Bennifer, bell-bottoms, and Britney—the early 2000s are making their inevitable way into the public consciousness. Of course, with that comes some necessary pop culture self-reflection. What have we learned since then? What do we want to revive, or leave dead and buried? Comedians Sydnee Washington and Marie Faustin seek to answer these questions on their Spotify Original podcast Peak 2000s, while also thoroughly entertaining listeners.
Washington and Faustin may be based on opposite coasts (L.A. and New York, respectively), but the strength of their friendship is tangible throughout our Zoom interview. They’re co-workers, yes, but more importantly, they’re friends, teasing each other while I question them about the podcast.
The roughly half-hour episodes are part comedy, as the duo riff with their weekly guest, and part analysis, as they dive into the larger implications of 2000s trends. They’ve covered the likes of Napster, American Idol, the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Super Bowl appearance, and plenty more topics that will have you donning rose-tinted glasses.
Without further ado, here’s Paste’s chat with the hilarious hosts of Peak 2000s.
How did you meet?
Marie Faustin: We met at an all female open mic and—well that’s when we saw each other for the first time, we didn’t meet there, but I was like She’s pretty, and she was like, She’s pretty, and really that’s where the girl crush started and it turned into this long-distance relationship.
Sydnee Washington: Yeah, yeah, it was one of those things where I saw Marie on stage and immediately, it was like, I’m going to be her friend, muahahah! It was going to be a master plan of us being friends, and then I didn’t even have to work that hard.
Faustin: No, really. And it’s never happened that way for me before, and it’s never happened that way since, so.
So what made you guys want to start the podcast?
Washington: I mean, whenever we have a chance to talk about the “best of times” it’s the early 2000s. Every time we go back to like music, or just culture or celebrities, it’s like when we were in high school going into college, and I mean we just can’t stop chatting about it. It’s like such a good reference point.
Faustin: Yeah, but also TV was like a different type of entertainment in the early 2000s, you know what I mean? I think that in my brain, I know that like Gen Z exist and Boomers are still a thing, but millennials are a massive part of who is alive right now and we remember AIM, and we remember all of that, like silly stuff that we used to waste time on.
Fair. When you’re talking about like, the best TV shows and stuff, what would you guys consider your favorite TV shows from that era?
Washington: Well, we watch America’s Next Top Model. I wanted to be a model. Meanwhile, I got scammed by some fake agency. They “scouted” me, and then they told me that I needed to pay $5,000 if I wanted to get into this agency, so yeah it put a bad taste in my mouth. But I still watched the show because I was like, One day, one day. I want this! And Tyra was always giving us the drama.
Faustin: Oh my God, Tyra always chose the worst photos of the girl. I know Jay Manuel saw them take better photos than that, and it was like a picture where her eyes are like [pulls a face]. But yeah, Top Model. Other shows I used to watch: Flavor of Love.
The Real World.
Faustin: And then The Boondocks, I don’t know if you remember that cartoon, but I would watch that in the early 2000s too, I think. At least that’s when I think it was on. And messy reality TV where people weren’t trying to be famous, they were just messy and didn’t know better. And the wigs were back here [indicates halfway back on her head] and people were ashy in between the knuckles—like you know, just real reality TV.
Washington: Yeah, it just felt like people really was there for the culture, like this is a moment in time where TV is going to be at its rawest and it didn’t feel curated. So yeah, good TV, good times.
A lot of [2000s aesthetic] is like coming back fashion-wise, especially on TikTok. How does it feel that a time when you were very much fully-formed people is now nostalgia? Does it feel weird or—
Faustin: It doesn’t feel like nostalgia to me. When I was in sixth grade and I wanted bell bottoms, my mom was like, We used to wear those in the ‘70s. Fashion is a cycle, it always comes back. And that has always stuck with me, and it’s true. The pants—specifically jeans—always come back. It’s like flares, and then skinny, and then loose, and then flares, and then—it just keeps going around and around and around. And then low-rise is in there somewhere, you know, with the butt crack showing.
Washington: I mean, it was bad. None of it was good, from the terrible scarves, to the jeans where you know your butt bone is showing, to the bags, to the makeup. It’s like Wet n Wild silver is going across the lid. It’s just everything was not the look, but everybody had confidence in what they were wearing. Like, Yeah baby, this is what we’re wearing on the red carpet, we’re wearing this body con Hervé Léger—like, can you breathe? Where else can you go in this tube top dress? You can’t run no errands! Yeah, I can honestly say that people were not looking good, but I loved that they believed in themselves, and we believed in those trends.
Are there any fashion trends from that era that you’re happy to see come back, or is it altogether like, meh?
Faustin: I love a loose denim, you know. The only thing I don’t like about how people like to wear their jeans now—like, you saw Rihanna’s maternity photos where her jeans are covering her shoes and she’s walking through them. I hate when my pants touch the floor. I will cuff them till I die. Cuff my jeans in my casket. Please, write that down.
Washington: I think the skinny eyebrow is coming back.
Faustin: Is it?
Washington: Yeah I think some of the girls got the skinny brows coming back.
I’m out of luck.
Washington: And the skinny brows is like, I can’t trust you, you know? You don’t even know how to treat your eyebrow, so I know I can’t give you any gossip, I can’t tell you anything about me, I can’t hold my life in your hands.
You guys have covered a lot of pop culture moments on the podcast, but what would you consider some of your favorite pop culture moments of the early 2000s?
Faustin: I think with this whole Will Smith slap thing, it brings me back to the Janet Jackson nipple/Super Bowl thing, because I remember even then, people were freaking out about it, and the FCC changed all these rules. I watched the clips and I never actually saw the nipple, you know what I mean? They made it so much bigger than it needed to be. It could have just been, Did you see that?, and people are like, No? But it was like, No, the kids were watching this! And Christians were upset, and they were like, What’s that piercing? If no one had said anything, I wouldn’t even have known that that had happened, you know what I mean, it was so quick. But people had TiVo.
Washington: But oh man, TiVo! You were that girl if you had Tivo, you had the power.
Faustin: I’m still not that girl.
Washington: No, me neither. [laughs]
What about you, Sydnee, what’s one of your favorite pop culture moments [from the 2000s]?
Washington: I just want to say like, the music. They weren’t trying to make things like a soundbite that somebody else can use for something to go viral. They were really truly just making music fun and good, and then people decided to make dance moves from that organically, and it just looked better. When people are dancing now on TikTok, I’m like [pulls a face]. I’ll watch it. I don’t want to do it. When they were making dance moves in the early 2000s, you’re like, you’re at the damn party trying to do it.
Faustin: You gotta know the dance.
Washington: Yeah, you have to.
Do you have anything else you want people to know about you guys, about the podcast, about life in general?
Faustin: I dunno, the early 2000s were a fun time for sure. Um—
Washington: You’re not going to say anything about me? About loving our friendship? [laughs]
Faustin: Immediately no. Immediately no. [laughs] But it is cool that I get to work with my friend. You know, sometimes people will message me or they’ll see me out and they’re like, Marie, how do you make money? I don’t know what you do for work, but you always seem to have money, and I’m like, I work with my friends, that’s how I make money. Sydnee and I get to experience things and then talk about it on a podcast and it’s like, Wow, that was work. It’s hard, it can be hard, but it’s fun, too. Right, Sydnee?
Washington: Whatever she says, Clare. I think everyone should definitely tune in, and they listen, and they review us, they subscribe, they share, they tell everybody. You should listen to this pod because not only are you getting our friendship, but you’re learning something, and who doesn’t want to learn?
is streaming on Spotify.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.