Gripping podcasts
September 30, 2022 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Looking for suggestions for the podcast equivalent of a page-turner to listen to on a very long drive. A few podcasts that I personally have considered to be so good I couldn't "put 'em down": Bear Brook, S-Town, Serial, the Dropout.

These definitely skew true crime, but I'm open to any genre or topic, as long as it is something you would describe as "I stayed up too late listening because it was just so gripping I couldn't stop."
posted by forkisbetter to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
Dirty John and Sweet Bobby are very much in the same vein; The Trojan Horse Affair is quite different but also from Brian Reed of S-Town. You might want to take a look at a general list of Wondery shows, because they are playing the exact game you're interested in!
posted by neutralhydrogen at 8:50 AM on September 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

The Opportunist - it's about scammers. The first season of 8 episodes on Sherry Shriner, a Youtube alien conspiracy cult persona, was fascinating and compelling

Your Own Backyard : The Disappearance of Kristin Smart is true crime about a disappearance from 1995 that I can't put down, especially since it has helped in bringing a case to trial that is going on right now.
posted by lizard music at 8:57 AM on September 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I've been listening to This Land recently. It's really good and I think fits the kind of podcast you're seeking.
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:01 AM on September 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I like griping investigative podcasts. In addition to the ones you've liked, I've equally enjoyed:

-Hot Money
-Project Unabomb
-The Line
-Surviving Y2K
-Missing Richard Simmons
-Running from Cops
-Bad Women
-Will Be Wild

To a lesser extent (good, but less griping)
-Things Fell Apart w/ Jon Ronson
-La Brega
posted by coffeecat at 9:26 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

In The Dark. YOU GOTTAAAA. It's true crime and really dives into the investigation instead of doing the "describing the most horrific things across one-to-three hours" thing (ahem Casefile).

Season One: The investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling yielded no answers for 27 years. We investigate how law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger and led to the nation's sex-offender registries.

Season Two: In this season, we investigate the case of Curtis Flowers, a Black man from Winona, Mississippi, who was tried six times for the same crime. Flowers spent more than 20 years fighting for his life while a white prosecutor spent that same time trying just as hard to execute him.

Available on: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | Google Podcasts | NPR One
posted by meemzi at 9:28 AM on September 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

Seasons 1 and 2 of CBC's The Village are excellent ("The Montreal Murders" refers to season 3, which I haven't listened to yet).

Season 1:

For years, Toronto’s Gay Village worried a serial killer was in their midst. Men were disappearing from the neighbourhood but police insisted there was no evidence of foul play. Then, in January 2018, police arrested Bruce McArthur for the murders of eight men and police reopened dozens of unsolved murders from the Village, dating back to 1975. Journalist Justin Ling covered this story for over five years and now he’s going back to shed light on these long-forgotten murders.

Season 2:

Season two explores the unexplained deaths of Alloura Wells and Cassandra Do, the communities that loved them, the systems that failed them, and a police investigation gone wrong.

I didn't find it exploitative as a "true crime" series - it's an exploration of some pretty staggering systemic failures that span decades.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:34 AM on September 30, 2022

I found Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill quite gripping
posted by crocomancer at 9:34 AM on September 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

Hunting Warhead. It chronicles the story of an investigative reporter for a tabloid in Norway who goes on the hunt for information about a child abuse site running on Tor and finds something he doesn't entirely expect, resulting in a whole host of ethical conundrums. (To tell you what the conundrums are would spoil the podcast but I will just say that no one leaves this podcast feeling sorry for people who hurt children.) Podcast is from the Canadian Broadcasting Company. The subject matter is obviously very dark and disturbing but it was handled in a non-exploitive fashion with the lens of inquiry aimed appropriately.
posted by MagnificentVacuum at 9:43 AM on September 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

I loved Missing Richard Simmons but it felt ethically dicey to me so hard to recommend. The producer redeemed himself IMHO with Running from Cops and Surviving Y2K for sure.
posted by radioamy at 9:46 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Limetown . Could Not stop listening. It gets inside your head… which is trés apropos given the content.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 9:46 AM on September 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I loved Bear Brook! So, so good.

Seconding Your Own Backyard and Hunting Warhead.

- Death in Ice Valley about the Isdal Woman is also excellent.
- Tenfold More Wicked / Wicked Words
- The Piketon Massacre
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 9:48 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Came in to recommend Catch and Kill, Sweet Bobby, and Dirty John, all of which have been recommended already, and will add Who the Hell is Hamish, Twin Flames, and The Dream (Season One is about MLMs, Season Two is about "wellness").
posted by SeedStitch at 10:02 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

The NHPR podcast team has a few other medium-length series.

