Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Photo: Hulton Archive (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.

Dead Eyes
He’s Having Second Thoughts

Illustration for article titled Thei Gayest Episode Ever/i podcast unpacks iSeinfeld/i’s LGBTQ track record
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How would you feel if you found out that Tom Hanks didn’t like you? What is the psychological toll of being rejected by the world’s nicest man? Actor Connor Ratliff (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) is in a unique position to answer these questions; he was fired by Hanks from the HBO miniseries Band Of Brothers nearly 20 years ago. Dead Eyes is Ratliff’s attempt to understand Hanks’ decision and to determine if he actually has, as Hanks claimed, dead eyes. In the premier episode, Ratliff describes being a young up-and-coming actor in England who seemingly got his first big break, only to have it all taken away in the most painful way possible. Ratliff’s gift for storytelling makes the listener feel his rejection like a gut punch; he talks about the fear of returning to acting for years afterward. While the mystery of Hanks’ decision provides the backbone of the show, Dead Eyes is really about the uncertainty of making a living as a performer. [Anthony D Herrera]


Gayest Episode Ever
Susan’s Dad Had A Gay Affair With John Cheever

Illustration for article titled Thei Gayest Episode Ever/i podcast unpacks iSeinfeld/i’s LGBTQ track record

Say what you will about LGBTQ representation in modern television, but it’s light-years removed from the overwrought, over-the-top depictions of the past. A screenwriter and a journalist look back over a half-century of pop culture to explore gay-themed episodes of classic TV shows on Gayest Episode Ever. The common designation as a “special episode” (as if homosexuality was the absolute wildest shit average people could fathom) is absent from this episode of Seinfeld, both because the sitcom didn’t do serious and because this particular episode hides the gay stuff until the comedic climax. So the GEE hosts and their guest instead unpack Jerry’s flatlined attempt to make sex talk and George’s repetitive brushes with queer or feminizing traits throughout the series that stir his deep insecurities, such as in this episode when he’s told he resembles his fiancée’s elderly aunt. The podcast’s charming, even-paced discussion includes a deconstruction of Seinfeld’s script, with lots of time devoted to inside information like Heidi Swedberg’s exit from the show and the careers of every minor character. [Zach Brooke]


History This Week
Remembering Auschwitz

Illustration for article titled Thei Gayest Episode Ever/i podcast unpacks iSeinfeld/i’s LGBTQ track record

January 27 marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, but that liberation did not signal the immediate end of the Holocaust: At the time, the news only made the third page of the New York Times, reduced to two sentences, overshadowed by the Yalta Conference. The History Channel’s History This Week, which applies a modern lens to historical anniversaries, revisits the events that led to the persecution and genocide of the so-called undesirable: the disabled, homosexuals, Roma, and Jewish people. Featuring interviews with Auschwitz survivors Bill Harvey and Mindu Hornick, archival audio, and statistics about what the general public can recall about the Holocaust, the podcast serves as an interrogation of our selective memory. [Morgan McNaught]


Newcomers: Star Wars, With Lauren Lapkus & Nicole Byer
Star Wars Ep. IV - A New Hope (w/ John Gemberling)

Illustration for article titled Thei Gayest Episode Ever/i podcast unpacks iSeinfeld/i’s LGBTQ track record

Comedians Lauren Lapkus and Nicole Byer have somehow managed to reach adulthood without knowing anything about Star Wars aside from the most obvious of references. After years of hearing other comedians fawn over the series, our hosts have finally begun their journey, and lifelong superfan John Gemberling is on board for the first episode to discuss A New Hope. It’s not a spoiler to say that the newcomers didn’t really follow the film, and there’s much fun to be had in listening to their attempts to parse out the various characters and plot points. And to their credit, even though Lapkus and Byer are less than delighted by the Star Wars franchise so far, their commentary is full of energy and enthusiasm. [Jose Nateras]


Popcast
The Grammys, Dissected: Out With the Old, in With the Billie, Lizzo and Tyler

