Life

Goop’s New Podcast for Men Is an Extraordinarily Goopy Response to the Culture of “Toxic Masculinity”

The Goopfellas podcast logo.
Photo illustration by Slate. Image via Goopfellas.

The Goop brand, with its absurdly pricy skin elixirs and California-posh aesthetic, very clearly does not represent all women. But Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle juggernaut is undeniably for some women. Its homepage currently offers advice on DIY blowouts and women’s swimsuits. It sells “performance cashmere” ruffled sweaters and a $400 “super-serum,” organic tampons, and a vibrator it prefers to call a “wellness solution.” Some of its content is plausibly co-ed, but its vibe is self-consciously feminine, with all that self-care, “medical intuition,” and endless emotional processing.

Now Goop is expanding into a new frontier: men. “It feels like we’re at a point in the culture where men are rejecting that sort of toxic masculinity,” the company’s chief content officer, Elise Loehnen, told Fast Company last week. “We wanted to do something that was more about the emotional health of men, the importance of vulnerability, and this acknowledgment of how hard these things can be.” Enter Goopfellas, a new interview-based podcast that puts a masc gloss on femme Goop. The first episode dropped this week. A men’s newsletter and clothing line are coming up.

In Episode 1, hosts Will Cole and Seamus Mullen project a gentle bro energy as they discuss ego, trauma, and small setbacks they called “the paper cuts of life.” I listened twice to this inaugural episode and couldn’t repeat back a single concrete idea, but I definitely got the gist: transformation, feelings, something about vulnerability? The episode opened with some slow banter about the weather (“I’m so stoked that spring is finally here”) and ended with a listener question about how to combat overeating (“you have to heal the past” … “mindfulness”). These men seem extremely, extremely relaxed.

Both of the hosts have knocked around the extended Goop universe for a while before launching the podcast. Mullen is a sort of roving Goop house chef, making dishes like grain-free jicama-shell tacos in the Goop test kitchen and providing snacks for partygoers at the Goop Aspen pop-up shop. He gamely bantered about fecal transplants and adaptogenic herbs in a “How Goop Are You?” video last year. Cole has been interviewed several times on the website, usually under the website’s “Speculative but Promising” rubric, about topics like the possible existence of an “autoimmune spectrum.” (“Speculative but Promising” seems to be one notch more legit than “Fascinating and Inexplicable.”)

The hosts have come by their goopy sensibilities honestly. Cole is a “functional medicine practitioner,” runs a “practice” in which he sees “patients,” and uses the honorific “Dr.,” all of which might make you think he graduated from medical school. In reality, he has a doctorate of chiropractic from Southern California University of Health Sciences, which is a private school of alternative medicine. His postdoctoral training includes a stint at Functional Medicine University, an online “university” in which you can enroll today for a down payment of just $150.

Mullen, a New York chef, has a foothold in alternative medicine culture, too. After years of what he describes as confusing pain and health problems, he was diagnosed in 2007 with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder. As a chef, Mullen opened restaurants including a Spanish restaurant in New York’s West Village, now closed; recently, his career has shifted away from food prep and toward “wellness.” (He published a cookbook of Paleo-inspired “healing” meals.) He was recently interviewed about his health journey on Goop’s flagship podcast, of which Goopfellas is a spinoff.

The Goop Podcast is basically a new age–y chat show with a knack for framing lavish 1-percenter lifestyle tips as generic female empowerment. Paltrow and Loehnen trade off interviewing “leading thinkers, culture changers, and industry disruptors” about “shifting old paradigms and starting new conversations.” Their guests have included Julia Roberts, Howard Schultz (Paltrow praised him as “strong and fit”), and Oprah. Other episodes have focused on “how to become your future self,” fasting, “detox without deprivation,” avoiding endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and processing trauma (“in partnership with our friends at Swarovski”).

Goopfellas, meanwhile, takes the core values of the Goop ethos—wellness, self-acceptance—and overlays them with an acknowledgement that getting there poses specific challenges to men. The inaugural episode mentioned anger, distant fathers, and the expectation that you’re nothing without your career. The pair’s first guest was Keith Mitchell, a former NFL linebacker who took up meditation and yoga after suffering a career-ending injury in 2003. Mitchell now pushes back against the “gladiator mentality” that pressures athletes to ignore their own bodies. But when Cole and Mullen asked him if he would welcome his own children playing football, he said it would be fine as long as when “you go out and do the damage you have to come back also and do the healing.” I had no idea what that meant, and it sure didn’t sound like an airtight medical antidote to, say, CTE, but the hosts murmured, “I like that,” “That’s great.” At another point, Mitchell briefly referred to a doctor in Honduras who helped him heal from the concussions he sustained as an NFL player; he has written elsewhere about applying a paste to his head and eating raw orchids to treat past concussions. Very Goop!

The episode would have been more intriguing to me—more “authentic,” to use a Goop word—if the men had gone deeper into the real bumps in their own biographies, rather than just opaquely discussing the concept of personal growth. Mullen has closed several restaurants: What did that feel like? Mitchell made it sound like his NFL career would have been great if not for a single dramatic injury, but the reality seems more complicated: What did that feel like? Goopfellas hasn’t announced its future lineup, though Cole and Mullen told Fast Company that their dream interviews include Robert Downey Jr. and Barack and Michelle Obama. (Hey, mine, too!) In the meantime, they recently chatted onstage at a Goop event with director Kevin Smith about weight loss and veganism. That conversation was moderated by the founder of a “hair wellness” startup for people with thinning hair. Repackaging Rogaine as “wellness”—it doesn’t get goopier than that.