Top Podcasts In February
Each day, The Browser recommends the best writing and listening freely available online. Each month, we award a prize of $100 for our favourite piece of writing, and $100 for our favourite podcast episode. The winners go on to the short lists for our year-end awards, the Golden Giraffes.
Here are our audio selections for February:
First of two episodes during which a grown up son tells his parents about his most elaborate piece of teenage misbehaviour. The story cuts effortlessly between scripted monologue, live storytelling in front of an audience, and conversational segments with family members. The stakes are low — he was a good kid who just wanted a little more freedom — but the tension the listener feels heightens as the episode progresses. There are plenty of jokes and nostalgic references to the pop culture of the host’s youth, but underlying it all is a more serious discussion of what a restrictive, religious upbringing can do to a family’s dynamic and relationships in adulthood (24m40s)
Unscripted interview show in which the host conducts conversations with the imagined characters of household objects. Here, he talks to “Shannon”, a bath towel given begrudgingly to a couple as a wedding present and now doing daily drying service in their bathroom. The premise is bizarre but the result oddly moving, especially when the towel narrates part of the novel she has been writing during her downtime on the rack. This episode also contains something very rare: a funny podcast advert (27m06s)
Art historian conducts an in-depth appraisal of the viral “monkey Jesus” fresco restoration. The well-intentioned efforts of 81-year-old Cecilia Giménez rendered the nineteenth century Ecce Homo by Elías García Martínez completely unrecognisable and turned it into a meme with a life of its own. But somehow, this podcast argues, the omnipresence of this image and the plethora of comic parodies it inspired stops us looking at it critically. The art world and the public alike were quick to dismiss Giménez’s restoration attempt as a botched job, which it may well be. Yet it also tells us something much deeper about how an image becomes famous and what we value in art (40m06s)
If you produce or admire a podcast that you think we should know about, please tell us here. Congratulations to all of this month’s winners, and happy listening! — Caroline Crampton, audio editor