Under the Outside/In podcast umbrella, there's Powerline focused on issues surrounding hydroelectric power in Quebec and Patient Zero focused on the history of Lyme disease (if I recall, they problematize the title of the podcast almost immediately off the bat.)

There's also the "Document" podcast; I've only listened to the rerelease of Season 2, "Supervision", which is true-crimey, but a little depressing in the end.

And Stranglehold, a critical look at the New Hampshire presidential primary/ "First in the Nation" mythology.

Finally, depending on when your drive is, they are working on season 2 of Bear Brook!

posted by damayanti at 10:03 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

There are two Queen of the Con series, one about Mair Smyth (The Irish Heiress) and one about Lizzie Mulder (the OC Savior), both of which are excellent.
posted by essexjan at 10:37 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

My requisite plug: Ghosts In The Burbs. Starts out pretty simple: a slightly bored well-off young mom starts blogging about the spooky goings-on in her nice little suburb. People start reaching out to her to tell her their stories. She gets increasingly involved. Things unfold.

It's fiction, or at least Liz has never specifically claimed it isn't, but it's so first-person and conversational that it really draws you in. I listened to them all in real time, often waiting weeks or months between episodes, so listening to them all through would likely be more akin to listening to a first-person novel. (There are actually two novels spawned tangentially to this story.) It's excellent Spooky Season listening.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:48 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Offshore Season 1, which takes place in Hawaii. "Two killings, 80 years apart. Even the most multicultural place on the planet still struggles with race and power."

The City Season 1, which takes place in Chicago. "A black neighborhood fights back when a mysterious man with mob ties builds an illegal dump across the street from an elementary school."

The Shadows. "The anatomy of a relationship: a crush, a choice, a resentment and an end." Amazing sound design.
posted by catquas at 12:14 PM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I also wanted to second Things Fell Apart, and mention another Jon Ronson one which is just as interesting but more gripping: The Butterfly Effect. "Hear the story of what happened when the tech industry gave the world what it wanted: free porn. Lives were mangled. Fortunes were made. All for your pleasure. Follow writer and narrator Jon Ronson as he uncovers our web of desire." Seems to be only on Audible now though.
posted by catquas at 12:44 PM on September 30, 2022

Right now I'm listening to In Trust and The Sunshine Place which are very gripping.

Other ones that hit a similar note that haven't been mentioned already are Nice White Parents and The Improvement Association, Welcome to Your Fantasy,Wild Things: Siegfried & Roy, Hooked, The Gateway, Revelations, the Chameleon series, Heaven's Gate, Southlake, and The Missing Cryptoqueen.
posted by actionpact at 1:38 PM on September 30, 2022

White Lies is true crime - solving the murder of a white minister in the days following Bloody Sunday in Selma AL. We listened to all six episodes on a long drive earlier this month and it's riveting.
posted by COD at 1:58 PM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Suave is a recent favorite. It won a 2022 Pulitzer.
posted by goodnight moon at 8:55 PM on September 30, 2022

S-Town - profile of a complicated person living a hard life in a small southern town
The Lolita Podcast - does what it says on the tin, but from a thoughtful, feminist perspective.
Operator - deep dive into the '90s paid phone sex industry
posted by eotvos at 3:15 AM on October 1, 2022

Seconding Death in Ice Valley!

I also recommend Accused. I was especially enthralled by Season 3 about a father of three disappearing while at work in 1984.

The Lazarus Heist (BBC) was also very gripping.

Also, if you are interested in the subject, I liked 13 Minutes to the Moon (BBC) as well as Saving Apollo 13 👨‍🚀 by Sean Brady.

I also like these two podcasts by Phoebe Judge, which are great no matter if you listen to them one by one or binge them: This is Love and Criminal.
posted by amf at 7:34 AM on October 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

Chameleon Season One, subtitle is Hollywood Con Queen. The podcast has a total of four seasons, I'm only recommending Season One. It's the craziest and most fascinating story I've ever heard, it's true crime combined with the mystery of human nature and why people do the things they do. Definitely the type of podcast you can't put down. And best of all, it's a mystery with a resolution.
posted by daikon at 10:53 PM on October 1, 2022

« Older Novel with model train set as computer   |   Is there a Google Alerts type service for internet... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments