Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, and Redman in 1993 at New York's Club Amazon.
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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.

14 Days With Felicity
Day 1: Growth

Do you think little things like fraud, a 14-day prison sentence, and being hated by the daughter you did it all for are going to get a star like Felicity Huffman down? Not in 14 Days With Felicity, a fictionalized account of Huffman’s two-week stint behind bars. Released daily, each episode is made up of conversations and voice messages left on the illegal phone that Huffman has smuggled into her cell with her. In the premiere, she gets a call from her husband, William H. Macy, who completely forgot she’s in jail but would like her to pick up some milk anyway. Lori Loughlin also checks in to have a conversation about the pressures of being a mom and prison escape methods. The self-absorbed dialogue, which comes at a screwball pace, and jaunty theme music underline the podcast’s satirical point about the bubble of privilege that the main players of the admissions scandal live in. The cast isn’t striving for accurate mimicry, instead capturing the vacuous tones of celebrities who rarely think about the consequences of their actions. 14 Days is a very funny podcast about extremely dumb people. [Anthony D Herrera]


All Songs Considered
The 2010s: Queer Goes Mainstream

As the decade comes to a close, NPR’s long-running music podcast All Songs Considered is examining the 2010s through the lens of broader trends in music. This week, the discussion focuses on the big changes in queer culture and visibility that have helped queer artists gain prominence in mainstream music. “The 2010s: Queer Goes Mainstream” starts with an emotional glimpse into one of the biggest moments in queer music from the decade, Against Me!’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues, performed by trans woman Laura Jane Grace. The hosts also trace strides in political movements like marriage equality. The discussion focuses perhaps too much on the latter—and perhaps too much on Macklemore—while also acknowledging the insufficiencies of both. The episode also talks about the importance of social media in the visibility of queer people, from Frank Ocean’s coming out letter posted on Tumblr to the rise of YouTuber-turned-pop-star Troye Sivan coming out via video. The episode serves not just as an analysis of queer music but also an archive and oral history of queer artists. [Wil Williams]


America Dissected With Abdul El-Sayed
All The Lonely People, Where Do They All Belong?

As much as we’d like to believe we can live healthy and happy lives alone, we simply cannot. Human beings are social creatures, and as politician Dr. Abdul El-Sayed points out with the latest episode of his podcast America Dissected, staying healthy isn’t something we can do all by ourselves. We need community. In roughly 30 minutes, El-Sayed explains how damaging isolation can be for anyone, and how social spaces like parks and libraries are an essential piece of a person’s overall well-being. The dangers of social isolation are presented through unsurprising, but nonetheless depressing, statistics surrounding social media use, lack of access to green space, and a decline in interest in even visiting those places. Fortunately, El-Sayed presents a few cases that show how to fight against social isolation today, featuring plenty of interviews with people who have found a sense of community by way of public spaces. He urges listeners to remember there’s more value in being together outside than finding replacements for togetherness in private. [Kevin Cortez]


Murder In Oregon
The Murder

In 1989, Michael Francke, director of the Oregon Department Of Corrections, was stabbed to death outside his office building. The crime was labeled a car burglary gone wrong, but given that Francke was killed the day he was going to discuss the corruption he witnessed with state legislators has led many to believe he was assassinated. Murder In Oregon is a new true crime podcast (hosted by producer Lauren Bright Pacheco and journalist Phil Stanford) that could easily be focused on the complexity of the case alone. However, they choose to go beyond the murder, diving into the dark reality of the United States prison system. There is a discussion surrounding the inhumane treatment of inmates, the lack of accountability in corrections, and other political complexities that often go unseen by the general public. In the preview for next week’s episode, they tease what Francke might’ve discovered, including which of his staff and various elected officials could have been implicated. [Nichole Williams]


Richard’s Famous Food Podcast
Chamoy

Nonfiction podcast storytelling is, for the most part, a rather linear affair. Shows are more likely to prioritize ease of communication over a more labor-intensive exploration of the medium. It is a choice that has both helped and hurt podcasts, making them accessible while simultaneously keeping the genre from exploring its full potential. There are producers working to mix things up though, embracing an avant-garde aesthetic and taking series in wonderfully weird directions. With Richard’s Famous Food Podcast, Richard Parks III has planted his flag in that arena, brilliantly fusing comedy and reporting in a manner that feels fresh and exciting. The series is a singular work that rides high on Parks’ madcap energy—injecting documentary audio with a Pee-Wee’s Playhouse sensibility—deftly wielding cutting-edge production, original songs, and an unbridled sense of joy. This episode, a love letter to the ubiquitous Mexican condiment chamoy, manages to subvert every notion of food podcasting, featuring surprise appearances from Danny Trejo, podcast police (reining in an overreliance on the medium’s tropes), and Harry Nilsson, all slathered in Parks’ richly bizarre sonic palette. RFFP is a standard-bearer for the medium’s new wave. [Ben Cannon]


Scam Goddess
The Death Defying Duper Mark Olmsted With Jamie Loftus

Laci Mosley recognizes that for every Bernie Madoff there are many small-time scammers that also deserve to be exposed. No doubt this attitude stems from her broad personal definition of the term “scam,” which includes everything from Mensa to the entire inventory of any mall kiosk. Jamie Loftus is the rotating guest host of the week, who, like Mosley, develops a grudging respect for the subject of the main story, one of two gay brothers who contracted HIV in the 1980s. When one dies, the other decides to make the most of his time left. That starts with hiding his brother’s death in order to cash his disability checks, then renewing his dead brother’s driver’s license, then declaring himself legally dead and assuming his brother’s identity. Eventually this scales up into operating a meth ring, but not before the man shops around a screenplay he claimed was attached to Whoopi Goldberg. [Zach Brooke]


Slow Burn
Biggie And Tupac: Against The World

For its third season, Slate’s acclaimed narrative history podcast takes a turn from the overtly political while remaining firmly grounded in its origins. Like the Watergate scandal and the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the entwined assassinations of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. in the mid-’90s were cultural bombshells with long-rippling waves. Like its two antecedents, this season wastes no time in digging into details that make clear how much uninvolved observers didn’t, or couldn’t, understand. A now-famous photo taken in New York City on November 29, 1994 seems to show a bullet-ridden, gurney-bound Shakur flipping the bird to a camera intruding upon a moment of personal tragedy. But according to some of the people on the scene, the camera wasn’t the intended target of the musician’s ire. Slow Burn host Joel Anderson illustrates how that moment, caught on film, led to the East Coast/West Coast hip-hop rivalry that shaped the ’90s music scene and the deaths of two of its biggest stars. This promises to be a fascinating season. [Dennis DiClaudio]


Were You Raised By Wolves?
Removing Socks On Airplanes, Splitting Bills At Brunch, Hosting Weddings On Grass, And More

Emily Post has the perfect advice for almost every quotidian situation: How late is too late to send your cousin a wedding gift? How many times should one thank a party host? But what about scenarios a little less ordinary? What are you supposed to do, for example, when someone takes their socks off on an airplane? Were You Raised By Wolves?, hosted by comedian Leah Bonnema and Emmy Award–winning journalist Nick Leighton, is a Blue Book Of Social Usage for millennials, providing a useful, irreverent guide to not being the worst. The P’s and Q’s this week range from the very practical, like how to use wooden chopsticks and how to handle check-splitting, to more outlandish issues like secretly cleaning your hosts’ grimy home while they sleep or why it’s rude to ask someone what they do or where they went to school. Etiquette provides tools for people to become more aware of others and more empathetic. Bonnema and Leighton are about to have you looking like a very good and very thoughtful human in no time. [Morgan McNaught]

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