Geoffrey Arend and Christina Hendricks (Photo: Gisela Schober/Getty Images)

In Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends 10–15 of the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.

Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend
Rhea Butcher

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Rhea Butcher, like her wife Cameron Esposito, is one of those very cool-seeming and down-to-earth comedians who piss you off because they make it so hard for you to be indignant at their skyrocketing success. The 34-year-old co-star and co-creator of Seeso’s original sitcom Take My Wife talks candidly about her complicated relationship with her parents, what it was like to grow up around absolutely zero gay role models, and how she somehow got wrangled into a three-year relationship with a male friend after coming out to him as a lesbian. Alison Rosen remains an effective interviewer and compelling host, interrupting just often enough make things comfortably conversational and lead her guest into increasingly honest discussion. It’s not until relatively late in the episode that the two dip into the queer and progressive political issues that have been consuming social media streams these past two months. For her part, Butcher comes across as less reactionary than pragmatic in her unflattering assessment of the incoming president. [Dennis DiClaudio]

The Axe Files
Ep. 110 - Sean Spicer

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Of the myriad things a Donald Trump presidency portends, one that’s already evident is the way Trump’s staff will perform logistical acrobatics to explain and legitimize his actions. While every Kellyanne Conway soundbite already seems a conscious attempt to evade reason, it will be more dispiriting to witness the way established members of Trump’s cabinet are forced to contort themselves. This episode of The Axe Files is rife with that sentiment as host David Axelrod interviews incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Of particular interest is how Spicer’s competence makes him an unlikely member of the Trump administration. Spicer comes off as a dedicated political operative possessed of admirable beliefs in public service, the sanctity of the executive branch, and a genuine sense of decorum. Axelrod is aware of just what a gauntlet the next four years will be for Spicer, smartly pressing him on how he intends to resist compromising those values. The more Spicer tries to play it cool, the more his answers begin to feel like Stockholm syndrome. [Ben Cannon]

DTR
I’m a 5, He’s a 10

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DTR, a fairly new podcast from the prolific folks at Gimlet, typically spends its run time dissecting how dating has changed in the internet age. The latest episode, however, asks an age-old question: What’s it like to date someone entirely out of your league? Host Jane Marie begins by asserting that, sure, everyone’s beautiful, but there is such a thing as “mathematical beauty.” Whether we like it or not, some people are objectively hot. Marie explores the topic from a female perspective, interviewing various women who’ve confidently dated men they considered a few notches higher on the attractiveness scale. Humorous anecdotes abound: Some of these dudes allowed their looks to compensate for a lack of intellect, while others were simply clueless to their “hot privilege.” Mary H.K. Choi relays the latter story with a touch of melancholy, noting that his lack of awareness left her feeling lonely. To balance the narrative, Marie also interviews an Australian hunk whose girlfriend was so far out of his league that people would assume she was his relative or friend. It’s a topic many people wouldn’t want to discuss, but Marie’s guests all have insightful recollections to share. [Randall Colburn]

The Hilarious World Of Depression
“Andy Richter On Youthful Melancholy And Twisted Entertainers”

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John Moe’s new Hilarious World Of Depression focuses on the clinical depression often faced by those who are funny for a living. He approaches the issue from both a personal and professional perspective, analyzing how depression affects the inner person and the career persona. Moe talks this episode with Andy Richter, someone required to be outrageously silly perhaps more often than most comedians, and who eloquently details his personal struggle with mental illness. He describes first feeling depressed and “luxuriating” in sadness when he was just 4 years old. He’s both hyperaware of the ailment and intent on staying upbeat to keep up his own morale and the morale of those around him. Richter brings a refreshing normalcy to the issue; he’s unapologetic about always seeking help and perpetually being on medication, and doesn’t shy away from divulging the darker details of the disease. His thoughts about why creative people seem to experience mental illness at a higher rate than others are insightful and entertaining. [Brianna Wellen]

Hound Tall With Moshe Kasher
The Electoral College

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For a great number of people of a certain age in America the idea of the Electoral College appears fundamentally flawed, seemingly discrediting the voting power of millions. In the wake of the second election in two decades to award the presidency to the loser of the popular vote, the mechanism has generated immense confusion, with many signing petitions to see it abolished. Luckily for the uninformed, intensely curious comedian and Hound Tall host Moshe Kasher sets out this week to examine the process’ dense layers with Berkeley Professor Dr. David Henkin. Kasher also brings along fellow politically savvy comedians Dave Anthony, Baron Vaughn, and James Adomian for the wild ride through election history. Along the way there are plenty of hilarious detours, including an assault on Andrew Jackson’s nose and Adomian unleashing his amazing Bernie Sanders impression once again. Perhaps the most interesting and actionable piece of intelligence comes when Henkin reveals that one can register to vote in a state after residing there for just 30 days. This leads the panel to decide on renting an apartment in Montana or Wyoming for them and their 50,000 closest friends for a little reverse gerrymandering fun. [Ben Cannon]

