Seven scripted podcasts to listen to (that aren?t Homecoming)
Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash
Are you scrolling through Netflix, feeling like you?ve watched everything? (You haven?t, I promise, but I feel you.) Have you been reading for so long your eyes are starting to hurt? (It?s kind of a good feeling, but again, I feel you.) Are you staring at your partner, waiting for them to put on a one-man show for you? (As entertaining as that may be, I don?t think they?ll do it.)
But don?t fret! Because there?s a whole other genre of storytelling that way too many people are missing out on: the audio drama.
If you?re a big podcast listener, you?ve probably stumbled upon these already. If you?re not, you probably just rolled your eyes at me and muttered something like, ?Who is this Grandma? Is she talking about radio plays??
Well, yes. Podcast audio dramas, or podcast theater as some call it, are basically the modern day radio play.
And they are great.
Now, like with anything, there are some not-so-great ones out there. (Turns out, it?s not as easy as it might seem to make one of these.) So, if your first introduction to this genre was a show that needed a little more help, don?t hold that against the entire genre. Come back to try one from the list below. I assure you, they?re every bit as entertaining as your favorite streaming service show.
Plus, you can listen to these while doing things like walking. Take a stroll around your neighborhood and listen to an episode, instead of laying on the couch and pressing play on your remote. (No judgement, I?ve been there, but I?m just saying. You?ll feel a lot better walking.)
Have I convinced you? Start with one of these shows, and I guarantee you?ll be entertained.
The Bright Sessions
The Bright Sessions (written and directed by Lauren Shippen) is one of the most popular audio dramas, which came out at the start of this trend. It?s the story of a group of therapy patients with supernatural abilities ? which would be cool enough on its own, but there?s a bigger mystery at play. Their therapist, Dr. Bright, has her own motivations in helping them through their problems. We just don?t know what they are?
The show ran for four seasons and is now finished, but a spin-off is in the works. So, you can listen to the entire show right now and prime yourself for the new show coming later this year.
Blood Ties stars Gillian Jacobs and Josh Gad as Eleanore and Michael Richland, two siblings whose parents die in a plane crash. But soon after the crash, worrying stories begin to arise about their world-renowned father. Was he really as generous and beloved of a doctor as he had led them to believe? When faced with the facts, the Richland siblings have to decide what?s more important to them: family legacy or exposing the truth.
The show?s first six-episode season concluded in January, but it ended on a cliffhanger that implies a second season may be in the works.
Carrier stars Cynthia Erivo as a truck driver desperate for some extra cash. So, when a gig comes up last minute, she jumps at the opportunity. But it comes with a catch. She has to transport a loaded carrier that?s been sealed shut across state lines. And no one will tell her what exactly it is she?s transporting?
This podcast was recently optioned by Amblin Partners to be made into a film, also starring Erivo. So, if you want to get a sense of what the film might be like, take a listen.
Passenger List tells the story of a plane that goes missing over the Atlantic. The government says it was the result of birds flying into the engine, but Kaitlin (Kelly Marie Tran), whose twin brother was on board the flight, doesn?t believe that. And she?ll stop at nothing to find the truth.
The sound design alone is worth listening to this podcast, not to mention the story that?s as riveting a mystery as any TV show. The first season of Passenger List concluded in October 2019 but ended on a cliffhanger that has to be resolved. So, you can bet there will be a second season coming our way.
One of the most innovative podcasts out there, 36 Questions is a musical podcast (yep, that?s right) and it stars Broadway legend Jonathan Groff. It originally aired in 2017, playing across three episodes. It?s about a couple with some serious issues who try to reconnect using the famous 36 questions that can supposedly make you fall in love with someone.
If you like musicals, this is a brilliant way of enjoying one from the comfort of your own home. Don?t assume it?ll be lesser because it?s in podcast form; the music holds up against stage musicals. It?s one of the rare shows that I?ve come back to and listened to for a second (maybe even a third) time.
All right, you want something a little weirder? Enter Bubble. It?s only one season, and it aired back in 2018, as audio dramas really started to pick up. It?s a scripted comedy, and I could write up my own summary, but they really put it best:
?Welcome to Fairhaven, a literal Bubble of corporate utopia set amid the wild, imp-infested Brush?Bubble tells a tale that is both contemporary and otherworldly, as a small band of monster killers struggles to make ends meet and find love in a nightmarish version of the gig economy.?
Yeah, I know. Just listen.
Come for the dystopia, stay for Jenny Slate. Earth Break uses the sci-fi end-of-world setting and turns it on its head. It?s a brilliant exploration of family, forgiveness, and motherhood, all told through the point of view of the least likely person to survive an apocalypse.
Earth Break is a limited series, running for six episodes. So you can listen to the whole thing now. And you should. You really, really should.