It's only February, but it already feels like it's been a long year. In a way, it has; for more than a year now, politics have been at the forefront of everyone's minds as Donald Trump's administration inched ever-closer to reality. But sometimes, a woman needs a break from all the doom and gloom, and I have just the solution: non-political podcasts perfect for distracting yourself from the state of American government. You can't (and shouldn't) bury your head in the sand forever, but you can definitely do it for 45 minutes a day. A burned-out activist doesn't really accomplish much; it's important to take care of yourself, too.
Although radio has fallen in popularity since its heyday, podcasts are a different story. Legitimate statistics about listenership are hard to find, but the more popular podcasts can draw an audience of millions. Serial, for example, reached an average of 3.4 million downloads per episode at the end of 2014. If you haven't gotten into podcasts yet, there are plenty of reasons you might think about giving them a try: I've found that they're perfect for a morning commute or cardio at the gym. More importantly, they're free entertainment, which can be hard to come by.
So next time you see one too many Facebook comment wars, turn to the following seven podcasts to keep yourself levelheaded.
1Stuff You Should Know
Hey why not chill out with our newest episode? It's on quinoa. https://t.co/FHgNzu6aBk— Josh and Chuck (@SYSKPodcast) February 7, 2017
You might not actually need to know most of the stuff discussed on this podcast, but if you like learning new things, Stuff You Should Know should definitely be on your commute playlist. Some topics have touched on politics, including an explanation of executive orders and how dictatorships work, but there are plenty that have nothing to do with the White House, from the future of sex to whether you can live without a bank account. Are you curious yet?
2You Must Remember This
If the present is too much for you to deal with, escape into You Must Remember This, a storytelling podcast about the early years of Hollywood. Hosted by film critic Karina Longworth, the weekly podcast retells familiar and lesser-known stories. Past seasons have recounted the Manson Family murders, the life of Joan Crawford, and a series on "Dead Blondes." Painstakingly researched and witty, it's no wonder You Must Remember This is one of the more popular film podcasts.
We talked about JACKIE on this week's podcast! Highly recommended if you enjoy ~drama and really intense music. https://t.co/iffMywfroy— Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor) February 3, 2017
Whether you're into Fandom-with-a-capital-F or just enjoy over-analyzing movies, Overinvested is almost always a fun time. Each week, hosts Gavia Baker-Whitlaw and Morgan Leigh Davies pick a movie to go over with a fine-toothed comb. Some episodes can come off like a laundry list of complaints, but the podcast's best moments are when the hosts disagree with each other — and they'll explain why in great detail.
The brainchild of Aaron Mahnke, Lore has been steadily rising in popularity since the release of its first episode. Every two weeks, the podcast explores a new urban legend or folk tale in a way that evokes nights spent by the fire at summer camp. The most interesting part, however, is Mahnke's research into the gruesome, real-world origins of each tale.
5The Bowery Boys
To anyone living outside of New York City, The Bowery Boys is just another history podcast. To New Yorkers, it's a detailed look at their city's long, fascinating history — a perfect way to fill the hours spent on the subway. Topics have included George Washington's inauguration and Truman Capote's famous Black and White ball. To give you an idea of how good this podcast is, it's been around since 2007 and is still going strong.
699 Percent Invisible
While you've been occupied with worrying about Trump's administration and this season of The Bachelor, you've probably been using dozens of modern inventions — escalators, revolving doors, dollar stores, and more — without a second thought. If you start listening to 99 Percent Invisible, though, you'll start to notice the "unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world," and you won't be able to stop. Besides, the information you learn from this podcast is a fabulous conversation starter.
Flash Forward occupies the space somewhere between fact and fiction. Each month, host Rose Eveleth presents listeners with a scenario taking place in the future: a world where all farming is done by robots, for example, or one with universal translation devices easily available. Then she brings on experts, not just scientists, to talk about what that would mean realistically. The result is an imaginative podcast you'll want to devour as quickly as possible. If you give Flash Forward a try, my guess is your future will hold a few extra trips to the gym.