With more podcasts to choose from than TV shows these days, it can be tough to figure out which one are worth a listen, especially when more and more keep debuting. Luckily, there are some fan favorites and newcomers creating their own unique, fun spaces this fall, and they’re definitely worth a listen.
Here are some of the pop culture podcasts we’re queueing our iTunes up for.
Technically, this show was a summer return, but it’s still on our radar as a must-listen as new episodes continue to roll out. Comedian Cameron Esposito is a mainstay on the L.A. comedy scene, running a longtime show called Put Your Hands Together -- which is, naturally, also recorded for a podcast -- and she starred with her wife, Rhea Butcher, on the Seeso sitcom Take My Wife. Her bits have frequently hit on timely topics in the LGBTQ+ space, but Queery allows Esposito to extend upon these, fully honing in on important conversations as she chats with people about identity, personality and the shifting cultural attitudes toward gender, sexuality and civil rights. Butcher was Esposito’s first guest, and she’s also had Transparent creator Jill Soloway on, but her recent episode with Evan Rachel Wood on motherhood, pregnancy and surviving sexual assault is especially worth a listen.
We can’t get enough of the banter between BFFs Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, and, luckily, they’re back for season four. The mid-September premiere of their podcast -- a weekly comedic storytelling series recorded live from Brooklyn -- kicked off with Williams getting starstruck meeting the premiere's guest, Queen Latifah (can you blame her?), when the Girls Trip cast popped in for a visit, plus a play-by-play recall of how she met J.K. Rowling. Upcoming guests include LeVar Burton, Jo Firestone and Tegan and Sara, so expect the frank talk you’ve gotten used to on sex, romance, race, hair and Billy Joel, plus plenty more fodder when some of their funniest friends and peers stop by.
The premise of this new series is “a movie podcast that isn’t just a bunch of straight white dudes,” so we were sold from the get-go. Comedian Ricky Carmona, The Wrap critic Alonso Duralde and LA Weekly critic April Wolfe delve deep into the movies hitting theaters now, including news and reviews on the flicks plus some major insight, like when Jason Jones called in from Canada to talk hockey around the sequel Goon: Last of the Enforcers. They’ve already covered It and mother!, which gives us agita just thinking about those thrillers, and the coming months will cover Blade Runner 2049, Suburbicon and Thor: Ragnarok. Spoiler alert: We’re tuning in.
Midwest-raised Nick Offerman is the perfect man to give voice to Mark Twain in this Audible series based on the famous author’s inventive, darkly funny story about a New England mechanic who time travels to medieval England, where he tries to modernize Camelot. Offerman fits the bill as a straightforward gruff, but he also shines as he portrays a myriad of characters from the tale, including insane knights and Merlin. The Parks and Rec alum brings new life to the social and political satire Twain constructed, but we can't say we're surprised by that!
If you’re obsessed with Welcome to Night Vale, seeing the Night Vale Presents universe expand with quirky new series has been fun to watch. Though it doesn’t mean more Cecil or hailing the Glow Cloud, it does mean we get to dive even more into co-creator Joseph Fink’s creative, kind of out there brain. Admittedly, his latest nonfiction project, I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats sounds oddly specific -- it’s Fink sitting in his basement with the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle having conversation about “songwriting, art and life.” Yes, they’re talking through Darnielle’s writing song by song, but it’s not just about his indie band or even just this one singer-songwriter and how much he’s inspired a megafan. Rather, it’s a deep dive into what it’s like to be in the brain of an artist, and it includes conversations with other celebs, including author John Green. It will also feature original covers by artists like Amanda Palmer, Andrew Bird and Laura Jane Grace recorded just for the podcast.
Ever wonder how other people were affected by the albums that shaped your life? That's just what music writer Oliver Wang and music supervisor Morgan Rhodes will be digging into with celebrity guests -- their heat rock, if you will -- from genres like hip-hop, soul, dance, jazz and funk. Guests like Ann Powers, Jay Smooth and Shea Serrano will be on to talk about the EPs close to their hearts (Madonna’s Like a Prayer, Run-DMC’s Raising Hell and DMX’s It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, respectively) and we expect plenty of new knowledge to drop from the rotating trios.
This insanely popular show -- hosted by Joshua Molina, the Scandal actor who appeared in four seasons of The West Wing, and Song Exploder’s Hrishikesh Hirway -- breaks down Aaron Sorkin’s beloved D.C. drama. The guys just wrapped up season three with a guest star-heavy live show, but they're only taking a minimal break before diving into the next round of episodes. Sorkin considered the 2002-2003 season a return to form in the series’ writing, but it’s also when we had to say goodbye to Rob Lowe’s Sam Seaborn, so there’s a whole lot to dish about when the guys officially return.
Just in time for Halloween comes this new 10-part dark comedy, murder-mystery series set in the winter of 1954, when an annual family dinner party turns deadly. The series features an A-list voice cast including Kristen Bell, Anna Chlumsky, Denis O’Hare, RuPaul, 13 Reasons Why’s Alisha Boe and LeVar Burton, amongst others.
Aaron Mahnke’s popular biweekly podcast about dark, historical tales that fuel modern superstitions is getting the TV treatment with a new anthology series on Amazon. While several podcasts are reportedly being developed for the screen, this is the first major one to make the jump. The six-episode series will star Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), Kristin Bauer von Straten (True Blood), Holland Roden (Teen Wolf) and Adam Goldberg (Fargo). Meanwhile, the podcast continues to produce new episodes.
We've been fans of Andrew Jenks’ documentaries for a while now, so we can't wait to see how the filmmaker digs into the premise of this podcast, which is exactly what the title sounds like: What really happened when Britney Spears hit her breaking point or Princess Diana died? Getting to the heart of stories that captured the public zeitgeist is what makes true crime stories so popular, but diving deep into pop culture mysteries via podcast isn't nearly as common. As if we weren't intrigued enough, the series is produced by the production company co-founded by Dwayne Johnson. If The Rock is in, so are we.
Because this is a concept many of us kids of the ‘80s and ‘90s know very well, we’re pretty stoked that improvisers/actors/podcast veterans Lauren Lapkus (Orange Is the New Black) and Jon Gabrus (Adam Ruins Everything) are reminiscing about shows from those decades. Who doesn’t need a little nostalgia and humor in 2017?