Can money buy you happiness? Can being rich and famous open doors you’d never expect? What are the secrets behind some of the most iconic brands? What are famous people really doing on the internet? If this has your attention, you might want to add these shows to your library. From grifters to Grey Gardens, Britney Spears impersonators to Jewish weddings, often with a dash of true crime, Succession has nothing on these seven podcasts. We also give a nod to one of the greatest daytime TV shows in history. Happy listening!
She claimed to be Irish royalty worth millions. The truth was that Mair Smyth was conning everyone who came in contact with her. While TV show producer Johnathan Walton was becoming best friends with her, she bragged about how she was schmoozing with celebrities like Jennifer Aniston. When she “borrowed” 70K from him that she never paid back, he started to put the pieces together. He was not the only victim. Soon after this revelation he started a blog to right the wrongs of her deceit. You wonder how these people were so easily conned, but in Hollywood where glitz and fantasy rule—it was easy to get wrapped up in Mair’s lair.
The Steinbergs were one of the richest families in America. Private jets, luxury homes in the Hamptons, shopping and extravagant parties. Some even referred to them as the Jewish Kennedys. Learn about the spectacular rise and fall of this family through interviews by New Yorker writer and author Ariel Levy. Maternity clothing retail giant Liz Lange and her family take you through the decades of decadence. It’s the first time most of them are speaking on the record, and the conversations are riveting. Heartbreak, cheating, death, extreme wealth, backstabbing, secrets—nothing is what it seems.
The soon-to-be-series on Apple TV+ is based on Joe Nocera’s reporting on a crazy relationship between a therapist and patient. It spins wildly out of control causing Martin “Marty” Markowitz to surrender his finances, family and even his Hamptons summer house to his psychiatrist. Doctor Issac “Ike” Herschkopf manipulates his client in a tragic slow burn over the course of 30 years. There are some funny moments, but you can’t help but be heartbroken over what the mad doctor does to the family. Thankfully there is redemption, which is why you have to see it through.
Three fantastic seasons go behind the scenes of film and television. Season 1 is all about legendary director Peter Bogdanovich. Turner Classic Movies Host Ben Mankiewicz interviews him in great detail on the pivotal moments in his career. To hear Bogdanovich recount the murder of his girlfiriend and Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten is simply jaw-dropping. Season 2, “The Devil’s Candy,” is hosted by Julie Salamon, a journalist embedded in the production of the extravagant flop Bonfire Of The Vanities, who later wrote a book about it. The most recent season is about Lucille Ball. The extensive research and interviews make this a master class for film lovers.
A suicide note to an old friend leads to a wild tale of self reflection and investigation. Journalist Chris Stedman received a mysterious email from old friend and lover Alex saying “by the time you get this I won’t be here anymore.” Stedman also got audio files, recordings of someone named “Banana Alice.” She sounded exactly like Britney Spears, and Alex was a Spears super fan. Throughout the 4 episode series Chris seeks out the real “Banana Alice” (named after the yellow snake she showcased on her shoulders at her MTV awards) to learn more about the supposed friendship. Could it be Spears herself? It is a journey of mental health and mystery with a rewarding surprise ending.
Lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret is full of actual secrets that they’d rather keep hidden. Fatphobia, ageism, sexual harassment, an abusive work environment and connections to Jeffrey Epstien are just the beginning. Co-hosts Vanessa Grigoriadis and Justine Harman learn what it was like to be a Victoria’s Secret “Angel” and the great lengths the women went through to stay impossibly thin. Fallen Angel investigates the company’s history through former models and executives. It also showcases how Epstein’s connections to CEO Les Wexner were a little too close for comfort.
Dan and Wendi seem like the perfect couple. The series opens with a lavish wedding, where the biggest family controversy was the menu at the event. After two kids and a move to Tallahassee, a nasty separation leads to custody battles. With the marriage on thin ice, Wendi disappears and Dan is murdered. Journalist Matt Shaer (Suspect) investigates what happened and finds answers in unlikely places. The true-crime greatest hits are all here: shady relatives and friends, murder, conspiracies and hit men. You’ll think you’ve got it figured out until another wild twist enters the story. There are three seasons in this excellent series from Wondery. Season 2 is on the infamous Joe Exotic (aka Tiger King) story, and Season 3 is about the mysterious murder of a small town cop. They’re all addicting and easily binge worthy.
This month’s Notable Nuggets:
It’s the 25th anniversary of one of the most iconic talk shows, and the ladies are celebrating with a new podcast. Behind The Table pairs a current and past host to discuss their experiences at the table. The conversations can be revealing, like what really happened when Rosie O’ Donnell and Elizabeth Hasselback had their epic split-screen fight? What was it like during the early days of the show with Barbara Walters? It’s all broken down in glorious detail.
Special shout out to Deja The View, my personal favorite podcast about the show and possibly my favorite podcast of all time (I’m a super fan of The View). They dissect the episodes but also cover anything View related. The hosts Kevin and Marie (and sometimes Sean) are funny as hell and are spot on with their observations. The social media account is also a must-follow as they are masters at producing epic pop-culture moments. The only problem with the show is that the episodes are inconsistent (understandably so, they all have real jobs), so when a new episode pops in my feed I squeal just a little bit. Take a little time to enjoy Deja The View.
Mara Davis is a media personality based in Atlanta, Ga. In addition to hosting the VoteHer podcast with Senator Jen Jordan, she also is a senior talent booker for various television networks and podcasts.