Jen Blood here, with a look back at 2019, since it is in fact that time again. This year was a rough one around the homestead – between politics and dire climate predictions and the loss of a close family member, it’s definitely been a year I’m eager to put behind me. However, in my effort to escape all the horrors of reality, I did manage to find some quality means by which to do exactly that. Here, then, is a list of my top podcasts, TV shows, and YouTube channels of 2019.
Podcasts are a mainstay for me, particularly when I’m working in the kitchen. My weekly roster:
Pod Save America, in which former Obama staffers bemoan the decline of the country, interview politicians about what’s coming next, crack wise about the state of the world, and generally keep me from sticking my head in ye olde oven.
WTF, with Marc Maron. I started listening to WTF because Ben listens, and at first found Maron a little bit much. Before long, however, I came to appreciate his rants, neuroses, and – especially – stellar interviews.
Judge John Hodgman, in which comedian/actor/author John Hodgman (formerly of The Daily Show and those old Apple commercials, among other claims to fame) hears silly cases from people around America, and rules on those cases. Warm, witty, and occasionally wise, this is the podcast most likely to be playing when Ben and I go on road trips together.
Okay, so… My TV is not like other people’s TV. I know this is the golden age of television, and there are things like Game of Thrones and Killing Eve and a thousand other things that I will eventually, possibly, watch. But Ben has a problem with plot-driven drama, and this year I had a problem with intense storylines, so…um, yeah. Our TV is not like other people’s TV. Mostly, we watch British panel shows – most of them starring the same eight or nine UK celebrities on a perpetual rotation. Here are a few of our favorites:
QI. This is what started us down the rabbit hole that is British panel/game shows. Originally hosted by Stephen Fry and now with Sandi Toksvig at the helm, QI features four different British celebrities – well, three different British celebrities, and Alan Davis – who crack wise about a particular topic. Each series revolves around a different letter of the alphabet, and then each episode focuses on a word or set of words beginning with that letter. Simple, soothing, often informative, and sometimes hilarious.
Would I Lie to You, Mock the Week, The Last Leg, Taskmaster, Eight Out of Ten Cats, Eight Out of Ten Cats Does Countdown... The list goes on. I’m not actually going to go into detail about these shows, since there’s nothing particularly astounding about any of them. But they’re funny, dark but not too dark, and the fact that Ben and I now know all of these British celebs as well – if not better – than their US equivalents just kind of strikes me as funny. We watch most of the shows on YouTube, though occasionally they can be found on Amazon.
YouTube is one of my favorite things on the planet, at this stage. If you need to learn to do something, chances are you can find at least half a dozen video tutorials on YouTube to help you along the way. Since a good portion of the time I spend seeking entertainment is on YouTube, I thought I would include a few channels that really had an impact for me this year.
SustainablyVegan, in which British twenty-something Immy Lucas shares ideas for leading a more sustainable life. I love how earnest Lucas is, how transparent she is with her audience, and how passionate she is about the causes she cares about. I’ve learned a great deal from the weekly videos, and gained a greater appreciation for the young men and women leading the movement toward a more holistic, sustainable, and inclusive world.
Nik the Booksmith, in which artist Nik the Booksmith (I tried to find her real name, but this was all I could come up with) shares videos on how to make astonishing books, journals, and other paper crafts on a weekly basis. Nik is not only hilarious but also genuinely talented, and I’ve actually taken a couple of her online classes in order to learn more about making junk journals and zines. If you’re interested in paper crafts and especially alternative forms of book making, this is the channel to watch.
MIGardener, a channel devoted to organic gardening in all its forms. Informative videos presented two to three times per week, on every gardening-related topic under the sun. The host’s perpetual pep sometimes makes me a little weary, but he’s passionate, well-informed, and committed to his audience and his topic, so who am I to complain? And, seriously, the amount of information provided on the channel is kind of astonishing. Highly recommended for both novice and experienced gardeners.
Since I’ll be talking about the books I’m reading in Wednesday’s post this week, I’ll save that for later. Hopefully, this gives you a few things to chew on if you’re looking for something new to delve into. The watchwords for me this year were gentle, funny, and/or informative, and I think most of these – with the exception of Pod Save America, which is sometimes funny and always informative but is rarely gentle – fit that bill.
What about you? What’s your go-to when it comes to escapist forms of entertainment?
Thanks to all who have read my rambling here at Maine Crime Writers this year. Wishing you the very sweetest of holidays, and a very, very happy New Year. See you in 2020!
Jen Blood is the USA Today-bestselling author of the Erin Solomon Mysteries and the Flint K-9 Search and Rescue Mysteries. To learn more, visit http://www.jenblood.com.