Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt at the L.A. premiere of The Bourne Identity in 2002.
Photo: Kevin Winter (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.

Aunty Donna Podcast
Writing A Hit Song For The Hottest 100 (Part 1 & 2)


Over the past year, absurdist Australian sketch comedy group Aunty Donna has focused more and more of its comedic efforts on music. The group’s ever-growing YouTube channel is peppered with surprisingly catchy joke songs, and it recently completed a tour of its 2018 musical comedy album. So it’s no surprise that this multi-part podcast saga in which the group members write a hit pop song on the fly is an absolute winner. As with all episodes of the Aunty Donna podcast, the boys begin with a loose idea of what they want to do and then rely on their improv skills to flesh things out. This time, they’ve got the added musical talents of their sound designer, Tom Armstrong, who has the uncanny ability to turn their most batshit ideas into reality. This track has everything you would want in a pop hit: bad raps, license-free calliope music, and, of course, audio from a speech by Joseph Stalin. Even after all that, the boys insist they’re only about 20 percent done and hinted at a forthcoming part three. We’re struggling to imagine how they’ll improve on perfection, but we’re excited to hear the results. [Dan Neilan]

Doughboys Double
The Wonderful World Of Water With Dave Theune

Hosts Nick Wiger and Mike “The Spoonman” Mitchell give themselves plenty of shit this week for choosing a nearly self-parody-level taste test topic in this Patreon-exclusive rank and review episode, which Mitchell notes was recorded “inside the belly” of the shark their show is jumping over. As per usual, all the self-deprecation is for naught: It turns out that bottled water is the exact sort of ubiquitous foodstuff that’s fun to argue over precisely because no one thinks they care strongly about it, at least until they’re presented with a gross-tasting Dasani. After some sports talk and reminiscing about filming a Tom Brady–starring Funny Or Die spot alongside Mike, comedian/Doughboys Double nonsubscriber Dave Theune tastes and reviews plain water brands in the order of least to most douchey, including tap, home delivery Sparkletts, bulk grocery store staples, “smart” waters, and the sort of full-blown “fuck you” brands you’d expect to see “at a meeting at Michael Bay’s production company” (i.e., Voss). The consensus is that Los Angeles tap water and inexpensive Arrowhead bottles hold their own against the gaudier Fiji and Lifewtr brands. The worst of the bunch? The inky, gimmicky blk. [Dan Jakes]

James Bonding
Season 3 Fantasy Bond Draft (w/James Bladon, Mark McConville)


Matt Mira and Matt Gourley’s all-things-007 podcast admittedly runs on a more finite resource than other commentary shows that have the benefit of breaking down long-running television series or entire film genres. Now 87 episodes into a podcast dedicated to a franchise composed of only 26 movies, James Bonding has evolved into a sort of spiritual sibling with The Worst Idea Of All Time, wherein the comedian hosts pick up on minutiae with each subsequent viewing that they might have missed during the first or second round—for example, Mira gets irked by how wacky and overwrought the poker game is in Casino Royale. To kick off the podcast’s third season, James Bladon and Mark McConville join the Matts for a football-style snake fantasy Bond draft. Similar to those moments when the hosts break form and talk about peripherally related topics like Austin Powers, this week’s deviation from straight-up commentary is a real pleasure that results in some very watchable (if metaphysically impossible) Bond franken-films like Everything Or Nothing and You Only Live And Let Die Twice. [Dan Jakes]

Just Break Up
You Don’t Have To Be Friends With Your Exes 


Two millennial English majors with zero therapy credentials host a tough-love relationship podcast guided by the North Star of boundary setting. To them, you owe other people nothing, having compassion doesn’t necessitate self-erasure, and ghosting gets a bad rap. People write from as far off as Finland asking for guidance on all sorts of thorny romantic entanglements. Today’s batch mostly concerns ex-lovers, from the hostile to the groveling to those who are attached to your current partner and refuse to let go. As those who believe that society vastly over-romanticizes the notion of staying friends with exes, the hosts’ first instinct is just to never speak with exes again unless there is a compelling reason to (i.e., children). Those forced to socialize with former flames are best served by acting “cheerful and stupid”—outwardly positive and unfazed by any cryptic slights. Vent later if you must, but don’t give the S.O.B.s the satisfaction of seeing it. And when it comes to agonizing over whether to make a partner an ex, we’re reminded that even the best versions of ourselves hurt other people, so do what you gotta do with zero regrets. [Zach Brooke]

