Podcasts, and especially podcasts about pop culture, are in no short supply. There are literally thousands of them, and that can be intimidating to the neophyte. It seems like everyone and their brother is either recapping their favorite show, savaging the latest DC movie or otherwise disseminating their opinions on pop culture via the medium of podcasting — or at least thinking of starting one. Heck, your cat probably has a Game of Thrones podcast by now (as well as some very trenchant thoughts on Ser Pounce).
So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? How do you find that one gem of a podcast that’s truly relevant to your interests? It can indeed be quite a daunting prospect. Here are five suggestions to help get you started on the road to podcast listening delight.
The Flop House
Since 2007, The Flop House podcast co-hosts Dan McCoy, Stuart Wellington, and Elliot Kalan, have expertly skewered the dregs of cinema. Along the way, they have attracted a devoted and passionate following. Riotously funny, this podcast is overflowing with riffs, inside jokes, and poorly sung but oddly charming songs (usually performed by Mr. Kalan). Yes, it’s a show about bad movies, but it’s never an exercise in ironic hipster cynicism. The hosts genuinely love and are extremely knowledgeable about cinema. Even with the “bad” movies they choose to feature, it’s clear each time that the hosts are willing to give the benefit of the doubt that the film will be, to use the show’s rating system, either a good-bad movie or a movie they kinda liked.
Key Episode – Episode 14: Bratz
My Brother, My Brother and Me
To be fair, My Brother, My Brother and Me, or MBMBAM as it’s known, isn’t strictly a “pop culture” podcast. It’s actually advertised as “an advice show for the modern era”. It consists of the three McElroy brothers, eldest brother Travis, middlest brother Justin, and “sweet baby brother” Griffin. The trio dole out advice that should “never be followed” either to questions submitted by listeners or from users of Yahoo! Answers.
Nevertheless, the brothers’ pop culture bonafides are firmly established. Justin and Griffin are both Polygon contributors, and the three brothers, along with their father, Clint, also put out an incredibly funny Dungeons and Dragons-based podcast called The Adventure Zone. Lin-Manuel Miranda, of Hamilton fame, is a big MBMBAM fan, even working a few inside jokes into his recent appearance on Saturday Night Live.
Key Episode – Episode 280: Great Job!
I Was There Too
Hosted by Matt Gourley of the Superego comedy troupe, I Was There Too is a podcast highlighting the not-so-key players in beloved movies, offering a more grounded perspective on what it’s like to play a bit part in Hollywood blockbusters like The Empire Strikes Back or a modern masterpiece like There Will Be Blood. Gourley is a natural interviewer and his warm conversational style puts his guests at ease. His easygoing style leads to some fascinating stories and insights, such as Paul F. Tompkins realizing that Daniel Day Lewis isn’t just intense, “he’s the most intense person on the face of the Earth.”
Key Episode – Episode 1: There Will Be Blood with Paul F. Tompkins
You Must Remember This
Hosted by Karina Longworth, You Must Remember This is a show about the hidden history of the first century of Hollywood. Longworth spins epic multi-episode tales of Hollywood’s power players and famous or notorious celebrities. Incredibly well-researched and immaculately produced, You Must Remember This is an absolute essential listen for film buffs or anyone interested in the goings-on inside Hollywood.
Key Episode – Episodes 87-92: The Six Degrees of Joan Crawford
Beyond Yacht Rock
‘Yacht Rock’ refers to a specific style of soft rock music popular in the late ’70s through to the early ’80s. It’s characterized by its impeccable production, appeal to an adult contemporary audience, a tendency for artists within the scene to work with each other, and above all, it’s smooth, mellow sound (think artists like Christopher Cross, Toto, The Doobie Brothers or Kenny Loggins). It also refers to a webseries produced by Channel 101 in 2005, which is where the term “yacht rock” itself was coined.
The Beyond Yacht Rock podcast, hosted by the writers and stars of that webseries, furthers their mission to invent and define arbitrary genres of popular music. It’s funny, surprisingly informative, and very, very much for mature listeners. So definitely don’t blast this one if you’re listening in mixed company.
Key Episode – Beyond Yacht Rock Episode 2: Try-N-Wraps
There’s a broad, diverse world of podcasts out there and the vast majority of them are free. Those mentioned above are just a few to get you started. Now it’s up to you to dive in and explore further.