I’m still addicted to podcasts, but I struggled to find good ones this season. Heavyweight and Reply All were reliably awesome, and I discovered a few interesting episodes of What Really Happened? I tried a couple of true crime podcasts to learn more about a few intriguing mysteries (the bizarre disappearance of Brian Shaffer and the unsolved Delphi Murders) but nothing phenomenal.
Most of my regular podcasts delved into 2019’s top stories and I am very, very sick of hearing about Trump (elections or impeachment), Russian spies, mass shootings, the trade war and the latest manufactured outrage (how much can be said about plastic straws, really?).
Finally, early December, I stumbled upon two gems, both fictions.
Give them a chance if you need something different this winter. They are polished, immersive, the script is great and the actors awesome.
You can listen to them on various podcast apps or download the episodes for free from the website.
Motherhacker from Gimlet Media
Bridget’s life is a series of dropped calls. With a gift for gab, an ex-husband in rehab, and down to her last dollar, Bridget’s life takes a desperate turn when she starts vishing over the phone for a shady identity theft ring in order to support her family.
I loved this one because it’s fast paced and very addictive. The nine episodes are only 8-to-14-minute-long each but they manage to introduce the characters effectively, starting with resourceful, overwhelmed, and funny Bridget. Most of the podcast takes place over the phone and the soundscape is super realistic. You can’t help wondering what you would have done in her shoes.
If you’re into identity theft and if you’ve ever had to deal with annoying robotcalls, this one is for you.
All the episodes are out. If you’re not using Spotify, you can download them from Podbay.
Passenger List from Radiotopia
Atlantic Flight 702 has disappeared mid-flight between London and New York with 256 passengers on board. Kaitlin Le, a college student whose twin brother vanished with the flight, is determined to uncover the truth.
The plot doesn’t feel that original—Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, anyone?—but it’s about more than a missing plane and the story is very immersive. In each of the episodes, Kaitlin is chasing a different lead, working her way through potentially “suspicious” passengers and various theories while dealing with her own grief and the scary possibility of never knowing the truth behind the crash.
I’m a sucker for missing people stories (and occasionally missing plane stories) because your brain just can’t help wondering what happened—Occam’s razor or something more complicated, more sinister? How do we explain the unexplainable?
Season 1 is out, eight episodes in total. The website also invites everyone to join the investigation.
Any good podcast I should be listening to? Let me know!