Bravo Podcast ‘Bitch Sesh’ Risked it All to Go Independent. One Year Later, It’s Fostered a Community of Laughter and Support

In 2015, comedians Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider started the podcast “Bitch Sesh” as a venue to deliver their hot takes about Bravo shows — the “Real Housewives” specifically. Little did they know their weekly airing of praise and grievances would foster a consistent base of fans willing to open their hearts to each other.

“I think of the community as its own organism,” Wilson says. She then adds, with a laugh: “Danielle and I are part of it, and obviously I’ve always dreamed of being a cult leader. I think I have what it takes.”

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Short of starting a commune, Schneider and Wilson bet on themselves in 2023 by taking control of their own business. Although “Bitch Sesh” launched on the alt-comedy podcast platform Earwolf — the home of shows such as “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” and “Comedy Bang Bang” — the duo took the show behind a paywall, inviting their fans along with them to their platform, Casey and Danielle’s Garbage World.

“My brother is in the Silicon Valley world,” Wilson says. “He was always saying to me, ‘There are so many gatekeepers in Hollywood involved with your business, so many people in between the artist.’ There’s something so great about the model of starting your own small business. You’re paid for doing as much work as you want to do. You’re rewarded more. We felt like, ‘Let’s just take a leap and try to be entrepreneurs in our own right, so that we don’t have to feel resentment and disrespected. We can feel empowered.'”

While the duo consider themselves to be new to the business world, Schneider believes their background of hustling in improv comedy gave them a leg up in advocating for their work.

“When we first started at [comedy theater and school] Upright Citizens Brigade, there is a do-it-yourself vibe,” she says. “You have to promote, you have to produce, you are the master of your project. We always joke, ‘We don’t have a mind for business.’ But we learned early you can’t depend on anyone to do it for you. You have to do it yourself and be inventive. We were flyering in Washington Square Park 20 years ago. We’ve had to reinvent our wheels 10,000 times with every new project, and we can’t wait for the phone to ring.”

Although moving to a paywall model was undoubtedly a risk, Schneider and Wilson, along with their producer Cait Moldenhauer, doubled down on their tastemaker roles, launching a companion podcast named “Garbage World,” which focuses on different flights of fancy that there was little time for on their main show. Whether the topic is psychics, how to find the perfect pair of jeans, postpartum, trashy non-Bravo reality shows or bringing up past regrets, episodes can toggle from the breezy to the deeply personal.

“It’s opened us up creatively to think bigger, to engage with our audience in a way to find out what they’re already like,” Schneider says. “We’re always going to be us, but what do they like about us, or what’s getting them through the day with us? We can do more of that. It inspires us.”

Wilson and Schneider keep the conversation and community rolling along off-hours thanks to their engagement with a subscribers-only Discord, where fans can chat about topics ranging from parenting to activism to ghost stories over 30+ channels.

Actor June Diane Raphael, Wilson’s longtime comedy partner who has appeared numerous times on “Bitch Sesh” and co-hosts the podcast “How Did This Get Made?”, says that the duo’s success in their move to be independent shows the appetite for women-led programming.

“I’m incredibly proud of Casey and Danielle for taking the leap and leaving the podcast network system,” Raphael writes in an email. “It requires an enormous amount of trust in their audience and in themselves, and their success speaks to the dedicated work they’ve put into building the ‘Bitch Sesh’ community. Women artists and creators are constantly told that their audiences are ‘niche,’ but Casey and Danielle have proved their audience is large enough to take up an entire world.”

The “Bitch Sesh” community also includes the show’s high-profile guests, who have included Zooey Deschanel, Kristin Chenoweth, Vanessa Bayer, Ziwe and many more. Much of the fun is reality TV as the great equalizer, with A-listers as well-versed in the private lives of Bravolebrities as the average fan.

Andy Cohen, the host and executive producer of Bravo’s nightly talk show “Watch What Happens Live,” as well as an executive producer of the “Real Housewives” franchise, has been a frequent guest on “Bitch Sesh” — and has hosted Wilson and Schneider on his show in turn. In an email, he tells Variety that “Bitch Sesh” hits just the right tone for the Bravo faithful.

“Casey and Danielle have takes that are refreshing, fun and unexpected,” Cohen says. “They’re the perfect companion to everything on Bravo, and often say things that I wish I could.”

To commemorate one year of operating Casey and Danielle’s Garbage World, the pair are hosting a live show on May 15, brainstorming new topics for future Garbage World episodes, rejuvenating their merch and inviting back fan-favorite podcast guests like Cohen and Kristen Wiig. Yet one thing will remain the same: the big laughs and frank discussions that grew the community in the first place.

“Our comedy is putting ourselves out there, saying hard truths,” Schneider says. “Talking about crazy things that have happened and taking the fall for them, and being the fool in the situation. There’s a bigger audience now, but I am grateful that they think it’s funny or they relate or feel something with some personal story that happened to us. They’ve been so kind when we reveal tough stuff.”

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