The Controversial ‘Missing Richard Simmons’ Podcast Has Ended Early After Criticism
Richard Simmons' mysterious three-year absence is still unexplained.
Last night the last episode of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast was released, and like the series itself, it seems to have polarised listeners. If you’re late to the party, the podcast is a Serial-esque investigation of the world-famous fitness guru’s mysterious retreat from public life three years ago.
The six-part series involved Dan Taberski — a friend/acquaintance/some dude who vaguely knew Richard Simmons — trying to discover what exactly prompted Simmons’ disappearance. Almost every episode ranked number one on iTunes the week that it was released.
Even though many found the pop culture tale enthralling, there were equally loud voices wondering about the ethics of trying to find someone who might not want to be found (Richard Simmons had declined to be part of the podcast). For a few years now, there have been internet rumours that Simmons’ housekeeper has been keeping an ill Richard Simmons hostage — something that his brother has refuted.
The moral panic that Missing Richard Simmons incited was as illuminating as the podcast itself. One of the most talked about critiques came from the New York Times last week, with writer Amanda Hess calling the podcast “an invasion of privacy masquerading as a love letter”.
— Amanda Hess (@amandahess) March 14, 2017
The podcast’s final episode, ‘Day at the Beach’, has been released two days earlier than expected. The episode was also missing much of what Taberski had teased the previous episode; he says that many things that he had wanted to include, including a confrontation with Simmons’s housekeeper, were deleted from the final episode, but he does not explain why. The finale doesn’t really come to any conclusions about Simmons’ absence from the limelight.
Today some in the media, including Linda Holmes, editor of NPR’s pop culture blog ‘Monkey See’, are wondering if the increased media criticism over the last week had dramatically altered the podcast’s conclusion.
Well, it seems like 6 episodes of being gently told "You're probably not helping" was almost enough to get it across. #missingrichardsimmons
— Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) March 20, 2017
@nprmonkeysee Yeah, I'm of two minds on this one. I think Dan was genuinely concerned for Richard, but the podcast in real time thing? Nope.
— Charles Brand (@etdweasel) March 20, 2017
@etdweasel It assumed something was happening that Dan could and should fix. It underestimated the damage Dan could do.
— Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) March 21, 2017
Let me get this straight: he doesn't find Richard Simmons, and turns out Richard Simmons just wants to be left alone? That is the podcast?
— Michelle Dean (@michelledean) March 21, 2017
Just finished listening to Missing Richard Simmons and I feel like a jerk.
— Carla Cackowski (@carlacackowski) March 21, 2017
So in the end, Missing Richard Simmons became an indictment of celebrity culture. Everyone thinks you owe them a piece of you.
— Still Wamgry (@clarissawam) March 21, 2017
You can listen to every episode of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast here.