High Low Podcast: Low or High?


Launched on Tuesday, November 1, 2022, the podcast High Low addresses “low brow culture” such as the porn industry, toxic relationships, non-monogamy, using a “high brow lens.” The podcast offers insight into modern womanhood through multiple points of view – from esteemed designers like Donatella Versace to internet sensations like Julia Fox. High low releases three episodes per week: one on Tuesday with a guest interview, one on Thursday called “Emrata asks” where Ratajowski comments on a topic of her choice in a monologue style, as well as a third bonus episode (subscription needed) where she reacts to comments from podcast listeners on the other two episodes.   

To understand the podcast, it’s important to know the host: Emily Ratajoswki, also known as “Emrata”, a model and New York Times bestselling author of essay collection “My Body.” Famous for dancing around in her underwear in the controversial “Blurred Lines” music video, it wasn’t until Ratajowski released her book that she officially reclaimed her public image. Through her writing, she wanted to reclaim her body from those who sought to exploit it: the fashion world, paparazzi, and instagram users. Her reclaiming continues in High Low where the contrasting theme of how women are commodified and commodify themselves is explored. In High Low, definitive conclusions are rarely reached. Rather, much like her book, the podcast serves as a channel to explore various topics. 

The best episodes of the podcast have been: “Emrata asks: Going Viral without Consent”,“Emrata asks: Can you be a feminist and get plastic surgery,” as well as all of her interviews, especially the one with Ziwe. “In Going Viral without Consent” Ratajoswki discusses how our world is transitioning further into one of constant surveillance, from documenting events like police brutality to ridiculing strangers for humor. 

In the episode, “Can you be a Feminist and get Plastic Surgery,” Ratajkowski examines the tools, from lip gloss to BBLs, women use to appeal to the male gaze (a sexualised way of looking that empowers men and objectifies women as objects of men’s desire) to benefit their social standing. She pulls from her own personal experience of using botox to explore how having cosmetic procedures, and even just the daily modification of one’s appearance, collides with and constructs our perspectives on feminism. High Low applies an “intellectual” lens without sounding very intellectual, the conversational manner makes it accessible to a wider audience. This is why I particularly love her interview episodes as they feel like a conversation between girl friends, making the topics they discuss a welcoming space. With Ziwe, a personal friend of Emrata and host of the satirical talk show Ziwe, the pair discuss the relationship between femininity and female rage. 

However, I do have some key critiques. In some of her earlier episodes, there was little depth to the topics she discussed, just a lot of blanket statements on oversaturated topics. In fact, I recommend skipping the first episode “sex before a first date”, as well as the ones entitled “Attachment Theory” and “Dating Apps.” 

Additionally, at times the conversations lack authenticity as she shies away from her personal experiences. For example, in her podcast on monogamy and cheating, she never discusses her own personal experience (even though she has just recently, and very publicly, gone through a divorce herself) which makes it feel as though there is a wall between the audience and herself. What makes her podcast different from the thousand other podcasts on feminism? It should be her unique experience in an industry that actively commodifies women, and yet, we barely hear of her. This is why I particularly disliked her “Dating Apps” episode because the truth is, she can’t discuss dating culture without mentioning that for her, as a famous model, dating is very different from your average 31-year-old woman.  

On another note, at times, Ratajowski almost feels a bit rigid as if terrified of saying the wrong thing, which landed her in hot water for her Chloe Cherry, ex-porn star and HBO Euphoria actress, episode. Chloe Cherry mentioned how she believes the adult film industry is safe for young girls and a viable solution to solving financial difficulties, instead of having an actual conversation like she does with her other guests on less contentious topics, she allows Cherry to spew her rhetoric unchallenged. However, in response Ratajkowski made an “Emrata asks” episode where she addressed the backlash but not by contradicting Chloe but instead by responding to one of her previous podcast guests, Mia Khalifa (another ex porn star and current actress), disagreement with Chloe’s statements on the industry.  

Overall, High Low is an enjoyable listen for those looking for a fun, upbeat, accessible introduction to objectification, womanhood, and pop culture. However, I don’t recommend this podcast for those searching for an in-depth, factually supported, and more “academic” take on these topics. Nonetheless, I would rate the podcast a 3.5/5 stars, and continue to listen to it, enjoy, and learn from it.