Illustration for article titled Thei Gayest Episode Ever/i podcast unpacks iSeinfeld/i’s LGBTQ track record

Hot on the heels of the 62nd Grammy Awards comes an episode of the New York TimesPopcast that unloads a barrage of hot takes by way of roundtable discussion. Host Jon Caramanica, joined by critics Joe Coscarelli, Caryn Ganz, Wesley Morris, and Jon Pareles, starts off with the topic of diversity within the voting academy, and the group wends its way to a conversation on Lil Nas X’s crossover appeal and Gary Clark Jr.’s now very stale routine as a Grammys regular performer. Things get heated when the crew talk about Usher’s unsexy tribute to Prince, and the debate grows louder when things shift to the terrible collaboration between Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. There’s several quotable moments throughout, but a question posed by Caramanica hits the hardest: “Can you imagine a thing you want to hear less, immediately after mourning the death of Kobe Bryant, than a duet between Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani?” [Kevin Cortez]


Seriously…
Call Jane At 643-3844

Illustration for article titled Thei Gayest Episode Ever/i podcast unpacks iSeinfeld/i’s LGBTQ track record

This engaging series from BBC Radio 4 is a showcase for some of the best produced narrative documentary features from around the world. This recent episode, presented by Laura Barton and produced by Eleanor McDowall, is a fascinating piece of audio chronicling the daring story of Jane, a radical feminist organization that operated an underground abortion and counseling service in Chicago in the late ’60s and early ’70s. It’s an emotionally complex slice of American history, and one that might also serve as a blueprint for the future as the country continues its march away from the protections surrounding women’s right to choose. The story of Jane presented here is one that lionizes the group’s ingenuity, verve, compassion, and incredible force of will; Barton and McDowall frame the narrative in a way that traces the familiar outlines of an organized crime film, playing on the similarly clandestine operation of both groups. This is a richly important piece, masterfully told. [Ben Cannon]


The Besties
The Witcher Special

Illustration for article titled Thei Gayest Episode Ever/i podcast unpacks iSeinfeld/i’s LGBTQ track record

With the runaway success of the live action Netflix series, the announcement of an upcoming standalone anime film, and the recent release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on the Nintendo Switch, it is undeniable that this is the season of The Witcher. So it seems only fitting that The Besties—the recently resurrected video game book club podcast from Justin and Griffin McElroy, Russ Frushtick, and Chris Plante—should dedicate an entire episode to this popular series of fantasy adventure games. Topics open for discussion include: Why have so many people jumped into this franchise during its third and final installment? How does Henry Cavill’s performance improve upon the emotional limitations of the game? Are we ever going to see the Witcher’s sweet, sweet hog grace our television screens? Whether you only know the show, the games, or the book series, we can all have a good laugh at imagining the stoic Geralt Of Rivia lugging around “12 rotten maces” and “a huge bag of trash.” It’s just fun to envision. [Dan Neilan]


You Must Remember This Presents: Make Me Over
Hollywood’s First Weight Loss Surgery: Molly O’Day

Illustration for article titled Thei Gayest Episode Ever/i podcast unpacks iSeinfeld/i’s LGBTQ track record

Film writer Karina Longworth appears to have built a nice cottage industry/cult following reminding listeners that Hollywood was just as fucked up in the early 20th century as it is now—perhaps even more so. She’s roped in other Tinseltown historians for this spin-off show, a deep dive into the film industry’s obsession with beauty. The first episode is quite the unsettling one, as writer/comedian Megan Koester tells the story of Molly O’Day, a teenage silent-film actress who, when the press began criticizing her “dangerously plump” figure in movies like The Patent Leather Kid, decided to get rid of that baby fat. She eventually went under the knife, her flesh sliced away from her hips and legs. (Plastic surgery was just as brand-new as motion pictures.) Needless to say, the surgery affected her both physically and professionally. O’Day is yet another forgotten figure from Hollywood’s brutal yesteryear, and Longworth provides a difficult account of her quest to become a movie star. [Craig D. Lindsey]

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