The best thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them while you’re doing other things: Washing dishes, going for a run, coloring, and especially, driving. But there are so many podcasts these days that it’s simply impossible to keep up. There are new ones debuting all the time, and it’s hard to know whether they deserve a spot in your feed.
Every week, we highlight new and returning podcasts we couldn’t put down. Whether you’re looking for the latest and greatest or you’re just dipping your toe into the vast ocean of podcasts, we’ll find you something worth listening to. This week, we’ve got podcasts about cats, chats, Veronica Mars, and happiness.
I was not prepared for the emotional gut-punch delivered by some episodes of Let’s Talk about Cats. It sounds like it should be a fun, light-hearted discussion about felines, and it is. But pets often see their owners through hard times, so asking people about their lives via cat-centric questions often brings up a range of feelings.
Self-proclaimed cat lady Mary Phillips-Sandy hosts the show, which has cute segments like a cat quiz (with some exceptional prizes) and shout-outs from listeners to their cats (who often have outstanding names). For the first episode in Season 2, Phillips-Sandy talks to actress Alexandra Silber, who has a cat-ghost story oddly reminiscent of an experience Holly Frey talked about in her Season 1 episode. The show will want to make you give your cats a few extra pets and treats, so it’s a win-win for everyone (who has a cat).
We’ll probably never know how many kids were inspired to take up cheerleading as a result of Bring It On, but Lacey Henderson was among them. Her skills earned her a spot on the Denver University team, where she then started competing in track and field in 2012.
Just four years later, Henderson made the U.S. Paralympic Team and went to Rio de Janeiro to compete in the long jump. On her new podcast, Henderson talks with musicians, athletes, photographers, and more about how they’ve dealt with life’s unexpected struggles. In one episode, she and Andrew McMahon (whose bands include Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin) compare “cancer stories,” and Henderson shares a truly heart-melting moment that occurred when she was nine years old when her older brother found out she would have to have her leg amputated.
Veronica Mars is a show that spans decades and networks, and some loyal fans felt burnt after Season 4’s big twist. What’s a Marshmallow to do but go back to the beginning?
That’s where Jenny Owen Youngs and Helen Zaltzman are starting. Both are podcast veterans (Owen Youngs co-hosts Buffering the Vampire Slayer and Zaltzman hosts The Allusionist and Answer Me This!) and big fans of the Neptune universe. What they are not big fans of is Duncan Kane and early ‘00s fashion. The pair take apart each episode and revel in the dialogue while also pointing out aspects that haven’t aged as well. Also, in service to their younger listeners who aren’t old enough to know how life worked before current technology, they explain things like postmarks. (“It’s like an IP address, but on paper.”) Listen in, and remember what it’s like to laugh along with Veronica Mars!
Not to be confused with the Ceramics Lab at Neptune High (sorry, inside joke for Veronica Mars Investigations listeners), The Happiness Lab is a podcast about how to improve your well-being.
You may remember Dr. Laurie Santos for making headlines in 2018 with Yale University’s most popular class of all time: Psychology and the Good Life. The goal of the course was to teach students how to be happier. But it wasn’t all woo-woo and hippie-dippie, as Santos says in the first episode of the podcast. She uses science to discover what actually makes people happy. And it’s definitely not magic; putting the findings into practice takes work. Santos also admits not everyone is in a position to make the changes. But the podcast is kind of like a light version of her Yale course (which is now online), meant for those who want to get the lessons but don’t have the time to devote 20 hours to it.
- The best podcasts of 2021
- The best Hulu original series you can stream right now
- The best podcasts for kids of any age
- The best scary podcasts to keep you up all night
- 7 Podcasts to listen to during Women’s History Month