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.

Extremities
Pitcairn’s Tiny Tourism Economy

On a map, Pitcairn Island is a microscopic dot in the vastness of the southern Pacific Ocean. It takes several days, multiple plane rides, and a 30-hour trip on a 12-passenger boat to reach and is called home by only 50 people, many of whom are the descendants of the original H.M.S. Bounty mutineers who landed there in the late 18th century. In addition to all this, Pitcairn is the subject of the first six-episode season of Extremities, a new podcast about the people who live in the world’s most remote and isolated places. Having given listeners a brief rundown of Pitcairn’s mutinous history and the ins and outs of traveling to the island from its mother country of Britain, episode three takes a look at the principal source of yearly income for Pitcairn Islanders: tourism. Of course, on Pitcairn the entire tourism industry is represented by the 200 or so people that manage to make it to the island throughout the year. Once there, they can purchase some local honey, buy a freshly made pizza, and, if they’re a dentist, hopefully treat the locals to some much needed dental care. Certainly a vacation to remember. [Dan Neilan]


Factually! With Adam Conover
Homelessness, Building Empathy and the Lizard Man of Hollywood Blvd with Mark Horvath

After ruining everything for so long, Adam Conover is now highlighting some issues we can help to fix. In his new podcast, Factually!, he speaks with experts and professionals who shed light and provide new perspectives on a variety of social, economical, and political issues. On this week’s episode, Conover talks to the founder of the organization Invisible People, Mark Horvath, on the topics of homelessness and the charity’s goal of shifting the narrative on the homeless population. Conover and Horvath spend most of their time rebuking several common arguments: yes, the homeless can own gadgets like cell phones and tablets to use the internet and still be homeless; homeless shelters have their own set of issues that do not solve any of the root causes, but rather lightly address the symptoms; and despite popular belief, most common folks do not treat the homeless as actual people because they’re simply skeptical—but just by having a casual conversation, any preconceived judgment can immediately be broken. Horvath also spends a good amount of time addressing what you can personally do to help the homeless, a call to action delivered with passionate (and very loud) enthusiasm. [Kevin Cortez]


Horror Queers
Ginger Snaps (2000) Feat. Ariel Fisher

Every week on Horror Queers, hosts Joe Lipsett and Trace Thurman dive into horror films with either LGBTQ+ themes or deliciously high camp—preferably both. This week they’re watching Ginger Snaps, a 2000 film set in the suburbs of Toronto, in honor of Canada Day. They’re joined by film critic and journalist Ariel Fisher, who listeners might know as the co-host of the cinephile podcast A Frame Apart. They discuss how Ginger Snaps pushes boundaries by graphically describing menstruation and somehow making it the true horror of the film, which is no small accomplishment when young teens are turning into werewolves, pets are being killed, and corpses are being hidden. It’s obvious how much the hosts and their guest truly love horror films, judging by the way they gush over things like the practical effects that go into making rubbery werewolf costumes. In the midst of all of the film discussions, there are tangents about how Katharine Isabelle helped Fisher herself come out, a sexually explicit conversation about a unique fetish, and more. Horror Queers will introduce listeners to movies they’ve never seen before, as well as lend a new queer perspective to some old classics. [Nichole Williams]


How Did This Get Played?
Sonic 06 With Jordan Morris 

Whenever Doughboys co-host Nick Wiger has alluded to his history as a professional game tester and writer, he’s done so in the shell-shocked haze of a thousand-mile stare, describing the ordeal as an ironic, Twilight Zone nightmare of tedium and office anxiety. Though the experience temporarily put him off games entirely, it only heightened his respect for the creators and designers behind even the most awful ones (including the duds on his own resume). In this new, perfect-out-of-the-gate series, improviser, game critic, and journalist Heather Anne Campbell joins Wiger and a guest each episode to break down one of the biggest critical and commercial failures in gaming history. Researching and playing through notoriously buggy and non-intuitive franchise installments is a shocking amount of work to put in for guests and hosts alike, and the extra effort really pays off; unlike a lot of the freewheeling YouTube and Twitch game content, the professional comics behind How Did This Get Played? find a good balance of reviews and riffs. In this tight and funny premiere, comedian Jordan Morris joins the hosts to commiserate over 2006’s “gritty reboot” of Sonic, a bizarre, frustrating ersatz Kingdom Hearts that features romance between human and hedgehog. [Dan Jakes]


