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 email@example.com.
TABOO! (ft. Matthew Perpetua)
Joining hosts Chris Wade and Molly O’Brien in this episode of And Introducing is Matthew Perpetua, director of quizzes and games for BuzzFeed. Each week, Wade and O’Brien read a different musician’s autobiography and proceed to chat over said artist’s music and life. After Perpetua introduces Wade and O’Brien to the viral “Right In Front Of My Salad?” meme, the trio turns to the subject at hand: Fallin’ Up: My Story, the autobiography of Taboo (real name Jaime Gomez) from The Black Eyed Peas. Reflecting on their own lives and tastes during the peak of the Peas’ popularity, the hosts compare the band to The Village People and establish a bit of cultural context as producers of the sort of music you’ll always hear on the dance floor. Taboo’s book offers a variety of interesting information on his early life, but if listeners don’t happen to have a deep interest in the backstory of a lesser-known band member, the real appeal of And Introducing is the fun commentary that gives listeners the feeling they’ve joined a hilarious book club for music fans. [Jose Nateras]
Blast Points Podcast
The Last Jedi Trailer Freakout
Disney derives some sick pleasure in getting Star Wars geeks to watch Monday Night Football. Sensing low ratings with a mediocre matchup, the second trailer for The Last Jedi premiered during this week’s Vikings/Bears game, and Jason and Gabe of the Blast Points Podcast provide listeners with their initial reactions to Rian Johnson’s entry in the Skywalker saga. Noting the use of colors and shot choices, Jason and Gabe agree that The Last Jedi appears to be a very different Star Wars film from what audiences have seen before, blending the look and feel of the original trilogy with the prequels. The hosts discuss some of their favorite elements of the preview, from the crystal wolf to the cute and controversial Porgs, as well as the surprising appearance of Supreme Leader Snoke, whom the hosts were not expecting to see at this point in the film’s marketing. Like any other fans, the hosts have their own theories on who Snoke is speaking to in the trailer’s opening, whether or not Rey will turn to the Dark Side with Kylo Ren taking over her training, and if George Lucas was chilling out at home watching Monday Night Football as well. [Mike Vanderbilt]
Canceled Too Soon
Bates Motel (1987)
The Psycho cinematic universe is arguably more expansive than it needs to be. While A&E’s Bates Motel—which provided Norman Bates with an origin story—was a modest hit for the network, it wasn’t the first time that the cut-rate motel made its way to the small screen. Each week on Canceled Too Soon, critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold explore television shows that didn’t last more than one season; 1987’s Bates Motel only lasted one episode. Intended as an anthology-style series ignoring the events of the second and third sequels, the show was to feature horror stories taking place on the hotel grounds. The pilot, according to the hosts, resembles a Scooby Doo episode more than Hitchcock’s original film. The pilot, featuring Bud Cort as the motel’s new owner and a young Lori Petty in a chicken costume, never made it to series and instead was dumped as an NBC movie of the week. The hosts muse that, if anything, Bates Motel is basically on par with Michael Mann’s Heat, as it features notable onscreen winos George “Buck” Flower and Carmen Filpi together for the first time. [Mike Vanderbilt]
Kate Harding and Samhita Mukhopadhyay (co-editors of the new Nasty Women essay collection) host Feminasty, a podcast that aims to answer questions about feminism, resistance, and revolution. With notable activists and advocates joining each week, the conversation, however varied, fosters actionable steps for listeners. Last week, for example, after asserting that the late Hugh Hefner was no feminist, the hosts and guest explained the importance of unplugging in the Trump era. This week, Jaclyn Friedman, host of the Unscrewed podcast, talks about what it means “to have courage in the face of a hostile culture.” The three also speak about their role models, highlighting specific steps they’ve taken to live as an example. All around, the podcast offers a lot of avenues for growth. [Becca James]
