10 Best Podcasts of 2018

2 Dope Queens, Bowery Boys, and True Crime!

The Bowery Boys, above. 2 Dope Queens on landing

BY: Claire Connors

What was once a relatively vacant platform on the internet, podcasts have surpassed all expectations, with over 50 million Americans tuning in to their favorite series every week. There are so many to choose from—more than half a million shows are available to download—but PROVOKR is here to help you sort through the best we can find. All shows are available on iTunes, Apple Podcast store, and/or wherever you prefer to stream your favorite series.

The Bowery Boys
The OG of podcasters, The Bowery Boys have been recording their New York-centric series since 2007! The Boys, Greg Young and Tom Meyers, are two mid-westerners who have been living in New York for over 20 years. With their well-researched and eccentric knowledge of the city, they “tell-all” about familiar landmarks, streets, and hot spots…but with a Bowery Boy twist: they add in all the gory details, dirty secrets, and salacious gossip about each attraction. Often timed to current events (the ghost stories of Hell’s Kitchen around Halloween, or the gritty history of Times Square when The Deuce was on HBO), The Bowery Boys are your go-to podcasters regarding the city that never sleeps.

Dr Death
Dr. Death may not be a true crime podcast about a serial killer, but this six-part nail-biter is most horrifying…because it could happen to anyone! Dr. Christopher Duntsch was a well-regarded Dallas-based neurosurgeon with an insane ego and a complete disregard for the welfare of his patients. We learn the history of Duntsch’s medical experience—practically none—and how his shoddy surgery skills slipped past the medical boards, allowing him to continue maiming and sometimes killing his unfortunate patients. Like Dirty John, this podcast is on the short list to be made into a TV series.

Happy Face
What would you do if you discovered that your own father was a notorious serial killer? Make a podcast about it, of course! Melissa Moore was just a teenager when her father was arrested for the brutal murders of at least 8 women over a span of five years. His moniker, Happy Face Killer, was coined by the media because he drew smiley faces on his letters to them. Through Moore’s own memories, interviews with those who knew her, including her mother, and various biographies on her father, she uncovers the story of a madman.

Disgraceland
The second season of Jake Brennan’s fascinating delve into the very, very bad behavior of some of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s most notorious performers, may be over, but the third is only weeks away. Disgraceland covers everything from dirty sex, killer drugs, and damn good rock ‘n’ roll, all set to an original—very listenable—soundtrack by Brennan himself. Bonus: most are only about 20 minutes long, making it a perfect download for your next subway ride.

Pod Save America
For almost two years, or more specifically, ever since Trump went into office, the creators of Pod Save America have been schooling us on all things regarding the politics of Washington, D.C. And they should know, considering the hosts are Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor, four former aides to our last great world leader, President Obama. Their decidedly liberal take on elections, politicians, and any nugget of news that comes out of the White House is not just fun and informative, it’s downright necessary.

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness
Look, we love all of Bravo’s new Queer Eye members, but clearly the standout is the hilariously hirsute stylist, Jonathan Van Ness. A podcaster long before a TV star, the longhaired beauty sits down with experts and laypeople to discuss both the serious and the lighthearted stuff he’s curious about, like modeling, racism, the opioid crisis, and the Romanovs. JVN is smart, funny, and endlessly curious!

Two Dope Queens
You kind of have to hear 2 Dope Queens to believe it really exists. Basically it’s two hilarious women, former Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams and comedian/writer Phoebe Robinson, yakking about their lives and current events. Each episode features a big-name celebrity guest such as Jon Hamm, Aparna Nancherla, and Tig Notaro, plus three up-and-coming standup comics from diverse cultural backgrounds—we’re talking Black comics, female comics, LGBT comics—i.e., not all straight, white men. It’s a real breath of fresh air!

You Must Remember This
Written, produced, and narrative by the knowledgeable Karina Longworth, You Must Remember This investigates the scandals of Hollywood since its beginnings in the early 1900s. Curious about Charlie Manson’s connection to the film industry? Dying to know why Fatty Arbuckle’s career was sidelined? Intrigued by the many famous lovers of Howard Hughes? Longworth has got you covered.

Young Charlie by Hollywood & Crime
Speaking of Charles Manson, the creators of this six-part series must’ve listened to Longworth’s deep dive before embarking on their own investigation of the man behind the vicious killing of Sharon Tate and four others in August 1969. Host Tracy Pattin joins actor Stephen Lang on a fascinating exploration into the troubled life of the person responsible for the most infamous murder case in American history.