OUR BEST PODCASTS OF 2018
I listen to a lot of podcasts, mostly political ones. I used to like comedy podcasts, but I’ve spent the last two years trying to make sense of this disaster of a president and his cronies.
TRUMPCAST by Slate
My OG political podcast. Trumpcast is not afraid to be funny, or to deliver stupefying news about all this idiocy. They featured a really funny skit about being addicted to the Mueller investigation the other day that was hilarious and way too real. They have great guests and the hosts, especially Virginia Heffernan, are top shelf.
POD SAVE AMERICA by Crooked Media
Oh, my pod boyfriends. Jon Favreau is so handsome and he has such a rich voice. Jon Lovett is my little funny man and I want to cuddle him or solve an escape room with him. I can’t really tell the difference between Tommy and Dan, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them, too. During the run up to the midterms, these guys introduced me to some great candidates and it made the Blue Wave in the House more enjoyable, because I felt like I knew some of them.
MUELLER SHE WROTE
This one is new to me! AG and her girls are funny and super detailed about the investigations into the dumbshit President. They have a fantasy indictment league, and I’ve been super stoked about the Maria Butina plea deal AND the Cohen sentencing because of it. Here’s another thing: MSW is produced completely by women, and their ads reflect that as well. I listen to a lot of podcast ads, and I was so pleased when I started listening to MSW advertising bras and other lady stuff, instead of Movement watches, Blue Apron, and the Cash app.
BENJAMIN WALKER’S THEORY OF EVERYTHING by Radiotopia
OMG do I love this thing. It’s rather ramshackle: truth and fiction woven together almost too seamlessly. This year, Walker did a series on False Alarms, spurred by the Hawaiian Emergency warning incoming missiles text, that was amazing and had everything from Nazi werewolves to the seance holding Fox sisters. Part VII of False Alarm is my particular favorite, dealing, as it does, with Michael Hughes’s book Magic for the Resistance and Walker’s attempt to summon Mary Trump’s spirit to deal with her son.
LEND ME YOUR EARS by Slate
This is my podcast obsession, although it is a limited series and sadly over now. This pod analyzes Shakespeare and our current political situation and is so interesting. I love it and have listened to the episodes multiple times. They tackle Julius Caesar, Richard II, King Lear, and my favorite, Corelanius (who was spell checked to Cornelius yesterday.) They don’t always focus on Trump—for instance, the episode on Measure for Measure is all about #metoo movement. I learned a lot and highly recommend this one! (The members only Slate+ episodes rock, too!)
LAST SEEN by WBUR and The Boston Globe
This multipart investigative podcast revolves around an art heist in Boston and the many shady characters that could be suspects. The most interesting part was the history of Isabell Stewart Gardner and her museum. There are ups and downs, but don’t expect much closure. Definitely a binge listen!
THE TIDES OF HISTORY by Wondery
I’m a dork and I love this history podcast. The host, a historian and academic, started with the fall of Rome, but has branched out into European history, all the way to the modern period. He does a great job with using narrative to make history intriguing. His Black Death series was horrifying and great.
ADVENTURES IN NEW AMERICA by Night Vale Presents
This ongoing fictional podcast is set in the New America, in New New York City, that has a lot of the same problems the current America has, but also Zombie Vampires. The main character, I.A. literally can’t get arrested, so Simon, his friendly neighborhood sociopath, seizes her opportunity to do some criming with I.A. in tow. This show is lushly produced and a highlight in my podcast feed. It’s funny and disturbing, and uses the “future” to reflect the present back at us.
I also devoured 30 FOR 30’s series on Bikram Yoga. I was familiar with the scandal that rocked that world, but it was great listening. Bikram, himself, is a money hungry sexual predator, but the podcast does a great job with exploring the community that had to confront his misdeeds. As usual, a lot of things were whispered about before anyone did anything. This makes an interesting pairing with Wild, Wild Country.
COMEDY BANG BANG and IMPROV 4 HUMANS on Earwolf remain some of my favorite comedy pods, even if I pick and choose based on the guests. WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE and WITHIN THE WIRES by Night Vale Presents are reliable for fictional chills and thrills.