Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
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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 podmass@avclub.com.

Binge Mode: Star Wars
Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith

Last month, The Ringer’s pop culture completist podcast returned from hiatus with a renewed vigor. Having thoroughly celebrated and analyzed all of HBO’s Game Of Thrones and the Harry Potter series of books and movies, hosts Mal and Jason turn their attention to the franchise with perhaps the largest cultural footprint of all: Star Wars. Now, there are many debates about the “correct” way to consume this series of 10+ films, but they’ve chosen to go with chronological order as opposed to release order. That means starting with Episode I: The Phantom Menace and working their way, week by week, to the release of Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker this December. Last Monday’s episode saw them rounding out the prequel trilogy with a discussion of Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith, a.k.a. the good prequel (though there are plenty who would refute that claim). Finally, the machinations of Sheev Palpatine come to light, the origins of Darth Vader are solidified, and the Jedi Order goes out with a whimper. Through it all, Binge Mode examines what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s downright awkward about this film that nearly marked the end of Star Wars as we know it. [Dan Neilan]


Black On Black Cinema
Dolemite

If you haven’t seen it, you must’ve heard by now just how side-splittingly hilarious Netflix comedy Dolemite Is My Name is. Indeed, the raunchy-yet-inspiring biopic about the life of the late party-record comedian-turned-blaxploitation star Rudy Ray Moore (deliriously played by comeback kid Eddie Murphy) has gotten everyone saying it’s one of the year’s best. (It is.) It also might have gotten people interested in viewing the movie that made Moore (in)famous: the low-budget—and low-down—1975 film Dolemite (which is available for streaming on Amazon Prime, Tubi, and Black-entertainment streaming service Brown Sugar). Jay, Micah, and Terrence, the trio of Baltimore brothas who host this film-review podcast, were certainly curious about just how bad this action/comedy whatzit might be. They do spend much of this episode roasting the hell out of it, going after everything from the constant appearance of boom mics to the lousy performances to the inane plot to the cringeworthy love scenes. And yet, these guys do admit that they still had a ball watching it. Moore wouldn’t have wanted it any other muthafuckin’ way. [Craig D. Lindsey]


For All Nerds
Who Watches The Watchmayne Feat. Damon Lindelof

As a geek culture platform shaped by the perspectives of people of color, For All Nerds brings observations to their discussions that are only briefly addressed on other shows, if not completely overlooked. Such insight comes in handy when someone like Damon Lindelof is the special guest. Creator of shows like Lost and The Leftovers, Lindelof speaks candidly about the process of building an unconventional writing staff for his new series Watchmen and how he had to let go of his need to be in charge in order to be challenged by his writers to collectively create something daring and provocative. Hosts DJ BenHaMeen and Tatiana King-Jones steer the conversation into painfully real territory with their questions, touching upon the apprehension of minority writers to speak freely while in the writers’ room and the Watchmen pilot’s dramatization of Black trauma via the 1921 Tulsa race riots. “I realize that I’m an imperfect vehicle to tell this story,” Lindelof admits, “but I felt compelled to tell it.” By no means does he pretend to have all the answers, but all questions are answered honestly, making for an engaging, authentic, and often hilarious exchange. [Jason Randall Smith]


Good For You With Whitney Cummings
Dan Levy

Whitney Cummings has finally joined the podcast world. The comedian’s new show, Good For You, has a title with two potential readings, but it’s not the sarcastic retort you might think. Instead, it’s literally “good for you,” meaning the show is designed with listeners’ best interests in mind. Cummings wants her podcast to be a positive space and make sure that every episode is an hour-long reprieve from the monotony of daily life. This week she makes good on that promise by featuring a conversation with Schitt’s Creek star and creator Dan Levy. The two talk about how Levy got his start in the business and why he thinks it’s important to remember that everyone doesn’t start at the top. (He would specifically like people to remember this point, instead of the fact that he once did a very dramatic Lifetime film in his early career.) They go on to discuss the dynamics of running a full production and what it’s been like for Levy to work alongside his famous father on set for six seasons. The chat is both informative and laugh-out-loud funny, both of which are reactions that are good for you. [Vannessa Jackson]


