1. Mordern Love: The Podcast
Modern Love has long been a staple column of the New York Times as a weekly glimpse into the surprises and tribulations of modern dating and relationships. Modern Love: The Podcast brings these stories to life with readings from actors such as Broadway star Lauren Molina and American Horror Story actress Sarah Paulson. Listeners are also privy to a follow-up interview with the author, where the epilogue of their sometimes-successful, sometimes-harrowing tales brings to life the diversity and oddity of modern life.
Best Episode: Episode 4: “An Interlude of Clarity.” The perfect date ends in the emergency room and just gets better from there- for a little while. Brian Gittis’ tale reveals that it’s okay if a magical night doesn’t last.
2. Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig
True to its name, Not Too Deep avoids profundity and instead dives into the absurdities of the everyday and imagination with questions like “Who would you throw a plate of cold spaghetti at?” and “What is your favorite emoji and why?” In Not Too Deep YouTube star and author Grace Helbig chats with other YouTubers and celebrities of the so-called “internet space” about their projects as well as some of their most ridiculous life stories, such as Uber rides, Tinder dates, and fan encounters. Helbig’s slightly awkward but endearing sense of humor works wonderfully in tandem with the wide range of humor and creativity showcased in her guests. Internet sensation Tyler Oakley, singer and YouTuber Troye Sivan, and EpicMealTime star Harley Morenstein are among some of the most entertaining visitors to the podcast.
Best Episode: “Ep. 25 with Shane Dawson.” The stories Shane shares in this episode are just as outrageous and hilarious as his personality. In one a Craigslist encounter goes terribly, terribly wrong; in another Shane meets LA’s craziest Uber driver.
3. The New Yorker Radio Hour
The New Yorker Radio Hour has all the virtues of The New Yorker in podcast form: impeccable style, content, and production distilled into an hour of easygoing conversation. Host David Remnick’s interviews are thoughtful, sensitive, and playful. The podcast features a variety of artists, writers, musicians, politicians, and stories about and interviews with other fascinating personalities. It showcases a vast spectrum of human passion and creativity with a mash up of essays, interviews, and dramas (in one interview director Charlie Kaufman “talks puppet sex and existential dread during a tour of the Whitney Museum; in another two cartoonists discuss “the virtues of dogs versus cats, and other big questions of the cartoon world”). If the weekly magazine is too long or too much to keep up with this is the podcast for you.
Best Episode: “Episode 6: Two Writers and a Rock Star Onstage,” featuring Patti Smith and fiction writers Jonathan Safran Foer and George Saunders. Patti Smith discusses her new book M Train, a memoir and love story to New York, poetry, travel, and the smaller things in life.
This science podcast covers a broad range of topics, investigating how science, culture and history intersect in ways that we don’t often consider. Each hour-long episode includes three segments that relate to a particular idea—like colours, words, or the Galapagos Islands—and challenges the listener to approach this idea from a novel angle. Often, an episode can succeed in altering the way we experience and appreciate our world and question aspects of life that are taken for granted. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich gather interviews and information from both experts and average people with particularly interesting stories to tell.
Best Episode: “Update: New Normal,” investigates whether humanity has the capacity to permanently change ingrained aspects of its behaviour through stories about a commune of peaceful baboons, domesticated foxes, and America’s first transgender mayor.
5. This American Life
This American Life is a weekly podcast that explores a theme through first person accounts of moving life stories. Often, segments explore relevant experiences and current events in an innovative, ironic and humorous way. This podcast is particularly good at getting listeners to see banal everyday situations, like online trolling, calling the wrong number, and unfunny parent jokes, in a new and insightful light.
Best Episode: “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS” recounts three instances of the internet turning on everyday people. Looking at the issue from the perspective of both victim and troll, this episode addresses human universals in a way that makes you feel for the faceless bullies behind your computer screen.