Meghan Markle’s Archetypes podcast remains to date her most significant professional output since stepping down from her role within the British monarchy in 2020 and moving to the United States with Prince Harry and their young family.
After an acrimonious parting of ways with the royals, Harry and Meghan signed multi-million-dollar deals with streaming giants as content creators as they began their new lives in California.
The couple’s first deal was signed with Netflix to produce video content through their Archewell Productions company and this was closely followed by the announcement that they had partnered with Spotify.
With Spotify, the couple was set to produce podcasts, starting with a single-episode holiday special released on December 29. The show featured the couple’s famous friends including Elton John, Tyler Perry and Stacy Abrams, as well as a brief cameo from their son, Prince Archie.
For over a year, there was no news on any further development of the couple’s work with Spotify, until March 2022, when Archetypes was announced.
The show was notably a solo project for Meghan, with an aim to air over 12 episodes that would “dissect, explore, and subvert the labels that try to hold women back.”
Since its debut on August 23, 2022, the show has faced a number of highs and lows, from two prestigious award wins to taking a forced hiatus owing to the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the eventual announcement that there would be no second season as the royals and Spotify split.
Here, one year since its first episode release, Newsweek looks at Archetypes‘ turbulent journey:
From its debut, Archetypes quickly found a home in the Spotify podcast charts, proving the audience draw that Meghan and her first solo project possessed.
Within 48 hours of the first episode’s release—which centered around the label of “ambition” featuring a conversation with Meghan’s pal Serena Williams—Archetypes had hit the number one spot in both the U.S. and U.K. charts.
This first episode unseated the reigning Spotify podcast production, The Joe Rogan Experience.
Subsequent episodes also proved popular in the charts, though as the 12-installment show progressed episodes slipped down the global rankings.
Just three episodes into Archetypes‘ run, the show was placed on a four-week hiatus out of respect for the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan’s grandmother-in-law, which occurred on September 8, 2022.
The third episode of the show had been released on September 6, while Meghan was visiting Germany with Harry to attend an Invictus Games event. The hiatus lasted nearly a full month, with the show not resuming its weekly release of episodes until October 4.
To mark the show’s return, Meghan announced a partnership with the VING Project, a “national giving movement,” that aimed to donate $1,000,000 in $1,000 grants to women “who need to be uplifted.”
Announcing the partnership, Meghan said in a statement: “Two things that bring me great joy are supporting women and the spirit of giving. With the return of Archetypes, Archewell Foundation and VING have come together to create the perfect combination of these loves.
“By donating $1 million in grants to women in need, our hope is not to only provide support where it may be felt deepest, but also empower young adults to embrace the gift of giving at an early age,” she continued. “I’m very proud of this partnership and the good we hope to see come from it.”
The partnership invited Archetypes listeners to send in their nominations of women they felt would benefit from the grant.
Though Archetypes found a strong and loyal fanbase with listeners, it faced its share of negative reviews from critics.
The Times of London awarded the first episode just one star, labeling its premise “almost entirely preposterous.” This was echoed by Britain’s Daily Telegraph which assessed that the show offered an exercise in “maximum navel-gazing.”
Despite this, the show found success with two prestigious award wins.
In December 2022, the show won a People’s Choice Award, beating out Emma Chamberlain’s hugely successful Anything Goes show and the pop-culture podcast, Call Her Daddy.
The show also became a Gracie Award winner, having been voted by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation in March 2023.
An early sign that future seasons of Meghan’s Archetypes could face difficulty was the news, first reported by Newsweek in March 2023 that the application to trademark the name had been rejected.
A non-final action filed on January 18 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office informed Archewell Audio, that its application was being initially refused on the grounds that there was a “likelihood of confusion” with a trademark already in existence.
The application was sent back to the production company to review.
Spotify Split and “F****** Grifters”
In June 2023, it was announced that after nearly three years, Spotify and Meghan and Harry had decided to part ways, meaning that there would be no second season of Archetypes.
In an announcement at the time, both parties said that they had “mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together.”
A spokesperson for the duchess said at the time, per the Wall Street Journal, that “Meghan is continuing to develop more content for the Archetypes audience on another platform.”
This news of a mutual parting of ways was thrown into doubt when days later, Spotify executive Bill Simmons told listeners of his eponymous podcast that he thought Harry and Meghan were “f****** grifters.”
“I wish I had been involved in the ‘Meghan and Harry leave Spotify negotiation,” he said. “‘The F****** Grifters.’ That’s the podcast we should have launched with them…I have got to get drunk one night and tell the story of the Zoom I had with Harry to try and help him with a podcast idea. It’s one of my best stories…F*** them. The grifters.”
The royals did not publicly respond to Simmons’s claims.
“No Great Talent”
Meghan faced another reputational blow when she was criticized by one of Hollywood’s biggest talent bosses in a July 2023 interview.
Commenting on the news of the Spotify split, United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer told Semafor that Meghan was “no great audio talent” and added: “You know, just because you’re famous doesn’t make you great at something.”
Meghan signed on with a competing agency, William Morris Endeavor, in April.
Life After ‘Archetypes’
After the split from Spotify, Archewell Audio said it remained “proud” of Archetypes and that Meghan was working on more content for the audience who enjoyed it.
Though there have been no further announcements on podcast projects for the duchess, she has spoken about her desire to produce more media content, including romantic comedies for the screen.
In August, it was announced that Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Productions were working with Netflix on a screen adaptation of the hit novel, Meet Me at the Lake, by author Carley Fortune.
The plot shows a couple coming together against the backdrop of a scenic Canadian lake and addresses the key themes of personal loss, self-empowerment and aging. No release date for the project has yet been given, with any future development being affected by the ongoing Hollywood actors and writers strikes.
Newsweek reached out to representatives of Meghan Markle for comment.
James Crawford-Smith is Newsweek’s royal reporter based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @jrcrawfordsmith
and read his stories on Newsweek’s .
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