Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in Earth Break as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

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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

Bad With Money
The Credit Sharks Are Circling (w/ Marcus Garrett and Rich Jones)

Illustration for article titled Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in iEarth Break/i as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

For four podcast seasons now, journalist, comedian, and LGBTQ activist Gaby Dunn has been offering listeners an approachable guide to personal finance. Bad With Money is a breeze to listen to at a time when, frankly, looking over your finances is not. This week, Dunn talks to two men who were successful in defeating the odds by paying off their debt and even making up for lost time: Marcus Garrett and Rich Jones. Jones kicks off the podcast recalling how he created about $20,000 of debt with his ex-partner by sharing a credit card at a young age and being unconcerned with paying it off. Garrett shares his experience of accumulating $26,000 of debt in a single incredibly baller weekend. In under an hour, the two share insight on how they recognized their core values and started to prioritize chipping away at the financial burden that followed them everywhere. Even if you’ve never thought about how your spending might contribute to your personal debt, this podcast will prompt you to assess your habits and relationship to your bank account. [Kevin Cortez]

Earth Break: A Few Suggestions For Survival, With Additional Hints And Tips About How To Make Yourself More Comfortable During The Alien Apocalypse
Finally Dying

Illustration for article titled Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in iEarth Break/i as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

In this new scripted podcast from Skylark Media, Jenny Slate plays Lynn Gellert, a thirtysomething woman who has made it five weeks into the alien bioapocalypse without dying thanks to what she refers to as “sheer dumb luck.” Lynn’s only companion on her trek through the wastelands of her home is a tape recorder from her late mother’s attic. Her moment-to-moment survival is challenging enough, but when Lynn learns she’s pregnant, she also has to cope with the idea of building a future. Earth Break’s sound design is one of its standout qualities; Lynn’s audio diaries often begin and end abruptly, with appropriate grunts, alien screeches, crashes, and scuffling to make each one feel genuinely jarring (and sometimes gross: emetophobic listeners should be careful of audible vomiting toward the end of this episode). Slate is, as always, compelling to listen to, bringing charm and flow to a sometimes cliché script. While apocalypse narratives are hardly scarce, Earth Break succeeds in making post-apocalyptic living personal, illuminating the bargains we all make between the world’s future and our own. [Jade Matias Bell]

Eli Roth’s History of Horror: Uncut
Stephen King

Illustration for article titled Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in iEarth Break/i as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

During the premiere episode of Eli Roth’s History of Horror: Uncut, Roth presents Stephen King with a Frank Zito action figure complete with bloody scalp. The sheer joy King expresses at now owning a pocket-sized version of one of the most disgusting killers in film history perfectly sums up this latest podcast from the horror streaming service Shudder. Each episode is an interview with a horror aficionado or icon, and it really doesn’t get more iconic than King. Roth and King do plenty of theorizing about why we like being scared and what makes horror work, but the real pleasure is in listening to two nerds geek out about their favorite subject. Most of the interview boils down to how cool the meat hook scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre was and how rad it is that a zombie once fought a shark. “The worst horror movie I ever saw was fucking great!” King says at one point, capturing the celebratory mood of the podcast and the AMC series, to which it serves as a companion. If you’ve ever wanted a Frank Zito of your very own, this is for you. [Anthony D Herrera]

Mad Chat
BoJack Horseman (w/Hannah Giorgis)

Illustration for article titled Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in iEarth Break/i as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

This promising new podcast explores the intersection of mental health and media, unpacking the pop culture narratives that shape our understanding of mental illness. Host Sandy Allen and culture writer Hannah Giorgis kick off this debut episode with an in-depth conversation about BoJack Horseman, the Netflix animated series known for its disarmingly complex and compassionate explorations of depression, addiction, and intergenerational trauma. “There is something in here that we do not often see on TV, especially in animated television, and I would say in general,” Allen tells Giorgis, who recalls her initial reluctance to watch the “depressed horse show.” While experiencing a depressive episode of her own, Giorgis eventually decided to “lean in” to the popular series, ultimately developing an appreciation for the show and its refusal to romanticize depression or fall back on the “tortured artist” trope. Allen and Giorgis also discuss BoJack’s frequent alcohol-fueled flashbacks and listen back to a clip that offers a heartbreaking glimpse into his unhappy childhood with a distant novelist father and emotionally abusive mother, Beatrice. A subsequent flashback clip reveals Beatrice’s own fractured relationship with her involuntarily lobotomized mother, a surprisingly haunting moment for a show about a cartoon horse. [Sofia Barrett-Ibarria]

