Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Both lovers and haters of Christmas can find their kin in this week’s Podmass

Both lovers and haters of Christmas can find their kin in this week’s Podmass

Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images
PodmassPodmassIn Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.

All I Want For Christmas Is This Podcast
Ashanti, Star Of Lifetime’s A Christmas Winter Song, Talks Holiday Traditions, Music And The Need For Kindness

Illustration for article titled Both lovers and haters of Christmas can find their kin in this week’s Podmass

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: low-budget made-for-TV holiday movie season. Rich with comforting milquetoast romances and overworked city gals discovering the joys of the simple life, these films are flooding Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, giving you plenty of opportunities to drink cheap wine in cozy sweaters. If you’re feeling overloaded with the amount of saccharine original content, All I Want For Christmas Is This Podcast is here to help you sort through it all to find your new favorite holiday gem. This episode features OG Christmas movie bae Ashanti and her new film, A Christmas Winter Song, on the OG Christmas content factory, Lifetime. Host and holiday film fanatic Julia Lechner sits down with Ashanti, who gives the lowdown on why we love yuletide movies, the inherent magic of strangers, and which Christmas song she is dying to remix. If you’re curious about what it’s like to shoot a Christmas film in the summer, need expert tips to get into a merrier mood, or just need permission to zone out with hot cocoa to dream of Aldovia, you’ve come to the right place. [Morgan McNaught]

Highway To Hell

Illustration for article titled Both lovers and haters of Christmas can find their kin in this week’s Podmass

Out in West Texas there’s currently an oil boom unfolding unlike anything the area has ever seen. This sparsely populated region, known as the Permian Basin, is the biggest producer of crude oil in the country and possibly even the world. Boomtown is a new 10-part series from Texas Monthly that sets out to record the experiences of the billionaires, roughnecks, sex workers, and local townspeople whose lives are all entangled in this modern-day gold rush. In the premiere episode, host Christian Wallace speaks with automotive wrecker Harvey Carrera about the 40-mile stretch of US-285 known by locals as the Highway to Hell. Since the boom began, traffic fatalities on this crumbling two-lane road have increased by 67% and usually involve oil trucks wiping out passenger vehicles. Carrera shares some truly gruesome stories about crashes he’s been called to, as well as the sorrowful experiences with people who’ve come to collect the belongings of their dead loved ones. It’s a grim but enlightening note on which to start the series, which underlines the unforeseen effects of rapid economic growth on infrastructures and communities that were not prepared to be at the center of global power. [Anthony D Herrera]

Do You Work Here?
Time To Quit: Part One

Illustration for article titled Both lovers and haters of Christmas can find their kin in this week’s Podmass

Husband and wife team Taylor and Adrian Kane know a thing or two about surviving in the service industry and have the stories to prove it. Recording on the anniversary of Taylor resigning from the salon where he and Adrian first met and worked together, they both revisit the sordid series of events that catapulted his exit. Was the salon ever financially stable if the owners were trying to start up other businesses on the side? What does it mean when a co-owner/hairdresser is rarely seen at the salon and ducking his own clientele? Even if those things can be overlooked, nothing raises suspicion more than when the money gets funny; payroll changes along with bouncing paychecks were signs that something wasn’t adding up. Being paid in cash plus extra for the inconvenience couldn’t make up for a co-owner’s rambling email sent to their staff on a Saturday night, jam-packed with too much information and too little tact to soften harsh truths or dispel reasons for panic. It was enough to urge Taylor to start the job search in earnest. To find out what happens when the owners eventually quit, listen to part two. [Jason Randall Smith]

I Spy
The Jumper

Illustration for article titled Both lovers and haters of Christmas can find their kin in this week’s Podmass

