The joy of getting deep, deep, deep into a TV show you love is a double-edged sword. Sure, you’re having the time of your life. You’re connecting to great art. You’re expanding your experience of this world, while wrapping yourself up in worlds you could never have experienced.
But you’re also kind of busy, and despite your best efforts your partner/mates/colleagues/flatmates/pets don’t have anywhere near as much invested in, say, the ongoing struggle for control of Waystar-RoyCo. Where do you put your energy, your urge to shout about it, your extremely tenuous fan theories? Or, if you pick up a show absolutely yonks after everyone else was raving about it, how do you feel it unfurling before you without getting the standard “What, you’re only just watching Breaking Bad?” response from anyone you try to chat about it with?
You listen to one of the many watchalong podcasts, obviously. There are a few different genres here, from the kinds of slightly ramshackle, homemade pods powered by their hosts’ deep devotion to their subject to the super-swish broadcaster produced tie-ins that have become de rigeur for shows big and small. Here are some of the best.
His Darker Materials
Hosts Dave Corkery and Empire magazine’s Helen O’Hara delve deep into HBO and the BBC’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novels, with cast members including Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson and VFX don Russell Dodgson also popping by to explain how the show comes together behind the scenes. Empire Podcast listeners will already be familiar with O’Hara’s mix of insight, knowledge and generally being a laugh, and the easy rapport she has with Corkery is the bedrock here. Listen now >>
Buffering: A Rewatch Adventure
It’s hard to overstate quite how important Buffy the Vampire Slayer was to a generation of young people who found community and recognition in its portrayal of gay women. Hosts Kristin Russo and Jenny Owen Youngs are both queer and bring that perspective to their ep-by-ep rewatch of Buffy. Astutely picking out viewpoints that were bypassed in the late nineties, they bring a fresh and affectionate eye to a show they both love. And, at the end of each episode, there’s a new original song responding to what they’ve seen. Now they’ve finished Buffy, the pair are moving onto another cult favourite with The eX-Files: An X-Files Podcast. Listen now >>
The crew who starred in The US Office are clearly loath to leave a thing they loved behind – after Brian Baumgartner’s The Office Deep Dive pod, which featured pretty much anyone who’s ever been near Dunder Mifflin there’s this from Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey who played Pam and Angela respectively. It’s another ep-by-ep breakdown, and the very palpable sense that these best pals are having fun wandering down memory lane is apt for the ultimate comfort blanket sitcom. Listen now >>
The Crown Official Podcast
Official podcasts can be a teensy bit dull, but what you lose in spicy takes and off-brand wittering you gain in glossier presentation and a hotline straight to the big dogs at the heart of things. The Crown costs about a trillion quid as it is, and clearly some of that’s gone to the official tie-in pod: Edith Bowman on hosting duties, cast members dropping by to chat, and a raft of fascinating below-the-line professionals doing the hard yards to pull the whole thing together. Listen now >>
Back in the heady days of early 2019, before that Starbucks cup got left on Daenerys’ desk and everything started going to pot, the Game of Thrones fandom was one of the most obsessive and upbeat fandoms around. With House of the Dragon, it feels like the good times are back again, and Jamie East’s podcast has been there for all the ups and downs. Sue Perkins and journalist Chris Mandle are regular guests, and ensure every fan theory and world-building detail is chased down. Listen now >>
Dug Too Deep
A billion quid later, we’re still kind of making our minds up about whether Amazon Prime’s admittedly beautiful Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series was worth all the palaver. But as with everything Tolkien, there are passionate defenders of – and, even more crucially, knowledgeable interpreters of – his work everywhere. Jim, Aron, David and John are some such types, reverently irreverent about everything Rings of Power but full of Middle Earth lore too. The chiptune rendering of Concerning Hobbits which opens each ep is a joy. Listen now >>
The Lost Boys
Film journalists Jacob Stolworthy (Lost superfan) and Jack Shepherd (Lost agnostic) watch the entirety of the extremely what-just-happened desert island drama. It’s a particularly handy pod for the Lost first-timer, what with Jacob’s deep knowledge and Jack’s knack for asking exactly what you’re probably thinking about the show which stands as probably the biggest fan theory generator since Twin Peaks. The interviews with the cast and crew are excellent too. Listen now >>
Firecrotch and Normcore: A Succession Podcast
Husband and wife Geoff Lloyd and Sara Barron will be familiar from their work on BBC comedy across TV and radio, and as well as breaking down each episode they’re exceptionally good at picking up and pulling at the stray threads which live rent-free in the heads of Succession stans. Where exactly did Marcia’s son go? We deserve to know. Listen now >>
HBO’s Succession Podcast
Official tie-in podcasts can be a bit of a mixed bag. Yes, the access to stars and prime movers is great, but the necessity of only being nice about the thing that it’s tied in with can make the discussion a little anodyne. Fortunately, Succession is on such outrageously good form that it takes that roadblock out of the way of HBO’s pod, and host Kara Swisher is appropriately brisk with her guests to get the most out of them. Well, it wouldn’t be right if such an unsentimental show got too cosy a pod, would it? Listen now >>
It’s been off the air for more than 15 years, but it’s never the wrong time to get into The Sopranos. Whether you’re fresh to it or on a twelfth rewatch, this is the top companion pod. Its hosts are Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, who played Christopher Moltisanti and Bobby Baccalieri, and who liberally sprinkle anecdotes and memories from their time on set into the mix. It’s as close as you’ll get to hanging out eavesdropping on Tony in Dr Melfi’s office in podcast form. Listen now >>
This article was original published on January 4, 2023.