The Happiness Lab With Dr. Laurie Santos
Choice Overload

Decision fatigue is a nebulous symptom of the new millennium, epitomized by Barack Obama’s closet full of only blue and gray suits—a practical strategy he implemented to pare down the amount of daily choices he’s forced to make. The exhaustion of choice isn’t limited to world leaders; regular folks are affected by an excess of options every day, whether it’s crowded grocery store shelves, Netflix, or even options for health and healing. The Happiness Lab, a podcast born out of the wildly popular Yale class “Psychology And The Good Life,” is taught by human cognition expert Dr. Laurie Santos, who provides tools and structures to help folks make better and more mindful decisions and live a happier life. Using both scientific research and surprising personal stories, Santos in this episode parses out the relationship between choice and happiness, unpacking how more isn’t always better. Perfect for people who are feeling burnt out and are searching for practical ways to free up brainspace, time, and energy, this installment has practical tips: Make small changes like cooking simple, similar breakfasts, or try the more austere practice of paring down to a capsule wardrobe. [Morgan McNaught]


Urgent Care
Icelandic Meat

There is a certain circular beauty to the concept of Urgent Care, the latest addition to the Earwolf lineup. Hosted by comedians Mitra Jouhari and Joel Kim Booster, the program functions as an advice show for people who should, quite frankly, know better than to seek the input of hosts who clearly aren’t equipped or even all that interested in ameliorating their callers’ problems. It’s that kind of unhinged, bizarro energy that makes the podcast such a wonderful listen. From the jump, Jouhari and Booster establish their bad advice bona fides (as well as a spitfire chemistry), describing how poorly they’ve handled big events in their lives as a means of telegraphing their untrustworthiness. The episode’s centerpiece comes in the form of an adorably convoluted voicemail from two teenagers, Lucy and Eli, whose friendship was nearly dashed by their shared lusting over a fiendish little heartbreaker. The voicemail is so rich that it leads the hosts to call the pair back, yielding comic treasures and pearls of wisdom in equal measure. With Jouhari and Booster’s gifted minds at the helm, Urgent Care is a wellspring of fun, giving all of life’s messy problems an equally messy answer. [Ben Cannon]


Woman Of Size
Eryn Wise: Courageous And Soft

Each week on Woman Of Size, host Jana Schmieding welcomes individuals of every size, ethnicity, and orientation to talk about how they think and feel about their bodies in our image-obsessed society. Schmieding, a Lakota Sioux, kicks off Native American Heritage Month with a wide-ranging discussion with Jicarilla Apache and Laguna Pueblo activist Eryn Wise. Wise speaks about her struggles with her Indigenous identity, which started in childhood when her half-white father was ashamed of having a dark-skinned child. This was countered by Wise’s fiercely proud mother, who taught her to take strength from her identity and the roots of her people. She also speaks about the pain of feeling unwelcome by some on the Jicarilla reservation because of her queerness, even though, as Wise explains, some of their greatest warriors were openly queer. Wise later recounts her time at the Standing Rock protests and how seeing so many Native people come together sharing their food, music, and ceremonies instilled in her the understanding of what life must have been like before the conquerors came. Though light on body talk, this fascinating episode will inspire listeners to reflect on their own identity and connections to the past. [Anthony D Herrera]


We Hear
Lindsay Lohan and the Bloodthirsty Dictator

The giddy gossipmongers of New York Post’s Page Six bring their brand of backbiting to the audio realm, because perhaps only the oral tradition can best capture the continuing adventures of Lindsay Lohan. The former actor is rumored to be fast friends with Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman, and while there’s no hard evidence to suggest romance is blossoming, sources report the pair exchange texts and MBS presented Lohan with a gift-wrapped credit card. The Mean Girls star’s father, Michael Lohan, confirms the acquaintance, but says more attention should be given to Lohan’s humanitarian efforts, such as providing Syrian refugees with a German energy drink. The episode includes an interview with LeeAnne Locken of Real Housewives Of Dallas, who talks about thickening her skin for reality television and the real-life vibe of Dallas’s social scene. Finally, there’s an overview of the escalating problems encircling Jeremy Renner, which now include allegations of biting his child’s shoulder. As with Lohan, the hosts detail his unexpected and considerable income streams. [Zach Brooke]


One more thing: Be sure to check out the Endless Thread podcast this week, in which Podmass contributor Zach Brooke gets to the bottom of an all-consuming glitter mystery.

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