6 TV Tie-In Podcasts to Enhance Your Next Binge
Who’ll be the last one standing in “Succession”? Is “The Good Place” heaven or hell? These are the audio companions to keep the conversation going around some of your favorite shows.,
For a true TV devotee, watching the latest episode is just the beginning. Depending on the show at hand, there are plot twists and character revelations to dissect, theories to discuss and historical context to plumb. Fans have been gathering online to do all this since before the turn of the century, but in recent years, shows have started producing their own post-episode debriefs.
Starting in the early 2010s, the TV “after-show” became a subgenre. Immediately after a new episode aired, a host would interview the stars and creators about what just happened, in programs like AMC’s “Talking Dead” and “Talking Bad,” HBO’s “After the Thrones,” and more recently Netflix’s “The Netflix Afterparty.” But as Hollywood seems to be realizing, the format works just as well (if not better) in audio form.
As a result, there’s now a huge selection of official tie-in podcasts for your favorite TV shows. Some of these offer real added value, while others are skippable puffery. These six are worth your time.
Since fans of HBO’s towering, dramatic family tragicomedy have had to wait a full two years for new episodes, audio stepped in to fill the void. Beginning last summer, the host Roger Bennett (best known for the soccer podcast “Men in Blazers“) conducted interviews with the “Succession” ensemble, diving into the psychology of the power-hungry, emotionally stunted Roy clan. Now that the long-awaited third season has finally debuted, the podcast has switched up its format, swapping out Bennett for the veteran Silicon Valley journalist Kara Swisher (host of The New York Times podcast “Sway“). The focus now is less on the show itself, and more on the realities of the kind of power it depicts — Episode 1 features a conversation with Jennifer Palmieri, a former White House communications director, who weighs in on a politically charged moment from the season premiere. Though it may not please every fan, this shift in focus sets it apart from other tie-in podcasts.
Starter episode: “Rich Doesn’t Equal Smart (With Jennifer Palmieri)”
One of the great pleasures of watching Netflix’s richly drawn royal drama “The Crown” is looking up the real historical events portrayed in each episode, and identifying what’s fact versus fiction. Hosted by the Scottish broadcaster Edith Bowman, this companion podcast helps to scratch that itch, offering additional context on the research that goes into depicting figures like Princess Diana and the divisive British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Each episode features Bowman alongside a variety of guests from the cast and creative team, who share behind-the-scenes stories and insights into the vast scale of the production. Sadly for fans of Claire Foy’s era, the podcast didn’t debut until Season 3 of the show, but will continue through its already-confirmed fifth and sixth seasons.
Starter episode: “Episode 1: Goldstick”
Way back in 2009, when podcasts were still niche and held no interest for TV networks, the team behind AMC’s then under-the-radar drama “Breaking Bad” started putting out a roundtable podcast called “Breaking Bad Insider Podcast.” As the series gradually snowballed to become one of the most iconic series of all time, the podcast remained charmingly unchanged — with Kelley Dixon, an editor on both dramas, and Vince Gilligan, the creator of both, hosting an affable weekly chat about every aspect of the production. This dynamic continued with the introduction of the also acclaimed prequel series “Better Call Saul.” The hosts genuine warmth and camaraderie distinguishes this from many similar roundtable-style podcasts, and their insights into the nitty-gritty of production are invaluable for fans and aspiring creatives alike.
Starter episode: “101 Better Call Saul Insider”
There are layers upon layers to peel back in Michael Schur’s existential NBC sitcom “The Good Place,” which follows a ragtag group of recently deceased characters trying to navigate a zany afterlife where the rules keep changing. So it’s not surprising that the show makes ideal fodder for a podcast, which is hosted by the actor Marc Evan Jackson (best known to fans for playing a mysterious demon named Shawn). Offering episode-by-episode conversations spanning the entire series, the podcast features a revolving door of actors, writers and producers, as well as set decorators, props masters, and costume and production designers.
Starter episode: “Ch. 1: Michael Schur”
Late-night talk shows aren’t generally first in line to get the podcast treatment, but this is less of a companion show than an alternative way to enjoy Meyers’s incarnation of “Late Night,” on NBC. New episodes typically drop two or three times a week, and feature highlights from the satirical nightly show, including Meyers’s opening monologues, interviews and signature recurring segments like “A Closer Look.” Guests run the cultural gamut — interviews from the last few weeks include Senator Elizabeth Warren, the cast of “Ted Lasso,” and Meyers’s onetime “SNL” colleague Colin Jost. Some episodes of the program are devoted to a sub-podcast, “Late Night Lit,” which features the “Late Night” producer Sarah Jenks-Daly discussing books and interviewing authors. Throw in the odd behind-the-scenes segment with Meyers and the producer Mike Shoemaker, and there’s something here to entertain just about anyone.
If you devoured HBO’s riveting 2019 mini-series “Chernobyl” but skipped the tie-in podcast, you’re missing out on the full experience. Peter Sagal, best known as the host of NPR’s beloved quiz show “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!,” led this five-part conversation with the “Chernobyl” writer Craig Mazin, who co-hosts the long-running screenwriting podcast “Scriptnotes.” Their combined audio experience is evident in their effortless back-and-forth, which blends behind-the-scenes anecdotes with fascinating historical insights into the 1986 nuclear disaster and its fallout. Mazin’s enthusiasm for the subject matter is palpable, and the episode-by-episode discussion allows for a detailed breakdown of key moments. If you’re the kind of die-hard TV fan who pines for DVD audio commentaries, this is the next best thing.
Starter episode: “1:23:45”