Strong Black Legends
Ruth Carter


The idea behind the Netflix podcast Strong Black Legends is simple but intriguing: Tracy Clayton (formerly of BuzzFeed’s Another Round) sits down with a black artist who has helped shape culture as we currently understand it. Last week, it was character actor Lynn Whitfield. Next week, it’s SNL founding member Garrett Morris. This week, it’s Ruth Carter. She’s one of Hollywood’s most influential costume designers and a three-time Oscar nominee—this year for her contributions to Marvel’s Black Panther. She’s also an extremely gracious and centered interviewee whom it’s nearly impossible not to immediately like. And she is just full of stories, like the time she walked into Angela Bassett’s trailer to find the What’s Love Got To Do With It star having her hair done by Tina Turner. Interesting as Carter is, Clayton deserves a lot of credit for keeping the conversation moving so smoothly. Buy stock in this podcast now. [Dennis DiClaudio]

The Profess-Hers Podcast
The Trouble With Tropes


If you watch a movie with one fucked-up female character, you’ve watched one movie. If you run into the same exact character over the course of several movies, you’re witnessing a trope. Whether it’s because of lazy, or harried, or singularly male writers, these monolithic depictions can warp cultural assumptions about women. College professors Misty Wilson-Mehrtens and Allegra Davis Hanna cast a critical eye on women in refrigerators, crazy ex-girlfriends, harping wives, bland happy housewives, and other tropes stripped of personhood for cheap laughs or male-driven plot points. It’s not that these people don’t exist in the real world; it’s that any real people who resemble the trope are far more complex and capable of change. While we’re at it, tropes themselves aren’t static—the “Old Maid,” for instance, was phased out as Americans began to marry later in life—but that doesn’t mean they aren’t powerful themes that reinforce negative biases. The whole episode includes plenty of examples of hit TV shows guilty of trope-trawling, but tries to end positively by listing a few that defy stock depictions of their lead female characters. [Zach Brooke]

The Shining 2:37
DANNYYY!!! With Dan Lloyd, “Danny” From The Shining


In each episode of The Shining 2:37, host Suzen Tekla Kruglnska investigates, in order, two minutes and 37 seconds of Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1980 film The Shining. The 2:37 of this episode encapsulates the sequence that starts with Jack Nicholson’s character, Jack Torrance, chasing his son, Danny (played by Dan Lloyd), into a snowy maze. As ever, Kruglnska is joined by a guest, but significantly, this week’s guest is none other than Dan Lloyd himself. Lloyd, now in his mid-40s, has a wealth of stories from his time as a 5-year-old actor on the set of one of the most legendary movies in the horror canon. It’s fascinating to hear Lloyd reflect on having lunch with Nicholson, swimming in Shelley Duvall’s pool, and playing catch with Stanley Kubrick. Kruglnska’s love for her subject matter is clear, from her ongoing dedication to the podcast’s concept to her in-depth conversations with her guests and extensive background knowledge of the film’s production. The Shining 2:37 is a must-listen for die-hard fans of Kubrick’s infamous Stephen King adaptation. [Jose Nateras]

The Worst Idea Of All Time
Outside The Lines (w/Amy Hoggart)


For four seasons now, listeners have enjoyed hearing hosts Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery slowly lose their minds while watching the same bad movie every week for a year. Having completed 52 watches of Grown Ups 2, Sex And The City 2, and We Are Your Friends, the comedians have returned this season for a yearlong slog through the original two-and-a-half-hour Sex And The City film. They’re currently just over 15 watches in and already starting to come apart at the seams, which is why it’s good they have a guest on this week to experience this nightmare through fresh eyes. Full Frontal With Samantha Bee correspondent Amy Hoggart has only seen the movie twice, but she still has plenty of thoughts, questions, and concerns, most of which pertain to Carrie’s confounding allusions to her and Mr. Big’s sex life. She also offers some sharp criticism of the film, which unfortunately evolved from a TV series highlighting the importance of female friendships into a movie about four selfish women who happen to eat lunch together. [Dan Neilan]

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