THESE PODCASTS ARE REPLACING BINGE-WORTHY TV

Forget mainlining Netflix shows and give your eyes an overdue break; the latest dramas require no screens at all...

13.08.2020

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Celebrities, they're just like us. OK, they're not. But in the time of a global pandemic, when we're all being forced to work from home in our slipper socks, it's worth remembering they are too. The silver lining of all these actors' film and TV projects being halted? They're turning to podcasts, recorded from the comfort of their own homes. These are not your average podcasts; rather, some of the most brilliant, binge-worthy series' of the year. Which may explain why Jesse Eisenberg's latest project isn’t a film, but a five-hour, 17-minute audio drama, When You Finish Saving The World (also starring Booksmart’s Kaitlyn Dever and Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard) - which just launched on Audible. Ready to make the switch? Read on.

If you love Sex and the City...

Listen to: Dirty Diana

In a nutshell: The latest show from pioneering podcast studio QCODE tells the fictional six-part story of a woman (Diana, doh!) who secretly runs an erotic website interviewing women about their sexual fantasies, while navigating her own sexless marriage. 

Star factor: 10/10. With her iconic raspy voice, it's hard to imagine anyone but Demi Moore playing Diana. Throw in a shed-load of surprising cameos from the likes of Lena Dunham, Gwendoline Christie and Melanie Griffith and you've got yourself a sensual and star-studded favourite new podcast.

USP: Inspired by her own marriage, writer and director Shana Feste wanted to make a sex-positive show through an all-female lens - and she's nailed it. Expect a slew of copy-cat podcasts.

Best time to listen: The sex scenes are defo NSFW but who cares when we're all WFH?

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If you love Succession...

Listen to: Blood Ties

In a nutshell: From Wondery (the clever peeps behind true crime hits like Dirty John and The Shrink Next Door) comes this compelling six-part scripted drama about two siblings who lose their (very wealthy) parents in a mysterious plane crash and are forced to confront some unsavoury home truths. Season two just dropped this summer.

Star factor: 7/10. Fans of Netflix's Love or cult TV hit Community will recognise Gillian Jacobs as Eleonore Richland and fans of erm, Disney's Frozen will recognise Olaf, (sorry!) Josh Gad, as Eleonore's brother Michael.

USP: Murder! Money! Drugs! If you've exhausted the true crime podcast genre but still can't get enough, Blood Ties is probably the closest you'll get to that level of drams in a fictionalised format.

Best time to listen: The snappy half hour episodes are perfect for a lunchtime walk. But they're also highly addictive; you may be late back to your desk.

If you love Lost...

Listen to: Passenger List

In a nutshell: A missing plane. A cabin full of suspects. A search for the truth. OK, we may have just stolen that from Radiotopia who produced this eight-part mystery thriller but the teaser explains it better than we could have.

Star factor: 5/10. The Last Jedi's Kelly Marie Tran, The Fall star Colin Morgan, and Broadway ledge, Patti LuPone. Not one to download for the big names, but the performances are on point.

USP: If you enjoy playing detective, you'll be all over Kaitlin Le (Tran)'s quest to uncover the truth about the disappearance of a transatlantic flight her twin brother was on. Each episode turns the spotlight onto a different passenger, uncovering a growing list of leads and suspects one by one...

Best time to listen: Back to back on a car or train journey. You'll want to be in it for the long haul. You know, like a passenger.

If you love The Leftovers...

Listen to: Blackout

In a nutshell: A tense post-apocalyptic thriller seen through the eyes of a small-town DJ who documents what happens when the power grid goes down. That's no light, no internet, no communication, no healthcare equipment - the collapse of modern civilisation as we know it. Scared? You will be.

Star factor: 9/10. In his first role after Bohemian Rhapsody, (which won him an Oscar, no less), trail-blazing Rami Malek decided to lend his voice to a podcast, cementing his status as the coolest guy in Hollywood.

USP: The first podcast from the aforementioned QCODE set the bar casting Rami Malek in a compelling lead role. It's the TV-rivalling podcast all the others aspire to be.

Best time to listen: Bedtime. Yes, it's a stressful listen but Rami Malek's radio DJ voice is soothing AF. If only he was a DJ in real life, right?

If you love Orange Is The New Black...

Listen to: Motherhacker

In a nutshell: From Gimlet Media (who produced the ground-breaking 2016 scripted series Homecoming, later turned into an Amazon TV series starring Julia Roberts) is this gripping and eclectic nine-episode drama about a mother who resorts to making voice phishing calls for an identity theft ring in order to support her family.

Star factor: 8/10. Carrie Coon from The Leftovers and Fargo heads up a cool cast boasting fashion blogger turned actress Tavi Gevinson and Hollywood indie It boy Lucas Hedges.

USP: With episodes lasting between eight and 15 minutes and a musical score by hip LA band Warpaint, Motherhacker is a listening experience like no other. Less a replication of a TV series, more a rollercoaster for the senses.

Best time to listen: If you like your morning workouts as bitesized as your podcast episodes, this is ideal for a quick daily burst. You'll feel like you've achieved so much in like, ten minutes.

If you love The OA...

Listen to: Earth Break

In a nutshell: Six-episode fictional drama, Earth Break: A Few Suggestions For Survival, With Additional Hints and Tips About How to Make Yourself More Comfortable During the Alien Apocalypse (to give it it's official tongue-twisting title) does exactly what it says on the tin. Buckle up, it's going to be a wild ride.

Star factor: 8/10. Comedian and actress Jenny Slate voices Lynn Gellert, the sole survivor of an alien invasion, in a star-making performance that quite literally carries the whole podcast.

USP: "Really I'm just stumbling through this like some idiot talking to herself at the end of the world," murmurs Lynn in episode one. If that were the case, this podcast would be very boring. Lynn's fight for survival is most certainly not.

Best time to listen: Intimate, intense and utterly mesmerising - this is perfect running fodder.

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