This Week in Podcasts is a weekly roundup of mini-reviews of all of the podcasts I’ve listened to in a week. If you see any podcasts that you feel are missing from my list, there’s a good chance I haven’t listened to the show yet! You can see my current list of podcast subscriptions here. Feel free to give me recommendations–as well as any feedback or discussion!–in the comments below, in my asks on tumblr, or on twitter.
This week, I reviewed The Phenomenon, a fiction novel that has been turned into a book. I also reviewed the very NSFW Red Light Library, and I wrote about how podcasts tend to misuse silence in their edits.
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The Hilarious World of Depression
“Rachel Bloom Finds Her Voice, Then Uses It To Sing About Stealing Pets and Moving to West Covina, California”
It seemed almost inevitable that The Hilarious World of Depression would have Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s Rachel Bloom on as a guest, and the obvious partnership did not disappoint. The interview from Bloom was raw, blunt, and painfully relatable. Hearing Bloom discuss her anxiety as a child or her fear of falling asleep in such straightforward terms is exactly what makes The Hilarious World of Depression such an important show. Even with a guest whose work has a tendency of making everything a little precious, there was nothing cute or quirky about Bloom’s discussion of mental health; instead, it was just genuine.
The Bright Sessions
Each time The Bright Sessions releases an episode that feels like a new level of quality and emotional depth, it feels at first like a single standout episode–and then turns out to be the new standard for the show. This week of The Bright Sessions follows the titular Mark throughout his day as he talks to Sam, his sister, and someone he’s been needing to talk to for some time now. The more Mark develops as a character, the more relatable and funny he becomes: calling Sam and himself “Anxiety Girl and Repressed Trauma Boy” as superhero titles is something likely to go down as one of The Bright Sessions‘s most quoted scenes. His humor is, of course, undercut with a deep bitter edge as the listener gets a clearer view into his budding alcoholism and tendency to ignore his problems in hope they’ll disappear. I am, perhaps, the exact target audience for this episode, and therefore unable to divorce my emotional reaction from my critical analysis of the episode, but I don’t think this is a bad thing–and I certainly don’t think the show would want me to separate those two lenses.
“Episode 61: Deer Woman”
Spirits is one of the rare conversational nonfiction podcasts that can pivot effortlessly from jokes to serious, topical conversations, shown best in episodes like this week’s “Episode 61: Deer Woman.” The conversation starts as discussing the titular Deer Woman spirit of several Native American cultures, shifts to morality and puberty, and then connects the Deer Woman character to a discussion of the #MeToo movement. The conversation here doesn’t seem thematically timed to make sure the hosts could remain topical and current; instead, the conversation feels like an authentic reaction to the current state of things and, really, how things have been for a long while. Spirits shows how stories like that of the Deer Woman convey the unfortunate timelessness and pervasiveness of women’s struggle for safety.
This Week’s Ratings
- The Hilarious World of Depression, “Rachel Bloom Finds Her Voice, Then Uses It To Sing About Stealing Pets and Moving to West Covina, California”: B+
- The Pack, “Episode 7 – Cannibals! . . . pt. 2”: B (Full review to come this week)
- My Brother, My Brother and Me, “MBMBaM 390: Singing to the Bean Box”: C
- Code Switch, “The ‘R-Word’ In the Age of Trump”: B
- Myths and Legends, “97-Jack and the Beanstalk: Sleeping Giant”: C+
- 99% Invisible, “292-Speech Bubbles: Understanding Comics with Scott McCloud”: B-
- Greater Boston, “Mini-Episode: Tinker Leon Marlo Guy”: B
- Love and Luck, “Episode 21 – A Quiet Moment”: B
- The Big Loop, “The Surrogate”: B
- Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, “96. Boy Crazy”: C-
- Snap Judgment, “Snap #904 – Senior Year Mixtape”: B
- Wonderful!, “Ep. 19: The French Fry Kid”: B
- The Bright Sessions, “Mark”: A-
- The Phenomenon, “The Project”: B-
- Spirits, “Episode 61: Deer Woman”: B+
- Unmapped, “#7 – New Year, New Orleans”: B-
- The Adventure Zone, “Amnesty – Episode 3”: B-
- Pop Culture Happy Hour, “The Good Doctor and What’s Making Us Happy”: B-
- The Allusionist, “71. Triumph/Trumpet/Top/Fart”: C+
- 2298, “ENTRY FIVE / FRAYING SANITY”: B-