It's been nearly a year since we were wholly immersed in the story of Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee in season one of Serial, NPR's critically-acclaimed podcast hosted by journalist Sarah Koenig (and memorably sponsored by MailChimp). Now, the highly addictive series is back for round two. But this time, the subject matter is decidedly higher-profile. It involves U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who was held captive for five years by the Taliban from June 2009 to his release in May 2014. While the case has already received its fair share of international attention (the circumstances of his capture have been widely debated), we anticipate Koenig will augment it with her trademark dramatism. Find out for yourself this weekend: Episode One is already out and, assuming you burn through it, here are five other podcasts you should download too.
1. HIDDEN BRAIN
Just as Serial prompts you to constantly second guess every character's motive, Hidden Brain forces you to think (very, very) deeply about the innervworkings of your own unconscious mind. In the new NPR program, journalist and correspondent Shankar Vedantam answers hard-hitting questions ranging from how being labeled an "expert" may contribute to someone being close-minded to whether e-signatures change how people think about documents. Heady, indeed.
2. REPLY ALL
Reply All cleverly bills itself as a "show about the Internet," and co-hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman cling faithfully to their subject matter with brilliant—and, unfortunately, often highly relatable—stories about Facebook friends who won't stop posting their unfiltered political beliefs (we all know one) and the perils of online dating.
3. WOMEN OF THE HOUR
Lena Dunham has been heralded as the voice of millennials ever since the launch of Girls, and 2015 solidified it. Not only did the 29-year-old actress-slash-producer-slash-writer start LennyLetter.com, a e-newsletter focused on feminism and politics—she released a book and bestowed upon the world a podcast. Produced by BuzzFeed, Women of the Hour functions as an impeccably produced #girlboss variety show, featuring guests the likes of Emma Stone, Zadie Smith, and Amy Sedaris.
4. OH BOY
If you enjoy reading Leandra Medine's fashion industry musings on her blog, Man Repeller, then you'll love the audio version. Cheekily titled Oh Boy, it's hosted by the site's resident filmmaker, Jay Buim, who sits down with everyone from Mamie Gummer to Into the Gloss and Glossier founder Emily Weiss, and engages in intimate conversations about their life and work, interspersed with MR's trademark sarcasm and wit.
5. WTF WITH MARC MARON
This twice-weekly podcast hosted by standup comedian Marc Maron is deserving of its name. In interviews with comedians (James Corden, Jason Segel) and political trailblazers (Gloria Steinem, Barack Obama), he'll be just as likely to crack jokes about improv comedy as he is to deep-dive into race relations and gun violence, causing you to briefly think, "WTF?" before sitting back and enjoying the show.