “cool” kids—a place where they’re promised to find both earthly acceptance and heavenly salvation—only to manipulate and indoctrinate them with oppressive, homophobic, legitimately terrifying dogma and providing zero exit strategy. Sounds. Like. A. Damn. Cult!!! This week, Amanda and Isa chat with former youth group kid turned TikTok comedy sensation Kevin James Thornton to unpack the cult-like tactics and ideology of Christian youth organizations. (Don’t worry, culties, a Jewish youth groups episode is coming l8er!!) https://www.kevinjamesthornton.com/ Go to Zocdoc.com/CULT and download the Zocdoc app for FREE.
The Cult of The Kardashians

The Cult of The Kardashians

2022-08-1601:15:424

The Kardashians: a harmlessly entertaining reality TV family or a dynastic conformist controlling cabal of K-named cult leaders? In this ~intense~ episode, Isa and Amanda chat with comedian and New Yorker writer Meg Indurti to unpack the cult-like influence of America’s most (in)famous family. Major Devil’s Avocado energy this week! Grab your Liquid I.V. in bulk nationwide at Costco or you can get 15% off when you go to LiquidIV.com and use code cult at checkout. Get Honey for FREE at JoinHoney.com/CULT Our listeners get 10% off their first month by visiting our sponsor BetterHelp at BetterHelp.com/cult
We’re in for a shocking one this week: The Troubled Teen Industry has for decades promised parents to reform their “problem-causing” kids through 8-12 week “wilderness therapy” and other military-style schools. But kidnappings, isolation, punishment, secrecy, and abuse are all a part of the equation, resulting in the separation of families and years of trauma. Yikes doesn’t even begin to describe this unregulated cult-like industry, which was originally inspired by the destructive cult Amanda’s dad grew up in, Synanon, and somehow hasn’t been shut down yet. Many disturbing stories await you this week!! Dipsea is offering an extended 30-day free trial at DipseaStories.com/CULT Everlywell is offering listeners twenty percent off an at-home lab test at Everlywell.com/CULT Dad Grass is offering our listeners 20% off your first order when you go to DADGRASS.COM/CULT Check out jordanharbinger.com/start for some episode recommendations, OR search for The Jordan Harbinger Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
A much-requested Part 2 to continue Cult Girl Summer. Our 12-Step Program episode sparked much debate, and we quickly determined we’d need to continue the conversation about how “culty” these addiction recovery groups can be. Inspired by our most engaged culties, here is our first-ever follow-up episode. Many thanks to the listeners who generously called in for this one! For further reading on this subject, check out the study, “Exiting Alcoholics Anonymous disappointed: A qualitative analysis of the experiences of ex-members of AA” (there’s a free PDF version on ResearchGate) and the 2018 Vox article, “Why some people swear by Alcoholics Anonymous — and others despise it.” Athletic Greens Is giving you a FREE 1-year supply of immune-supporting Vitamin D AND 5 FREE travel packs with your first purchase. All you have to do is visit athleticgreens.com/CULT
The Cult of Plastic Surgery

The Cult of Plastic Surgery

2022-07-1901:01:532

How much would you risk in pursuit of perfection? It’s another installment of “Cult Girl Summer” bonus content. This week, Amanda and Isa speak candidly (like reallllllly candidly) about a glamorous and life-threatening industry that sucks you in with promises of beauty and never lets you out: Plastic surgery—featuring very special guest, Emmy-nominated comedian/actress, Sydnee Washington!  Dipsea is offering an extended 30-day free trial at DipseaStories.com/CULT Everlywell is offering listeners 20% off an at-home lab test at Everlywell.com/CULT Get Honey for FREE at JoinHoney.com/CULT Get 10% off your first month at BetterHelp.com/CULT
A flirty little topic for another installment of Cult Girl Summer: five weeks of bonus episodes where Isa and Amanda are airing unfiltered cult conversations, behind the scenes tidbits, much-requested Part 2s, and more. This week, Emma Gray and Claire Fallon, co-hosts of the bachelor recap podcast Love to See It, are joining for a truly *cathartic* conversation about a group that reels in its members with the promise of love and human connection, only to deceive them and make it next to impossible to leave. The cult of dating apps, of course!
The Cult of Teal Swan

