Where were you when Kelly Clarkson won American Idol? How many times did you change your MySpace Top 8 to preserve a friendship? Were you friends with Tom on Twitter? The 2000s were a time of discovery, not just for a generation of millennials, but for everyone as a new age of technology and connectivity was ushered in. And comedians Sydnee Washington and Marie Faustin wax poetic about all of our ‘00 faves in their Spotify Original podcast Peak 2000s.
The 2000s were the forefront of being able to communicate with a friend across the country with the click of a mouse. Big Budget movies that everyone saw and could be talked about the next day, sometimes even the same night.
All of your faves from Mickey Mouse Club and Kids Incorporated were all grown up and dominating the music charts or delighting movie audiences. There was something pure about low rider bootleg jeans with a spaghetti strap tank top, something so covetable about unisex chunky blond highlights.
To talk about it all, the Peak 2000s podcast takes a popular 2000s trope like American Idol and the Step Up dance music franchise and dissects it with a special guest. Washington and Faustin have amazing chemistry and infuse the podcast with laughter and heart that will have you screaming, “OMG I remember that!”
I had a chance to Zoom with Sydnee Washington (who can be seen in the recent Grindr series Bridesman. The 6-episode web series is available on YouTube) and talked about the podcast and her love of the epic decade.
The Geekiary: What is it that you think about the 2000s that has such a hold on everybody?
Sydnee Washington: It was the best of times… it was the worst of times… but actually it was the best of times. There was so much organic culture that was happening. It just felt like, ‘Okay, we actually have something to take away from each year.’ I’m not dragging the current year, but I don’t know the words to every song, Every up-and-coming trend, I’m like ‘been there, done that’. I just like everything was happening in the 2000s.
TG: Was there anything you could point to – like a pop culture phenomena in the 2000s that just spoke to you? That let you know this is it?
SW: I feel like people might be mad at me, but I really feel like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, with their style, they brought in this new wave of being your own celebrity. Granted, these women were coming from very wealthy families, but they built a brand for themselves. I think a lot of people caught on after that.
TG: Well it was the first time we just watched people being themselves. And it was messy!
SW: People being themselves, but also like, ‘no, we want to be celebrities’. I feel like people on The Real World and Road Rules were doing it for the culture. I felt like they really loved TV and they wanted to give good TV. [With The Simple Life], Paris and Nicole were like, ‘No, we’re celebrities here. We want the fame, we want people to know like, we’re just like you, but not, b*tch!’
TG: Well, it’s especially clear when you think about the effect. When you see someone in a velour jumpsuit and a Von Dutch hat and baby pink lipstick, you know exactly where they’re from, and when they’re from.
SW: On the record, it was a mess! Nobody looked that good, but they were like, finding themselves almost like teenagers. Everybody was grown as hell, but it felt like they were in your face like, ‘Yeah mom, I’m wearing black eyeliner and I’m gonna paint my nails really messy because I can do that!’ People were having fun and into anything and being really open.
TG: It’s so fun to look back. Is that what inspired you to do the podcast?
SW: Yeah! I really believe that even though I’m a super adult now, in the early 2000s I was very young and didn’t have as much access to things. It really was a great time for me just to be finding myself as well as watching others. People like Jessica Simpson and Nick LaShae were a crazy couple, but we got to see them on MTV and be so real. And even like MTV and TRL, we just really got to see everything for what it was and it didn’t feel so curated.
TG: There was definitely a type of authenticity and it may have been authentically messy and authentically snobby, but they were very much themselves.
Then we have the American Idol of it all. I loved that episode because I was the one voting in! How much were you into American Idol then?
SW: I mean, that was just the thing to watch. You had to watch it, you had to be involved, you had to know what everyone was talking about and you had to have some kind of input. I think right now we have a lot of people remixing other’s opinions, but you had to actually watch American Idol to see the good and the bad and have someone to root for – then talk about it.
TG: I love how you talk about the Step Up movies and then Paris Hilton and then there’s an episode on Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. What was it like revisiting these moments?
SW: I think at the time we didn’t know what the big deal was or everything that was going on. A lot of the nuance went over our head just like with the Justin and Janet situation. So looking back we made sure that we were very particular about what we were saying and our point of view.
TG: What’s been your favorite episode so far?
SW: I really do love the MySpace one for me so much. It was quintessential to me creating my persona or who I saw myself as. And it connected me to so many people. MySpace felt like the blueprint. The guest for that ep is wonderful. What I love about the guests is not only do they know everything about the topic, but they have to be passionate and Marie and I try to make it fun and interesting to listen to.
TG: There’s something about the 2000s that is lovingly cringe. Is there anything… not necessarily cathartic, but where you can give yourself a little grace for some of the bad culture and fashion decisions of the day?
SW: Every picture that I look back at I’m like, look at me just being free! She’s not giving a damn, she thinks this is the look and you can tell I thought that’s what the kids were doing. I felt like I was a part of something. So it was cringe in a way, but it was just an awesome time to grow and learn about yourself and not be so caught up in the hype. I look back at the pictures and you could just tell in people’s faces that they were just happy to be there.
The Spotify Original podcast Peak 2000s can be found wherever you get your podcasts and on Spotify.
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