The Supreme Court (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Podmass_In [Podmass](https://www.avclub.com/c/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](mailto:podmass@avclub.com)._  

Amicus
Will You Accept This Robe?

Nearly a year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Republicans’ cynical, procedure-exploding strategy of freezing out Obama-backed candidates finally paid off with President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Slate senior editor and Amicus host Dahlia Lithwick is none too impressed, and she opens this week’s episode with a rare editorial note: Listeners seeking bipartisan analysis that arbitrarily lends equal weight to the current administration’s actions versus those of its detractors ought to look elsewhere. Elizabeth Wydra of the Constitutional Accountability Center discusses the red flags in Gorsuch’s record and explains why his opposition to Chevron deference—something even Scalia recognized—foreshadows bad news for regulatory bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency. Later, regarding Trump’s now-stayed travel ban on refugees and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Slate staffers Mark Joseph Stern and Leon Neyfakh talk about the fallout that occurs whenever federal agents ignore federal orders. Most harrowing and important, though, is the firsthand account of Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, one of the lawyers representing two young men detained at Dulles airport who were coerced into signing “voluntary” visa forfeitures under false pretenses. [Dan Jakes]

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The Bossy Show
The Muslim Ban W/ Wahlid Mohammad

The Bossy Show’s co-hosts Jill Gutowitz and Carmen Rio surprised listeners with an extra dose of weekend wokeness, releasing a bonus episode about Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. Gutowitz and Rio get right to the heart of the issue, opening with a detailed timeline of the fallout caused by the sweeping travel ban. They speak with Jean Reisz, one of the lawyers who worked to get detainees released at LAX, whose legal knowledge is coupled with her intimate account of the situation as she saw it at the airport. These hosts excel at tapping an array of voices that can provide clear, wide-ranging perspectives on an issue, and other guests this episode include Vine star Wahlid Mohammad and Full Frontal With Samantha Bee writers’ assistant Mitra Jouhari, an Iranian-American personally affected by the ban. Gutowitz and Rio ask all the right questions, and in just four episodes, The Bossy Show has already established itself as one of the best new podcasts of 2017. Its layered political and cultural commentary provides context to both the actions and inactions of Trumps administration—educational and sharp, as well as accessible and energizing. [Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya]

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Bronzeville
Episode 1

There’s something inherently satisfying about this new, high-profile black audio drama’s Chicago setting—perhaps because Chicago is the very city that gave birth to the first black radio soap opera, Here Comes Tomorrow. There are many reasons why Bronzeville stands apart from the recent stream of new serial genre podcasts, one of which is the strength of its collaborators. Directed by and starring Laurence Fishburne and Larenz Tate, from a script by Academy Award-nominated writer Josh Olson, the show is a compelling and expertly crafted work of historical fiction. Rather than focusing on a single character, the series broadens its scope to its titular Chicago neighborhood, colloquially known as the Black Metropolis. Tate plays Jimmy Tillman, a young, idealistic Arkansan on the run from the law who makes his way up north, while Fishburne plays gangster Curtis Randolph who runs the local underground lottery game. While much of the first episode is given over to place-setting, Bronzeville appears to be building to something entertaining, educational, and exceptional. [Ben Cannon]

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Channel 33
MTV’s ‘Challenge: Invasion Of The Champions’ Special With Johnny Bananas

A new season of MTV’s The Challenge is upon us, inviting even casual viewers to look back on the show’s nearly 20-year journey from “meh” to “terrible” to “addictive.” One of the show’s longtime advocates is Juliet Litman of The Ringer, who since her time at Grantland has espoused the show’s melodramatic character dynamics and guiltily satisfying arcs. Her guest here is Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio, winner of multiple Challenges with 14 seasons under his belt; she’s interviewed him before, but it’s that familiarity that makes this episode so enjoyable. Litman isn’t afraid to call out Bananas for being conniving or, in a particularly great moment, past his prime. As he’s demonstrated time and again on MTV, Bananas is a charismatic speaker, and his responses are as amiable as they are honest. He’ll own up to his deviousness, and in doing so won’t hesitate to slag off his fellow competitors, whether they’re longtime Challenge contestants like Wes Bergmann or one of the new contenders culled from MTV’s Are You The One?. As evidenced by his exploitative parting comments, he was born to play the bad guy. [Randall Colburn]

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Detective
Blood

Detective is a true crime podcast that’s different in that it devotes entire seasons to a single detective, allowing them to tell a series of stories that illustrate the breadth of their job. For season three, the podcast has tapped Detective Rod Demery, who kicks things off with the heartrending story of investigating the murder of his own mother, who died when he was just 3 years old. It was her murder, originally labeled a “burglary gone wrong,” that set him down the path of law enforcement, and it’s his skills as an investigator that allow him to decipher what truly happened to her. In the process, he stumbles upon an initial investigation that was handled extremely poorly—the killer received just five months probation—as well as the disturbing detail that her killer paid for his lawyer with the gun that he used to commit the murder. For Demery, it’s not the circumstances of the murder that confound him—he figured out what actually happened fairly quickly—but the question of why the system failed so miserably. What’s especially moving is that his investigation doubles as a means of getting to know his mother, who was always something of a mystery. The trim, 30-minute episode culminates with Demery’s one-on-one encounter with the man who killed her, who’s on death’s door in a hospital bed when they speak. [Randall Colburn]

