Latina To Latina host Alicia Menendez on stage during The Walter Kaitz Dinner 2014.
Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for NUVOTV

In Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.

Blast Points Podcast
Solo Trailer FREAKOUT

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There are plenty of places to listen to two geeks dissect the new Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer, but few are as funny as Jason and Gabe on Blast Points, and there’s not a trace of cynicism to be found. A new trailer for this foray into the Star Wars universe—which apparently belongs to Ron Howard now—dropped Sunday night, and our reliable heroes were Johnny-on-the-spot with their latest episode. The hosts explore, shot by shot, every nook and cranny of every frame exposing space rats and a location that may or may not be a space Denny’s. It’s a refreshingly positive and downright excited look at the second Star Wars spin-off, the production of which has been fraught with problems since last summer. The new ad answered a few questions (what will Lando’s droid companion sound like?) but brings up a big one: Will Chewie’s lady friend confirm the canonization of the Star Wars Holiday Special? [Mike Vanderbilt]


Hold On One Second We’re Talking About Britney Spears
In The Zone, The Outrageous Half

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In episode 15 of HOOSWTABS, hosts Ashley Hamilton and Claire Parker start off by catching up about such important matters as Hamilton’s hoarse voice and recent vacation in the U.K. as well as Parker’s acceptance into an exclusive membership-based dating app, Raya. While she seems to not have a particularly high opinion of the actors she’s met there (or actors in general), it’s a great opportunity for a funny rant about Timothée Chalamet. Parker has a lot of feelings about Chalamet, referring to him as a “grown-up theater kid.” The hosts do connect this conversation to Britney Spears eventually; they relate to the hunger necessary for looking good in a crop top, the prospect of marrying a man of Kevin Federline’s caliber, and the ages at which they (and Britney) first encountered cocaine. HOOSWTABS stays bitingly funny as Parker and Hamilton’s fast-paced repartee and dark-edged humor (jokes about falling off roofs and the opioid crisis are fair game), juxtaposed with perky vocals and chatter about the titular pop sensation, create an appealing absurdism. [Jose Nateras]


Imaginary Advice
Me Versus The Spar (Parts 1–7)

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Few people are as skilled at turning moments of regret into transcendent, artistic works of storytelling as Ross Sutherland, host of the Imaginary Advice podcast. At the core of his latest episode Sutherland fixates on one so seemingly banal and insignificant it wouldn’t bear a second notice for anyone else, but for him the experience is fertile ground for investigation and self-examination. The facts of the story are simple: On one heartbroken night Sutherland went to a local supermarket to buy some beer, but was refused service because he lacked an ID. However, the wonders that Sutherland spins from such a pedestrian premise make this an electric piece of audio. The story is retold seven times in seven very different and distinct genres. In that way it feels akin to David Mitchell’s fascinating and stylistically adventurous Booker Prize–nominated novel Cloud Atlas, allowing each new genre approach to highlight different aspects of the tale. Sutherland bounds playfully between disparate voices, from poetic rumination to a bank heist (there’s even a grime-rap retelling), all before culminating with an erudite, scholarly analysis of the story’s subtext and allusions. An engaging work from one of podcasting’s brightest lights. [Ben Cannon]


Latina To Latina
Jackie Cruz

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One might not think it possible that a Dominican-American actor who spent her childhood in the Caribbean could be considered insufficiently Latina-looking to play a Latina in movies and television shows. But you know what they say: In Hollywood, anything is possible! Such is the experience of Jackie Cruz, best known for her role as outspoken goth inmate Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales on Orange Is The New Black. In this inaugural episode of Latina To Latina, the 31-year-old actress-musician expresses the frustrations she experienced prior to her breakout role on the Netflix series, when the narrow vision of many casting directors blocked her opportunities to many gigs. She and the host, Bustle contributing editor Alicia Menendez, also discuss Cruz’s political activism, touching on both DACA and personal #MeToo experiences. It’s an affable and thoughtful conversation that bodes well for the future of the podcast. It will be interesting to see what notable women of Latin-American heritage Menendez engages with on future episodes. Provided it doesn’t confine itself to pop culture figures, it will be an interesting show to watch as it grows. [Dennis DiClaudio]


