The death of the rude YouTube interview — Bobbi Althoff proves the Amelia Dimoldenberg format is over

Over the past few years, a specific sort of social media interview style has gained traction: one where the interviewer scoffs, stares blankly, aims retorts at their interviewee and exudes a general aura of stand-offishness. Essentially, they do all the things a regular interviewer, who likely fought hard with PRs and agents to secure time with that celebrity, would never dream of doing.For a while, it felt fresh. When Amelia Dimoldenberg entered the scene with her Chicken Shop Date YouTube series in 2014, her awkward interviewing style was a hilariously deadpan skewering of the usual slick and ingratiating interviewer schtick. Most commonly exhibited now by other celebrities (i.e. Variety’s Actors on Actors series), or podcast hosts such as Diary of a CEO’s Steven Bartlett or Call Her Daddy’s Alex Cooper, Dimoldenberg was different.

Her style of interviewing was so well received that it rocketed her into the mainstream. In the nine years since Chicken Shop Date first landed, Dimoldenberg has become a Levi’s ambassador, has fronted JD Sports campaigns and most recently found herself a role as a regular red carpet interviewer for events such as the Golden Globes, GQ’s Men of the Year awards and Vanity Fair’s Oscars after party.

Now imitators are starting to appear. Most notably, US podcast host Bobbi Althoff. She appears to be seeking to combine the format of Dimoldenberg’s Chicken Shop Date series with the success of popular filmed podcasts. She sits in informal settings with her interviewees — such as a bed, a sofa, or even a sauna — much like Cooper’s relaxed approach, and bottles them into neat little TikTok-perfect videos.

Amelia Dimoldenberg (Dave Benett)
Amelia Dimoldenberg (Dave Benett)

Althoff’s style has succeeded in sending her viral, helped by the fact that Drake was Althoff’s fourth podcast interviewee (it would be hard for it not to go viral). But unlike Dimoldenberg, it is drawing criticism.

Her most recent interview with rapper Offset, who is married to Cardi B and is part of the rap group Migos, has garnered attention after a clip was released showing the rapper reacting to Althoff’s seeming hostility. “Why do you want to get to know me?” Offset asks, to which Althoff replies: “I didn’t” — claiming that his team reached out to her. Offset calls this out as a lie and she slightly concedes — “My team could have reached out to yours” — before admitting that she barely knew who Offset was before she arrived to interview him.

Play this clip to any journalist who has completed weeks of prep for a celebrity interview they fought tooth and nail to pin down and they will probably have a substantial meltdown. It’s the untrained, unprepared and ungrateful aspect that gets me — performative or not. There is no shortage of black female podcast hosts, or podcasts dedicated to rap and hip hop, or music journalists, many of whom I’m sure would be thrilled to interview a rapper of Offset’s scale and who would create meaningful content.

As The Atlantic writer Jemele Hill put it: “I don’t find these types of interviews particularly enjoyable or interesting. Instead, it just sadly points out how real hip hop journalism has been practically erased. Some of the media teams behind these artists aren’t interested in them sitting down with credible people who know how to tell stories and do quality interviews. Then they wonder why an artist’s real story goes untold, neglected or that artist is misunderstood.”

Bobbi Althoff (YouTube)
Bobbi Althoff (YouTube)

It would be remiss of me not to address the fact that this interview technique is almost exclusively employed by women, because it simply would not work with a male interviewer. If it was a man interviewing a woman in this style, he would be accused of being sexist, and if he was interviewing a man in this manner, I suspect the other man would simply walk out. The only reason it has worked so far is because the women who employ this technique are attractive and unthreatening, which is not a great basis for an interesting experience for anyone concerned, least of all theviewers.

Even Dimoldenberg herself has pivoted away from the more spiky interview format she became known for. Her move to red-carpet interviews with A-listers has required a subtle switch in tone. She’s still awkward and a little confrontational, but it never feels rude or out of place.

Similarly, American podcast host Emma Chamberlain, who does the Anything Goes series, could be another interviewer for Althoff to look to for inspiration. Her highly meme-able red carpet interactions have a delectable degree of second-hand embarrassment without being unwatchable.

So let’s lay this rude interview format to rest, please, and try and get professional. Dimoldenberg did it best, now it’s dead. Not just because it’s becoming disrespectful and dated, but because like most things, it didn’t need an American version.