11 Podcasts You Should Binge Listen Right Now

Woman driving a car illustration
Got a long drive? We've got you covered. (Illustration by Brittany Metz for LAist)

Whether it's your daily commute or getting away to the mountains, you need podcasts you can binge — and our On Demand department has recommendations to make long drives feel a liiiittle shorter. It's our way to psychologically let you fly down the road, without the threat of speeding tickets.

Mystery Show

Mystery Show logo

When I started working in public radio, I was the Chandler of my friend group — no one knew what I did and no one cared. Fair enough.

But then! Starlee Kine made this for the "Break-Up" episode of This American Life and everything changed. I was able to send it to my friends who "would never listen to public radio" and get them to hear the kind of thing I hoped to make. It was my gateway drug that I gave people, and it worked. (Welcome to a new addiction, friends!)

Years later, when Kine created Mystery Show, my hopes were high — but she exceeded them. Some of the best moments I've ever heard captured on tape exist because of her work and this show, and if you haven't listened yet, I envy the fact that you get to hear it for the first time. — Arwen

You Must Remember This: Charles Manson's Hollywood

My father was still a teen when he and a few friends went looking for a friend of theirs — who no one had seen for days. When they found Gary, he was long dead, mutilated at his home in Topanga Canyon. Gary was one of the first casualties of the Manson family.

I mention this because I often find Manson-focused deep dives to be cheap, shallow, and not worth my time. But the Manson series from You Must Remember This is easily the best work I've ever consumed on the story. Charge up your phone, ready your queue and drive through the canyons — carefully — with host Karina Longworth as your companion. — Arwen

The Bright Sessions

I listened to 51 episodes of this show in 11 days. It filled the deep, deep Buffy the Vampire Slayer-shaped hole I have in my heart. The series begins with recordings of therapy sessions introducing us to people with uncanny abilities, then evolves into an ensemble show that uses fantasy/superpowers as a stand-in for vulnerabilities. The show is here, it's queer, and it's just the right amount of fun and fancy to melt away your own problems for a little while. — Arwen

Heavyweight

Jonathan Goldstein features his mother, Dina, in a way that exposes every single irritation, feeling of guilt, and ounce of love I feel for my own mother. With a recorder and a mic, Goldstein approaches people in his own life, along with those outside of it, to correct the wrongs of the past.

From a sorority sister who found herself villainized by her closest friends, to lovers who parted unexpectedly but left a trailer of beautiful letters, to strangers whose lives crisscrossed in a life-changing car accident, the stories tugged at my heartstrings and made me laugh out loud. — Misha

In the Dark seasons 1 & 2

In The Dark logo

In the Dark is journalism at its best, and the team behind the project is an inspiration. If you enjoyed Serial you will deeply love In the Dark — and now you have not just the first incredible season, but a brand new season to dig into. This show is better described as "true journalism" than "true crime." — Arwen

The Butterfly Effect

Believe it or not, a German man named Fabian changed the porn industry forever, and in this show you get to see how chaos theory applies to you, fetishists, porn stars and the internet as we know it. This is the highest brow show about pornography, and somehow it works.

The somehow is the writing of Jon Ronson. Ronson is easily one of the most flawless communicators when it comes to true connection in the modern world, and I recommend this and everything else the man has done (except for the movie adaptation of The Men Who Stare at Goats, sorryyyyy). — Arwen

More Perfect seasons 1 & 2

As a Law & Order and crime show addict, anything that takes place in a courtroom shoots up to the top of my list for binging. More Perfect takes every courtroom fantasy and uses it as an opportunity to teach you about obscure aspects of the Supreme Court. The show's genius is its ability to tell the story of one person — getting into the intimate details of a life — and telling the story of a case, of legal precedent, and of political tides through that life. — Misha

The Habitat

Lynn Levy is a golden god of audio producing, and she has outdone herself with this Real World meets The Martian meets BioDome podcast. A science podcast that questions what man is surviving if he tries to survive on Mars. — Arwen

Missing Richard Simmons

Missing Richard Simmons logo

Yes, we know this show is problematic. But! It's so engaging that you'll be hard-pressed to not finish it in one sitting, even if the show centers around a guy who doesn't want to be bothered and just wants to be left alone, along with a host who keeps trying to get to him. — James

StartUp season 1

There are already four shows on this list from Gimlet, not even including this one. Want to know how a nerd with an idea built what is arguably the world's best audio shop? Listen to season 1 of StartUp. It's the Seabiscuit of podcasts. — Arwen

Second Wave

Talking about race and identity is complex, yet Thanh Tan does it effortlessly in Second Wave. The show follows Tan's journey on what it means to be Vietnamese-American — from reflecting on the Vietnam War, to the cultural significance of pho, to questioning the importance of beauty pageants (my personal favorite episode, FYI). What makes this show stand out is that Thanh Tan isn't afraid to hold up Vietnamese-American culture to a mirror, and point out all of the beauty marks, along with the flaws. — James

With contributions from Arwen Champion-Nicks, Misha Euceph, and James Kim


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