Let’s get this out of the way now: 2020 has mostly been trash.
Getting through this pandemic has been tough for a lot of reasons, and even though there have been bright spots for me, this year has been so tough mentally, emotionally, and physically. There are only a few things that have gotten me through the year – baking, my writing community, publishing my first book, Megan Thee Stallion, and podcasts.
I’ve got an endless library of shows to listen to, but there are a few that are in heavy rotation each week for me. They’ve helped me get through 2020, and they might just help you as we crawl through these last few weeks of 2020.
Hosted by two of the funniest people ever, Kid Fury and Crissle, The Read dissects all things Black culture and current news, from Nene Leakes to Beyonce to the next Versuz battle. The hosts then read and respond to listener lessons where people write in questions from their personal lives and the hosts give advice. Finally, the shows end with the hosts “Reading” something or someone, and no one is safe. They’ve read Missy Elliot, Eva Longoria, flying cockroaches in NYC, the police, etc. This show truly offers a needed perspective, and as a Black woman, it feels like sitting at a cookout with my siblings talking shit and partying.
I mentioned this podcast in another blog. It’s made my list again because it’s that good – show hosts Henry Zebrowski, Ben Kissel, and Marcus Parks cover all horrors, real and imaginary. Every episode is extensively researched and the chemistry between the show hosts creates a funny and intense dynamic. Some of my favorite topics are Jonestown, Jodie Arias, Adolpho Constanzo, and lobotomies.
If you’re even a passing RuPaul’s Drag Race fan, you know who Bob The Drag Queen and Monét X Change are. Their podcast, Sibling Rivalry, is basically two friends talking about everything, from villains to death to social media. All the while, they are ragging on each other as only a pair of siblings could. I’m a big fan of shows where I feel like I’m getting a look inside the creator’s lives, and Sibling Rivalry is the perfect option.
Helmed by hosts Michael Hobbs and Sarah Marshall, this podcast seeks to set the record straight on some of the most memorable events in the American zeitgeist, including the Satanic Panic, Lorena Bobbitt, the Challenger explosion, OJ Simpson, and more. This is the perfect podcast for anyone who loves learning about the events that shaped our politics, culture, and world views. The hosts are funny and insightful, and it’s easy to binge-listen to episode after episode.
Developed by two Black fantasy lovers and authors, Dreaming In The Dark addresses the roles of Black people in fantasy. Each episode dissects these things, like how loving fantasy as a Black person often meant loving a genre that offered little to no representation. The show featured guests like Roseanne Brown, author of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, and Tracey Deonn, author of Legendborn.
Hosted by the hilarious Laci Mosley, Scam Goddess feels like sitting in the living room with your best friend and talking about all manner of chicanery, or rather “scams, fraud, robberies, and cons.” Each week you’ll learn more about crimes of passion, of power, and of the internet as Laci chats with guests like Nicole Byer, Trixie Mattel, Jameela Jamil, and Conan O’Brien. This is a fun podcast to listen to when you need a laugh and want to learn something along the way.
This is the first true-crime podcast I’ve come across hosted by two Black men. Alvin and Fran are life-long friends who talk about murder, especially those committed by BIPOC. They are very frank about the things they don’t know, and always make it a point to hold themselves and others accountable. Their chemistry and the way they relay the crimes adds some levity to often very gruesome topics. Some of my favorite episodes are Amerikill Idol, Doo Doo Brown Vendetta, Room 1046, and Horror at Harvard.
Listening to the ladies at Hollywood Crime Scene is like hanging out with your best friends, talking about true crime, and eating your favorite comfort foods. Long-time friends and hosts Desi Jedeikin and Rachel Fisher talk about crime specifically related to Tinsel Town – everything from Bing Crosby to Judy Garland to the Red Lipstick Murder. Their chemistry is amazing and they don’t hold back with their commentary about the crimes, food, sex, or other celebrities.
This is the perfect show for all you pop culture and news junkies. Hosted by journalists/ screenwriters Ira Madison III, Aida Osman, and Louis Vertel, Keep It breaks down the latest news in Hollywood and beyond, discussing everything from the coronavirus to Pose to Brittney Spears. They also have a weekly guest, and some of my favorites have been Angelica Ross, Gabrielle Union, Eugene Levy and Kathrine O’Hara, and more.
There are a ton of true crime podcasts out there, but very few are helmed by Black hosts. Charneil and Dee examine crimes, both famous and lesser-known, using their respective backgrounds in forensic psychology and social work. Their unique perspectives and humor make this podcast feel like you’re launching into deep conversation with your best friends about the correlation between mental health and crime. Some of my favorite episodes include Andrea Yates, The Hart Family, and Andrew Cunanan.
This show focuses on crimes that take place in the ’90s, the best (or worst) decade. The host, Simone Taylor, has the most relaxing and calming voice. She recounts each tale with mounting tension, like the episode about James Byrd Jr., and at the end gives her opinion on the case. Most episodes are thirty minutes or less, so they are before for when you need something quick to listen to.
Hosted by the hilarious and chill duo of Andre and Battle, Bruh Issa Murder is another true crime podcast hosted by Black men who primarily discuss crimes against and involving BIPOC. They each bring a tale to the table and at the end include a cut of some music as somewhat of a palate cleanser. Their chemistry and passion for cases like The Grim Sleeper and Kenneka Jenkins make this podcast a must-listen, especially for Black true crime lovers.
If you ever find yourself in the mood for something spooky, Lore is the podcast to go to. Hosted by Aaron Mahnke, each episode talks about something supernatural like the undead or some part of our grim history, like H.H. Holmes. Episodes are short, about 40 minutes, and they are easy to binge to get your fix of the macabre.
Hopefully one or all of these podcasts will help you get through the rest of this year and the next (let’s be real, no one knows what fresh hell or heaven is waiting for us next year). I’m always looking for new podcasts to add to my already long list – what podcasts do you listen to?