At first, listeners might be disappointed to hear that real-life spies don’t go around cavorting with supermodels, drinking martinis, and driving sports cars. But a few minutes into I Spy, they’ll realize the less flashy reality of espionage is no less thrilling than anything James Bond gets up to. Each week, former members of top espionage agencies share tales of spy craft gone right and wrong, and it quickly becomes clear that a story we would consider big news in terms of geopolitics is tantamount to another day at the office for these folks. Whether it’s an assassination attempt on a terrorist cell leader, a negotiation with an Eastern European weapons dealer, or, in their first season finale, a botched arms shipment that exposes the entire Iran-Contra scandal, these former spies relay the dry details as if it were nothing to write home about. The show also offers glimpses into the personal lives of these men and women, who are asked to lie to their loved ones about their jobs and whereabouts for years at a time. It’s not an enviable position to be in, but it’ll definitely give you some interesting stories. [Dan Neilan]

In Bed With Nick And Megan
Catching Up With Retta

Illustration for article titled Both lovers and haters of Christmas can find their kin in this week’s Podmass

They are only a couple episodes in, but this Earwolf podcast already demonstrates that Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally are not only the best celebrity couple (sorry, John and Chrissy), but also the most decent and downright woke. They spend this episode getting cozy with Offerman’s former Parks And Recreation co-star Retta, and the trio discuss everything from memories working on their respective hit NBC sitcoms to their experiences with jeans to what they’ve been binge-watching to why Elisabeth Moss is the hardest-working actor out there right now. Even though Mullally appears to have an issue with the word “tidy,” the subject of cleanliness comes up a lot in this episode. This also gives us an amusing anecdote from Offerman, who explains that as a young actor doing a bit role in a Keanu Reeves movie (don’t bother looking for it—he was cut out), he won over the crew by hanging his clothes back up after he was done and basically being a respectful human being. [Craig D. Lindsey]

Into The Ether

Illustration for article titled Both lovers and haters of Christmas can find their kin in this week’s Podmass

This irreverent science history show devotes its remaining episodes to the times science got it wrong. Imagine a universe where everything existed inside invisible, sparkly gelatin. That’s essentially the reality that was cooked up by 18th- and 19th-century physicists. Tragically, this theoretical material, luminiferous ether, turned out not to exist. A real shame, according to host Annie Minoff, who proclaims it to be the best wrong idea in all of science. MIT professor David Kaiser explains that as scientists came to understand that light moved in waves, they needed to answer the obvious follow-up question: waves of what? The supposed medium was called ether, leaving only the need to find physical evidence of the damn thing. Albert Michelson fancied himself up to the task and spent a lifetime perfecting experiments measuring optics with fantastic precision. But no ether ever turned up, and the poor guy died believing he was a failure even though he was the first American awarded the Nobel Prize in a science, and his grandest ether-detecting doohickey is still used by researchers today. Those lasting contributions are something for the hosts to find comfort in as Undiscovered ends its two-year run. [Zach Brooke]

Your Favorite Band Sucks
Christmas Music Sucks: Part 3

Illustration for article titled Both lovers and haters of Christmas can find their kin in this week’s Podmass

For the third year in a row, Tyler Mahan Coe and Mark Mosley take on America’s most dreaded seasonal soundtrack: Christmas music. There’s too damn much of it, and as Tyler and Mark point out over a bottle of champagne, a lot of it fucking sucks. Take “Twelve Days Of Christmas,” for example, which exists “as a comfort blanket for people who are afraid of silence” because of its length, and includes the gifting of more than 100 birds, 40 golden rings, dozens of leaping lords, and more than 100 drummers. The two hosts also take shots at Charles Dickens for playing a role in popularizing Christmas music with A Christmas Carol, and shit all over the act of caroling itself, describing carolers as the trick-or-treaters of Christmas who are only paid off to leave someone’s front porch. After claiming that most pre-’60s Christmas music is just songs about sex, the two deem “All I Want For Christmas Is You” the horniest Christmas song of them all before diving headfirst into the depressing country ballads around Christmas Day. Bah, humbug. [Kevin Cortez]

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