Day one ‘cornie’ Cat Fitzwater pays tribute to The Real Pod and the community that grew around it.
“”I now pronounce you husband and wife; you may kiss the bride.”
“So how do you know Sophie?”
“Weeeell, funny story: we were actually online friends that became friends in real life. You see, there’s this podcast called The Real Pod…”
Let me take you back to the year 2001. I’m 14 and watching a pyjama-clad Australian called Sara Marie do the bum dance, and my life is forever changed. Big Brother Australia is the first reality TV show I’ve ever watched, and I am obsessed – every night I sit in front of the TV absolutely engrossed in the drama, silly challenges and showmances (this was the year of the infamous “dancing doona” incident).
Big Brother Australia was the gateway drug that started my love affair with reality TV, an affair which is very much still going to this day. In the following years I devoured shows like Shipwrecked, Survivor, The Hills and America’s Next Top Model. I was an extremely awkward and geeky teenager, with glasses, braces and barely any social or love life to speak of. Getting to escape into a world of good-looking people hooking up, scheming and living their best lives was the saving grace of those formative years for me.
More recently, my reality TV diet has included the likes of Love Island, 90 Day Fiancé, Celebrity Treasure Island and The Bachelor. Which is where The Real Pod enters the picture – or should I say The Fantasy Suite, which is what it was first called back in 2015, when a fresh-faced Art Green wooed Matilda Rice in a love story for the ages on The Bachelor NZ. Jane, Alex and Duncan were there to recap every moment of it on their “silly little podcast”, and I couldn’t get enough. Listening to their recap podcast truly felt like I was debriefing the show with friends, and wholeheartedly levelled up my TV viewing experience.
Three years later, in April 2018, The Real Pod Corner Facebook group was born. I joined on the very first day, so I can quite literally call myself a “day one” cornie. Members of the corner came to be affectionately known as “corndogs”, or “cornies” for short, which has since spawned endless corn related content in the corner. How exciting it was to have a place to chat about the pod, reality TV and everything in between with like-minded people. For once in my life I felt like I was among “my people”.
When the pod finally managed to nab a sponsor, the one and only Nandos, it led to many a cornie meet-up over peri peri chips, and online friends started to become real life friends. Shout out Liz, Meg, Jewelia, Steph, Sam and Sam – my OG Wellington cornie gang. The highlight of the cornie calendar is without a doubt the Nandos Secret Santa dinner and gift exchange. I challenge you to find a more wholesome part of the internet than the thread of everyone showing off their thoughtful, unique and corn-themed gifts.
It’s hard making friends as an adult, and not having had many throughout my life I am eternally grateful for this rag-tag bunch of misfits I now get to call close personal friends. One cornie, the aforementioned Sophie, has even managed to usurp all others to claim the title of best friend. Our chats moved from the corner to Instagram DMs a few years ago, but our friendship really began to flourish when I went down to visit friends in Christchurch. Along with corner royalty Ollie, we met up for drinks at a rooftop bar and the rest is history. It was actually only mine and Sophie’s third time hanging out when I attended her wedding.
People will always turn their noses up at reality TV, but I’ll proudly own my love for the genre – after all, it’s a love that led me to become part of the beloved Real Pod community. If you follow your passions in life, be unabashedly yourself and don’t let anyone yuck your yums, you might just find your own rag-tag bunch of misfits you can call “your people” too.
So, as we gear up to farewell The Real Pod, my ear holes may be lonely, but my heart won’t be. I’ll still be surrounded by my cornie pals, and we’ll still have endless hours of reality TV – and much more – to discuss.