The best of 2017 – PODCASTS!
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How Did This Get Made – Have you ever seen a movie so bad that it’s amazing? Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas want to hear about it! They watch it with their funniest friends, and report back with the results.
My Dad Wrote a Porno – If you don’t listen to this podcast, I guarantee you know someone who does. This is James Morton and his friends reading an erotic thriller called Belinda Blinked by Rocky Flintstone – the pen name of Morton’s father. Little by little, the hosts rip apart Morton Sr’s lumpen sex scenes, to much hilarity. Rightly a sensation.
The Adventure Zone– The McElroy brothers rose to podcast “fame” with their podcast “My brother, my brother and me,” a eight year running comedy podcast focusing on answering podcasts to Yahoo Questions. These discussion involve the brothers going off on long, rambling, irrelevant humorous rants and tirades. In The Adventure Zone they take their story telling abilities and comedic sensibilities to the next level with a game of, with their father, Dungeons and Dragons. What starts as a joke quickly transforms into a great saga of wizards, world- consuming evil and the multiverse, full of interweaving plotlines and engaging characters.
Culture and Sport
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text – Every Harry Potter book pod-blogged as if it were holy writing. The creators pore over every word and pick the theme of each chapter, be it love, betrayal, control or shame.
Song Exploder – Soft-voiced composer Hrishikesh Hirway invites musicians to tell the stories behind their songs in this snappy, 15-minute pod.
99% Invisible– One of the best podcast from PRX (Public Radio Exchange) this podcast describes itself as a “weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture,” but it goes above and beyond this seemly basic description to tell engaging and interesting stories about everyday things we take for granted.
Reply All – “A podcast about the internet” that is actually an unfailingly original exploration of modern life and how to survive it. Covering everything from popular memes to international hacking and identity theft this is one great podcast that is not only entertaining but will keep you up to date and informed about the digital world.
Imaginary Worlds– All about sci-fi and fantasy and the dense politics and history behind them. Recent episodes include an exploration of fan-fiction (a woman dominated, open source embracing community) and exploration about Black Cosplayers, scienficition in the USSR and how sci-fi interfaces and technology influence real-world science.
2 Dope Queens – Live standup meets intimate chat between friends as Phoebe Robinson (Broad City) and Jessica Williams (ex-Daily Show) argue about careers, racism and whether it’s OK to like Bono.
The Guilty Feminist – If you are the kind of feminist who secretly sings along to Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, then Sofie Hagen and Deborah Frances-White understand your pain. The “I’m a feminist but …” intro brings confessions and laughs each week.
Code Switch– A great NPR discussion on race, ethnicity and identity. Often covering current event , exploring the history and reasons behind them.
Homecoming – A psychological thriller so gripping, tightly scripted and star-studded that it feels like a movie in your memory. Told largely through a nonlinear series of phone calls and taped therapy sessions, Homecoming stars Catherine Keener as a caseworker at a mysterious government facility who is assigned to treat a soldier (Oscar Isaac) with severe PTSD, and gradually comes to suspect that her facility’s treatment program—and the agenda of her boss, played by David Schwimmer—is not quite what it seems.
Levar Burton Reads- Take a listen, it’s in a podcast, it’s Levar Burton Reads! If you just read that in the “Reading Rainbow” theme song then this might be a good podcast for you. Levar Burton, of Reading Rainbow, Roots and Star Trek Next Generation Fame has a new podcast with a simple concept; he reads, in his famously soothing voice, his favorite short stories. Everything from fantasy writer Ken Liu, Neil Gaiman to Haruki Murakami and James McBride it’s a great listen that will inspire you to read more short stories, with a better appreciation for the form.
History and Politics
Pod Save America – Following the election of Donald Trump, former Obama administration staffers Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor shuttered their no-bullshit campaign podcast Keepin’ It 1600, and relaunched with a new show, a new company, and a new purpose. Pod Save America was the first podcast released under the now-booming Crooked Media banner, billed as “A political conversation for people not quite ready to give up or go insane.”
Presidential – Though this Washington Post podcast is from last year, released in the run-up to the election, it’s become even more relevant now that the 45th presidency has taken its chaotic shape. Hosted by Lillian Cunningham, the show explores in chronological order each of America’s 44 presidents to date, analyzing their personalities, actions, and legacies.
You Must Remember This – A podcast exploring the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.
What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law– The title says it all. Roman Mars, the creator of the podcast 99% invisible teams up with University of California law professor Elizabeth Joh to discuss how Trump’s latest
The Adam Buxton podcast – The daddy of British podcasting is beloved for good reason. His pod is laced with the same creativity and nerdy attention to detail as everything he has ever done.
Hello Internet – An Australian and an American living in the UK have in-depth debates and banter that is actually amusing. And they are always well informed on topics, whether serious (electoral systems) or silly (the sticks that plug takeaway coffee lids). Their day jobs as educational YouTubers must help.
How to Be a Girl – An anonymous mum navigates the first few years after her young daughter comes out as transgender. A tender take on an under-represented reality.
Invisibilia – Unseeable forces control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. Invisibilia—Latin for invisible things—fuses narrative storytelling with science that will make you see your own life differently.
Missing Richard Simmons – Fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared in February of 2014—he stopped teaching his regular classes, cut off all communication with his friends, and seemingly became a recluse —and nobody knew why. Filmmaker Dan Taberski, a friend of Simmons’, sets out to find out what happened.
Radiolab – Now in its 14th year, Radiolab remains the gold standard of accessible documentary podcasts. This year has been no exception, with episodes on everything from Alzheimer’s to the ethical conundrums faced by defence lawyers.
Crime Writers On… – Serial, Journalism, True Crime, Pop Culture… They talk about it all.
Dirty John – A true story about seduction, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately survival.
My Favorite Murder – A world of horror and hilarity. Once a week, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark come together to talk about murder. One of them tells the story of a killing, while the other reacts in utter shock and outrage. It’s important to note that they are incredibly respectful, and despair at the world almost continuously. This has built up quite a following, with fan art, Etsy pages and a sell-out run of T-shirts (all profits go to charity). “Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered.”
S~Town -John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life. From This American Life