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Can’t Get Enough of Your Favourite TV Shows? Tune In to These Podcasts

Fall is a great time of year, because with it comes cooling temperatures, TIFF, fashion month, pumpkin spice everything, and fall TV season, aka the time when a slate of new and returning shows hits our screens. Shameless is back, The Good Place is back, This Is Us is back, How To Get Away With Murder is back. Murphy Brown—the reboot—just had its season premiere, as did Forever, starring Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen, and Kidding, with Jim Carrey.

So yes, there’s a LOT of new TV to watch. Even so, it’s hard to let go of old favourites. Particularly now, when just watching the news can feel like an assault on our nerves, it’s comforting to be able to return to familiar characters and plotlines whose trajectory we already know. No mean surprises, no sudden deaths, no disappointing narrative turns. The night of the Kavanaugh hearings last week, I watched three episodes of Gilmore Girls back-to-back in some sort of fugue state, Lorelai and Rory’s banter washing over me like a soothing hot shower. And I know I’m not the only one who turns to President Bartlet & Co when we desperately feel like we need a window into a saner West Wing than the one we’ve got right in real life. But when even re-runs aren’t enough (or you’ve cycled through them way too many times to revisit again) there’s yet another avenue of comfort: podcasts. Yep, there’s a veritable gold mine out there of podcasts about cult favourite television shows, in which the hosts dive into the nitty-gritty of it all, recapping favourite episodes, dissecting intricate plotlines, or just shooting the breeze with the show’s creators and cast.

But the nostalgia factor isn’t all these podcasts have going for them. Considering how much TV is at our disposal thanks to streaming services, we now have the opportunity to binge shows we never watched when they were on the air. (Mad Men has been languishing in my Netflix queue for longer than I care to admit.) And as one colleague of mine pointed out, it’s nice to have someone to “discuss” those shows with long after they’re off the air and no one’s talking about them anymore. That’s kind of how I felt even when The Americans was ON the air, because it felt like I was the only one in my friend circle watching the damn thing (your loss). Which is why I especially loved tuning in to its podcast every week, in which the host would dive into the various plot points and developments with the writers, directors and cast.

So whether you’re craving an extra dose of nostalgia or freaking out over a plot twist the rest of the world already freaked out about, like, four years ago, there’s somewhere you can go to scratch that itch. Scroll through for a list of our favourite podcasts about beloved, off-the-air TV shows.

Gilmore Guys
The hosts of this podcast are two guys (duh) who share a great dynamic: one, Kevin Porter, is a self-declared superfan and the other, Demi Adejuyigbe (fun fact: he’s currently a writer on one of the best things on TV right now, The Good Place), has never watched the show before. This obviously, makes for great entertainment as the two take the hit show episode by episode, analyzing, quipping about and unpacking everything from its zillion pop culture references to the mile-a-minute dialogue to its feminist storylines. Stars like Scott Patterson, who plays Luke Danes, and Liza Weil, who plays Paris Gellar, also appear on the show, as do the Gilmore Girls themselves.

The Americans Podcast
Warning: you must only listen to this podcast after you’ve watched the episode it talks about because it contains hella spoilers. Hosted by Slate’s June Thomas, the podcast goes behind the scenes of each episode, studying it from various angles. Pretty much every major player on the show has been on the podcast, from the two leads Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell to the showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields to the costume and set designers, because those elements are as important on a period piece as the characters themselves. This show is so rife with tension, psychological drama, and moral and ethical dilemmas that hearing directly from the people who put it all together really helps to make sense of some of the complex themes it deals with.

The West Wing Weekly
Co-hosted by Joshua Malina, who played Will Bailey on the show, and musician Hrishikesh Hirway, this podcast is for all the West Wing nerds out there. It launched in 2016 and is still going strong, “taking a fine-tooth comb to each episode of [the] political drama,” as the New York Times puts it. The podcast has brought on all the big names associated with the series, from show creator Aaron Sorkin himself to director Tommy Schlamme to actors Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford and Allison Janney. Trump’s antics too much for you? Find solace with this show, new episodes of which drop every Wednesday.

Breaking Bad Insider
There are dozens of podcasts out there dedicated to this cult show but this is the one to listen to, because it’s hosted by Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator, and Kelley Dixon, the show’s editor. The cast and crew of the series, obviously, make regular appearances.

Buffering the Vampire Slayer
Named one of TIMEs Top 50 Podcasts of 2018, this bi-weekly show hosted by Buffy aficionados Jenny Owen Youngs and Kristin Russo wades into all the thorny aspects of this OG feminist show. As TIME explains, the ladies “obsess over how the series upended sexist tropes, analyze the undeniable sexual chemistry between Buffy and Faith and… also wrestle with Xander’s problematic one-liners and Joss Whedon’s imperfect portrayal of women.” The best part though? Each instalment ends with an original song written by the two, inspired by that week’s episode.

Seinfeld: The Post-Show Recap
Rob Cesternino and Akiva Wienerkur’s mission was to wade through every single episode of Seinfeld’s nine-season run and they did just that in the three years of this podcast, from 2014 to 2017. Now that all 180 episodes of the cult hit are behind them, the duo is fielding ideas and suggestions from listeners about what they should do next. Their attempt to figure out what their next podcast should be about IS what their next podcast is all about. Er, yes, it’s all very meta. Bizarro Jerry would approve.

Best of Friends Podcast
Okay, I don’t know what kind of magical alchemy went into the writing of this show, because its jokes somehow just don’t get old, even countless viewings later. I genuinely believe I will never tire of re-watching this show, and for all the other FRIENDS buffs who feel similarly, this is an amazing podcast to help feed your addiction. Over the course of two years, its hosts Erin Mallory Long and Jamie Woodham waxed lyrical about every single glorious episode of the show, and now it seems, according to this Instagram post, that they’re coming back with more. Stay tuned.

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