Sounds Like A Cult

Sounds Like A Cult

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? Follow Us: Show Instagram - @soundslikeacultpod Isa Medina - @isaamedinaa Amanda Montell - @amanda_montell Subscribe to our YouTube: Podcast Video


January 24, 2023 47 min

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 ...

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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...

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January 10, 2023 69 min

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 strate...

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November 8, 2022 67 min

Remember the Juniper Latte? Wasn't it just about the strangest thing you ever tasted? Yet, you still came back. Some might say you couldn't help yourself. This week, Amanda and Isa *roast* Starbucks’s “cult following”—the coffee religion with a church on every street corner—from its savvy marketing tactics and insider-y vocabulary to its addictive beverages and behind-the-scenes corporate ~vibes~. With a Starbucks cup in ha...

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November 1, 2022 56 min

A cabal of black-robed elites who preside, unquestioned, over all our rights and freedoms… hmmm… sounds like a dang cult to us! Isa and Amanda are getting *judicial* this week to analyze the “cult” of The Supreme Court with NYU law professor and host of the Strict Scrutiny podcast, Melissa Murray. Just in time for voting season! Check out voting resources below for this year's upcoming midterm elections.

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October 25, 2022 40 min

Happy Cultyweeeeeeen! Our favorite holiday at Sounds Like A Cult is here, and to celebrate the spooky season, we’re asking: What could be more frightful than a haunted house dedicated to pushing an oppressive right-wing religious agenda onto high school kids just trying to have a good time? That’s the topic on Amanda and Isa’s minds this week for our very festive ‘sode on the “cult” of Hell Houses, a phenomenon that is somehow even...

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October 18, 2022 63 min

I was never good at telling jokes but the punchline goes: If Taylor told her Swifties to kill a man, they would. They would kill a man for Taylor, because her music means *that* much to them. But the "cult" of country-pop sensation Taylor Swift is not just about the music. It's about the Swiftie community, the rituals, the beliefs, the aesthetic, and (of course) Taylor's cult of personality. This extreme fandom defi...

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October 11, 2022 61 min

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 f...

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October 4, 2022 47 min

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 ...

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September 27, 2022 64 min

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 ( / @glos...

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September 20, 2022 56 min

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 t...

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September 6, 2022 51 min

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 we...

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August 30, 2022 60 min

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 Tolentin...

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August 23, 2022 63 min

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 indo...

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August 16, 2022 67 min

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!

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    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...

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    August 2, 2022 43 min

    For the last week of Cult Girl Summer, another juicy bonus episode: This time, Isa and Amanda are listening and reacting to unaired voice messages from our loyalest listeners—our beloved “culties”—who called into the show to comment on our Season 2 cults of the week (from Disney Adults to theatre kids). We’ll be back with regularly slated episodes next week, but in the meantime, check out Isa’s live comedy show at the Edinburgh Fri...

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    July 26, 2022 43 min

    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, “Ex...

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    July 19, 2022 54 min

    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! 

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    July 12, 2022 52 min

    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 hu...

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