On Homophilia, a new addition to the Earwolf roster, hosts Dave Holmes and Matt McConkey interview LGBTQ celebrities about all things love, sex, relationships, pop culture, and more. In only their ninth episode, Holmes and McConkey feel right at home behind the mics, with the effortless atmosphere of a veteran podcast. This week, they’re joined by writer and comedian Riley Silverman in an installment that is endearing, illuminating, funny, and personal all at once. Holmes and McConkey are willing to put every side of themselves on display, from embarrassing stories involving sex dungeons to highly relatable metacognition and pop culture critiques—and their guests feel comfortable to do the same. Silverman’s openness is instantly charming; she discusses transitioning, groupies, and her connection to Doctor Who. The trio’s chemistry makes the hour fly by, entertaining to the last minute with active and engaged hosting, using the interview-podcast medium to its fullest potential. Homophilia achieves the rare balance of fun meanderings and compelling conversation, making it a must-listen for podcast fans from any corner of the genre landscape. [Rebecca Bulnes]
Billed as “a book club, a comedy show, and a cavalcade of smart, entertaining segments,” Kurt Vonneguys tackles Kurt Vonnegut’s entire catalog. This week, hosts Alex Schmidt and Michael Swaim discuss Vonnegut’s 1990 novel Hocus Pocus. It’s a commonly held belief that the phrase “hocus pocus,” used throughout, is a substitute for “bullshit” for reasons best described via the novel itself: “Profanity and obscenity entitle people who don’t want unpleasant information to close their ears and eyes to you.” That’s just one example of the interesting background information Kurt Vonneguys leads listeners to in its focused segments. Take for example their “Kurt Blurt” segment, which showcases particularly memorable lines that don’t quite fit into a plot summary but leave a lasting impression, like the quote above. The podcast routinely hits the two-hour mark, offering an intense look at the subject matter, and it wraps up with suggestions for related reading, making it is a must, both for those deeply familiar with Vonnegut’s work and those seeking an entry point. [Becca James]
Never Seen Before
Everyone has blind spots when it comes to books, television, and movies, and actor Kamil Borowski has more than most. On Never Seen Before, Borowski is attempting to catch up on all of the movies that he’s missed out on, and co-host Kailey Racz is helping him on his way. This week, the hosts tackle William Friedkin’s groundbreaking horror film The Exorcist. Somehow, neither one of them have seen it, either by overlooking it or, in Kailey’s case, because her mother warned her to stay away. While the episode doesn’t provide any trivia that hardcore horror fanatics don’t already know about the 1973 film or the novel on which it is based, Never Seen Before does provide an intriguing look—particularly for older cinephiles—into the younger generation’s perspective on films made before 1990. How often do you get to hear first reactions to an almost 50-year-old film? [Mike Vanderbilt]
Where Should We Begin?
Speak To Me In French
Prominent Belgian psychotherapist Esther Perel brings her sensible, seductive wisdom to this raw podcast that uses recorded audio from actual couples therapy sessions. The podcast debuted on Audible in the spring, but it wasn’t until this month that episodes became freely available. Perel has her work cut out for her in this particular episode as she counsels a husband and wife with more than their fair share of problems. Both are survivors of childhood sexual abuse who later became involved in the evangelical purity movement as adolescents. It wasn’t until the pair got engaged that they shared their first kiss, an act that filled the wife with panic and revulsion, even as she felt certain she had found the right partner. During the session, Perel coaxes the husband to assume an alter-ego he’s experimented with in the bedroom—the brash, confident Frenchman Jean-Claude—and then works to help the pair realize he could, potentially, really be that person. [Zach Brooke]
Yeah, That’s Probably An Ad
Young Influentials | Fall Of Fearless Girl?
The pint-sized Fearless Girl sculpture made waves earlier this year as a piece of public art that resonated with the nation at large. Now, the statue depicting a Latina girl staring down Wall Street’s Charging Bull is back in the news for all the wrong reasons, as the company that sponsored it stands accused of gender discrimination. Adweek’s podcasters call the episode a “textbook example of brands needing to actually behave in a way that aligns with their messaging,” and say, “people need to actually do better instead of just asking others to do so.” The discussion then turns to Las Vegas and the agency in charge of the city’s tourism marketing, which agonized over how to respond to the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Also covered are a provocative new spot from a Jackson Hole, Wyoming tourism campaign that draws its power from Charlie Chaplin’s passionate Great Dictator speech, and a six-minute ad from Volkswagen about a dysfunctional father-son relationship. [Zach Brooke]
A.V. Club staffers talk about season two of Riverdale, The CW’s soapy homage to both Archie Comics and the teen-centric shows that came before. Our podcast is called Dial M For Maple, a deep-cut reference to Riverdale.