I’m Still Right
Taxi Cabs & Condoms

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You have to appreciate a podcast that appreciates the deeply human need for petty quibbling. It’s refreshing to spend an hour or so here and there with other people who are willing to indulge that base aspect of ourselves, and the Headgum network’s I’m Still Right is a more than adequate conduit for such revivification. Every week, host Luke Kelly-Clyne acts as the impartial moderator as two guests air out and extremely frivolous and immensely relatable grievance with one another. In this episode, This Is Why You’re Single’s Angela Spera and Laura Lane litigate a long-past argument over a $60 cardboard cutout of a taxicab intended as a prop for a sketch comedy show. If that doesn’t sound to you like it makes much sense, then you’re right. If it doesn’t sound like it’s worth nursing a years-long grudge over, then you’re a sociopath. The best part of the episode actually comes with its coda, when each of the three participants gets to ruminate on a gripe culled from the world around them, and the audience is treated to a description of the most absolutely unacceptable destination wedding ever devised by privileged middle class people. [Dennis DiClaudio]

The Longest Shortest Time
Boobs

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The first in a two-part series, this week’s Longest Shortest Time is indeed about boobs. Hillary Frank begins with a story from Emily, a woman who discovered shortly into her pregnancy that she had two additional lactating nipples. Emily’s story is hilarious, candid, and moving as she discusses what these nipples signified to her: a constant reminder of her fear that motherhood would consume her entire identity. Next, we hear the story of Tara, who at 26 was diagnosed with a treatable form of breast cancer and later became pregnant. Her non-cancerous breast began to notably swell, while the other remained unchanged; she coined it her “superboob,” and it was the only one with which she could breastfeed. Tara finds a compelling way to tell her story, talking about her breasts like they’re people, or characters in her life. Both stories—though presented with an endearing sense of humor—speak to the complex relationship women have with their bodies, a partnership not often discussed in such frank terms. [Rebecca Bulnes]

Pod Save America
“Repeal And Go F*ck Yourself.” Our First Episode!

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In 2016, Podmass named The Ringer’s Keepin’ It 1600 one of our favorite podcasts. The left-leaning political podcast, hosted by former Obama aides Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor, earned the shout-out as vital listening for “progressives who like a side of logic with their liberalism.” And that’s the type of program the hosts continue to provide with Pod Save America, part of their newly launched platform, Crooked Media. The hosts have promised that they are not unbiased, not always serious, and not always right, but that they will deliver “a no-bullshit conversation about politics with Democrats, Republicans, activists, journalists, and comedians,” and so far they’ve succeeded. Covering Russian hacking, cabinet confirmations, Obamacare, Obama’s final speech, and the Women’s March On Washington all in the first episode, Pod Save America came out swinging. Saving the best for last, the hosts are joined by Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, who drop knowledge not only on the march, but also on how to stay politically active in the time of Trump. They urge listeners to use their voices against oppression, even when it forces them outside of their comfort zone. [Becca James]

Terrible, Thanks For Asking
7: Unbroken

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Seeking out new podcasts can sometimes feel like shopping for books or wine, where name recognition or an interesting design are often the only entrees for the uninitiated. Which is precisely why more listeners ought to be made aware of Terrible, Thanks For Asking, the new podcast from American Public Media that discusses and sometimes embraces life’s pain and sadness. Host Nora McInerny has, over just seven episodes, a facility for empathic, engaging interviewing, drawing her audience into often intensely personal tragedies and humanely exploring the spectrum of emotions that compose them. This week’s episode is a frank yet at-times uplifting discussion with sexual assault survivor Sarah Super, founder of the healing and advocacy group Break The Silence. Super bravely recounts her harrowing story for McInerny and discusses how the trauma catalyzed a desire to develop a way for other survivors to connect, open up, and begin to heal together. While the episode does contain triggering material, it is more a declaration of power over the violence perpetrated against Super, suffused with a great sense of vitality and energy. The episode represents everything that Super seeks to engender, being open, honest, and most importantly, being heard. [Ben Cannon]

Work In Progress
11: Coming Out

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It might sound like a case of damning with faint praise, but make no mistake that, despite being a branded podcast, Work In Progress—from the folks behind the messaging app Slack—manages the feat of creating genuinely interesting stories without the sense of listening to an overlong ad. This is achieved through a simple enough concept, with each week featuring stories loosely arranged around the different ways that people work. The show also benefits from its assured production and the excellent presence of host Dan Misener (formerly of the CBC and also creator of the Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids podcast). This week’s episode explores two wildly different takes on the risks and rewards of revealing a previously unknown facet of themselves at work. The first tale is one of some possible black magic in Somerset, England and the druid police officer investigating it, while the other focuses on a veteran stand-up transgender comedian who finds the courage to perform her first show after transitioning. The show manages to tell the tales of these two disparate lives lovingly, giving a glimpse into how beneficial it can be to fully embrace one’s true self. [Ben Cannon]

We see what you said there

“When your eyes are open and your mind is open and your ears are open to the greater complications of life and what makes things what they are, frequently a sense of hopelessness comes into that.” —Andy Richter, The Hilarious World Of Depression

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“Laughing about something that’s hopeless and ridiculous, it certainly is helpful, and it can make you feel better.” —Andy Richter, The Hilarious World Of Depression

“I don’t think Donald Trump gives a shit about keeping gay people [suppressed], but he also doesn’t give a shit about protecting us.”—Rhea Butcher, Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend