All it took was one little girl to mispronounce the word chimp and suddenly podcasts were all anybody can talk about.
Honestly, I live in a such a bubble that I forgot that most people don’t listen to podcasts, let alone have even heard of one. Then, Serial rolled around and it became the new form of small talk. Thanks to that, people were now going and listening to other podcasts. Finally, I could talk a lot of my friends about Marc Maron! All was well in podcast land.
This is the first year I will be sharing a list of podcasts. This is not the first year that I have listened to enough podcasts to compile a best of list, but it is the first year where I actually think I understand podcasts and have gotten a taste of the wide variety out there. Before this year, I mainly listened to comedy podcasts. In 2014, I opened my heart to a single one about business. What a world.
Without much further adieu, here is my list of the five best podcasts of 2014, not including my own because I’m not that much of an ass:
5. Doug Loves Movies
It would be flat out wrong if I didn’t include at least one film related podcast on here. Doug Loves Movies is by far the most fun podcast that I stream through my earbuds. With another great year, Doug proved that sometimes, the more disorganized the games got, the more entertaining they ultimately were.
Best Episode: TJ Miller, Rory Scovel, and Matt Braunger
4. You Made It Weird
Here is one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets: besides being an amazing comedian, Pete Holmes is one of the best interviewers out there. He is less interested in your career achievements (though he loves talking about comedy) than he is on your thoughts about everything from sex to God. This year, Pete expanded beyond his comedian friends and had on musicians, philosophers, and scientists. It will make you absolutely giddy to hear how personal Ray Romano and Bill Nye are willing to get. Earlier this year, Pete Holmes had his own show on TBS. It was somewhat brilliant and sadly, short-lived. Holmes might not be in your living room four nights a week anymore, but allow him to be with you on your daily commute to work.
Best Episode: Patton Oswalt
If you haven’t heard of Serial at this point, then the chances are that you live under a noise canceling rock. Serial is not the first popular podcast, but it has attracted an audience well beyond the people who typically listen to podcasts on a daily basis. There was an inevitable backlash, and the backlash to the backlash, but I am just happy that a podcast has finally become a water cooler topic. If you did listen to Serial, you will understand why. The story of a possibly unsolved murder and a man who might have been wrongly imprisoned is mesmerizing. The story of Hae Min Lee’s murder and Adnan Syed’s imprisonment spouted endless theories and jokes (we get it, she says Mail Chimp funny). Serial doesn’t offer any easy, conclusive answers. That is what I like about it: it forces the viewer to be a detective. Consider this the first interactive true crime story ever made.
Best Episode: The Best Defense Is A Good Defense
On paper, a podcast about a startup business sounds like the kind of thing that might put me to sleep. But in the hands of somebody from This American Life, which is proving to be the Saturday Night Live of podcasts, it proves to be much more than a handful of business tips. StartUp is an overarching story about the birth of a company, how ideas are born, and how our ambitions can impact those around us, sometimes not for the better.
Best Episode: We Made A Mistake
1. WTF with Marc Maron
If Sarah Koenig is Queen of the Podcasts, then Marc Maron is king. While this year had a lot of people saying that Serial made the medium mainstream, you get extra cool points for being a longtime listener of WTF. After half a decade of podcasting, Maron is still at the top of his game, and he’s one of the best interviewers out there not holding a journalism degree. Maron got some great stuff out of a wide range of guests from Anna Kendrick to Mike Myers. Along the way, we get to learn about Marc’s love of everything from music to Jewish culture to Lorne Michaels (well, that’s more of an obsession). WTF is a long, strange trip through Maron’s neuroses. It’s an interview show where interviewer is just as important as interviewee. Call it egotistical if you want, but Maron has taught us more about his guests than an objective interviewer ever would.
Best Episode: Nicholas Stoller