We Hate Movies (WHM) might be one of the biggest misnomers in podcasting. What started as a simple premise – four close friends (with movie-adjacent careers, from film programmer to media critic) host a comedy podcast where each episode talks about a “bad” movie – has become a juggernaut that constantly pushes against its own branding. One of the longest-running catchphrases has been the phrase “it’s okay to like a movie.” Sure, some of the best episodes of WHM focus on truly garbage movies, but with the show’s maturation over time, it has become far more likely for at least one host to kick off the conversation with some variation of the phrase “this is kind of a We Love Movies situation for me.”
The core format is lean, simple, and potentially off-putting to those inundated with ‘funny’ movie podcasts. The main show, colloquially dubbed ‘WHM Prime’, features hosts Andrew Jupin, Chris Cabin, Eric Szyszka, and Stephen Sajdak covering a movie that falls under the show’s two cardinal rules: it must be at least a decade old, and it must not be a mega-popular bad movie. There will never be a WHM episode on The Room (2003), for example.
Few things have demonstrated the power of podcasting to me more than an otherwise unremarkable fall evening in 2016, while I closed up a liquor store. There was a bluetooth speaker tucked behind our pints of whiskey that the cool nerd manager would occasionally play music through on during slow nights. One night, he turned on a podcast while we poked at busywork. Four dudes begin to walk through the plot of Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe, a forgotten entry in Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s filmography. A few days later, I was mainlining the back catalog while stocking the walk-in and cleaning shelves. A couple weeks later, I subscribed to the WHM Patreon and have never looked back.
The four hosts have a dynamic that any chat podcast wishes could be bottled. It’s one thing to be funny on a comedy podcast; it’s altogether an entirely different skill to be so in sync with three colleagues that one can almost telepathically set up a joke they know person A is about to make because person B said a certain keyword. Comedic bits fly thick and fast with the WHM crew, to the point I’d sound like an ancient hermit if I started listing off favorites, as some (such as the venerable Martin Cinemax the III, a crazed tyrant of a character who’d appear during discussions of gratuitous nudity in trash movies) haven’t made an appearance in years.
Variety is the spice of life and WHM fully embodies this sentiment. On paper, they cover a movie a week, barring a summer vacation between seasons, but the true magic lies in the various themes and games the hosts concoct to mix things up. Every October, the Halloween Spooktacular shifts the show to exclusively cover horror movies. Each December since 2017, the show has switched to We Love Movies, only covering beloved films. June and July mark the Summer Blockbuster Spectacular, where the gang talks about bad blockbusters of yesteryear. I have to stop listing off theme months or I’ll run out of word count and my editor will throttle me, but suffice it to say: the show has no problem doing something as wacky as Ape-ril, in which all of the movies had to be ape-themed in some way. Because… why not? Someone had the idea, and a few weeks later an ape-themed variation of the show art appeared on social media and ape-related emoji started appearing in episode titles on the website.
Speaking of the website: WHM has the best online presence of a podcast I have seen in my five years of covering podcasts. No contest. Which is especially impressive for a podcast that has run as long as WHM. Most legacy podcasts take a ‘less is more’ approach to their website and accounts, presuming the momentum of their popularity is enough to convince new audiences into giving them a shot. Meanwhile, WHMPodcast.com has every single episode of every podcast they’ve made. All 700+ episodes of WHM Prime are in one easy-to-read numbered list with a direct link to the episode’s page. Next week’s episode is already in the list telling me exactly what movie they’re covering and what day it’ll drop. But they didn’t stop there: every Patreon-exclusive podcast has exactly the same numbered list with direct links to the Patreon posts where each episode is hosted.
From an SEO perspective, this is the best move short of transcribing the nearly 1,000+ hour backlog. The name of every movie discussed, every episode of TV covered on their watch-along podcasts, every Star Wars character discussed on Szyszka lore podcast The Gleep Glossary – it’s all there and easily searchable. Usually when a podcast has side content, the best you’ll get is a mention of the side-show’s existence on a “Support Us” page. WHM treats all of its content equally, showing you exactly what they do and how consistently they do it. It must be a royal pain in the ass to keep that site updated, but man, does it make navigating the backlog a breeze. Someone brand new to WHM can treat it like a buffet, finding content about movies and TV shows they’re familiar with instead of being daunted by a decade of backlog.
WHM fully commits to everything they do. The hosts consistently look before they leap when it comes to content production. When the decision was made to paywall the first 109 episodes, Szyszka manually edited out every host-read ad from the backlog. Some podcasts have gifs from live shows or their quotes overlaid on footage of a movie; WHM did an actual shoot with gif-hosting site GIPHY in 2017 to create an official reaction gif repository. Each side-show has its own unique show art, despite only existing on a Patreon RSS feed. This stands in stark contrast to the industry standard of premium side-show content only being mentioned as one entity.
Details about individual episodes are usually delegated to ephemeral social media promotion posts, while in the WHM-iverse all content is considered worth properly documenting by the showrunners. I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say We Hate Movies is one of the easiest comedy podcasts with a huge backlog to start listening to without ever touching a single fan-run wiki. And if you do enter into the world of fan-curated WHM information, you’ll find things like a meticulously-updated Google Sheet that lists all 1,316 episodes of WHM content spread across every single thing they’ve done.
Usually when I review a show, I only dedicate a small portion of the review to their paywalled content. In the case of WHM, there are two vital reasons I’m going to spend some more time than usual on paywalled content:
- The sheer amount and variety of content offered.
- The fact it has kept me, an easy-to-distract ADHD-riddled media critic, consistently engaged for seven years.
The offerings on Patreon start off simple: every month the hosts record an extra full episode, but instead of a We Hate Movies it’s a We Love Movies (WLM) episode on a movie all four hosts agree is good. Subscribers also get access to a private RSS feed over 100 older episodes comprising seasons 1-3.Where things really get wild is the bumper crop of WHM spinoff podcasts I genuinely might get in trouble with my editor if I burned word count on listing everything. Early in the main podcast’s life, WHM had a handful of ‘side shows’ on the main feed (such as Animation Damnation, giving the WHM treatment to episodes of cartoons). Now all of those live on the Patreon alongside a growing stable of watch-along podcasts, covering everything from the original Star Trek up to modern Star Wars TV shows. There’s even an every-other-month show discussing Lifetime movies.
And every one of them has the same passion and spark of the core WHM product. Some of the best single episodes of We Hate Movies, I argue, are tucked away inside WLM on Patreon. The gang positively glows while discussing classics like The Thing or Fellowship of the Ring. Content produced for the Patreon has a bit of a “dance like nobody’s watching” tone, with the hosts frequently going bluer than they might on the (admittedly already pretty blue) main feed.
Many an episode is derailed by someone noting one of the male cast members is hot. My favorite instance of this happens on the Patreon WLM episode for The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring where one of the hosts mentions the existence of nudes of Legolas’ actor. Discussion of the movie screeches to a halt as the other three drop everything to confirm the size of Orlando’s Bloom.
There’s nowhere else in the review I can casually slip this in, so we’ll end on this: the WHM crew are self-proclaimed straight men, and I would never prescribe a label to someone else. That said, I feel it my duty as a queer critic to point out WHM is very much a queer-friendly podcast hosted by guys who are ‘straight’ in the same way some people are ‘Christian’ and only go to church at Easter and Christmas. As with many things in life, the hosts of WHM can’t be easily contained in one label and it leads to the vibes being deliciously fruity.
Good hunting digging through the backlog. Eventually you’ll find out Stephen is partially responsible for the Spideman balloon incident in 2013.