The Cult of Teal Swan

2022-06-2801:08:115

Known to her loyalists as the “spiritual catalyst” but to her critics as the “suicide catalyst,” New Age influencer Teal Swan is a controversial 30-something self-help guru who some say has saved lives and others say has ended them. Having launched a social media career in the mid-2000s (and still going strong), Swan doesn’t post about beauty products and travel inspo but rather spiritual-meets-“scientific” teachings on a wide range of topics from addiction to chakras to vaccines to suicide. Some of her most committed adherents follow her down to Costa Rica to experience her shady self-actualization techniques IRL. Swan is the subject of the new Hulu docuseries The Deep End, based on the fascinating 2018 podcast The Gateway, which was created and hosted by this week’s guest, Jennings Brown, who’s here to talk with Amanda and Isa about the fanatical “cult” Swan has built online. Helix is offering up to 200 dollars off all mattress orders AND two free pillows for our listeners at HelixSleep.com/cult. For listeners of the show, Dipsea is offering an extended 30-day free trial when you go to DipseaStories.com/CULT. For listeners of the show, Everlywell is offering a special discount of 20% off an at-home lab test at Everlywell.com/CULT.
In spring 2022, a social media-famous dancer went viral on Instagram… but not for her moves. This time, it was for a 40-minute video begging the world to help get the word out about her sister, also a TikTok performer, who had allegedly been inducted into a cult. The sisters in question? Miranda and Melanie Wilking. The “cult”? 7M Films, a secretive Christian-affiliated talent management company who's been accused of financial exploitation, emotional and spiritual manipulation, and isolating vulnerable young social media stars in Los Angeles from their families. In this week’s much requested episode, Amanda and Isa interview journalist Gabrielle Bluestone about the ongoing case of 7M Films to explore the relationship between faith, cultishness, social media, and dreams of viral fame.   For listeners of the show, Calm is offering an exclusive offer of 40% off a Calm Premium subscription at Calm.com/cult Athletic Greens Is giving you a FREE 1-year supply of immune-supporting Vitamin D AND 5 FREE travel packs with your first purchase. All you have to do is visit Athleticgreens.com/CULT Get Honey for FREE at JoinHoney.com/CULT
The Cult of Jared Leto

The Cult of Jared Leto

2022-06-1434:461

From his Jesus-like hair, erratic on-set antics, and fanatical 30 Seconds to Mars music fandom to his glazed-over sexual assault allegations and literal in-person cult compound, Jared Leto basically represents every possible meaning of the word “cult,” from the cheeky to the gravely serious. He may have Hollywood’s support in the way of an Oscar and desirable roles like the Joker, and many of his music stans worship him enough to follow him off the grid, but Jared Leto might be inching from “cult-followed” celebrity closer to full-blown cult leader. This week, with the help of listener tips, Isa and Amanda are here to untangle the story. In honor of Sounds Like A Cult's one-year anniversary, we're hosting our very first ever live show! It's virtual, meaning anyone from anywhere in the world can attend. On June 15th at 9 pm ET, join Isa and Amanda to ask questions, play games, hear us talk about never-before-discussed cults, and dive into alllllll other things culty. Details and ticket info can be found at momenthouse.com/soundslikeacult For 50% off your first Care/of order, go to TakeCareOf.com and enter code CULT50
The Cult of A Cappella

The Cult of A Cappella

2022-06-0753:50

From The Yale Whiffenpoofs to Pitch Perfect’s Barden Bellas, a cappella groups are not just your average band, they are a *family*, like a cross between fraternities and theatre kids. Crooning Top 40 covers in tight harmonies might sound like the most innocent way to commune... but can these seemingly wholesome, aggressively punny groups be sketchier than they seem? Amanda and Isa chat with an aca-mazing guest, Dani Calleiro—ex-member of the cult-followed YouTube a cappella band, Cimorelli—to get to the base note (sorry) of this week’s “cult.” In honor of Sounds Like A Cult's one-year anniversary, we're hosting our very first ever live show! It's virtual, meaning anyone from anywhere in the world can attend. On June 15th at 9 pm ET, join Isa and Amanda to ask questions, play games, hear us talk about never-before-discussed cults, and dive into alllllll other things culty. Details and ticket info can be found at momenthouse.com/soundslikeacult Go to HelloFresh.com/cult16 and use code cult16 for up to 16 free meals AND 3 free gifts! For listeners of the show, Dipsea is offering an extended 30-day free trial when you go to DipseaStories.com/CULT
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Comments (47)

LucieLemon

I’m not a Kardashian fan at all. I agree they are problematic. But WTF? The goal is not ‘to abolish the police and prisons’. That’ll happen when we abolish crime. Kim is also not ‘deciding who deserves to be free and who doesn’t’. She is advocating for a prisoner who she believes (and likely is) wrongfully convicted.

