The next best thing to watching TV is talking about it. Water cooler chats have been replaced with Twitter hashtags and trends and an endless variety of blogs where viewers can read recaps and reviews of their favorite shows. Another fantastic resource for TV fanatics are podcasts hosted by assorted pop culture enthusiasts who offer insight into everything idiot-box related. Podcasts can be a great resource when it comes to navigating the waters in this age of "peak TV." Whether you want to know all the dirty dish about your favorite Housewives
or enjoy more intellectually challenging debates about TV tropes, a good podcast enriches your viewing experience. Sorting out the perfect podcast might seem like a daunting task, so we've gathered an assortment of really great ones to get you started.
The 10 Best Shows of 2017>>>
Watch What Crappens
Hosts Ronnie Karam and Ben Mandelker have a tendency to go off-topic and spend a lot of time speaking nonsensical gibberish while attempting their best Real Housewives' impersonations (some are better than others.) They can easily devolve into what sounds like drag queens fighting over the best wig before a show. But they can also make the news that Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' star Kyle Richards is reshaping her pool equal parts hysterical and fascinating.
Watch What Crappens touches on most of the Bravo reality shows, so even crazy Below Deck super fans can get their fill of over-the-top snark (probably the only place they can find buzz about the show.)
Check out episode "#377 'RHOBH': Crappens 5th Anniversary w/Lisa Rinna and Matt Whitfield." The ep includes a frank discussion with Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' cast member Lisa Rinna who praises Bravo executives for being "evil geniuses" and speaks candidly about her co-stars, tricky editing, the brutality of reunion specials and using the series to boost her brand (Rinna argues there's no reason to do the show if you aren't selling something.) Watch What Crappens is available on iTunes / Google Play / Podbean / TuneIn.
Here to Make Friends: A Bachelor Recap Show
This HuffPost podcast hosted by Emma Gray and Claire Fallon prides itself on its snarkiness, but compared to some of their contemporaries, these ladies are fairly forgiving of the flaws of the Bachelor franchise and its various casts. This podcast's intro says it all: "Whether you love The Bachelor or love to hate it" -- they had me at hate -- "we're here to break down every delicious moment with you."
A standout bonus episode, "'Paradise' Production Halted," delves into the Bachelor in Paradise sexual misconduct scandal as it broke and includes an interview with BIP season 2 contestant Michael Garofola who speaks about his personal experiences on the set of the show. Reality Steve also weighs in, predicting the demise of the guilty summer pleasure (color his face red.)
The women often welcome former contestants, and a visit from Bachelor season 20 cast member Olivia Caridi leads to an interesting discussion on how male and female villains are perceived and treated differently by fans. Listen to Here to Make Friends on iTunes / SoundCloud / Google Play / TuneIn.
Rose Pricks: A Bachelor Roast
Hosts Ronnie Karam and Stefanie Wilder Taylor take the gloves off when it comes to cast members of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. A few highlights: Karam calls season four of BIP "rape-y," he and Wilder take down the most recent Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay for being way too thirsty for a proposal and discuss the probability of men having performance issues in the fantasy suites. Karam suggests Bachelorette season 13 winner Bryan Abasolo would "velcro a popsicle stick to his wang to make it work."
A great episode to start with is the cast preview for season 22 of The Bachelor. Karam and Taylor run down the bios of all 29 women, and it's vicious. Granted, the women make it too easy. Rebecca listed Sister Act 2 as one of her favorite movies, and Chelsea named France as the most romantic city. The hosts take the bios a step further and use them to dissect each woman's likely personality traits and mental state. Karam is convinced the boring ladies try to sound interesting, and the crazy bachelorettes try to sound boring. Listen to Rose Pricks on iTunes / Google Play / Podbean.
Bitch Sesh: A Real Housewives Breakdown
If you want the vibe of sitting around with your best girlfriends and obsessing over the most insignificant details of the Real Housewives, Bitch Sesh and hosts Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider are for you. Wilson was pregnant and gave birth in 2017 which led to a lot of discussions about weak pelvic floors and mesh underwear, but don't let the hardcore girl talk deter you. This duo has pretty strict guidelines on what makes for the penultimate Housewife: married with kids, genuinely wealthy, mean but not boring and, preferably, not funny (cast members need to understand they are the joke, with the exception of the ladies of Atlanta.)
If you aren't a fan of The Real Housewives of Dallas, their commentary on season 2 will have you bingeing immediately. Sense some serious incestual angst on The Real Housewives of New Jersey? You aren't alone.
There are so many fascinating tidbits of info to be gleaned from Bitch Sesh, such as in episode 68 -- a personal fave -- when viewers learn the immense cost of Real Housewives of New York star Carole Radziwell's iconic couch. Bitch Sesh is available on iTunes / Spotify / Earwolf.com / TuneIn.
This podcast is for viewers who take their TV seriously (they also discuss movies and music.) Hosted by The Ringer's Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan, listeners shouldn't expect chatter about dating and competition or reality shows or anything much from the big three networks. These guys focus on shows that take significant neurons to process: Black Mirror, SMILF, The Deuce and Room 104 along with more pedestrian fare like Game of Thrones and Stranger Things. Intellectually charged discourse ranges from the future of streaming TV to the surprising popularity of Ozark to shows that we should all be watching. Be sure to catch episode 210, especially if you're a sucker for yearly retrospectives and lively debate as the hosts list their top TV shows of 2017. The Watch is available on Spotify / iTunes / Stitcher / Art19 / TuneIn.
If you're still mourning a year without one new episode of Game of Thrones, listening to Binge Mode should cheer you up. In June 2017, The Ringer launched this podcast with hosts Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion, who pledged to rewatch and deep dive into their favorite TV shows, starting with GOT. They dropped 10 episodes every week, leading up to the season 7 premiere. With season 7 now a wrap, that makes 67 episodes for fans to bone up on before the series finale in 2019.
These aren't your standard recaps. The hosts explore and discuss symbolism, subtext, foreshadowing and the origin material, which can help provide some context to certain characters and plotlines. Most importantly, Rubin and Concepcion help make sense of the epic, sprawling series with humor and thoughtful insight. When it comes to Binge Mode, the best place to start is at the very beginning with "S1E1: Winter is Coming." Binge Mode is available on Spotify / TuneIn / iTunes / Stitcher / Art19.
Pop Culture Happy Hour
As the name suggests, this NPR podcast explores whatever is trending in the world of pop culture: books, movies, music and, of course, television. Host Linda Holmes is joined by various guests including book editors, producers, critics, writers, podcasters and basically anyone with an educated opinion about the topic at hand. In 2017, Holmes and pals compared the similarities between early episodes of Riverdale and Dawson's Creek, the overrated Twin Peaks revival -- best episode ever -- and "Lynchian Literalists" (finally, some people who recognize season 3 didn't deserve its overabundance of critical adulation) and all that sexy time on Outlander. Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on NPR One / iTunes / Google Play / TuneIn.
Are you a fan of podcasts? Did we miss your favorite? Let us know what podcast you can't live without in the comments section below.
(Image Courtesy of ABC)