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How ‘Frenemies,’ one of YouTube’s buzziest podcasts, crashed and burned in less than a week

Summary List PlacementUp until this week, Trisha Paytas and Ethan Klein co-hosted one of the buzziest podcasts on YouTube — "Frenemies." But since Paytas announced they would be "stepping down" after a heated episode, it looks like the series' nine-month rollercoaster has come to an end. The podcast, which started in September 2020, has been hosted by YouTubers Paytas and Klein. The pair have had a turbulent relationship since 2019 with several public spats, but in the past year, they have developed a strong friendship. They're even set to become family once Paytas marries her fiancé, Klein's brother-in-law Moses Hacmon. "Frenemies"...

Trisha Paytas Ethan Klein Frenemies

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Up until this week, Trisha Paytas and Ethan Klein co-hosted one of the buzziest podcasts on YouTube — “Frenemies.” But since Paytas announced they would be “stepping down” after a heated episode, it looks like the series’ nine-month rollercoaster has come to an end.

The podcast, which started in September 2020, has been hosted by YouTubers Paytas and Klein. The pair have had a turbulent relationship since 2019 with several public spats, but in the past year, they have developed a strong friendship. They’re even set to become family once Paytas marries her fiancé, Klein’s brother-in-law Moses Hacmon.

“Frenemies” was a chance for them to come together and air their grievances about each other. It created interesting conversations about the realities of living with mental illness and played a huge part in controversies around top creators like David Dobrik, Shane Dawson, and James Charles.

But the show also hung in precarious balance. On three occasions out of the 39 episodes that aired, Paytas has stormed off the set following an argument. On one occasion, Paytas, who uses they/them pronouns, walked off in tears when Klein called them a “dangerous person to be close to.” Several weeks later, Paytas called Klein’s wife Hila Klein a “c—” and vowed never to return.

In two episodes posted soon after Paytas’ self-described “meltdowns,” celebrity physician Dr. Drew appeared as a guest to psychoanalyze why the podcast seems to be such a volatile place. While the pseudo-therapy sessions temporarily reunited the hosts, it seemed like a matter of time before the hosts of “Frenemies” jabbed at each other once again.

Paytas announced they were leaving before the most recent ‘Frenemies’ episode aired

On Tuesday, June 8, Paytas posted a YouTube video announcing that they were leaving “Frenemies.”

This was a couple of hours before the episode was released to Klein’s H3H3 Podcast YouTube channel and came amid a launch of Paytas’ new skincare line.

In the video, Paytas said they had experienced “a lot of anxiety” while filming the most recent episode of the podcast. They said that while the show had been their weekly source of stability that they looked forward to, it was best for everyone if they stepped away.

Paytas said Klein had told them the podcast production crew was unhappy with them for their behavior after an argument broke out about how Klein spends the revenue from the show. Paytas said Klein had hired a new person for his production company, h3h3Productions, which produces all of Klein’s podcasts and videos, and they didn’t like that they had no say in the decision.

Paytas said that money wasn’t the issue, but that they wanted the podcast to be something they and Klein made together, and they wanted to be more involved in the production side of things. They said they felt like they were walking into a group they weren’t a part of, which made them uneasy.

“I would love the opportunity to pitch in half for the set because I really do feel like I built this show with them 50/50,” they said. “I don’t feel comfortable walking into something that Ethan has built … If I knew I was coming in as a third H3 show, I swear, hand to God, would not have done it.”

They also said they didn’t like it when Klein spoke over them when they were talking about trans rights and they had trouble communicating that this upset them, which may have escalated things.

“At the beginning, I really thought that I was just being asserting, just saying how I feel, and then it did turn into frustration because I could feel it all crashing,” Paytas said.

Paytas said the main reason they were upset was that they didn’t want the production crew to think of them as rude. They said they hadn’t watched the episode, but they knew they felt “so awful” and “had to get out of there.”

“I just don’t think it’s good for me anymore, and it really sucks,” Paytas said.

“I am honestly gutted over this whole thing, trisha’s video this morning was a total surprise to me,” Klein tweeted several hours after Paytas posted the video. “I dont really know what more I can say or do. Im very sorry to all the fans of frenemies, I know how much it meant to everyone, I did everything I humanly could to save it.”

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A dispute erupted in the final 10 minutes of the episode

On multiple occasions during Tuesday’s podcast episode, Klein referenced a new segment in which they would offer advice to viewers who emailed in their questions. Paytas kept suggesting that they speak about a different topic first.

The third time Klein brought up the question-and-answer segment, Paytas said, “Can I say one more thing? Have you ever seen ‘Brokeback Mountain?’ I watched that last night.” Paytas went on to discuss the plot of the 2006 movie, which centers around a secret relationship between two men against a backdrop of homophobia.

