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Arts + Culture

10 Podcasts to Binge While You’re Traveling Over the Holidays

Heading home for the holidays this season? Hours upon hours spent squeezed in economy class or in the back of a friend's car are best passed with a podcast or two. From true crime serials to cringeworthy movie reviews, these are the 10 to binge ASAP.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

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1

Missing Richard Simmons

In February 2014—in a move extremely out of character, Richard Simmons seemingly disappeared. In the blink of an eye, he cut himself off from friends, retreated from his teaching post at Slimmons, and was no longer spotted by the paparazzi. In "Missing Richard Simmons," Dan Taberski, a filmmaker and personal friend of the Swarvoski-crystal-loving fitness guru, attempts to answer the question why. Have your own theory? Dan is interested—you can leave him a voicemail at 402-93-SWEAT.

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Artwork by Valero Doval

2

S-Town

"S-Town" took 2017 by storm garnering a record-breaking 10 million downloads just four days after its release. The ambitious eight-chapter program, from the producers of "Serial" and "This American Life," follows the story of John, an Alabama man who contacts reporter Brian Reed to investigate a purported murder in his county—a place he not-so-fondly refers to as Shit Town. From there, Reed travels to Alabama multiple times over the course of three years, interviewing locals, speaking with John, and uncovering twist after astounding turn.

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3

How Did This Get Made?

Are you a fan of cringeworthy, critically denounced films like The Room, The Love Guru, or perhaps Gigli? If so, this podcast is for you, my friend. Every show, hosts Paul Scheer (The League), June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie), and Jason Mantzoukas (The League)—sometimes with the aid of friends/guests like Nick Kroll, Chelsea Peretti, and Adam Scott—deconstruct the absurdity of a particularly bad film, attempting to unscramble its plot and figure out just how it got off the ground.

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Artwork by Brian Rea for The New York Times

4

Modern Love

Based on The New York Times' weekly reader-submitted essays, "Modern Love" examines the intricacies of affection, with pieces centering around themes like casual hookups, roommate crushes, online dating, and spousal gender transitions. Hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti (WBUR) and the column's editor, Daniel Jones, the podcast features readings from distinguished writers and actors like Jake Gyllenhaal, Julia Styles, and Ruth Negga.

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5

Pod Save America

In 2017, whether you're a person who's "into politics," or not, you're a part of the national conversation. In "Pod Save America," hosts Jon Favreau (Barack Obama's head speechwriter), Jon Lovett (a Hillary Clinton speechwriter), Dan Pfeiffer (Senior Advisor to President Obama), and Tommy Vietor (Obama-era National Security Spokesman) have "no bull-shit conversation(s) about politics," covering hot-button topics—like the Alabama senate race, Trump's tweets, the Mueller indictments, and what's going on with DACA—that you don't have to hold a poli-sci degree to understand.

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6

This American Life

Ira Glass' "This American Life" has been kickin' since before the dawn of podcasts' day and it has 2.2 million listeners to show for it. The circa-1995 radio program releases an episode every week that revolves around a particular theme, each split into numerous "acts" featuring essays, memoirs, field recordings, and short fiction from staff and freelance contributors.

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7

Dirty John

From Wondery and the Los Angeles Times comes "Dirty John," a true crime story about the bizarre relationship between mysterious John Meehan and successful businesswoman Debra Newell, who met on an over-50 dating site. If you've already blown through "Serial" and "S-Town," this tale of deceit, abuse, and possible murder should be next on your list.

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8

Song Exploder

Get a BTS look at the creative process that led to your favorite song with "Song Exploder." Every episode, host and creator Hrishikesh Hirway dissects an individual track and interviews artists on how their hit came to be. Past guests have included Lin-Manuel Miranda, The Killers, Lorde, Iggy Pop, Spoon, and (hundreds) more.

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9

Sincerely, X

Under the guise of anonymity, "victims, perpetrators, investigators, activists, empaths and more" share their ideas and experiences in intimate sessions that span topics from spending life in prison to making fatal medical mistakes. If you're a fan of traditional TED talks, you'll love this compelling series—which launched its freshman season this September—just as much.

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10

Call Your Girlfriend

Living in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, separated by an entire country, long-distance best friends Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman use their podcast to catch up with one another. Since 2014, the women have been hosting "Call Your Girlfriend," an hour-ish long program in which they ring each other up to discuss all things pop culture and politics, from Harvey Weinstein to luxurious loungewear. If you identify as a "non-famous woman just trying to get through the week," then you'll enjoy (and likely relate to) the friends' banter.

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