Amanda Rettke makes light of her haters by starring as Shirley, a Minnesotan customer service representative who fields complaints for the "Your Content Is Terrible Hotline"

By Ana Calderone
November 02, 2020 04:13 PM
Advertisement
Credit: Amanda Rettke/Instagram

Now this is how you turn lemons into lemonade.

Amanda Rettke has been blogging on her site iambaker.net for over a decade, so she is used to her fair share of mean comments on recipe posts and Instagram photos. But it wasn't until recently that she decided to use the trolling as inspiration for her video series, "Your Content Is Terrible Hotline."

"It makes me a little bit crazy, but I try to just always be kind and loving to people," she tells PEOPLE of the haters. "Then COVID happened and it intensified by a bajillion. I mean everyone was online sharing their opinions about everything. And in the food world, we get a unique set of feedback."

Her first video was born after Rettke received a particularly puzzling comment on a cake recipe she had posted. "Someone was like, 'I don't eat cake. How dare you?' I was like, 'I don't even know how to respond to this,' " she recalls.

Next thing she knew, Rettke was bobby pinning on a makeshift headset (really just a spoon and aluminum foil), and recording herself "taking the call" as Shirley, a Minnesotan customer service representative who fields complaints from unhappy readers. Shirley agrees with the trolls no matter their complaint, so you might peg her as a villain at first, but three seconds in, and you can't help but love her naiveté.

"Shirley was born from COVID insanity-induced desperation for human contact of some sort," the mom of five laughs of her alter ego.

The subject of each video is "based in reality," says Rettke. In fact, "most of them are watered down and things are not exaggerated. If you can think of absurd things that I've heard, or that my friends have heard along our journeys in social media, it's happened. It's been said."

Rettke has recorded over 20 "Your Content Is Terrible Hotline" videos, and only slightly increased her production value. After the first two, she bought a strawberry-blonde bob wig. "That was so funny because I opened Amazon and typed in 'Karen wig,' " she says. "It came up and I was like, 'This works.'"

Her videos, which touch on food, lifestyle and travel content, have since received millions of views and even garnered a few celebrity fans, including The Home Edit's Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin and Joanna Gaines. The former Fixer Upper star started following after Shirley filed a complaint about a blogger who used the hashtag #shiplaplove.

"We have a mutual friend who had mentioned that she is a fan of Shirley," Rettke says of Gaines. "Apparently she thought it was cute."

No matter how popular her videos get though, trolls are bound to chime in. So how has the feedback been? "It's been for the most part," Rettke says, trailing off, "it's been really nice."