If you're anything like me, your media consumption for the past couple of years has been almost exclusively true crime.
Serial to Making a Murderer, The Jinx to Casefile, true crime has taken over mainstream media. All of a sudden it wasn't weird to list your "favourite" serial killers during your lunch break, or discuss the finer details of the Manson family killings at the pub. Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer mugs appeared on Etsy, while made-for-entertainment portrayals of famous murders started winning Emmys.
We've become so desensitised to the whole true crime genre that we willingly download podcasts in which some guy, recording from his bedroom, will graphically describe the bloody death of some poor (more often than not) woman, child or member of the LGBTQ+ community.
why? I'm no expert, but I reckon in a time when we're losing it over all the awful things that are happening in the world, filling our ears with an account of a child being dismembered with a kitchen knife doesn't exactly go hand in hand with self-care. Also, while it's important to remember the dead, consuming their murders for entertainment is, well, crass.
And so I deleted every true crime podcast from my phone. New Year, new me and all that. Only good vibes. That sort of thing.
The only trouble was, I had nothing left to listen to. I faced the uphill task of rebuilding my library. Luckily, the R29 team, many of whom are also falling out of love with murdery podcasts, were here to help.
If you, too, want a murder-free podcast library, click through to find some more wholesome recommendations.
Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments below!
A podcast in which Starlee Kine solves mysteries that the internet can't answer. No case is too small – the episodes range from tracking down a disappearing video store to finding out why Britney Spears was holding her friend's book in an ancient paparazzi photo.
Sadly, the show only ran for one season back in 2017, so make the six episodes last.
We say: " Mystery Show is one of the best podcasts I've EVER listened to – far too short. If you only listen to one episode, make it the belt buckle one. It's astonishing."
Punch Up The Jam
A show where two best friends who are comedians and writers take a song that everyone knows and break it down inch by inch before "fixing" it and sending it back out into the ether.
We say: " PUTJ combines my favourite things: popular but bad music, dissecting it, comedy and then ingenious reinventions of songs. It’s two comedians (and best friends!) Miel Bredouw and Demi Adejuyigbe who pick a jam each week we all know and maybe love and pick apart the weird stuff in it. Like the fact 'One Week' by Barenaked Ladies doesn’t make sense timeline-wise, or that the only good part of 'In The Air Tonight' is the drum break. Every episode is stellar but start with either 'What’s Your Fantasy', 'Welcome To The Jungle' or 'It Wasn’t Me'. You’ll be cackling in public, I promise."
Dear Joan & Jericha
What if agony aunts said what you
wanted them to say? Vicki Pepperdine and Julia Davis play Joan Damry and Jericha Domain, two wildly inappropriate and awful advice-givers who tear their listener letters to shreds while talking absolute filth.
We say: "During the first episode I laughed so hard I thought I was close to a coronary. This audio experience is not advised if you are operating heavy machinery, chopping veg or on public transport."
Did you know that Refinery29
colposcopy live-blogger Stevie Martin has a podcast with her friend and fellow comedian, Tessa Coates? Each week is a guide to a different type of 'adulting', presented by two women who have no idea what they're doing themselves. Which is actually more helpful than it sounds.
We say: " Nobody Panic is my go-to for that perfect straddle between helpful advice and a good laugh. While some podcasts' rambling chit-chat can be grating, Stevie and Tessa are a breath of fresh air, with episodes on everything from 'How To Prioritise' to 'How To Be a Witch' (a personal favourite) and everything in between."
Yes, this IS crime, but done in a feminist way. Focussing on the great female mystery writers of the early 20th century like Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie, host Caroline Crampton explores the world around them. From how millions of men dying in WWI created a generation of unmarried women to how real-life cases inspired the fiction of the time.
We say: "For me, Shedunnit is the perfect mix of crime drama without the gory details. Caroline Crampton deep dives into the fascinating history of the golden age of crime (aka my favourite detective Poirot and his cronies) with a fresh, feminist and queer-friendly perspective."
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The Moth is a live storytelling night that's been going on longer than lots of us have been alive. They now have events all over the world which feature real people getting up in front of an audience and telling a true story about their life. The result is sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking but always nourishing. The podcast features some of the best stories told live.
We say: "Each week The Moth blows my mind. If you get a chance to go to a live event DO, but if not, then just download their weekly Radio Hour to hear stories that will stay with you forever and ever."
From Slate and hosted by journalist Leon Neyfakh, this podcast takes a deep dive into historical events and explores the story behind the headlines.
We say: "If you're not a history buff, don't dismiss this one. Slow Burn looks back at huge era-defining political events but from angles previously unexplored. It introduces you to wild characters left out of history and shows you exactly why times like the Watergate Scandal and the Clinton/Lewinsky affair were so monumentally dramatic and exciting. Storytelling at its finest."
A charming podcast where singer Jessie Ware and her mum have a conversation with a famous person over dinner. Simple as that.
We say: "Jessie Ware and her loveable mum, Lennie, invite well-known guests from the worlds of music, culture and politics over for supper (Sadiq Khan, Nigella Lawson, Ed Sheeran...). No topic is off-limits as they discuss food, family, love, gossip, work, all through a highly personal and genuine lens. Highlight: Nigella Lawson's 'Death Row' meal which includes steak and chips, seafood linguine, guacamole with blue cheese plus sides and pudding."
Ctrl Alt Delete
Honest chats with some of the most inspirational and impressive women (and men) around is the order of the day with this podcast hosted by the sunny Emma Gannon, author and
sometime Refinery29 writer. She's featured everyone from Hari Nef to Naomi Alderman, Sharmadean Reid, Gemma Arterton and Ava DuVernay.
We say: "If you suffer from imposter syndrome (hello) then this podcast is really helpful in getting you to realise that you're not alone. Hearing how some of the women I most look up to struggle to get up and get going, just like me, has been a godsend. Turns out we're all just normal people?!"
Elis James & John Robins
Two comedians having a chat. That's literally it. What's nice though is that both Elis and John aren't afraid to be vulnerable. They talk about mental health, they talk about feminism, they talk about
life. It's modern masculinity at its best.
We say: "It's the best thing in the world – it's one of those podcasts where you think they're your friends because you're so invested in their dynamic and chat."
How To Fail
There are lots of podcasts where impressive people talk about the things they've done
right but what about when things went wrong? Author Elizabeth Day speaks to people about what went wrong, and how they learned from it.
We say: "I listened to How To Fail around the time I was going for interviews for this job and it really chilled out my interview anxiety. I just thought, 'If I get the job then that would be brilliant, if I don't then I'm sure I will learn something from failing and it won't be a waste at all, who knows what could happen. I did get the job, though (yippee!)."
We Are Offline
As social media becomes more and more integral to our lives, it's important to take stock and keep your approach to it as mindful as possible. This podcast is about breaking down the new issues and problems that social media has brought to our lives and figuring out how best to deal with them.
We say: "If you've ever thought about trying to change your social media habits for the better, this one's for you. Hosted by social media editors Alyss Bowen and Lotte Williams, We Are Offline is all about more mindful scrolling and going 'behind the screen' with honest conversations with influencers and industry experts."
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