In an attempt to fill my excess time between cooking and cleaning in this new quarantine realm, I decided to give podcasts a try (I have always been a late bloomer; in fact, I still haven’t seen Tiger King). After a month of listening to different podcasts, I narrowed down a list for your convenience. Some of the podcasts below have informed me about the COVID-19 crisis without putting me in a depressive state, and some simply helped me put a smile on. They are ranked and reviewed below.
Gentle Reminder: I am also looking forward to your podcast suggestions in the comments section!
- The Daily by The New York Times
Hands down the best podcast in the world of podcasts. I believe since its debut the Daily still has the most subscribers to date, and it is well deserved. The show displays diligently curated news pieces and usually has a different angle compared to the relevant journalistic agenda. I especially found it very educational in the midst of the pandemic we are all experiencing across the globe. There were a couple episodes that explored the Chinese American racism during the pandemic and day to day updates from selected hospitals and grocery stores. I have been following the show daily for the past few weeks, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Recommended Episode: 24 Hours Inside a Brooklyn Hospital
- David Tennant Does a Podcast With… by David Tennant
David Tennant is a marvelous actor, but one could argue he is an even better podcast host! I am not sure whether this is because Tennant is an excellent listener, or his guests are big talkers, but the guests literally pour out their souls to the guy. I would’ve loved to hear him speak more, but I genuinely enjoyed how he made his guests feel home with little interruption and let us viewers hear their stories organically. It would be true to say each episode almost feels like a memoir. It is a great listen when you need a sincere and fun little pick me up.
Recommended Episode: Krysten Ritter
- Recode Media by Peter Kafka
The host of Recode Media, Peter Kafka, has been a journalist covering media since 1997, and it shows. In my personal experience, Kafka’s podcast is the only one that makes me feel like I am watching live news, and I leave feeling fully equipped to tackle any conversation after the usual hour is finished. After stating the facts, Kafka usually has more than one guest whom he collects diverse points of view. I was especially impressed with his introduction to Quibi (noted below), and how he was able to maintain a space that supported constructive criticism amongst differing views.
Recommended Episode: Jeffrey Katzenberg’s $1.75 billion bet on Quibi
- You Must Remember This by Stitcher & Karina Longworth
Welcome to the Intro to Hollywood History class you never took— You Must Remember This is literally it. A very well researched, engaging podcast that pokes the cultural topics that should not be ignored. The hosts tackle topics like gender inequality, racial representation, and sexuality based on the historical events that have been overlooked in the Hollywood realm. I do not have any negative criticism about this podcast; I really appreciate the initiative and think that the hosts have taken a step to fill a gap in the conversations we have (and had) about Hollywood.
Recommended Episode: 150: Blaxploitation and the White Backlash (Six Degrees of Song of the South, Episode 5)
- Unlocking Us by Bréne Brown
Who does not love this woman? No one. I highly recommend her book, The Gifts of Imperfection (2010) as well as her awesome show on Netflix, The Call to Courage (2019). There is no one like Bréne Brown, who I have never met, but who also understands me (and probably you) without even having to know me. Her recently launched podcast does not disappoint; Bréne goes through the same shit we go through. While she also has guests in several of her episodes, I personally enjoyed her solo episodes. Bréne talks about everyday problems we face internally and externally with those whom we have relationships with. One of my biggest takeaways from her experiences was to stop assuming and start talking with people (I am not a big talker, I write). Anyhow, this podcast especially hits home during the global coronavirus pandemic. If you need some help grounding yourself, do tune into Unlocking Us.
Recommended Episode: Bréne on FFTs
- Rabbit Hole by The New York Times
This is a very new podcast! In fact, it just launched last week, so you are in luck if you are looking to follow episodes week by week (I always get excited about it, I am over binge-listening/watching). What we know from episode one, Tech Columnist Kevin Roose explores the role of internet in our lives, and he starts with a young pal named Caleb. Caleb is not a popular student, and he finds comfort in watching YouTube videos (back when the Tube wasn’t as popular as today!). Concurrently, the episodes include research and interviews about the why, and how certain algorithms pull us inside the net. If this podcast was a book, it would definitely be a page-turner!
Recommended Episode: One: Wonderland
- The Big Picture by The Ringer
I have no idea how I came across this podcast, but it is definitely a stable if a) you want to learn how to critically engage with media, or b) you simply enjoy listening to people who critically engage with media and like to state your own opinion back at them inside your head (fun stuff). The hosts Amanda Dobbins and Sean Fennessey are both writer-editors for The Ringer (a Vox Media affiliated website). They usually discuss new feature film releases and have relevant guests involved. Likewise, they also have episodes where they rank older films based on their genre or relevance to current news (like the Oscars season etc.). One downfall of this podcast is that it does not target your average listener; most of the episodes are as long as 2 hours, and the conversations may wear off after the first hour. I highly recommend The Ringer, but beware that it requires a great amount of attention compared to the interview podcasts I covered in this article. For those who want to see beyond the plot of a film, you will enjoy this one.
Recommended Episode: 205. Marriage Story Destroyed Us. Noah Baumbach on His Divorce Opus.
- Last Seen by WBUR & The Boston Globe
Last Seen is a podcast based on the real art heist that happened in Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In 1990, 13 pieces of art (which includes works by Rembrandt, Degas, Manet, and Flinck) were masterfully stolen from the museum; it remains an unresolved crime. The hosts are very descriptive with the evidence they observe (visually) and investigate (as far as documents). The podcast includes never heard of interviews and historical facts. It moves in a documentary-like fashion but holds on to a little bit more flexibility with its style. I am recently finished episode 5 myself, but I am looking forward to the rest of the show.
Recommended Episode: Episode 5: ‘The Bobbys’
- I Weigh with Jameela Jamil
This a podcast I listen to simply for the voice of its host, and I have no regrets. Jameela Jamil is a popular icon after she debuted her career with NBC’s The Good Place (2016-2020). She recently started the I Weigh Podcast as a response to photographs and conversations social media that discuss celebrity’s weight—I mean, don’t people have better things to do? Jamil interviews strong female figures and discusses being minorities in the male-dominated entertainment industry. She is very outspoken or so called out there compared to those who might have still responses to such conversations. I personally appreciate the initiative and have been enjoying the podcast. I sometimes find her being not-so-selective with her words, but hey—it’s better to talk about it, so you have the opportunity to fix your language (that’s what Jamil says), rather than staying silent and therefore, ignorant. Catch I Weigh—it’s fun, it’s upbeat, and thought-provoking.
Recommended Episode: Reese Witherspoon
- Present Company by Netflix
A very Vanity Fair-Esque, formal podcast with Krista Smith. Since Netflix has countless podcasts on the market, and frankly, none of them are interesting enough, I was able to narrow them down to two better ones (yay!). I’d argue Smith is your typical entertainment interviewer and she lacks personality compared to the lively people mentioned above. However, she is the host of Netflix’s podcast which gives her great leverage—in other words, she gets to interview big names who have not been interviewed in other podcast platforms (although she is not good at it). Like I said, I am not crazy about the podcast, but she hosts guests that you may be interested in, so it is worth checking out.
Recommended Episode: Paul Rudd