Last Podcast On The Left
Side Stories: Dan Aykroyd

As we enter a new golden age of UFO sightings and government disclosure, the boys from Last Podcast On The Left couldn’t have picked a better time to speak with everyone’s favorite weird uncle, Dan Aykroyd. The clearly starstruck hosts listen in almost childlike awe as one of their idols talks about his comedy career and encounters with the paranormal. Aykroyd’s stories are always filled with odd details that he underplays, like how he saw a UFO while pissing off the balcony of his summer home. Or witnessed a different UFO while laughing at spiders acting like yo-yos. He’s also probably the only person in the world who has had a visitation from the Men In Black while on the phone with Britney Spears. The most interesting point Aykroyd makes about the paranormal is that no matter what’s actually happening, the theories and tales behind the phenomenon are fun and fascinating. They’re good stories. This is something that Last Podcast On The Left has proven again and again with their own coverage of the paranormal. Also, if you’re looking for a fun drinking game, be sure to take a shot every time Aykroyd mentions Crystal Head Vodka. [Anthony D. Herrera]


Lost Notes
Song Of A Gun

The season two finale of KCRW’s Lost Notes steps away from untold anecdotes within the music industry to examine the role of guns in music. Hosted by journalist Jessica Hopper, this episode depicts the gun as the great equalizer throughout sonic history, the tool that brings empowerment but is rarely ever seen as problematic. The assassination of John Lennon signaled a turning point for Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, who dedicated a cover article to an exposé on the National Rifle Association, an effort that was answered with apathy rather than activism. Outside of the 1988 hit “Self-Destruction” by Stop The Violence Movement (spearheaded by hip-hop legend KRS-One), one would be hard-pressed to find another song with artists coming together to speak out against gun violence. Hopper speaks with music fans looking for others to lend their voices to the cause, but artists are conspicuously absent from this episode, save for emcee Quelle Chris, who suggests, “Not everything has to be about a specific cause in order to create a positive change in someone’s life.” Even after recent concert shootings and the murder of Nipsey Hussle, we’re no closer to societal change as the conversation draws to a close. [Jason Randall Smith]


Self Evident: Asian America’s Stories
The Talk We Were Supposed To Have

Like many Filipino Americans, Gabe grew up feeling severed from his culture, save for a few Tagalog words and the occasional lumpia feast. In this episode of Self Evident, Gabe tells the story of his quest to connect with his Filipino identity and his parents, beginning with his decision to donate a kidney to his father and ending with him moving out of his childhood home. In between, Gabe attempts to find pride in being Filipino by working alongside his dad at the Fiesta in America and by interviewing members of his family. What starts out feeling like a documentary ends up feeling more like a live therapy podcast. Gabe slowly realizes that his alienation from his Filipino identity is inextricable from his tense relationship with his parents—something that hovers unspoken in the background of so many other narratives of Asian American identity. As Gabe becomes more open and curious about the lives of those around him, he gains the Pinoy pride he was seeking. It’s refreshing to hear the relationship between the personal and the cultural discussed so explicitly, and moving to hear Gabe evolve into a happier, more confident person (and learn how to make lumpia). [Adrian Jade Matias Bell]


Shirtloads Of Science
The Landfill That Ate Cranbourne

Dr. Karl is the rare type of host that elevates this long-running show well above replacement-level science podcast. His lifetime as an engineer and science educator means he understands his subject matter at its most esoteric level, yet can communicate essentials in layman’s terms. Decades in broadcasting help him interview at a brisk pace, which, when combined with a holistic view of his subjects outside the laboratory, infuses drama into what might otherwise be dry recitation of case studies. Add to all this the unshakable confidence of someone who’s seen it all and isn’t afraid to make judgment calls. A leaky garbage dump built next to a growing Australian suburb is the setting for this episode, which finds engineers up against practical and political roadblocks in a frantic effort to diffuse very real threat of a methane explosion. Dr. Gavin Scherer tells how he helped construct an underground wall 30 meters deep to seal off the leak and develop methods to disperse the explosive gas. [Zach Brooke]


