Eyes Closed, Ears Open
These are tough times. But podcasts make it a little better. Whether you’re making dinner, going for a long drive or taking another shower just to feel something, there’s almost certainly a podcast that will improve your current state of being.
My boyfriend, who like me is now working from home, chooses to play business and political podcasts. I have never enjoyed that side of the podcasting world. So here are some unique fun shows that have really helped me during these isolating and dark times. I hope they will help you take your mind off of what’s happening outside your home.
You’re Wrong About
What is it? A story-telling based podcast that reconsiders an event or person from the past that’s been miscast in the public imagination, usually through media misrepresentation.
How long is it? Anywhere from 45 mins-60 mins
Who hosts it? Two journalists: Sarah Marshall (yes, that’s her name) and Michael Hobbes (a queer writer for the Huffington Post)
As a lover of true crime, this podcast naturally appealed to me, but it doesn’t focus solely on murder or other horrible things. Most of the topics are based on public figures or happenings from the 90s that have begun to take on their own mythic quality due to the misinformation that’s been generated by them. I can’t recommend this podcast enough.
Also it’s great to fall asleep to.
“Anna Nicole Smith”: A look at the famous icon and punchline of the early 2000’s.
“D.A.R.E.”: A deep dive into the shockingly unhelpful D.A.R.E. program.
“Sex Offenders”: An examination of the view of sex offenders that is held in the public imagination and the real drawbacks of the sex offender registry.
Also, their two part special on Tonya Harding is amazing.
This Podcast Will Kill You
What is it? From the Exactly Right Network, this is a weekly podcast that tackles a new disease or affliction in a relatively light-hearted manner a la My Favorite Murder.
How long is it? 60 mins-90 mins
Who hosts it? Ecologists and epidemiologists Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke.
I know I said that these podcasts would help you escape from what’s happening in the world, and that’s still my goal, but for some reason this one has really worked for me in the same way that listening to true crime has helped alleviate my stress about being murdered. I only recommend it if you want some non-Corona disease talk. If that’s your bag, then this is your podcast!
“Episode 48: Botulism”: a discussion of botox and when it goes bad.
“Episodes 5 & 6: The Plague”: a two part special on the original HBIC: The Black Plague.
And their ongoing series on COVID-19—but again, if you can handle it.
What is it? A deep-dive into those conspiracy theories and Reddit pages that keep you up at night and take you down an online rabbit hole.
How long is it? 30 mins-60 mins.
Who hosts it? Internet sleuths Melissa Stetten and Ali Segel.
There is absolutely no better way to get through this time of misinformation than by escaping into the world of conspiracies. And what better way to do it then with two delightful women? This is a podcast genre that is often done by a lot of men and let’s face it, no one wants that. So this way you’ll get your conspiracy fix and not have to deal with any bro-y antics.
“Vampires”: Are they real? Have they been real before? Let’s find out!
“Denver Airport:” I’m not even going to tell you about this one, so go listen right now!
“Corporate Cults:” A deep dive into corporations and businesses that forge a sense of community among their employees so they can exploit them.
“Mothman:” In mid-century middle America, many people reported seeing a large “bird-like” creature with red glowing eyes. Was it hysteria? Or an omen of an impending disaster?
You Must Remember This
What is it? A long-form storytelling podcast about exploring the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.
How long is it? 45 mins-60 mins.
Who hosts it? Karina Longworth (founder of Cinematical.com, former film critic for LA Weekly) who writes, narrates, records and edits each episode.
This is a heavily-researched work that is amazing in every aspect of its production: from its storytelling to its informative nature, I cannot recommend this podcast enough if you are into the old world of Hollywood and podcasts with mood music.
“Six Degrees of Song of the South”: A six-part series that delves into the making of the most problematic Disney film of all time: Song of the South.
“Charles Manson’s Hollywood”: I’m sure you can guess what this twelve-part series is about.
“Episode 4: Frances Farmer”: A stand-alone episode that focuses on the life and times of everyone’s favorite little rebel actress and brief psych-ward patient: Frances Farmer.
What is it? A true crime podcast that covers a wide variety of stories with much of the attention turned towards cases that are not as widely reported on.
How long? 30 mins-50 mins
Who hosts it? True crime aficionados and childhood best friends: Ashley Flowers and Brit (just “Brit” for confidentiality purposes.)
This is my favorite source for cold, hard true crime content. I often pick this podcast because of their bite-sized digestible nature when I’m making dinner or at the gym. Ashley Flowers offers the perfect combination of serious, hair-raising reporting, and light-hearted true crime talk that allows you to go on with your day without feeling crushed by the monstrous tendencies of humans.
“UNIDENTIFIED: Sumter County Does”: A man and woman were found in a car, shot dead. They still remain unidentified to this day. This is my actual favorite murder of all time.
“MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF: Kendrick Johnson”: A high school student was found dead, wrapped up in a mat in the school gym. Was it an accident? Or murderrrrrrrrrr?!
“CONSPIRACY: Ray Gricar”: When a man goes missing, his absence ends up linking him to a famous case of pedohpilia and misconduct, but was his disappearance of his own volition?
