Many have felt the pain of losing a friend to a boyfriend. But rarely are those involved subject to the devoted attention of the Daddy Gang. After two years of uncensored discussions about one-night stands, blowjobs, and sexual liberation, the Call Her Daddy podcast is officially continuing minus one of the original hosts.
The podcast, a favorite among young women, featured Sofia Franklyn, 27, and Alexandra Cooper, 26, as they broke down their sex lives in New York City with “uncensored, real, female locker room talk.” Their millions of listeners, dubbed the “Daddy Gang,” were devoted to Franklyn and Cooper with a cultish fervor and idolized the duo as sex-positive millennials upending the respectability trap for women.
But the podcast’s future has taken a wild, though not totally unexpected, turn. In a vlog uploaded to the Call Her Daddy YouTube channel, Cooper explains that the podcast has left Barstool and that she will now be the sole host of Call Her Daddy. The 34-minute video is Cooper’s monologue as she walks through a detailed timeline of how the negotiations fell apart.
Basically, as Cooper and Franklyn built a dedicated following, they wanted to expand their brand outside of their three-year Barstool contract. But it gets tricky: the pair was still locked into their contract, and Barstool technically owned the intellectual property rights to the podcast. In a Call Her Daddy episode entitled “Daddy Speaks,” Barstool founder David Portnoy explained that upon learning of their desire to leave Barstool, he offered them each a new contract that included a $500,000 salary plus bonuses, as well as a shortened contract length. Portnoy noted that Cooper agreed to the deal, but Franklyn’s boyfriend, dubbed “Suitman,” urged Franklyn to refuse the deal in the hopes of securing a more profitable contract with another media outlet.
In Cooper’s vlog, she stresses how much she wanted to keep hosting the show with Franklyn. But “it got all about money,” Cooper says. Franklyn was apparently refusing to cooperate reasonably in the negotiations, dismissing the IP rights as unimportant and constantly demanding more money. Portnoy’s response on Instagram confirms everything that Cooper said in the vlog; in short, he says, “Peter Nelson, go fuck yourself.”
Fans were simultaneously heartbroken and energized by the news that Cooper would be taking over the podcast. After a bizarre few months of being in the dark about what exactly was going on between the hosts and Barstool, listeners originally felt betrayed by Franklyn and Cooper for letting their racy, raw, feminist podcast crumble all because of a man. Many were quick to point out the irony.
As more information came out about the situation, however, the anger turned solely toward Franklyn, deemed the one responsible for the selfish demise of the duo. The tide turned overwhelmingly against Franklyn for her selfish, stubborn behavior as listeners declared themselves #TeamAlex. The situation became the perfect drama for social media as Twitter users picked sides and spread the hashtag #CancelSuitman, and TikTok users danced to parody soundbites lamenting the demise of the show and raging against Suitman for ruining a beloved podcast.
Media coverage of the drama in major publications like The New York Times focused on the implications of the contract negotiations and painted the situation as one filled with foul play, backstabbing, and chaos. But Refinery29, a media outlet that attracts a similar user base to Call Her Daddy, pointed out the subtly sexist undertones of casting the negotiation drama as an emotional catfight rather than a business disagreement. After all, it really is a dispute over the terms of their contract and the future of their careers.
However, the popularity of Call Her Daddy makes it impossible to shelter these legal issues from their audience and the general population. Because Franklyn and Cooper have branded themselves as public figures of candid vulgarity, these contract disputes were bound to generate the kind of attention that comes with having a following. In the eyes of the Daddy Gang, this isn’t just a business disagreement. It’s a fight at the heart of what Call Her Daddy is supposed to rise above.
So maybe the coverage is a little patronizing, but it’s hard to justify the idea that listeners, mostly young women equally passionate about sexual liberation and female empowerment, should approach the situation with objectivity and distance.
A larger question that arises from this controversy is how to negotiate the tension between a media institution and a personal brand curated independently of that institution. Barstool may have owned Call Her Daddy, but it was the individual personalities of Franklyn and Cooper, not Barstool, that drew listeners to the podcast. As Taylor Lorenz explains in The New York Times, “Media companies have long acted as talent incubators, providing content producers name-brand recognition and access to a larger audience. But, as that talent builds a following on social media, the balance of power shifts. Often, talent no longer needs the media company to operate as a middleman, and many realize they could monetize their own platforms more effectively by themselves.”
The power of influencers makes it only natural that Franklyn would search for ways to monetize their popularity outside of the constraints of a media corporation. The hosts’ personal brands far exceed the value of their deal with Barstool. But that doesn’t justify Franklyn’s decision to demand more money, especially once Barstool offered them a base salary of $500k. At that point, it’s just selfish and arrogant, albeit financially logical, to refuse a generous contract in the hopes of being more successful on your own.
Media companies exist for a reason: to share content. If everyone went freelance and created a personal brand in order to essentially employ themself as a public figure, the world would be filled with frantic pseudo-influencers bragging about the hustle, devoid of any larger curated media space. The age of the influencer has created a culture where marketing yourself is profitable and encouraged, and although there’s nothing wrong with building a career in content creation, we should hesitate to praise individual influencers as the future of media.
Franklyn had legitimate reasons to seek a way out of their contract, but her desire to leave a large corporation because she thought of herself as a marketable product is just a case study in how influencers have replaced companies in nearly every industry. “Influencer” is a profitable career path, but the market is so saturated with influencers that we should pause before bowing down to the podcast host or Instagram model we adore. The Call Her Daddy hosts shouldn’t be personally scrutinized for their business decisions, as they are just part of a larger media industry that values personal fame and profit. So whether you’re Team Alex or Team Sofia (or, God forbid, Team Suitman), it’s time to start digging deeper into the changing dynamics of media stars, and why we love the allure of these women in the first place.
By Katherine Williams
Note: This article has been updated due to a prior mistake. Call Her Daddy isn’t leaving Barstool Sports.