Nerdificent
Cosplay

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There’s one word that’s key in the tagline for Nerdificent, one of the most recent additions to the packed How Stuff Works roster, and that would be the “everyone” in “A nerdy deep dive for everyone.” Hosts (and comedians) Ify Nwadiwe and Dani Fernandez walk a very fine line, balancing the need to get listeners up to speed on the topic of the week with their desire to give more than a surface-level overview. That’s a balance they achieve easily in “Cosplay,” which makes neat work of explaining the term to the uninitiated before delving into the more complicated elements of the cosplay world, up to and including its unexpected origins, financial realities, cultural appropriation, sexually charged elements, and the pleasures of turning children’s play mats into body armor. They’re aided in this pursuit by cosplayer Stella Chuu, whose frankness about and enthusiasm for her line of work make for a compelling listen. The result is a thoughtful look at a corner of the world that is a lot more complex than it might seem to those on the outside. [Allison Shoemaker]


Public Domain Theater
“Bernice Bobs Her Hair” By F. Scott Fitzgerald (W/ Ryan Mogge)

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Public Domain Theater has been best described as “Masterpiece Theater meets Mystery Science Theater 3000 in a podcast of highbrow readings and lowbrow commentary” by its very own hosts, Kelly Nugent and Lindsay Katai. Listeners might recognize the two comedians from Teen Creeps, another hilarious and highly recommended listen that riffs on the YA pulp fiction titles of our “awkward, neon youth.” This new weekly series carries the same sensibility, with each episode featuring a special guest who performs a reading and provides commentary on literature from the public domain. The roaring ’20s are ripe for review in this episode as Nugent, Katai, and guest Ryan Mogge tackle the absurdity of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s characters in “Bernice Bobs Her Hair.” True to form for Fitzgerald, the story revolves around some sexist nonsense that everyone is more than happy to tear apart, resulting in a lot of laughs and an impassioned defense of Zelda Fitzgerald. Listen as they deconstruct the canon in a marvelous and much-needed way. [Becca James]


Raised By TV
Snick

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As listeners of their other comedy podcasts can attest, neither Lauren Lapkus nor Jon Gabrus require much prompting in order to launch into tangents or nostalgic stories about one of their shared favorite topics: ’80s and ’90s television. Last season, the hosting duo scratched the surface of their childhood viewing lineup—from cartoons to game shows to TGIF—and introduced Very Special Episode reenactments starring guest stars. Proceeding a Ren & Stimpy Show–themed introduction from voice actor Billy West, Gabrus and Lapkus kicked off season two last week with a chat about Snick, Nickelodeon’s venerable late-night programming window that gave birth to some of the era’s most creative, ambitious shows for young audiences. Discussion highlights include how the cameo-stuffed The Adventures Of Pete & Pete was “Twin Peaks for kids,” how the parents in The Secret World Of Alex Mack and Clarissa Explains It All are weapons-grade dumb, and how blue raspberry AirHeads have the curious side effect of making the people who eat them salivate like rottweilers. [Dan Jakes]


Tell Me About Your Mother
Journalist Maya Francis On Working Moms, Black Motherhood, And Women Owning Their Stories

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The entire second season of Amy Westervelt’s podcast about mothers was released daily over the past two weeks, all 10 episodes. After interviews with guests like Aparna Nancherla and Heather B. Armstrong about the maternal influence on their lives, the season wraps up with writer Maya Francis discussing her childhood in a matriarchal household. Francis speaks candidly about being raised by her mother, grandmothers, and a great-grandmother, and how that shaped her view of family. This episode is particularly fascinating because of its discussion of race and how working mothers are viewed differently in white and black cultures. Francis has great insight into how her parents’ lifestyle doesn’t necessarily work for her while still respecting the lessons they passed down. Much of what she held onto involved her mother and father’s experiences with race in the workplace and how those experiences carried over to their home life and relationships. Stories like Francis’ prove that the nearly universal experience of having a mother provides a common jumping-off point to explore a wide range of life experiences. [Brianna Wellen]


Tropical Moon
Pride Of Thailand / Colour X

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Tropical Moon bills itself as “hard to explain,” and it very much can be. The narrative fiction podcast refuses to follow any sort of chronological timeline, instead suggesting that listeners just pick an episode they “like the sound of and take a chance.” This suggestion is followed by a palm-tree emoji, because why not? The latest episode finds “favourite space hippie Mr. Rustle” as he makes a curious discovery with “the Professor.” Though the uncertainty can be unsettling, the simplicity of the story and the calm tone of its delivery have an almost ASMR quality, creating an overall feeling of ease that envelops listeners immediately. It’s tantamount to walking through the wardrobe into Narnia: You’re fully engaged in a simultaneously oddly familiar yet otherworldly space that provides an escape from everyday mundanity. And your first visit surely won’t be your last as the curiosities of Tropical Moon linger long after an episode ends. [Becca James]