Entertainment

The Best Podcasts of 2021 to Listen to Before the Year Ends

A weekly podcast drop is the adult equivalent of pizza day in elementary school. Do you remember the feeling of starting a morning, circa fourth grade, thinking, I may have control over very little in my life, but at least I know that later today I will be eating pizza? Or library day, when you would be allowed to carry home as many chapter books as you wanted? Or maybe a day that you knew was going to feature a bounce house?

In adulthood, there is a way to rekindle this feeling. The way is to become emotionally dependent on podcasts. After outsourcing your happiness to podcasts, your week will turn into a series of little treats. This is probably the way people used to feel before TV shows started dropping as full seasons. Except this healthier, because it’s not watching a screen; it’s listening to a podcast, which is so wholesome you might as well be shopping for produce at a farmers’ market. You are happy. You are learning. You are avoiding your own thoughts by plugging an endless stream of content directly into your ear canals. You are listening to a podcast, and for a while, all is well.

There are podcasts for every day of the week. There are subscription-supported podcasts and many, many free podcasts. Then, of course, there are the podcast episodes you play two or three times over, the audio equivalent of turning a chip bag upside down over your face. These are Glamour‘s picks for the best podcasts of 2021. 

Fallen Angel 

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Hosted by reporter Vanessa Grigoriadis and former Glamour features director Justine Harman, Fallen Angel is a riveting—at times, shocking—look into the dark history of Victoria’s Secret. It explores, with incredible nuance, the pressures on models, and it sheds light on former CEO Les Wexner’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. All that to say: It’s not always an easy listen, so proceed with caution. —Christopher Rosa, entertainment editor

Poog 

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“Poog” is “Goop” spelled backward, but it’s so much more. On their search for wellness, comedians Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak paint a portrait of a deep friendship that will actually have you writing notes, sometimes on product recommendations, sometimes on Freud. “There were larvae dancing wildly,” said Berlant in a recent Poog, recounting a moth invasion in her home. “I called my flesh-fly man—texted him, I emailed him. Nothing. Hurtful.” To which Novak responded, sagely, “Don’t go boutique.” I pause the pod to laugh several times per episode. —Jenny Singer, staff writer  

Maintenance Phase

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In 2018, journalist Michael Hobbes published an article in HuffPost called “Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong.” It became a flagship piece of reporting and analysis for laypeople to take in the idea that being fat does not mean unhealthy or weak, though it does mean experiencing cruelty and discrimination. In 2020, Aubrey Gordon went public as the voice behind Your Fat Friend, a social media presence that documented, in beautiful, pained writing, an experience of being fat in America. Together Hobbes and Gordon created Maintenance Phase, a determinately cheerful, funny, irreverent takedown of diet culture and pseudoscience around weight loss. Listen to learn, feel less alone, and get mad at a punishing culture masquerading as a health-obsessed one. —J.S.

She Makes Money Moves

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Obviously we’re going to put our own podcast in the best podcasts of 2021 list, and how could we not? On She Makes Money Moves, real women share deeply personal stories about their finances. Then host and Glamour editor in chief Samantha Barry asks financial experts to break down the situation at hand and share some tips. Each episode is under a half an hour, and topics range from women small-business owners to dealing with health care debt. It’s an empowering and shockingly entertaining listen. Prepare to feel in control of your spending, saving, and investing.—J.S.

Eat, Pray, Britney

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Eat, Pray, Britney is the ultimate deep-dive podcast for Britney Spears stans. Hosts Lisa and Jaclyn are encyclopedic in their knowledge, breaking down archived Britney interviews and performances with precise detail. Naturally, their expertise made episodes on Britney’s conservatorship situation fascinating, as they went beyond the headlines and dove deep into the systems and people keeping the pop icon oppressed. When Britney’s conservatorship ended on November 12, I waited patiently for the Eat, Pray, Britney episode drop like it was Christmas morning. —C.R.

The Cutting Room Floor

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The Cutting Room Floor, hosted by Recho Omondi, is my favorite podcast for its unfiltered, honest takes surrounding the fashion industry and the in-depth conversations Omondi has with her guests. I tell everyone to listen, even my non–fashion industry folks. Omondi and her guests are so passionate and knowledgeable about their topics it’s entrancing. An added bonus to your listening experience—the sound editing is incredible. —Kat Thomas, assistant fashion editor

We Are Supported By 

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Each week Kristen Bell and Monica Padman welcome a new woman who’s “made a significant crack in the ceiling” and how to keep doors open for future generations. They discuss resilience, personal struggles, and of course, their accomplishments. (My fave episodes have been Kim K & Reese Witherspoon.) —Andrea Navarro, commerce writer

OC Swingers 

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Justine Harman, the former Glamour editor behind the hit podcasts Broken Harts and The Baron of Botox, leads this 10-part series about the high-profile rape case against a California orthopedic surgeon and his substitute-teacher girlfriend, who were accused of drugging and sexually assaulting multiple women. While the deep dive into the couple’s glamorous—but turbulent—lifestyle is fascinating, it’s the impact statements from the survivors that will stick with you long after you listen. —Anna Moeslein, deputy editor