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The Dig
“White genocide” with George Ciccariello-Maher

The Dig describes itself as “a podcast from Jacobin magazine that discusses politics, criminal justice, immigration, and class conflict with smart people.” The “smart people” part is key, as this is one of the best places in podcastdom to listen and learn to some of the smartest people on the left. This week features George Ciccariello-Maher, a professor of political science at Drexel University, who tweeted about “white genocide” and was attacked by the right’s outrage machine via Breitbart. The Dig’s host Daniel Denvir leads a conversation about freedom of speech, white victimhood, violent protest, and movement building. Ciccariello-Maher even addresses Nazi punching, arguing that “the question is not whether or not it’s okay to punch a Nazi, the question is whether or not it’s okay to be a Nazi. And if you’ve made that decision, consequences follow.” This leads to an engrossing but brief conversation on the fetishization of nonviolent struggle, with Ciccariello-Maher pointing out that the liberal idea of history naturally progressing through conversing and good ideas defeating bad ideas is demonstrably false—we don’t have civil rights thanks solely to non-violent struggle—and this is more obvious than ever in the wake of Trump’s election, which was a triumph of what Cicariello-Maher calls “unreason.” Ten episodes in, The Dig has emerged as an invaluable voice on the left—a necessary and educational resource for radical politics and how to defeat Trump. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

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The Hilarious World Of Depression
Paul F. Tompkins Sees Dead Grass And Has Screwed Up Relationships

Anybody who knows their way around a podcast feed already understands Paul F. Tompkins’ ubiquity throughout the audio scene, as well as his immeasurable value to it. As a comedian, he’s whip-smart and insightful, dispensing jokes as if out of a machine gun—but what he doesn’t always get credit for is how engaging he can be when he’s not trying to be funny. (As a recurring guest on the usually silly Todd Glass Show, he’s been brought in numerous times just to talk through serious issues with the host.) In the latest episode of John Moe’s Hilarious World Of Depression, Tompkins provides some insight into the circumstances that helped shape him into the comedian, husband, and friend he is today: a caustic childhood, debilitating struggles with fear, and an early blooming existential despair triggered by bleak Philadelphia winters. He talks about it all with the confident remove of a person who has rooted out his own limitations and forged a path forward. He’s a thoughtful guy with a strong moral compass, but of course, he’s one of the funniest people in the industry, so the episode is not devoid of laughter. [Dennis DiClaudio]

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Rich Friend: The Elevated Conversation
Rough Week, Unwind

“Shit is dark out here,” says Rich Friend co-host Mark Anthony Green at the end of this episode, “but never forget there’s a lot of positivity in the world, and no matter what happens, you’ll always have Rich Friend.” And Green is completely right. While some might feel guilty about consuming entertainment these days, worried that diversion is a cowardly escape in these trying times, one should take solace in the idea that whatever brought joy before Trump still can. This engaging, hilarious podcast underlines that fact, featuring the unfiltered conversations between two friends: the aforementioned Green (style columnist at GQ) and Matthew Trammell (nightlife editor for The New Yorker). The pair get off to a quick start with a discussion of the most racist things that have ever happened to them. Next, they chat about the beef between designers Virgil Abloh and Raf Simons, and Trammell asserts that Migos makes square dance music for black people. With a show this enjoyable, hopefully it’s true that we’ll always have Rich Friend. [Ben Cannon]

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The Seth Morris Radio Project
Morning

The brand-new Seth Morris Radio Project has carved out a subgenre of comedy podcasting all its own. Written, produced, and performed by improviser Seth Morris, this episode is the first in a three-part experimental series that follows an anonymous driver flipping through channels on the radio. The driver bookends the episode, serving as a silent conduit who sends listeners through a sequence of meticulously rendered radio show parodies. From morning zoo crews to NPR look-alikes, the subtleties of each genre are mimicked with precision, both in production and performance. The show’s high-profile cast includes comedians Jason Mantzoukas, Will Hines, Jamie Denbo, Lennon Parham, and many more, all of whom nail both the broad strokes and the nuances of these audio formats. From a human-interest story about a door-to-door sound effect salesman to the frenzy of two radio hosts begging listeners to donate $25,000 within three minutes, The Seth Morris Radio Project knows how to use its source material to exceedingly bizarre ends. The result is 25 minutes of chaotic, dark comedy that Morris has crafted to perfection. [Rebecca Bulnes]

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Twice Removed
Jean Grae

Twice Removed is a new Gimlet Media podcast that, in tracing guests’ family history and pinpointing a “mystery relative,” aims to prove just how connected we all are. On this latest episode, host A.J. Jacobs taps into the rich and complex family tree of musician, comedian, and writer Jean Grae. Grae is the perfect subject for this type of program: Listeners are treated to her real-time joy as she discovers more about herself and her family, asking many questions throughout in an attempt to learn even more. The episode’s five distinct segments each correspond to a particular distant relative, their stories creating a through-line all the way up to the mystery guest, who listens along in a studio across the country to await their introduction. Narrative threads include South African politics, apartheid, and even botany, and Grae’s emotions are palpable when Jacobs plays clips of her mother’s jazz music and eventually reveals her surprise family member. [Rebecca Bulnes]

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