So how does one separate the good from the so-so? As someone whose earbuds are virtually fused to my head, I have some ideas. This week I share notable TV podcasts, loosely grouped by theme. Enjoy, and feel free to add more suggestions in the comments.
Also, I’m working on a similar list of food podcasts. Got one I should hear? Leave a comment here or holler on Twitter.
On House of Cards
Hosted by Brooke Gladstone, this On the Media spinoff delves into each episode of the Netflix drama’s third season. Guests include political journalists, Washington insiders, and even some folks connected to the show, like creator and executive producer Beau Willimon. While eps generally provide more recap than analysis, it’s interesting to hear, say, Cokie Roberts talk about what it was really like to cover the White House as a female journalist.
The Americans: Slate TV Club Insider
Slate offers several juicy podcasts—its Better Call Saul show is a fan favorite—and I’m particularly fond of this one, which shares behind-the-scenes details about FX’s The Americans from its creators, cast, and crew. Episodes have included commentary from stars Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, and Noah Emmerich, as well as others who help the ‘80s-set drama come to life.
A Cast of Kings
If there’s one show that demands clear recaps and analysis, it’s Game of Thrones, right? David Chen co-hosts this show with Joanna Robinson, and George R.R. Martin fans will appreciate her familiarity with the books. (To her credit, she never reveals spoilers for those of us who haven’t read ‘em.)
Up Yours, Downstairs!
If you can’t handle the eternal wait until Downton Abbey’s final season, you may want to catch up on episodes of this podcast, hosted by fans (and spouses) Kelly Anneken and Tom Schneider. The comedic duo recaps episodes and shares Abbey-related news with humor and enthusiasm.
The Daily Show Podcast Without Jon Stewart
If the show’s official podcast is any indication, The Daily Show will survive after Stewart departs. In each episode, head writer Elliott Kalan, producer Tim Greenberg, and field producer Brennan Shroff go behind the scenes, often interviewing correspondents. The concept is fun—and, of course, very funny.
Doctor of the Dead
Though most episodes of this podcast focus on The Walking Dead, Arnold Blumberg and Scott Alan Woodard are game for any serious or silly zombie-related conversation. Blumberg is uniquely qualified, as he teaches college courses on science fiction, zombies, and comics and has written several books about them. Additionally, the duo hosts a Doctor Who podcast, Who’s Talking.
Talking TV with Ryan and Ryan
When it comes to today’s TV, critics Maureen Ryan (Huffington Post) and Ryan McGee (HitFix) know what they’re talking about. In each episode they address the most notable happenings on the small screen, from The Jinx to Jane the Virgin—and while it’s mostly commentary, they throw in some exclusive interviews as well. Note: On this show, and many other shows listed here, iTunes episode descriptions include precise times specific shows are discussed, so we won’t be spoiled.
Not Ready for Primetime Podcast
Yep, Ryan McGee does another TV podcast—and this one is with yet another Ryan, Uproxx’s Mike Ryan. Episodes delve into the hits and misses from each installment of Saturday Night Live and help me figure out which sketches are worth adding to my Hulu queue. Since the guys love the show, they’re generally pretty positive, but if something stinks, they’re not afraid to call it out.
Firewall & Iceberg
HitFix TV critics Alan Sepinwall and Daniel Fienberg offer a pleasing mix of news, reviews, and answers to readers’ burning questions in this well-produced show. Though they’ve been doing the podcast since way, way back in 2010, it seems to have built momentum in recent months, perhaps thanks to a combo of discussion-worthy TV and an increasing appetite for podcasts.
Extra Hot Great
Many TV obsessives certainly remember the glory days of Television Without Pity, when recapping was an art form and recaps were often more entertaining than the shows themselves. Extra Hot Great comes to us from the creators of TWoP and offers a blend of humor, commentary, and information. I dig how the hosts give equal weight to highbrow and lowbrow entertainment, too.
Watch What Crappens
Some Bravo viewers may not be willing to admit their love of reality shows, but Ronnie Karam (TrashTalkTV.com) and Ben Mandelker (bsideblog.com) have no shame. In this podcast, they recap, praise, and sometimes trash assorted Bravo series—“We mock because we love,” they say—from Top Chef to Shahs of Sunset to those loony Real Housewives. Eps can be explicit, silly, and long, but if you’re dying for a laugh-out-loud rant on Lisa Vanderpump, this is the place to find it.
Behind the scenes:
Talkin Toons with Rob Paulsen
You may not recognize Paulsen’s name, but you’ve likely heard him speak. The Emmy- and Annie Award-winning voice actor has a resume that includes Animaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and pretty much every series my 2-year-old watches. He’s a natural to host an animation podcast, in which he tells stories and interviews major players in the field.
Hosted by Entertainment Weekly’s Dalton Ross, this TV podcast compiles some of the best bits from Entertainment Weekly Radio, so it’s generally light on spoilers and heavy on set visits and interviews. Recent highlights include interviews with Orphan Black co-creator John Fawcett and star Jordan Gavaris and several Walking Deadcast members.
Nerdist Writers Panel
While episodes cover all entertainment genres, a sizable number have spotlighted TV writers, from Empire to Girls to Bates Motel. With more than 250 episodes to choose from, there’s something for every fan.
The Mick Betancourt Show
Betancourt can talk about making TV because he has done it, succeeded, and even failed a few times. The writer and comedian has penned episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Chicago Fire, and other shows on the grittier side of the spectrum, and he has welcomed some major players for raw, refreshing conversation.
Gilmore Guys: A Gilmore Girls Stars Hollowcast
Kevin Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe are dudes who love Gilmore Girls, and they don’t care who knows it. This show has been gaining steam since its debut last year, with episodes devoted to discussion, interviews (“Gilmore Gab”) and reader mail (“Gilmail Guys”). It’s because of this podcast that I’m seriously considering re-watching the series on Netflix.
Kumail Nanjiani’s The X-Files Files
Excited about the show’s return? Then you should download this podcast from Nanjiani, in which the actor/comedian revisits some of the best episodes with fellow fans like Aisha Tyler, Dan Harmon, Paul Scheer and others. The podcast adds a lighthearted layer to what was often a pretty intense show.
Seincast: A Seinfeld Podcast
As you can imagine, there’s more than one Seinfeld podcast on iTunes, and I’m sure each has a devoted following. I like this one because the hosts are two fairly ordinary guys who truly love Seinfeld more than life itself. They recap eps in exacting detail, offering trivia along the way.
Indeed, there’s an entire podcast devoted to Saved by the Bell, and host April Richardson knows so much about it she should be named an honorary Bayside Tiger. Richardson and special guests (Chris Hardwick, Scott Aukerman, Diablo Cody, to name a few) discuss episodes with great nostalgia, and my only beef is the podcast ended in December after Richardson exhausted all 85+ episodes.