Radio Cherry Bombe

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Radio Cherry Bombe is hosted by Kerry Diamond, the founder and editor of Cherry Bombe, a beautifully designed biannual print magazine that doubles as a coffee-table book. Each episode celebrates women in the food space, whether she’s a vegan pastry chef from the Midwest, a food-insecurity activist, or the domestic goddess Nigella Lawson herself. I always come away from an episode more knowledgable, miraculously relaxed, and of course, hungry. —Caitlin Brody, entertainment director

Nymphet

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This podcast was basically manufactured in a lab to appeal to me, down to the name (which refers to a questionable Tumblr aesthetic I once aligned myself with). Each episode is an incredibly smart discussion about the intersection of niche fashion trends and culture, with a particular focus on Tumblr circa 2014, as well as current-day TikTok. My personal favorites were the deep dive into the history of American Apparel for the pod’s inaugural episode, and the reflection on the lasting effects that Rookie online magazine still has on my generation. —Bella Cacciatore, beauty writer 

Every Outfit

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I have been a follower of the Every Outfit on Sex and the City Instagram account since day one, so when the women behind the account, Chelsea Fairless and Lauren Garroni, launched a pod, I was immediately on board. It strikes the perfect balance of two-friends-shooting-the-shit vibes, fashion talk, and pop culture news—their And Just Like That filming updates and SATC recap eps are not to be missed—and I find myself literally laughing out loud at least once an episode. —B.C.

StraightioLab 

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The very funny podcast StraightioLab recently launched a Patreon, a service that allows listeners to pay for extra, exclusive content. Describing the cost of the Patreon’s top tier, host Sam Taggart explained, “Don’t think, like, we think we deserve this. We don’t! We think it’s a joke.” Host George Civeris added, “It’s camp.” The cohosts asked listeners to subscribe, clarifying, “No presh.” StraightioLab is a comedic exploration of “straight culture.” Each week the hosts, who are gay, welcome a guest to bring an article of straight culture (cast-iron skillets, French manicures, and Neil Patrick Harris are recent examples). It is also a podcast about making a podcast—not the technical elements or editing process, but the anxiety caused by broadcasting your own thoughts and feelings to the world. As such, it captures a vibe you might recognize from, say, sending any email ever. The hosts claim to be enemies of sincerity, but StraightioLab sincerely makes me feel happy. —J.S.

Again With This 

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To ease anxiety, I find nothing works better than this podcast that recaps every single episode of ’90s teen soap Beverly Hills, 90210 30 years after it originally aired. I’ve probably listened to every episode no less than 20 times thanks to the fact that the hosts Tara Ariano and Sarah D. Bunting—TV writers and seemingly very delightful people—deliver exactly what you came for. Unlike so many other podcasts that recap television shows, they don’t go on meandering tangents about themselves but rather move through every episode swiftly from start to finish with actual audio clips from the original series (take note, other recap hosts!) while providing running commentary that’s genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. I love this podcast so much that when I had former 90210 star Tiffani Thiessen on the Glamour podcast I host, What I Wore When, I told her she needed to listen to it immediately. —Perrie Samotin, digital director and host of podcast What I Wore When 

Bitch Sesh

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I’ve been listening to this Real Housewives breakdown podcast, hosted by Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider, for years, and it still brings me so much joy every week. The comedians’ armchair psychoanalysis of some of the most insane characters on television, paired with their whip-smart banter, makes it impossible not to LOL while listening—whether you think Erika knew or not. —C.B.

The Splendid Table 

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Hosted by food writer Francis Lam, The Splendid Table is a charm-filled, beautifully produced conversation about food and dining culture. In one segment, Lam will interview members of the Ng family, who for three generations and four decades have served Chinese food in Kansas City at their restaurant, Bo Ling’s. In another, he’s taking tips from chefs and regular people on “things to try,” to the tune of cheese in hot chocolate, and Oreos dipped in wine. —J.S.

And the Award Goes To

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If you’re a theater fan, you’ll adore this charming and highly bingeable podcast. On each episode, host Ilana Levine welcomes a different Tony Award winner, and the two zero in on the experience of collecting the award, and the road to winning. Topics include the speech they gave—and whether it holds up—who they brought, what they wore, and how they landed the role to begin with. The result is highly intimate and interesting. Plus, the guest list is beyond impressive: Patti Lupone, Laura Benanti, Kristen Chenoweth, Cynthia Nixon, James Monroe Iglehart, and B.D. Wong are just a few actors featured. —P.S.

Celebrity Book Club 

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“Who’s that knocking at the door? It’s all your friends, you filthy whore!” So goes the theme song for Celebrity Book Club, hosted by comedians Steven Phillips-Horst and Lily Marotta. It continues, “Your husband’s gone, and we’ve got books and a bottle of wine to kill!” Phillips-Horst and Marotta, who are childhood friends, can be hilariously brutal. But they also analyze celebrities’ self-reported life stories with more respect and scholarly interest than most. Come for celebrity anecdotes, jokes, and very serious discussions about, for example, whether Tan France’s position on getting bangs is harmful. —J.S. 



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