Katherine Ryan is best known as a comedian and actress, for her work with Netflix and appearances on British panel shows. Since April, Ryan has been releasing a podcast called Telling Everybody Everything, which is basically what it sounds like. She shares her life with her fans, in a slightly more vulnerable and real tone than she typically uses for her public persona and on stage. She has had several moving episodes, including one on pregnancy loss, but this week she really stepped in it, and seemed conscious of doing so.
Ryan begins by saying that she got some flack for saying something positive about an MLM on social media, and that she doesn’t understand the hate for MLMs online. She then begins by calling her younger sister Carrie, who has had experiences with MLMs. “I’m not a fan,” Carrie says, saying that she likes the products but doesn’t like MLM culture. “They- it’s a group of like really super positive people, and they’re like ‘slide into people’s DMs’.” She doesn’t love the hard sell. Carrie doesn’t sell, she just uses the products, and she says that it is expensive to try.
Katherine shares some warnings against MLMs that she has found, to be balanced. 1) Social relationships can be ruined by MLM recruitment drive 2) the market can be oversaturated 3) MLMs use feminist language to push a #girlboss narrative. She then goes on to talk about the many Latine families who have lost their savings to Herbalife, including selling their businesses to invest. Ryan essentially victim-blames these families, saying “I don’t think anyone’s asking you to sell your construction business.”
Then, Katherine rings up a friend in an MLM, Amy, a friend who is an MLM-made millionaire. Amy is basically exactly the MLM demographic- she’s a mom, who started in MLMs young, and then found one she could get in on early enough to actually make money. She is also charismatic and friendly enough to get people to join her downline and buy products from her. She admits that she did fail, over and over, in various MLMs. She and her husband agreed she would stop, because she kept losing money, and then she decided to get into another MLM as a distributor anyway. She claims that she was successful because she worked when no one else would have- when she was on bedrest while pregnant (should anyone have to work on bedrest while pregnant just to be successful? Because civilized countries have maternity leave). Amy provides the usual MLM platitudes, saying that the “the difference is the mindset.” She claims that other people aren’t successful in their MLMs because they don’t think big enough. Amy basically uses all of the MLM party lines, and even reiterates the MLM-is-a-business-model-not-a-scam shtick. She even compares her experience to Ryan’s stand up career, which Ryan agrees with. Amy says that her success doesn’t come from getting in early, but from being ready for the opportunity, more MLM language. When asked, Amy confirms, “I 100% believe that this could be for anyone- there’s no requirement for getting into network marketing.” Except to shell out money for the products and starter kits. I’m not going to keep transcribing all of what Amy says, rest assured that she’s exactly who you think she is, albeit very friendly-sounding. At the end, Ryan offers Amy some time to promote the business book she has coming out? Seems like all of this was to help a friend promote her scam business, but okay, go off.
Ryan purchasing or supporting a friend in an MLM doesn’t make her a bad person, but promoting MLMs to her audience is harmful. Ryan does compare her work to MLMs, even though selling items through a pyramid scheme is very different than developing a talent. Basically, this is a bad take, and I really hope that no one is going to join an MLM based on her recommendation. I normally am a big fan of her work, and it’s disappointing that she didn’t do her research in-depth and relied on anecdotal evidence.
If you’re interested in further information about MLM scams, YouTuber Savy Writes Books has a great anti-MLM playlist.
One thought on “Katherine Ryan’s Ice-Cold Take on MLMs”
I am not a MLM fan and turned down a senior leadership opportunity with Herbalife in DC. (More like an opportunity for an opportunity,) My own personal sister tried to recruit me — for her personal advantage of course — into the MLM she was working for at the time. This may have been the year that your Dad was in Kabul, or around that time. Talk about not reading the room. Of all the not good things she has ever done to me this was one.