Uncover Season 1: Escaping NXIVM

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Escaping NXIVM:

If I have to be branded to join a group, then I am not joining said group.

Quick synopsis:

A woman discusses her involvement with NXIVM, a now notorious cult known for branding women and making them sex slaves. Yes, it happened in the United States.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Remember the show Smallville, where a young Superman has a best friend named Chloe played by actress Allison Mack? Yes, so she was second in command of this cult.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Allison Mack came up with the idea of branding women. I won’t spoil what the brand actually is.

My Take on Escaping NXIVM:

Everything is fun and games until a cattle prod comes out. Right, everyone?

Keith Raniere is apparently a very smart guy who loves committing a wide array of crimes. His most successful for a time was NXIVM. It began, like most cults do, as a self-improvement seminar targeted at people who needed “executive success.” No red flags yet, right? Unless you count that Raniere already got caught running a pyramid scheme. Oh, and that this also followed the tried and true methodology of a multi-level marketing scheme.

Raniere hit the jackpot when he was able to pull in some major donors early on. Among them, the Seagram’s heiresses (yes, THAT Seagrams), and a slew of actors and actresses. Allison Mack became the number two in the organization. It then started going from another humdrum white-collar crime to SFU (short for seriously f—– up and yes, I just made that up, why you do ask?). I’ll say no more to avoid other spoilers.

As you’ll see in my verdict, the one downside is that the podcast is two years old and a lot has happened which you’ll have to look up or watch a newer documentary on it. Besides that though, it’s a great listen.


The only thing wrong with this podcast is a lot happened in the 2 years since it aired. Read up on it after you listen. Listen here! Or a billion other places as its a podcast after all.

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The Gateway (Podcast)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Gateway:

A woman named Teal Swan is a nutjob? Get out of town!

Quick synopsis:

A look at the cult-like following of Teal Swan, a new age YouTube life guru.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Why is she dangerous? For one thing, she teaches people to “visualize their suicide,” because it’s not a big deal. (Additional Fun Fact: It IS a big deal to do that and don’t ever do that.)

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Teal Swan may be crazy, but she is not stupid. Her YouTube videos are so popular for a few reasons but also because she cracked the code on search engine optimization.

My Take on The Gateway:

Admittedly, in the pantheon of cult leaders who lead their people to utter destruction, Teal Swan is on the lower end. She mostly comes off as a new age guru with way too many YouTube videos and uses a whole bunch of fancy sounding words that do not mean what she thinks they mean. If you watch one of her videos, you may even find yourself thinking she is harmless.

She is not, and this podcast goes a long way to make sure you get it. Also, unlike most projects which cover cults, this podcast actually interviews Teal Swan herself and asks her the questions you want answered.

This podcast is great because it gets a lot of things right. It is about someone who is interesting (in a bad way). It has the right amount of episodes for the subject matter and while it makes the point it wants to make, it does try to remain as objective as it can until confronted with the evidence.


One of the better podcasts out there especially if you are into cults and weird people. Listen here!

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The Dream Season 1: Podcast Review

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Dream:

Prepare for a different perspective of a lot of people in your Facebook feed.

Quick synopsis:

A look into what multi-level marketing (MLM) is and why it can literally ruin people’s lives.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

You have seen MLMs all over the place. Most likely, you’ve seen a friend doing a video on Facebook trying to sell their wares. Most likely, they are selling for an MLM.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Here is a non-exhaustive list of MLMs: Advocare, Beachbody, LuLaRoe, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef…the list goes on.

My Take on The Dream:

An MLM is not a pyramid scheme. Why do I say that? I am avoiding a lawsuit. It is not because they don’t look exactly the same.

It can be very dicey trying to suss out what an MLM actually is and explain why it is so dangerous and misleading. This podcast slowly takes you through why the structure of an MLM (hint: it looks like a pyramid) is unsustainable for the vast majority of people who are part of it. The numbers are staggering and the way it works is worrisome to say the least.

The most effective episodes are when one of the podcast staff actually joins an MLM and talks through the process. This podcast does not look down on the people who get caught up in MLMs and even shows just how easy it is to get caught up in the hard sell. The podcast staffer talks about how she has an ulterior motive but still gets caught up in the hard sell.

Everyone should listen to this podcast.


This is an important podcast because people very hard-working people are getting ripped off on a daily basis. Listen here!

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A Killing on the Cape (Podcast)

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for A Killing on the Cape:

Hide your shock about who they pin it on.

Quick synopsis:

A podcast which focuses on the murder of author Christa Worthington on Cape Cod in 2002. (Note to the technological illiterate: A podcast is like a recorded radio show you can listen to. You can get it on your phone. You’re welcome, mom.)

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

People went to check their mail and were asked to provide DNA when they got there.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

In 2008, an appeal was made based on three jurors saying racism was involved in the verdict. The appeal was denied.

My Take on A Killing on the Cape:

Christa Worthington was a big deal. Besides having one of the whitest names ever, she was a well-known author and writer who had articles in Cosmopolitan, ELLE, and The New York Times. She was living in Truro, Massachusetts on Cape Cod in 2002 when she was murdered. Her two year old was living with her and was found clinging to her body but thankfully unharmed.

The podcast covers a lot of ground when it comes to understanding a beach-side town in the off-season. Cape Cod (my favorite place on Earth) is a summer destination but can be desolate in the off-season. It also means that the people living there year-round may be a bit…. interesting.

Add in the fact that the Cape Cod police force was not extremely experienced with a crime of this magnitude and you end up having some very interesting ideas for cracking the case.

In the end, you will feel like I did when watching Making a Murderer or Serial: Season 1. I’m not positive he did it. I am also not sure he didn’t.


If you like true crime then this is for you. Listen here!

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