Five podcasts I recommend
So you binge-listened to “Serial,” and now you’re looking for more podcasts to feed your brain with? No worries! As always, I am here to help. Here are five that are live right now that I listen to and recommend.
Film critic Karina Longworth takes you inside “the secret and forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century.” Longworth is both an astute researcher and a capable storyteller, pulling together fascinating nuggets of overlooked history and stringing them together into compelling, must-listen narratives.
Looking for a place to dive in? Try season 1’s crackerjack multi-episode exploration of “Charles Manson’s Hollywood.”
Will Menaker, Matt Christman and Felix Biederman tackle the political news of the day with an uncompromising leftist perspective and bracing, acerbic wit. Irreverant, vulgar and hilarious, this won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you’re liberal and like your commentary with elbows out and no holds barred this is the place for you to be. Patreon subscribers get access to members-only episodes every other week.
Looking for a place to dive in? Episode 3, in which the hosts read from the collected works of Ross Douthat, is everything you hope it would be.
Gaming journalist Rob Zacny and a host of collaborators focus obsessively on digital and tabletop strategy games, tearing them apart to find out what makes them work (or not work, as the case may be). Zacny & Co. are smart and observant, going beyond “it’s just fun” to uncover deeper truths about game design and why we play the games we play. Patreon subscribers get to vote on subjects for upcoming shows.
Looking for a place to dive in? Their 2013 dissection of the utterly-broken-on-release Total War: Rome 2 stands as perhaps the most comprehensive demolition job I’ve ever seen a group of reviewers carry out, in any media.
Hosted by defense journalists Jason Fields and Matthew Gault, this Reuters podcast tells stories from all the world’s battlefronts. They cover Iraq and Afghanistan, of course, but go beyond a U.S.-centric view to talk about conflicts around the world as well. And their discussions of potential future conflicts are thought-provoking and troubling.
Looking for a place to dive in? This discussion from July on what motivates suicide bombers is excellent.
There are lots of “let’s make fun of terrible movies” podcasts, but this is far and away the best example of the form. Comics Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas tear into some of the worst movies ever made so you don’t have to. And you don’t even have to have seen the movie to enjoy an episode — it helps, of course, but the hosts’ sharp, observant jokes and easy camaraderie will give you plenty of laughs even if you’re coming in cold.
Looking for a place to dive in? Try episode 64, where they take on the Will Smith/M. Night Shyamalan flop After Earth.