High Low Podcast: Ranked High or Low?


Screenshot of Spotify page, photographed by Solemei Scamaroni.

Launched on Tuesday, November 1, 2022, the podcast High Low addresses “low brow culture” using a “high brow lens.” It 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 on all streaming platforms: one on Tuesday with a guest interview, one on Thursday called “Emrata asks” where the host comments on a topic of her choice in a monologue style, as well as a third bonus episode (subscription needed) where the host reacts to comments from podcast listeners on the other two episodes.   

To understand the podcast, it’s important to know the aforementioned host: Emily Ratajowski, also known as Emrata. She is 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 “My Body” that she officially reclaimed her public image. Through her writing, she reclaimed her body from those who sought to exploit it: the fashion world, paparazzi, and instagram users. Her reclaiming continues in High Low as she explores the relationship between commodification by others and self commodification. Much liker book, High Low rarely reaches definitive conclusions. Instead, the podcast serves as a channel to explore various topics. 

The best episodes thus far have been: “Emrata asks: Going Viral without Consent,”“Emrata asks: Can you be a feminist and get plastic surgery,” as well as her interview 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,” Ratajowski 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) 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. Evidently, High Low applies an “intellectual” lens to cultural topics without sounding very intellectual, the conversational manner makes the podcast very accessible. This is why I particularly love her interview episodes as they feel like a conversation between girl friends. My particular favorite was the one with Ziwe, a personal friend of Emrata and host of the satirical talk show Ziwe, who discusses the relationship between femininity and female rage. 

However, despite enjoying the podcast overall, I do have some key critiques. In some of the earlier episodes, there was a lack of depth to the topics being 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.” At times the conversations also lack authenticity. Ratajowski often shies away from exploring her personal experiences. For example, in her podcast on monogamy and cheating, she never discusses her own personal experience even though she just recently, and very publicly, went through a divorce. What should make her podcast different from the thousand other podcasts on feminism is her unique experience in an industry that actively commodifies women. Yet, we barely hear from 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, Ratajowski sometimes feels rigid, as though she is terrified of saying the wrong thing. This landed her in hot water because of her interview episode with Chloe Cherry, ex-porn star and HBO Euphoria actress. In the episode, Chloe Cherry discussed 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, Ratajowski allowed Cherry to spew her rhetoric unchallenged.  

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. Afterall, I continue to listen, enjoy, and learn.