Falconer The Fearless

Illustration for article titled Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in iEarth Break/i as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

The season finale to this raucous and touching science-fiction comedy showcases the peak of both the creators’ humor and their understanding of balance between the funny and the serious. Oblivity tracks the story of Commander Falconer, a war hero who suffered a nervous breakdown and was sent to a scientific research station on Pluto. Research Station Persephone is staffed by oddballs, the people who don’t quite fit, and Falconer tries to keep the team from falling apart at the edges, as she feels she herself might be. “Falconer The Fearless” sees Falconer facing down the test that determines whether she can return to the field, and her team facing down the return of Profocter, the evil genius who created their cyborg engineer, Lowell. Nothing ever goes as planned on Persephone, however, and everyone is forced to make a decision: who deserves their loyalty? How can they escape? And what, exactly, is Burney doing in that lab of his? From Lowell’s cute Cybergerbil to Falconer’s complete ignorance as to what really happened here, the finale encompasses everything Oblivity has been about since the beginning: loyalty, friendship, and really stupid decisions. Lowell will always press the button. [Elena Fernández Collins]


Illustration for article titled Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in iEarth Break/i as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

A.I. has infiltrated our lives for better and worse without many of us even noticing. Sleepwalkers breaks down the invisible forces that define how we live online. In its first episode, hosts Oz Woloshyn and Karah Preiss tackle the modern the side effects of living online that no one was prepared for, such as the painful experience of Gillian Brockell, who had a stillbirth and was haunted by infant-centric advertisements no matter how much she tried to beat the algorithm. They also discuss how terrorist groups began using common online platforms to radicalize individuals. The positive side of online dating and the negative effects of our growing screen addiction are examined as well. In the end, Sleepwalkers does not set out to demonize the internet. Instead, it encourages listeners to be aware of the internet’s complexity. As Woloshyn says, there is no way to know if the internet is bad for humanity; however, there is hope that it is neutral. Hope that we can hold onto, as long as users are willing to wake up and make more informed choices. [Nichole Williams]

The Constant: A History Of Getting Things Wrong
The Gentle Hammer

Illustration for article titled Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in iEarth Break/i as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

This is a popular indie offering with a soft history focus and a philosophical bent. Rather than lionize the march of progress, Mark Chrisler picks apart the legacy of error in a meditative monument to human folly, analyzing big moments cursed by small thinking. Past episodes have focused on world-class boners like insurance fraud and inciting mass pandemonium, but the bad idea sussed out in this week’s show isn’t as obvious, Laszlo Toth’s deranged attack on Michelangelo’s Pietà statue notwithstanding. The aftermath of the attack, which horrified the world and nearly cost Toth his life, is what concerns Chrisler. Authorities elected to repair the fractured masterpiece, and though the restoration was flawless, it foisted Michelangelo with a co-creator 500 years after the fact and gauchely airbrushed the Pietà’s story. Chrisler’s hypnotic reasoning plays on the episode’s title—an ironic name given to Toth’s act by sympathetic artists—and places its muted destruction on the restoration effort. There’s also a great bonus discussion about virtually every art museum on Earth exhibiting undetected forgeries. [Zach Brooke]

The TryPod
Sex Tapes & First Dates

Illustration for article titled Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in iEarth Break/i as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

