Culture

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”.

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.

You can listen to every episode of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast here.