Paytas then discussed violence against trans people, when Klein interrupted them to offer pizza to an off-camera crew member.

Visibly irritated, Paytas, said, “You are so not good about this. OK let’s go to your stupid… I don’t like this segment, just for the record. Giving advice is a stupid segment but we can do it.”

They added, “It’s so dumb, what’s the point? It’s like when people run out of ideas and start doing Q&As.” Paytas also referred to the idea as “lazy.”

Klein responded, “A lazy podcast? You don’t do anything for it. You just show up. We do all the work.”

This sparked a 10-minute back-and-forth with tensions visibly rising between the two. First, Paytas said that a lot of the content planned by Klein and his production staff for the podcast was a repetition of what Klein has already spoken about on his other podcasts.

When Klein responded that he put together most of the segments, Paytas said they contribute ideas for topics, vlogs, and costumes, but typically go along with Klein’s suggestions, adding, “I have to start saying no because some things are just not good ideas.”

“I’m not upset but it is frustrating when you think you do all this work and think ‘we do all this great stuff,’ and it’s like, it’s not that great sometimes,” Paytas said of the podcast. “A lot of it is, and I appreciate all the great work you do and stuff like that, but it’s also like, not that great. I don’t get input on like, people we hire, all this stuff.”

The two began debating about the podcast’s finances

Klein then said he didn’t see why he should ask Paytas about the people he hires, as they are employees of H3H3, the production company owned by Klein which produces “Frenemies.” Paytas responded that Klein told them that he takes the budget to pay the crew from part of the profit of “Frenemies” — 5% of the podcast revenue which comes out of Paytas’ share, and 100% of the revenue from the “highlights” videos, which are standalone clips from the podcast posted to the H3 YouTube channel. Klein said the money is for “production costs,” not specifically for individual staff salaries. The argument about the profit share and what the “production cost” revenue is used for is ongoing.

A further mention was made of a disagreement regarding filming spaces. H3 had purchased a space in Downtown LA, and Paytas did not want to film there, but rather continue filming from Klein’s home. As a result, additional equipment was purchased in order to have a studio in each location. Paytas raised the issue saying they thought it was the “first time we ever spent money on production costs.”

Klein then said that “it’s not about that,” and that it was “beyond reasonable” that he should take an additional cut given H3 resources were used to produce the podcast. Paytas appeared to disagree, saying, “Do you realize 5% was of our last one? That should be enough.” The back-and-forth continued for a few minutes, with Klein eventually saying he felt Paytas was “gaslighting” him by saying she wasn’t frustrated about money.

Paytas eventually asked Klein to end the podcast, saying, “Holy cow, that’s crazy,” after he tried to appease her in what could be perceived as a sarcastic tone. Klein told Paytas that they could “leave any time,” but Paytas repeatedly asked him to officially end the podcast before leaving. Klein acquiesced, and in the last few seconds of footage Paytas can be seen leaving their seat.

Paytas and Klein got into a heated Twitter argument when the episode aired

Paytas posted another video after the episode aired, titled “one more thing,” where they repeated their claim that their issues were nothing to do with money.

Meanwhile, Klein tweeted that the H3 crew was getting a barrage of hate directed at them from Paytas’ followers, and he was losing his “cool.”

“The crew has done nothing but support [them] and work their asses off every week and the treatment they get is unacceptable,” he said.

Klein added that he had reached out to Paytas to tell them he “wasn’t happy” with how they had handled the situation.

“Instead of talking to me and handling it privately, [they] put out another 20 minute video that caused my crew to get so much hate they are now privating their instas,” he said.

The pair got into a heated Twitter exchange, where Paytas posted several screenshots of their text messages with Klein about their contract details, and continued to tweet for several more hours. One particular tweet caused significant backlash from viewers who accused Paytas of being antisemitic, a claim that Paytas denied.

Meanwhile, Klein deleted all of his tweets and said he was “going to take a step back for the evening.”

“At the end of the day, Frenemies was a beautiful experiment that I will always cherish,” he said. “I’ve learned and grown so much from the experience and have Trisha to thank for that. She’s been a dear friend of mine throughout, and I’ll always be grateful for all she’s done for us.”

A few hours later, early in the morning of June 9, Paytas said they had deleted all their tweets too. They also posted a video titled “I’m sorry” where they said they were sad to leave but “it didn’t feel right” to stay.

“Obviously I handled things poorly,” they said. “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I let everyone down. I let myself down. I quit. I do quit. I quit everything.”

Klein made a video addressing the feud and Paytas addressed each point as they watched

Late on the evening of June 9, Klein posted a video on H3’s YouTube channel entitled “Regarding Trisha Quitting Frenemies” to share his side of the story. The 44-minute video addressed two main topics: Firstly, he said that Paytas had asked for an entirely new production crew for Frenemies, and added that Paytas wanted the existing crew to be fired, which Klein said he had told the crew. Secondly, he also spoke about the financial aspect of the feud, saying Paytas “gets all the security, of getting that check, of promoting her s—, and I’m stuck with all the f—ing bills.” He added that he’s “screwed” because of all the money he had tied up in the Frenemies merch, which was set to be released this month.

