I have been taking a lot of walks lately. Homebound (with an infant!) during a pandemic, there aren’t a whole lot of places one can go. So when it’s time for a change of scenery—which is pretty much daily—I load up the stroller, queue up a podcast, grab my earbuds, and off we go. I’ve zig-zagged my Atlanta neighborhood while listening to a poet talk about her favorite overalls, two journalists explain Y2K, and a comedian deconstruct the story of the Hipster Grifter, just to name a few. Here are some of the podcasts that have soundtracked my days recently.
Michael Hobbes (co-host of another beloved podcast, You’re Wrong About) and Aubrey Gordon (Your Fat Friend) put the snake oil of wellness culture under their critical magnifying glass, tackling everything from the Master Cleanse to Moon Juice to, yep, actual snake oil. I love a good debunking, but I also love the way these two bring empathy and compassion (alongside humor and some pretty rigorous research) into these conversations.
I’m not proud to admit it, but during the pandemic, my mental health has become increasingly reliant on the FedEx truck. In these long, listless weeks, are there any sweeter words than “out for delivery?” On Gee Thanks, host Caroline Moss interviews a colorful roster of guests about the life-changing, or at least serotonin-bringing, purchases they’ve made recently: from a $15 way upgrade to your daily coffee to a $40 Revlon hair tool that almost makes up for all these months without a haircut.
Maybe I’m cynical, but in the last few years, I’ve developed a slight allergy to anything billed as a “hack,” particularly when it comes to cooking. (I didn’t think the TikTok pasta was very good, sorry!) But the tricks and tips that Kristen Miglore shares in the podcast version of her beloved Genius Recipes series are, dare I say, actually brilliant and never disappointing, from no-peel egg salad to no-churn lemon ice cream.
While the end products are delicious, the real pleasure is in hearing Kristen talk about the keys that bring them together. Sometimes they’re dead-simple, like simply using scissors to cut fried eggs instead of boiling and peeling. Sometimes they teach me a little science, like how the interaction between citrus and fat in dairy can yield a perfectly creamy ice cream with minimal intervention. (But mostly, they make me feel like I want to text a friend immediately with my newfound knowledge.)
I’ll go ahead and get the sad news out of the way: The Lonely Hour is no longer producing new episodes. But this archive of meditations on loneliness couldn’t possibly feel more timely or relevant. Julia Bainbridge (who has since gone on to publish a stunner of a book on non-alcoholic drinks) has intimate chats with everyone from author Jenny Odell to musician David Bazan, and leaves listeners feeling perhaps a tiny bit more together.
If you binged “The Dropout,” can recite intricate details of Anna Sorokin’s life, and insisted on watching both Fyre Festival docs back-to-back, you probably have some kindred souls in the fans (sorry, con-gregation) of Scam Goddess. I love listening to Laci Mosley tackle the shadiest swindlers and hucksters of both present and past, from crooked cops to MLM moms to Lou Pearlman.
These days, I often catch myself daydreaming about the other parts of the world I was lucky to see before 2020. Rick Steves, gentle godfather of modern travel, does me one better by offering a kind of guided meditation for cooped-up wanderlusters. Listening to Steves talk about Carnival in Venice, holiday markets in Germany, and hikes in Switzerland is the very best kind of pandemic-era ASMR.
What are some of your favorite shows right now? Share them with us in the comments.
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