This year more than ever it feels like every guy and their cat has a podcast. With lockdowns and stay-at-home orders put in place internationally, and the financial barriers to participation basically non-existent, it’s too easy for people to start airing their deepest, darkest secrets in a web audio format.
At the same time, punters have had plenty of spare time on their hands to inhale podcasts – this year we may have commuted less, but who among us didn’t turn on a podcast so we didn’t feel so deeply alone after day 17 of lockdown? We were meant to be living our Most! Productive! Lives! but sometimes all we could manage was to curl up into a ball, put our headphones in, and feel strangely connected to a complete stranger giving us an update on their pet mouse, Terry, on a podcast.
Whether you’re into hearing celebrities talk to one another to stave off boredom, or are interested in totally made up people and their Christian rock band, or an investigation into the spectacular box office failure that was Cats (2019), these are PEDESTRIAN.TV’s favourite new podcasts of 2020.
We can’t deny the way gossip podcast So Dramatic!, hosted by Megan Pustetto, has shaped the reality TV discourse in 2020. Did she spoil some of the spiciest moments of the Bachie franchise this year? Yes. Did she also get a chaos post-contract interview out of the iconic Jamie Doran? Also yes. And for that we are grateful.
Grounded With Louis Theroux
In Grounded With Louis Theroux, the affable and now-bearded documentarian Zoom chats with celebrities from his long-time “rival” Jon Ronson to Helena Bonham Carter. Bored of learning TikTok dances, they share surprisingly intimate details about their lives.
Thin Black Line
Allan Clarke, the Walkley-winning journalist behind season one of Unravel, Blood On The Tracks, returns with Thin Black Line, an investigation into the 1993 death in custody of 18-year-old Aboriginal dancer Daniel Yock in Brisbane, which sharply reflects the ongoing mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples in Australia.
The Orgasm Cult
If, like everyone else, you were fascinated by the NXIVM cult this year, wait until you hear about One Taste. Journalist Nastaran Tavakoli-Far looks into the self-help group dedicated to the untapped power of women’s orgasms that has been described as a “sex cult” and is under investigation by the FBI, as well as its charismatic co-founder Nicole Daedone and the wider wellness industry.
The follow-up to last year’s much-loved Finding Drago sees comedians and film buffs Cameron James and Alexei Toliopoulos try to uncover the truth about elusive filmmaker Sidney Ling, who once held the Guinness World Record for Youngest Film Director. But none of Alexei and Cam’s international film contacts have ever heard of him…
The Renner Files
Remember Jeremy Renner‘s shortlived app? No? It was launched in 2017 as a place for his fans to “do fun things” and learn more about the actor best known for playing Hawkeye in The Avengers. While trolls may have undermined the app itself, they haven’t stopped actor Sarah Ramos and writer Caroline Goldfarb from making an entire podcast about it.
Flex’s Semi-Factual History Lessons
Flex Mami presents history in an entirely new way with her Semi-Factual History Lessons, exploring subjects from masturbation to cannibalism. With a new guest each week, Flex discusses the underpinning principles, attitudes and beliefs of her topics – and the society we live in now.
It’s A Lot With Abbie Chatfield
Last year’s Bachelor ‘villain’ Abbie Chatfield completed her so-called redemption arc when she started her podcast, in which she espouses her sex-positive feminism and interviews influential women like Clementine Ford, Laura Henshaw and Steph Clare Smith. Never forget 2020, the year Abbie Chatfield taught us how to give a BJ.
Oh, Hello: The P’dcast
John Mulaney and Nick Kroll revive George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon, their take on stuffy 70-something New Yorkers. George and Gil are intent on making their own Serial by solving a mystery no one else, not even Sarah Koenig herself, thinks is a mystery at all – the 1997 death of Princess Diana.
Why Is Cats?
Comedians Cameron James and Ben Ellwood interrogate the worldwide flop that was the live-action movie adaptation of the musical Cats, starring, well, just about everyone. But it’s not a surface-level investigation – the guys track down the Australian dancer who played Skimbleshanks and other experts to explain wtf happened there.
The Motion Pitcher
Michael Trinco and PEDESTRIAN.TV’s own Matt Hopkins pitch each other extremely chaotic ideas for sequels to blockbuster – and a little less mainstream – flicks in the brand new podcast The Motion Pitcher, starting with the 1995 Kevin Costner classic Waterworld.
Fake Doctors, Real Friends
Scrubs may have finished in 2009 (and we all accept that season nine is not canon), but that doesn’t mean anyone has stopped thinking about it and comfort rewatching the goofy medical sitcom during the pandemic. Stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison, who played J.D. and Turk on the series, reunited this year to debrief about every episode of the show, with special guests.
Australian history buffs were sucked in by The Eleventh earlier this year, a podcast which dives into the events leading up to the dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by Governor-General Sir John Kerr on 11 November 1975 and the way Kerr’s decision reverberates into the present.
James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds
Comedian James Acaster had a breakdown in 2016, and went out and bought over 500 albums to soothe his soul. He now believes that it’s the greatest year for music of all time and is on a quest to convince his comedian friends of this truth, by showing them beloved albums like Beyoncé‘s Lemonade, as well as more esoteric finds, like Flood Network by our own Katie Dey.
The Zest Is History
The women behind PEDESTRIAN.TV’s All Aussie Mystery Hour strike out with a podcast all of their own in The Zest Is History. Hear Melissa Mason and Josie Rozenberg-Clarke tell each other semi-researched zesty stories from Australia’s history, like the reality of the Devonshire Street Cemetery that still lies under Sydney’s Central Station, often while a few wines deep.
We can’t travel internationally at the moment, but we can still reminisce about that time we sunk so many Aperol Spritzes in Rome we missed our train the next day . . . or is that just me? Host Lisa Hamilton speaks to actors, comedians, models, activists and more, like Sam Taunton and Maude Garrett about their blissful – and totally disastrous – travel memories.
Mike Birbiglia’s Working It Out
At a time when it’s not always possible to “work it out” on stage, Mike Birbiglia invites other comedians – and not-comedians, like The National’s Matt Berninger and This American Life‘s Ira Glass – to pull apart and punch up each other’s jokes and share memories from their lives.
Overwhelmed and Dying
Comedian Judith Lucy sums up the overarching feeling of being alive in 2020 – she’s “overwhelmed and dying”. In an effort to find meaning in her life after the collapse of her last relationship and the passing of her brother, Judith talks to experts and tries everything, from reconnecting with her vulva to hugging trees.
Over ten episodes, Brendan James and Noah Kulwin examine decades of US politics in order to learn more about the complex sociopolitical factors that led to the incredibly destructive invasion of Iraq in 2003, and interrogates the way the effects of the war are still felt in America today.
Cheeky fiction podcast CrossBread tells the story of the fall from grace of a once-wildly popular Christian sibling rap duo from Melbourne, Josh (Chris Ryan) and Joan (Megan Washington) Burns, aka CrossBread, through the eyes of their biggest fan and former social media manager, Ken Lim (Aaron Chen).