Greetings from isolation!
Here in California we’re entering our first full week of the Shelter in Place order, or the Stay Home Be Well Proclamation, or whatever they’re calling it. Listen: I’m an introvert. I’m in my element right now. I’ve been training for this my whole life. However, I feel a lot of empathy for my sweet extrovert friends whose energy and patience is draining by the hour. I feel compelled to share some advice from my vast experience with solitude, so I’d like to present my first edition of Quaran-tertainment: Podcasts!
I find that podcasts are different from TV, books, and even audiobooks. When you listen to some podcasts it’s more like having a friend in your ear than having someone read something to you, and I find that it’s a great balm for loneliness. And as a bonus, a lot of them are edifying! As my dad likes to say, “Pay attention; you might learn something!”
Here are my top five podcasts for when I’m jonesing for company.
Ologies, hosted by writer and actress Alie Ward, is a great way to brush up on your dinner party conversation (for when we can all get together again). Each episode Alie picks a topic and then finds an expert (or a few!) in that field – an “ologist” – to discuss it with. She’s an adroit interviewer and seems to come up with the questions you’d never think to ask but always wanted to know the answers to. Alie is smart, funny, and conversational, and each episode feels more like a hangout than a lecture.
I think I’ve plugged The Bechdel Cast on my blog before but I don’t want to miss an opportunity to do it again because I love these women! This pod is hosted by two comedians/writers, Jaime Loftus and Caitlin Durante. Caitlin has a master’s degree in screenwriting (I’ve been fortunate enough to take a couple of screenwriting courses from her!) and applies it to talking about beloved movies through a feminist lens. They use the Bechdel Test as a “jumping off point” to really dive into the representation of women in movies. The episodes are hilarious and insightful and they always have amazing guests.
This is a little less “hanging out in my friend’s basement” and a little more NPR but nonetheless, it’s a feel-good listen for a tough time. Journalist Jad Abumrad uses his dad’s unlikely friendship with Saint Dolly herself to embark on a journey through the life and legacy of one of America’s most beloved icons. The result is a series of nine moving, funny, and thoughtful episodes.
4. My Favorite Murder
This is at once a basic and polarizing rec: I’m aware that a lot of folks can’t stand this pod and that those who would love it are probably already listening. I just want to extol this podcast as a surprisingly feel-good experience. Karen and Georgia are so open about their messy lives, about mental health and medication and therapy, about their triumphs and struggles. Listening to this podcast, for me, has become less about the true crime stories and more about hanging out with the girls: “sitting crooked and talking straight.” If you can stomach the true crime, this podcast is a worthy investment for the sense of love and community you get from it.
5. Who? Weekly
I listen to and love a lot of podcasts, but Who? Weekly is the only one that truly makes me sad when it ends. No matter how long the episodes are, I always wish they were longer. Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber are Brooklyn-based writers and friends, and twice a week they dive into B, C, and D-list celebrity news. The funny thing is, I didn’t care about celebrity news before I started listening to them… and I still don’t. What I do care about is listening to Lindsey and Bobby banter, jamming to their ridiculous segment songs, and laughing aloud at calls from their devoted listeners . Within a few episodes you’ll develop an ear for their inside jokes and jargon, which makes this podcast truly feel like a great gossip session with your best friends. In spite of the potential here for cattiness, Lindsey and Bobby are never cruel and never punch down. In fact, they often have pretty thought-provoking discussions about the nature of celebrity– that is, when they’re not busy discussing the “who”s and “them”s of butter brands.
Recommended episodes: these are more relevant the more recent they are, so work backwards.
Send me your best podcast recommendation! Stay sane and stay healthy (stay sexy and don’t get murdered).