Memorial Day is around the corner, and summer lies beyond. If you’re looking forward to using the extra time to catch up on pop culture that’s been on your radar, then podcasts make a perfect choice for the long weekend.
Whether you’re on a road trip or just looking for something to listen to as you prep for your Memorial Day parties, we’ve got you covered with this mix of fun, entertaining, educational, and offbeat podcasts to sweep you into summer. Some podcasts involve short, easily digestible episodes, while others have full narrative arcs — so you can fill up on individual installments or marathon a full season over the holiday.
1) Catch up on My Dad Wrote a Porno before the third season drops on May 29
Episode length: 10-45 minutes
The hilarious podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno is so popular it’s drawn celebrities to contribute to its read-alongs and made its subject, Jamie Morton’s father “Rocky Flinstone,” something of a celebrity himself. It also inspired him to “actually [write] a plot for once” for the upcoming season, so if you’d like to experience pure unfiltered Rocky at his plotless, dad-writing-a-porno best, you should do it before the new season debuts on May 29.
2) Let Switched on Pop sing you into summer
Episode length: 45-50 minutes
Whether they’re discussing the ins and outs of One Direction fandom or explaining basic chord structure, bass patterns, and musical cadences, Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding of Switched on Pop will make you feel smart and help you enjoy pop music on a whole new level. Don’t just earworm Charlie Puth’s “Attention” this weekend — let these guys explain why you should.
3) Travel with The Penumbra to meet a hardboiled detective on Mars
Episode length: 30-45 minutes
Arc length: about 8 hours
Borrowing liberally from old-school radio drama and The Twilight Zone, The Penumbra began life as a fun project among a group of friends and rapidly became a cult hit for its queer love stories and fresh take on old storytelling. The podcast features one-off anthology-style stories ranging from gothic thrillers to Wild West heists; but interwoven between them is the ongoing fantasy-noir story of Juno Steel, a world-weary private eye who lives on Mars and winds up frequently saving the universe — all while trying not to lose his heart to a wily cat thief. Listen to the anthology episodes if you want a shorter story time, or binge-listen to Juno’s first season (the second is in progress) for a longer adventure.
4) Binge on justice with Court Junkie
Episode length: 30-75 minutes
If you’re a true crime obsessive or just a fan of courtroom thrillers, Court Junkie will satisfy your appetite for little-known stories, as host Jillian LP takes you inside the cases as they proceed through the court system. Court Junkie breaks down the facts of each case and then recounts the trial arguments, letting you draw your own conclusions before the verdict is revealed. Each episode is basically its own Law and Order, but with real-life — and occasionally heartbreaking — outcomes.
5) Go on a jaunt through old Hollywood with You Must Remember This
Episode length: 50 minutes
Arc length: 9-11 hours
Whether she’s talking you through Charles Manson’s failed connections to various celebrities, outlining the details of famous romances, or unearthing the history of Hollywood’s dead blondes, host Karina Longworth has made You Must Remember This one of the best podcasts on the web. Each “season” examines a single Hollywood story in depth, and the results are a mesmerizing portrait of old Hollywood glamour being manufactured alongside the messy lives of real people. Whether you take in single episodes or marathon a full arc, it’s a must-listen.
6) Get an education in scares with Faculty of Horror
Episode length: 60-90 minutes
Critics Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West double as academics, film journalists, and horror fans, and they bring their knowledge and love of the genre to fantastic discussions of tropes, favorite films, and analyses of horror within larger culture. Whether they’re analyzing The Blair Witch Project as a manifesto of pre-9/11 America or outlining horror’s portrayal of eating disorders, Faculty of Horror is always educational and enlightening, and fun for horror junkies, novices, and experts alike.
7) Enjoy stoned time travel with The Dollop
Episode length: 30-120 minutes
Comedian Dave Anthony’s love of whacked-out, weird, and often shameful American history led him to form The Dollop, a podcast wherein he reads history stories to fellow improv performer Gareth Reynolds. The result is a surreal, hilarious attempt by two dudes to contend with their place in the bizarre sweep of US history. For a true summer listening experience, check out the many summery Dollop episodes, from “The New Jersey Shark Attacks” to the series’ many baseball episodes, like “The Rube,” “Ten Cent Beer Night,” and “Disco Demolition Night.”
8) Actually Ask a Clean Person
Episode length: 45 minutes
Do you need to feel productive this weekend — or maybe you just want to know you’re not alone in battling clothing stains and kitchen gunk? There’s no better time to let Ask a Clean Person help you deal with the ins and outs of cleaning and clothing, whether it’s tackling cat hair or getting ready for and dealing with the aftermath of a major party. Advice columnist Jolie Kerr shares tips on everything from makeup removal to sex toy cleaning, just in time for your next wild party.
9) Travel Below the Ten
Episode length: 5-30 minutes
Life in South LA is dynamic, complicated, and not what you think — and Below the Ten illustrates why in short, thought-provoking eps. This lush and gorgeously produced podcast from KCRW takes you into the real lives of locals in South Los Angeles and nearby communities, bringing you stories of the everyday and the extraordinary. The latest episode, “Playing Trump,” is a microcosm of what you can expect from the show as a whole — a touching yet deeply complex look at the intersection of politics and social justice in the lives of kids in the neighborhood.
10) Don a Wooden Overcoat and face your mortality
Episode length: 30 minutes
Arc length: 4 hours
Quintessentially British, this podcast drama is a quirky, hilarious look at the hijinks that ensue when a tiny Channel island starts playing host to two rival funeral parlors. In one corner, the legacy establishment; in the other, the sexy new mortuary. Which one will prevail? Full of bees, romance, and, of course, death, Wooden Overcoats is the podcast equivalent of “impossible to put down.”
11) Give your favorite moviemakers a Blank Check on their passion projects
Episode length: 90-120 minutes
The favorite podcast of Vox critic Todd VanDerWerff, Blank Check With Griffin & David takes you on an exploration of filmmakers’ passion projects in excruciating and often hilarious detail. Sometimes this means trying to contend with the oeuvre of the Wachowskis; other times it means reading Phantom Menace fanfic. At all times hilarious and illuminating, Blank Check is a loving look at the creative impulse that drives filmmaking.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that Wooden Overcoats is a production of British media outlet The Telegraph. It is an independent production.