You Should Be Listening To is a series where I talk up one of my favorite podcasts and explain why you should be listening, too. Each post gives an explanation of the show using the same five questions, including how best to listen and comparisons to other pieces of media. You can find all of my You Should Be Listening To posts here.
All About Greater Boston
What is Greater Boston?
Greater Boston is an independent, serialized comedy/drama audio drama. The show has been running since March 2016 and is currently between its second and third seasons, releasing mini episodes to bridge the gap between seasons. The show takes place in a fictionalized Boston, Massachusetts, and the plot revolves around what happens after the predictable and meticulous Leo Stamatis dies on a roller coaster.
Okay, but what is it really?
It’s a story about community and the importance of a place’s culture, as one would assume for a show about Boston–but it’s also an almost postmodernist look at subjective truth. It’s about events that cause others to fall in place like dominoes, with storylines that weave and twist. It’s about people being more than others expect, spontaneity, and being self-aware.
What makes it different from other podcasts?
First and foremost, Greater Boston is notable for its structure. The show blends facts and fiction; each episode, for instance, begins with actual people from Boston answering questions about themselves, Boston, or the world. Even without the structure, though, Greater Boston would still be a standout audio drama. The plot’s development feels like watching a fractal grow, all revolving around the inciting incident of Stamatis’s death. The writing and acting are some of the best in the genre and the production team–including Alexander Danner, whose work can also be heard in What’s the Frequency–-is next-level. Even with its structure and strangeness, Greater Boston feels like perfect introductory audio drama for just about anyone. It uses its medium gracefully, has the perfect blend of comedy and drama, and overall has incredibly high production value.
When does it start to “get good?”
Greater Boston is one of the very few audio dramas I’ve heard that has a nearly perfect first episode. Greater Boston doesn’t “get good”; it starts good and keeps getting better.
Why should I be listening?
Greater Boston is a fun listen without feeling like fluff. There’s character development, social commentary, and plenty of heart, but it’s also funny and strange and never too self-serious. Depicting a real city in such a cartoonish hyperbole of itself is a great setup, even for those who haven’t been to Boston. At every turn, this show could alienate its listener, whether it’s due to the plot or the setting or the characters, but it knows how to toe the line perfectly, keeping both unique and accessible.
Listen to Greater Boston if you like:
- The importance of setting in Twin Peaks or Portlandia
- The comedic absurdism of Community or 30 Rock
- The strange but glossy veneer of Pushing Daisies or The Good Place
- The large casts an interwoven plots of Wes Anderson films like The Royal Tenenbaums or Moonrise Kingdom
- Characters who all have a surprising heart of gold like Scrubs or Parks and Recreation
You can find more information, including links and transcripts of episodes, on their website.