YouTube Drama Channels: Reporting on the Seedy Underbelly of the Beauty World

“Get the tea ready.” – John Kuckian, YouTuber

YouTube drama channels are shaking things up. If you are not an avid watcher of beauty guru and drama videos on YouTube, you have probably safely avoided, what I like to call, the seedy underbelly of the beauty world.

Hang in, this is a long one!

There’s drama in the beauty world?! 😳

In a word, yes!

As consumers, the ethical practices of those in or connected to the beauty industry matters. The beauty industry has become a complex array of great brands connecting with equally great influencers to review and to promote products and personal coupon codes to their subscribers.

Drama arises when brands: produce questionable, dangerous or poor products, “steal” from another brand, have bad customer service, get into fights with customers on social media. Or when influencers: fail to disclose their sponsorship connections or over-hype low quality products. (Sooooooo many more examples exist!!!)

Now, let’s get into the lingo used in YouTube drama videos.

What’s tea? ☕️ What are receipts? 📃 Does any of this matter anyway? 🤔

I will answer the last question first. Yes – this all matters!

When any of the YouTube drama channels start out to give you the scoop on something they have been investigating, they say something like “I’m about to spill the tea!”. As we all know, tea is the dirt. If someone says they are giving you the tea, they are giving you information you would not otherwise have. In addition, this information could be general industry insider gossip, (speaking in truths and/or half-truths), absolute documented truth, or the simple sharing of personal far out conspiracy theories and opinions.

When a YouTube drama channel is ready to confirm the claims they have made in their video, they may say something like “I have the receipts!”. This was a new term for me. If someone says they have the receipts, they are prepared to share proof, or alleged proof, that led them to make the claims in the video.

Shade is also a very common term you will hear in these videos.

Now that you have the basic lingo, let’s get to some of the YouTubers producing drama videos.

Who are the ones to watch?

I reached out to six of the most active, up and coming YouTubers with drama channels – John Kuckian, the voice behind I’m Just Here for the Tea, Peter Monn, Sanders Kennedy, Karina Kaboom and Rich Lux – for comment in this post. I personally subscribe to and watch all five of these channels. I see positives in each of them and I truly enjoy their perspectives.

Only Rich Lux responded to my inquiry for comment with a willingness to chat with me. But then he ghosted me… “no tea, no shade, no pink lemonade” as he would say. Truly it’s all good. Rich Lux, and the others mentioned above are busy. I fully understand that.

Nonetheless, these are some of the popular drama channels creating content at a regular frequency. In full disclosure, there are many other drama channels, some with more subscribers than those above. But these are the ones I watch, daily. (I know!)

I took the long way around, explaining all of the above, to get to a much larger and important point.

Beyond the general regulations brands are required to adhere to when producing cosmetics, YouTube drama channels are doing something the beauty industry has not really experienced on such a large-scale.

The people producing drama videos are going to great lengths to hold brands and influencers accountable on all levels and to keep them honest to followers and consumers. In the process, drama channels are challenging mainstream media to keep up with the ever-evolving way people consume news and other content.

How are these YouTube drama channels influencing media, particularly online mediums?

Let’s be honest. These channels are in a league of their own. But online media has reached to these drama channels for content. (Whaaa?! Yes, this does happen. And it happens more often than you may think.)

I have seen two recent instances when stories that started as topics of drama channels, or their social media, appeared in very reputable online publications: Popsugar UK and Seventeen. (Many other examples exist but, you get the point.)

This is fascinating to me because typically media outlets (not known gossip publications) are required to vet stories to gather multiple sources corroborating facts before publishing anything.

And as mentioned above, drama videos are not ALWAYS about the facts. Each personality producing the videos are giving their spin on topics, with some truth sprinkled in. Matter of fact, many of the YouTubers I watch post a disclaimer that they are entertainment or that what they are doing is satire and that their comments should not be taken as fact.

So why are online publications picking up on and writing stories based on content from drama channels?

The most obvious reason one would guess is that drama stories about Jeffree Star or NikkieTutorials will get clicks (views). Yes, that is true. Jeffree and Nikkie are HUGE players in the beauty industry. They have tons of followers and are HUGE YouTube content producers.

But I honestly think it’s greater than just clicks.

These drama channels are taking huge risks by clapping back at influencers and brands. They have connected with Jane (and John) Q. Public in a way that gives consumers an outlet and an ally to turn to when they feel that they have been wronged by a brand. And they are challenging influencers who are making an amazing living from YouTube and coupon codes to be more transparent with those who watch their videos. Drama channels are bold, in your face, and they make you think before you spend your dollars or trust an influencer.

Mainstream lifestyle and beauty publications lack this element all together and I think they are hungry to stay relevant, engaging and top of mind to the public. I imagine they are not as willing to take the risks that those making drama videos are willing to take. And we know publications do not connect with readers in the same way these YouTubers have.

I don’t know if all of this is good or bad, but I am watching it. The evolution of media, all types, is fascinating and I am enjoying it.

Now,  before you buy the palette you see your favorite Instagrammer showing off, you might want take a look at YouTube.