Jan 8th
Reply

Hannah Riches

The amount of ads on this is ridiculous

Dec 28th
Reply

ID25757340

About you fearing the swiftie fandom! Hi! Swiftie here! I Wanted you to cover her fandom, since we are a bit culty sometimes hihi. Love you guys dw ever

Dec 27th
Reply

Jeanette Mullins

Generally an interesting podcast but the presenters can be frustrating when interviewing their experts by moving on or interjecting before a question is fully answered. It's very clear they love the sound of their own voices and are not always paying attention to the topic at hand well enough to guide the interview properly.

Dec 4th
Reply

RACHAEL BYCE

love this podcast but 20-somethings giving parenting advice is hilarious 🙄🙄

Nov 21st
Reply

alli lent

UBI! woohoo!

Nov 8th
Reply

ID26057822

I normally like this podcast I have been following it for awhile, but when you mention things like “big pharma is withholding the actual care for cancer to make money” it is simply unacceptable. As someone who works with cancer in big pharma and have my nearest suffering from cancer it is simply unacceptable. You are uneducated in this topic, show complete disregard for the whole industry and everybody devoting their life’s work to battle this disease. I will not waste effort trying to educate you in this as you have proven is is above your intelligence level. It will simply suffice that you have lost all my respect and one listener.

Oct 13th
Reply

alli lent

UBI baby! it's called the freedom dividend for a reason

Oct 4th
Reply

Christian Robards

I just want to say my wedding was under 2 grand and it actually was the best day of my life, so far. You can make it what you want if you stick to what matters to you(the couple).

Aug 30th
Reply

Chandra Powers-Wersch

interesting, my dept professors told us we'd be super poor and there weren't enough jobs in the field (I did my MA in history) like constantly

Aug 19th
Reply

Jennifer Grumme

this podcast is super interesting and funny! you guys do great research and have the best guests. I've fallen into a couple cults myself over the years and this is cracking me up. I get the lightheartedness and appreciate the respect in all directions. keep it going. you should look into the cult of surrogacy from the surrogate POV.

Aug 16th
Reply

ID23508669

+1 to normalizing devil's avocado 🙏🏽🙏👍🏽👍😈🥑😈🥑

Jul 27th
Reply

Janna Ferguson

I've loved every episode.....except this one.😕 it had a totally different flavor over all, I felt like I was being recruited into the cult of veganism with all the talk of the moral and ethical superiority of the "movement." That said....I'll continue to listen 🙃

Jul 23rd
Reply

ID25757340

Wish you would do one on amber heard snd her followers1 neutrally or not- would be interesting!

Jul 14th
Reply

Betsye Eagle

skincare routines have been around since ancient Egypt, not just "a few decades".

Jul 10th
Reply

alli lent

listened to this and then went to watch Deep Water on Hulu.. why do people like her voice?? I can't stand it..

Jul 1st
Reply

Christian Robards

hotlines do nothing. its true though. just bc you worked at one doesnt mean they are helpful. the ppl on the hotlines dont even talk to you. they tell you to go to the hospital and they hang up.

Jun 28th
Reply

Laura

As someone who's into true crime I thought this one brought up some super important points. Extra care should be taken in making sure the fascination doesn't turn into simply entertainment, because one family's trauma shouldn't be that for someone else. Especially since the following is largely white. I went to a missing and murdered indigenous women event recently and hearing those stories firsthand changed how I consume true crime content. Its horrible. Their trauma replays every day and police solve nothing, and here we are with like, murder comedy and merchandise. 🫠

May 26th
Reply

alli lent

true crime heads = murderinos

May 24th
Reply

Staci BAMS

"Petty LaBelle" bwahahaha!

May 21st
Reply
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