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
What is it? A long-form interview that focuses on the messiness of being human with celebrity subjects who are vulnerable and honest about their struggles and shortcomings, while still being fun and silly.
How long is it? 90 mins-2 hours.
Who hosts it? Dax Shepard: husband of Kristen Bell, and star of Idiocracy and Zathura, as well as Parenthood?
While I took a stand and said no male-dominated podcasts, I think this one is the exception. Dax is an excellent host and conversationalist, and he truly places the emphasis on the interview subject. I have rarely seen any other type of interview form like this that feels as unedited and raw and not just for laughs on late night TV. Also his guests are top-notch choices.
“Mila Kunis”: Icon, legend, star of That 70’s Show and Black Swan.
“Gillian Flynn”: Author of Sharp Objects and Gone Girl.
“Malcom Gladwell”: Journalist and author of What the Dog Saw and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.
“Monica Lewinsky”: The public figure at the center of the Clinton Impeachment scandal and recent social issues advocate.
The Sex Ed
What is it? An exploration of sex, health, and consciousness that is here to educate, inform and inspire new discussions around sexual wellness and freedom.
How long is it? 45 mins-60 mins
Who hosts it? Liz Goldwyn, a writer, filmmaker and founder of TheSexEd.com.
This is for all of you who prefer a little bit more free-flowing discussion as opposed to story-telling. It’s structured around a talk with a very cool and exciting guest about the topic of sexual health. But it’s not a preachy, after-school special that is spewing information at you. This podcast really feels liberating and a bit taboo. It doesn’t exist to be a pamphlet from your high school guidance counselor.
“Natasha Lyonne”: Star of Russian Doll, But I’m a Cheerleader, and an overall bad-ass.
“Violet Chachki”: Winner of season 7 of Rupaul’s Drag Race.
“Dr. Jocelyn Elders”: The first African-American woman to become Surgeon General of the United States.
“Carrie Goldberg”: A victims’ rights attorney and founder of C.A. Goldberg, a cutting edge law firm that helps victims fight against general douchebaggery.
Lovett or Leave It
What is it? A live podcast that breaks down the week’s biggest news stories in a comedic way with a panel of comedians, actors, and journalists.
How long is it? 60 mins-90 mins.
Who hosts it? Former Obama speechwriter and queer advocate: Jon Lovett.
My boyfriend forced me to include this one because he thinks it’s important to “learn about what’s happening in the world.” And honestly, if there’s one podcast and one person that I would let teach me hard during Miss Corona, it’s gotta be Lovett. His safe voice makes me want to curl up into his arms and forget about how bad things truly are. He truly makes living in America seem like a less daunting task. Also him and his panel are truly hilarious. Think Weekend Update before Colin Jost happened.
Episode recommendations: Whatever you want, babe. Freestyle with this one.
What is it? Deep cuts on genre flicks through feminist lenses and discussion.
How long is it? 45 mins.
Who hosts it? Film critic and screenwriter, April Wolfe, who sits down every week with a new female filmmaker.
I’ve found that listening to people talk about movies that I’ve already seen has allowed me a sense of control. But this is a hard line to walk because, again, most film critique podcasts are male-fronted and we all know how that goes. Which is why I love Wolfe’s podcast. She’s not here to convince you that a movie is great. She is here to explore iconic films and discuss the world of filmmaking with another person in the industry who has a passion for genre-films.
It’s hard to listen to this podcast if you haven’t seen the movie, so my recommendations are going to be specific to me, but just so you can get a taste for what we’re working with here:
“‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ with ‘Birds of Prey’ director Cathy Yan”
“‘Heathers’ with ‘Jawline Director’ Liza Mandelup”
“‘Hereditary’ with ‘Pet Sematary’ Director Mary Lambert.”
The A24 Podcast
What is it? A podcast sponsored by the very of-the-moment film company that brought you “Midsommar,” “The Farewell,” “Lady Bird” and “Moonlight.”
How long is it? Literally anywhere from 30 mins-90 mins. There are no rules.
Who hosts it? That’s the fun part! There is no host! Each episode pairs actors and filmmakers together to discuss a topic.
Okay, film bros, this is your moment! This podcast is great because the topics and people featured are always dream pairings. They release episodes pretty sporadically, so don’t get too caught up in the glamour, unless you are prepared to wait several months in between episodes. Also you don’t have to worry about whether or not you like the host’s voice!
“Deep Cuts with Ari Aster & Robert Eggers:” Aster is the director of the smash horror films “Hereditary” and “Midsommar,” while Eggers is the director of equally successful spooky mood pieces, “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse.” Hear them dish it out!
“True Obsession with John Early and Toni Collette”: Early is a comedian and star of the TV show “Search Party” (which is also essential quarantine viewing) and Collette, well, Toni Collette single-handedly founded and settled America. So naturally they make a great pairing.
Honorable mention podcasts: My Favorite Murder, Stuff You Should Know, Disgraceland, Hollywood Crime Scene, Whimsically Volatile, WTF w/ Marc Maron, The Moth, Root of Evil, and Why Won’t You Date Me?
Adam Messinger is a fourth year Writing major who is headphones in, world out. You can reach them at email@example.com.