The end of the year is near, which means it’s time to reflect on some of the best stuff of the year. This week, Vulture podcast critic Nick Quah serves up an eclectic assortment of some of the shows he’s most excited about! From Italian true crime to a show all about gossip, he has something for everyone. Here are Nick’s top 5 picks with a bonus honorable mention:
5. “His Saturn Returns” by the 11th
From Pineapple Street Studios, The 11th was an experimental podcast that did something different with form, host and length every month. This specific episode’s creator, Sai Sion, takes listeners on a galactic journey that also happens to be a coming-of-age tale with distinct comic book vibes. Buckle up, because it’s a wild ride!
This ten-part audio series by Crooked Media takes us back to the 1970s to explore the far-left, militant organization called the Weather Underground. What makes this one interesting is its creator and host, Zayd Ayers Dohrn. He’s a professor and playwright whose parents happen to be the founders of the Weather Underground.
From Serial Productions and The New York Times, this eight-part audio documentary investigates a British scandal involving a supposed plan by Islamic extremists to take over all city schools. The project started when journalism student Hamza Syed approached Brian Reed, host of the acclaimed podcast series S-Town, with the idea.
“Gossip is the stuff of life,” Nick says, and Normal Gossip fans couldn’t agree more. Each week, host Kelsey McKinney of Defector Media shares juicy gossip from people we don’t know about people we’ll never meet. The stakes are low and the delight is sky-high!
At the top of Nick’s list is Dead Eyes: Tom. Over 20 years ago, actor Connor Ratliff was fired from an HBO show by executive producer Tom Hanks for having what Tom called “dead eyes.” In this podcast, Connor sets on a quest to figure out what it means to have dead eyes, but the show ends up being more than that – as Nick describes it, this show is about “pondering all the lives you didn’t lead and coming to terms with the life you didn’t have.”
And an honorable mention goes to…
“The True Story of Your Frozen Death” from Imaginary Advice. This podcast is entirely in Italian, but don’t let that stop you! Even without knowing the language, Nick says, you can still figure out the gist of this true-crime parody. “The music, the intonation, the performance, the sound effects, the mood of it… you let it wash over you and at some point, you just get what’s going on.” The episode is from Ross Sutherland‘s monthly series.