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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Alexi Duggins, Hannah Verdier, Hollie Richardson and Ammar Kalia

Best podcasts of the week: The hidden history of the American right’s anti-trans agenda

A protestor marches during the Brooklyn Liberation: An action for Trans Youth March in 2021.
A protestor marches during the Brooklyn Liberation: An action for Trans Youth March in 2021. Photograph: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Picks of the week

The Lesser Dead
All episodes on Wondery+ now, available weekly elsewhere
The life of a vampire in 1978 is a good one, according to this scripted podcast starring Minnie Driver (below) and Jack Kilmer. Spending days watching TV, then partying in underground clubs – they’ve got it all worked out. Joey Peacock (Kilmer) is only out to steal a bit of blood and means no harm, but when he witnesses a disturbing incident on Valentine’s Day his bliss is shattered and an enthralling, atmospheric story starts. Hannah Verdier

This Is History: A Dynasty to Die For
Widely available, episodes weekly

Historian Dan Jones’s middle ages saga returns for a second series, this time focusing on Richard the Lionheart. It’s full of highly evocative storytelling with a flair for visual detail that’s both excellent at turning long-dead figures into well-rounded characters and also putting listeners right at the heart of history. Alexi Duggins

Minnie Driver, star of the new scripted show The Lesser Dead.
Minnie Driver, star of the new scripted show The Lesser Dead. Photograph: Sophia Spring/The Guardian

Widely available, episodes weekly

This series about how aromas and flavour connect to our deepest emotions comes in 10-minute episodes, but each one bursts with personality. Host Natasha Miller talks to the likes of restaurateur Jeremy King as she takes us on a vivid, eloquent, grief-inspired tale of unforgettable tastes. This is lovely storytelling that will leave you yearning for a restaurant trip. AD

The Darkness Vaults
Widely available, episodes weekly

This podcast collects some of the darkest true-crime cases ever reported and each episode quite rightly comes with a warning due to the grim content. Cases include Fiona Torbet, who went missing while hiking in the Scottish Highlands in 1993, and a mysterious suitcase left at a Los Angeles train station in 1931. HV

The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: A Plot Against Equality
Widely available, out now

“Trans people are in crisis and America is in crisis: these two stories are inherently linked.” Imara Jones continues to be an excellent host in the second series of this podcast, which dives into the history of the anti-trans movement – starting with conversion therapy. Hollie Richardson

There’s a podcast for that

Jessie and Lennie Ware, hosts of Table Manners.
Jessie and Lennie Ware, hosts of Table Manners. Photograph: Pål Hansen/The Observer

This week, Ammar Kalia chooses five of the best pop culture podcasts, from Jessie Ware’s dinner dates with her mum and celebrity guests to a show on the meaning behind pop’s biggest hits

Switched On Pop
Few artforms drive pop culture as much as music. As a result, the pop music podcast industry has been thriving, with honourable mentions for the New York Times’ chatty Popcast, as well as Hrishikesh Hirway’s long running Song Exploder, which dissects the elements that go into making a hit. Musicologist Nate Sloan and songwriter Charlie Harding’s Switched On Pop might be the best of the bunch, though, as the pair combine forensic musical analysis of songbooks from the likes of Taylor Swift and Rihanna, with discussion on what each artist has added to the cultural moment.

Every Outfit
Chelsea Fairless and Lauren Garroni’s viral Instagram account dissecting the flamboyant outfits of Sex and the City has developed into am insightful podcast series on the intersection of fashion and wider pop culture. While there are still recap episodes analysing the fits from Sex and the City spin-off And Just Like That …, the series comes into its own when Fairless and Garroni go deep on everything from the kitsch palette of the White Lotus aesthetic to Golden Globes glam, and what Emily in Paris’s wardrobe tells us about nepo babies.

Table Manners with Jessie and Lennie Ware
While not strictly a pop culture podcast, singer Jessie Ware’s food-themed series, co-hosted with her mother, Lennie, keeps its finger on the pulse of the latest cultural news, thanks to its starry roster of dinner guests. Each episode, the Wares (above) serve up a meal to a new celeb and let the wine – and Lennie’s typically direct questions –provoke an unusually frank conversation. Recent highlights include chef Nadiya Hussain on winning Bake Off and the world of food TV, Rita Wilson on Nora Ephron’s recipes, and daytime TV treasure Alison Hammond breaking down the art of the off-the-cuff celeb interview.

Las Culturistas
Expert-driven discussion and analysis might be one route into pinpointing the zeitgeist, but comics Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang have another method entirely: gossip. High-energy chat and in-the-know famous friends accompany Rogers and Yang on their weekly journey through what’s hot and what’s not, providing insights into child stardom and movie politics with Keke Palmer, how to navigate a breakup with Margaret Cho, and whether it’s worth submitting yourself to three hours of Avatar: Way of the Water. It’s addictive listening, full of gems and high-profile cameos from Yang’s day job as a cast member on Saturday Night Live.

Pop Culture with Chanté Joseph

Chanté Joseph sifts through the never-ending slate of controversies, cancellations and hyped new releases on her weekly Guardian deep dive into the world of pop culture. Covering major news as much as underlying trends, Joseph’s strengths lie in getting the best out of her range of guests, from activist and actor Jameela Jamil’s take on media scrutiny of women’s bodies, to presenter Clara Amfo’s fascination with astrology. There’s even insight into why Matt Hancock endured the ritual humiliation of the I’m A Celebrity jungle, and – in its current second series – a look at ADHD in pop culture.

Why not try …

  • Intimate tales of AI romance in Radiotopia’s Bot Love.

  • Conheads assemble: follow along with the highs and lows of the final season of Succession with HBO’s official podcast.

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