The Last Laugh
Mindy Kaling Grows Up

Fans of The Office will appreciate this engaging conversation between host Matt Wilstein and Mindy Kaling, the writer behind some of the show’s most memorable moments and characters, including the one she played herself. With the series leaving Netflix soon, Kaling’s look back at the breakout role that launched her career feels especially timely, as do her recollections of being the only woman in the writers’ room. In her new movie, Late Night, Kaling stars opposite Emma Thompson as the first female staff writer on a late-night TV show, drawing not only on Kaling’s experiences on The Office but also a former college internship on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. The movie touches on workplace sexism and the politics of “diversity hires,” which Kaling and Wilstein explore in depth. As Kaling puts it, diversity is cool—networks are eager to recreate the success of shows like Atlanta, Insecure, and Fresh Off The Boat—but it’s complicated. Kaling also addresses an Instagram post from last February that some critics believed was a defense of Aziz Ansari following reports of his alleged sexual misconduct. The post made headlines, though Kaling said most fans were supportive: “As with anything on the internet, three people can seem like an army.” [Sofia Barrett-Ibarria]


Therapy For Black Girls
Recognizing & Managing Trauma

Examining both personal and ancestral trauma in order to heal is having a huge moment in the black community, but how can you heal if you don’t know what trauma is, what it looks like, or how it affects your body and brain? Dr. Joy, licensed psychologist and host of Therapy For Black Girls, is joined this week by Cha’Ke’Sha Spencer (LPC, CPCS) to demystify what trauma means, and how it consists of life events and situations you might not even recognize as such. Breaking down trauma into two groups, big-T trauma or little-t trauma, helps make sense of how innocuous life events and/or clearly disturbing matters can destabilize your sense of self, change eating habits, disrupt sleep patterns, and create other trauma responses. Dr. Joy connects these to the idea that “busy-ness culture” provides an acceptable form of distraction, and questions why we say yes to everything but ourselves. Though it’s not super exciting to sit down and deal with the yucky stuff, Therapy For Black Girls offers tools to make it not the worst. Listening to the show isn’t a replacement for therapy, but it’s a great way to start the conversation. [Morgan McNaught]


This Land
The Treaty

Though it fails to register as headline news, there is currently a case before the Supreme Court that is likely to be one of the most important battles for Native American sovereignty and land rights. Cherokee Nation writer Rebecca Nagle has partnered with Crooked Media to bring attention to the case with the engaging new podcast, This Land. The program doesn’t just pay lip service to Native American issues, but addresses them thoughtfully, with a largely indigenous creative team as well. Nagle seeks to not only examine the murder at the center of the case—the 1999 killing of Muscogee Tribe member George Jacobs by fellow Tribe member Patrick Murphy—but the trial’s potentially groundbreaking ramifications. Particularly, the claim that 19 million acres of land in Oklahoma belongs to the Five Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole) after being systematically stolen following Oklahoma’s accession to statehood. In this stirring episode, Nagle delves into a chapter of her own family’s controversial history, relating the story of great-great-great-grandfather John Ridge and his quest to maintain Cherokee sovereignty while fighting against President Andrew Jackson. The episode is a heartbreaking reminder of the many atrocities committed in the name of American progress. [Ben Cannon]


Yoga Is Dead
Karma Capitalism Killed Yoga

Indian American hosts Tejal and Jesal are tackling the toxic predators within the yoga studio scene and industry in this strong conversational podcast, backed by their own experience as yoga teachers, professionals, and researchers. “Karma capitalism” is this warped idea of karma used by businesses to exploit trained teachers for free labor under the guise of “good karma,” even though karma involves serving and helping people without expectation of anything in return and is something undertaken within the boundaries of each person. The corruption of core tenets like karma, or even how yoga works in the West, is a direct result of ruthless capitalist colonialism. Tejal and Jesal are here to dismantle the privilege in every aspect of yoga studios in the West, including how yoga teachers are made to feel like they need to sign whatever contracts they’re presented, go unpaid to do community work, and other abusive situations. The series includes eye-opening personal stories across every topic and exposes the underbelly of yoga studios you might not have considered as a student, teacher, or practitioner. By the end of the episode, they’ll also have provided clear paths listeners can take to better their yoga communities. [Elena Fernández Collins]

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