Starting off as staffers at BuzzFeed, the hosts of The TryPod—Eugene Lee Yang, Ned Fulmer, Keith Habersberger, and Zach Kornfeld—stumbled upon lightning in a bottle when they began making humorous informational videos of themselves trying various things for the first time. From attempting drag to wearing skimpy Halloween costumes, the four friends have done it all; they’ve even broken away from BuzzFeed to start their own company. Now, as an independent venture, they’re publishing a book, going on tour, and as of this month, they’ve launched a podcast. Offering their die-hard fans (called Tryceratops) even more of what they want, The TryPod features Yang, Fulmer, Habersberger, and Kornfeld chatting about a wide array of things, including but not limited to the current cultural attitude toward sex tapes and how childhood pyromania can lead to getting into Yale. The podcast succeeds on the strengths of The Try Guys themselves, namely the amazing chemistry the four of them share. Since their BuzzFeed days, the guys have become best friends, and this is obvious from the way their conversation flows and builds, moving from shared anecdotes to discovered comedic bits. The TryPod is an entertaining new branch on the ever-expanding Try Guys media tree. [Jose Nateras]

Thinking Big With Maisie Williams
Loyle Carner

Illustration for article titled Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in iEarth Break/i as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

Maisie Williams knows you are probably wondering why she started a podcast, but Game Of Thrones is over for her, and she wants to try something else—something wildly different, like exploring people’s childhood dreams. If you only know her as Arya Stark, you are in for a fantastic treat; Thinking Big With Maisie Williams is full of self-effacing humor, delicate sarcasm, and contagious joy. This inaugural episode features British MC and actor Loyle Carner, who confesses his childhood dream was to become a famous footballer or actor. Clearly, some dreams stick more than others, though he says he still plays football every week with the guys from his local barbershop. His grandfather was a poet, his mother a musician, and as he and Williams unravel the ways his dreams were supported and fortified by the creative vibes and secret poetry notebooks in his home, the journey of three generations of artists becomes apparent. You might have come for Maisie Williams, which is correct, but you will stay for the effortless way she reveals the nature of dreams. [Morgan McNaught]

This Is Love
Ugly Club

Illustration for article titled Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in iEarth Break/i as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

Maybe because it’s by the same producers of Criminal, but This Is Love is very good at finding unpredictable ways to tell stories about our deepest motivations. “We’re not doing pretty love or easy love,” explains host Phoebe Judge. Past episodes feature more than just the love between two people, but also between a man and his home, and a woman and a baby whale. In their new season, Judge invites us to ponder the Greek concept of philautia, or self-love, by letting us tag along with her to the idyllic Italian village of Piobbico, where there’s an exclusive club with only one membership requirement: being ugly as sin. The club is sort of an ugly-person version of Under The Tuscan Sun. Members drink wine, eat truffles (a notoriously ugly, but rare and valuable, town specialty), and people are generally happy with who they are. Because they realize, like Umberto Eco says, that beauty, with all its trappings of perfection, symmetry, and order, is actually pretty boring. The aberrations, the interruptions, the messiness of unpredictability—that’s what makes things interesting. [Amber Cortes]

Uproar In The Studio
Strange Buffet (Monster Hunt)

Illustration for article titled Jenny Slate is a powerhouse in iEarth Break/i as she navigates a postapocalyptic world

Living in America, surrounded by the American entertainment industry, it can be easy to forget the massive impact of the Chinese market. Big studio releases make a significant portion of their box-office return from Chinese audiences, and there are a ton of homegrown Chinese blockbusters topping worldwide gross lists that we never even hear about. The new biweekly podcast Uproar In The Studio is attempting to remedy that cultural blind spot one film at a time. Each episode focuses on a different movie from the ever-changing list of highest-grossing Chinese films, like the martial-arts-centric body-switching comedy Never Say Die and, on the most recent episode, the genre-defying, semi-animated Monster Hunt series. Additionally, the hosts invite journalists, professors, and fellow podcasters onto the show to provide further context. This episode’s guest, Carl Zha (Silk And Steel), is a fountain of information about Chinese cinema and tells a great story about how Stephen Chow’s 2015 romantic comedy The Mermaid became a surprise box-office hit after everyone felt guilty about torrenting his previous films. Some Westerners might never fully understand or appreciate Chinese blockbusters, but this podcast can paint them a clearer picture. [Dan Neilan]

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