You heard it here first, people: 2018 is the year that podcasts became as important as TV. Though the short-form storytelling method has been around for awhile, they skyrocketed into the mainstream after the riveting first season of Serial debuted back in October 2014. Since then, podcasts have really reached their stride, becoming some of the most engaging and creative storytelling media available right now. With that in mind, we've assembled some of the best podcasts available right now—ranging from the hilarious to the suspenseful to the illuminating—so you can listen, learn, and feel inspired.
According to Lindsey Weber and Bobby Finger, hosts of the Who? Weekly podcast, Hollywood is broken down into two categories: The Whos and the Thems. Sure, A-list Thems like the Kardashians and the Jolie-Pitts are fun to analyze, but what of their trainers, realtors, friends, and hangers on? Shouldn't the people vying for celebrity get their moment in the sun? There are two episodes of this show per week, both hilarious, but one centers around news and the other involves listeners calling in. This show has built its own lingo ("Good form, Bella Thorne") and created its own tiers of must-watch celebs, even if the rest of the world will hear them and say, "Wait, who?"
My Dad Wrote a Porno
What would you do if you found out that your otherwise totally normal father had actually been writing erotic fiction for years? If you're Jamie Morton, you get two of your friends to come over and cheer you on as you do a dramatic reading for millions of eager listeners. Each episode of My Dad Wrote a Porno follows Morton and his cohosts Alice Levine and James Cooper as they read and react to Rocky Flintstone's (not his real name) opus Belinda Blinked, the tale of a beautiful and very horny sales representative for a pots and pans distributor. Never sexy, often cringe-y, and always hilarious, the show recently premiered its fourth season.
Written and narrated by bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, Revisionist History takes a closer look at one story every episode, showing how it connects to other seemingly-unrelated stories, what it says about human behavior, and how it's changed the world around you. It plays like Gladwell's books read, in the sense that you'll be so eager to find out what happens next, you won't realize how much you're learning in the process.
Slow Burn, hosted by Leon Neyfakh, is a Slate podcast that goes deep on the side characters and unseen plot lines behind some of the biggest presidential scandals in American history. The first season was all about Watergate and what really went into Nixon's impeachment. The second season is on now, and it turns the same treatment on to Bill Clinton's impeachment. No matter how well you think you know what happened, this podcast has talked to someone you didn't realize was involved. Though Neyfakh never comes out and says it, Slow Burn ultimately shows how the parallels between what happened in the past and what's happening now are impossible to ignore.
Anna Faris Is Unqualified
Anna Faris is a hilarious human being. She's the star of her own hit show (Mom on CBS) and the host of one of the most popular and laugh-out-loud funny podcasts out there, Anna Faris Is Unqualified. On the show, Faris interviews fellow celebrities and fields calls from listeners, offering advice on topics she is, well, unqualified to answer.
2 Dope Queens
2 Dope Queens is a podcast hosted by comedians Phoebe Robinson (catch her now in Ibiza on Netflix) & Jessica Williams (of The Daily Show fame). Each episode features three guests comedians (with an emphasis on women, people of color and LGBT comedians), and discussions on race, gender, and other social issues. Sure, it sounds serious, but it will have you cracking up.
If you need a true crime fix and can't wait for the next season of Serial, check out Criminal. Unlike Serial and its ilk that focus on one case over the course of a season, Criminal features a different story every episode. Hosted by Phoebe Judge, the podcast describes itself as telling "stories of people who've done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle."
This American Life
If you're not already listening to This American Life, do yourself a favor and subscribe now. Each episode tells an entirely different story, so it's easy to listen to the ones that interest you and delete the ones that don't. Plus, if you want "look how smart I am" bragging rights at parties, it doesn't get more
cliché classic than TAL.
Gimlet's Reply All is a weekly breath of fresh air. The podcast is about all things internet-y, but that covers so much territory that you never know what you're going to get when you tune in. Hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman share a mix of stories, ranging from hilarious to thought-provoking (and, often, a combination of the two). Also, Vogt's laugh is a national treasure, so there's that.
Las Culturistas is, as the name would suggest, a pop culture podcast. Hosted by Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang, along with a rotating crew of celebrity guests, the comedy show is best known for its “I Don’t Think So, Honey!” segment during which the hosts and guests hilariously rip apart something from pop culture.
The Butterfly Effect
Hosted by journalist Jon Ronson, The Butterfly Effect is a podcast miniseries about pornography, specifically the unexpected consequences of one European teens quest to stream it online for free. The frank reporting on the industry's history and future will have you captivated.
On Binge Mode, The Ringer’s Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion recap pop culture juggernauts like Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. It's like binging your favorite show with your best friend and then picking it apart together even though you both still love it.
When Dirty John premiered last fall, it sucked in listeners all over the world. The investigative piece from Wondery and The Los Angeles Times chronicled the unbelievable true story of a career con artist and the last family he pulled one over on. If you haven't binged this one yet, get to it. It's like a soap opera, but it's all real.
Can I Pet Your Dog?
If you're not into gritty true crime tales and social commentary that reminds you just how much the real world sucks sometimes, download Can I Pet Your Dog?, the cutest podcast on the internet. Hosted by Renee Colvert and Allegra Ringo, the show has everything dog-lovers might want and then some, including interviews with famous dog-lovers, like Lin-Manuel Miranda.