Paytas immediately began filming a rebuttal video, in which they were purportedly watching the video for the first time and reacting live to each claim posited by Klein. They ended up posting three separate videos, titled “pt 1 Ethans lies,” “pt 2 Ethan’s lies,” and “pt 3 Ehtan’s lies,” totaling at around two hours and 34 minutes altogether. In the videos, Paytas disputed the vast majority of Klein’s recounting of the events.

Paytas maintained both in the videos and in subsequent tweets that they never asked for the crew to be fired. They said that they only wanted an extra producer who could work exclusively on Frenemies, as they were under the impression existing crew members were working across different H3 podcasts in different capacities. Paytas also disputed Klein’s comments about his income, saying that they would have contributed to the cost of the merch production if they’d been asked. Throughout the videos Paytas refers to Klein as a “piece of s—,” a “bold-faced liar,” and a “vile person.”

While Klein ended his video saying he did not want to see Paytas “canceled,” and that he regards them as family, Paytas’ closed off sobbing, saying they were “so hurt” and felt that they always felt that they were the “punching bag of the show.” They added that they had “a lot of anger in my heart” towards Ethan, but praised the existing H3 crew and Hila Klein, Ethan’s wife.

Paytas posted another video, including clips to dispute the claim that they were rude towards the “Frenemies” production crew

On the evening of June 10, Paytas released another video entitled “this needs to be said.” Paytas reassured followers that they weren’t going through a mental health crisis, but acknowledged that they were “triggered” during the final minutes of the “Frenemies” episode. They said, “At the time I didn’t feel upset but I was being pushed and I was being pushed and I specifically asked, ‘can we please end the show, can we please end the show,’ and he’s like ‘yeah you can walk off any time,’ but I didn’t want to walk off because I didn’t want to look like that person that’s so unstable, I can’t sit down and finish a show. I wanted to finish it and I asked so many times.”

Paytas then played the clip from the episode, showing them asking Klein multiple times to end the show, and said he was “provoking” them. Paytas went on to say that while they didn’t want to sound like “broken record,” they wanted to discuss the perception that they had asked for the production crew fired. Paytas said that they’ve always been appreciative of the crew, “especially Sam.” Sam is the newest production crew member, who Klein said Paytas was referring to when they brought up that someone had been hired without consulting them.

Klein also said that Sam had conceptualized the Q&A advice segment that Paytas didn’t want to take part in on the podcast, although Paytas says they were not aware of this at the time. Paytas played a segment from episode 23 of “Frenemies,” which was posted on March 2, in which Paytas and Klein were praising Sam and her boyfriend Ian.

Paytas reiterated that they like all the crew members. Paytas said that their choice to leave “Frenemies” was out of respect for the crew and not wanting them to be uncomfortable. Paytas then played another clip from the most recent episode of “Frenemies,” before the dispute. It shows Klein asking Sam to go and get pizza for them, and Paytas saying they should hire someone specifically to go for pizza because the production crew members are busy. Paytas also showed a clip from a TikTok posted in January by H3 employee AB Ayad in which he thanked Paytas for a shout-out on episode 17 of the podcast.

Trisha then included segments from various TikToks which discussed the situation, most of which support Paytas’ claim that Klein was “gaslighting” them by insisting they were upset. The term “gaslighting” refers to a form of psychological abuse in which one person manipulates another into doubting their own sanity and perception of reality.

Paytas also posted a series of TikToks making the same points and including the clips of them praising the crew.

Paytas began using TikTok meme formats to comment on the situation further

Paytas posted two more TikTok videos relating to the drama, but these were in meme format. In the first, they used a popular audio clip of someone ordering a “small blue raspberry slushy” and a server responding, “a sausage McMuffin?” It is frequently used to illustrate a situation in which something is misinterpreted to the extreme. Paytas captioned the first part of the exchange (which represents what they said) with, “Maybe we could hire some additional crew to help?” and the second part (representing an incorrect perception) with, “Fire everyone!!!????!!”

The second TikTok alluded to the negative response to Paytas’ recent videos sharing their perspective. It showed Paytas lip-syncing to their own words from the last few minutes of the “Frenemies” episode, “OK. Wow. Holy cow, that’s crazy,” with the caption reading, “Getting ratio’d 6 vids in a row,” and a stress-crying emoji. Getting “ratioed” on social media typically refers to a post being so badly received that there are more replies (typically negative) than likes.

Insider reached out to both Trisha Paytas and Ethan Klein for further comment, but did immediately hear back.

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