The Best Podcasts Of 2023

Podcasts hit their Peak TV era in 2023, and with that glut of good listening came some unwanted consequences. Cutbacks, cancellations, celebrity deals gone wrong — the “too much of a good thing” crowd warned us long ago what happens when a content bubble bursts, and podcasts proved to be no exception. But despite the growing pains, some truly terrific shows were made this year (including the Uproxx produced Indiecast with Steven Hyden and Ian Cohen and People’s Party with Talib Kweli.

This list, with picks from staffers and contributors, includes a few steady favorites, fresh true crime takes, comedy audio hangs, and shows with a focus on debunking medical mysteries. All fascinating, entertaining, and illuminating in their own right. We listened to them during our daily commutes, miles-long runs, work breaks, and more, learning, laughing, and now we’re suggesting them to you (in no particular order) as we wrap up 2023.

Who Killed JFK Podcast

Who Killed JFK? (with Rob Reiner and Soledad O’Brien)

Something I did not have on my 2023 bingo card was to become utterly enthralled by a podcast exploring the JFK assassination hosted by Meathead from All in the Family (Rob Reiner) and former CNN host Soledad O’Brien, but here we are, life is strange and full of surprises. With all of that said, Who Killed JFK? somewhat shockingly offers some new perspective and insight into one of the 20th century’s (and world history’s) greatest mysteries. Hint: it may have actually been an inside job all along. – Brett Michael Dykes

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Conan O Brien Podcast
Team Coco

Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend

The best interviews don’t feel like interviews. It’s just a conversation, loose yet interesting because people are comfortable enough to let their guard down and be a little silly as they tell stories about their lives and careers. Conan O’Brien, freed from the limits of a late-night talk show (though he was pretty great as an interviewer in that format too) has become a master of this kind of interview with Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend. Whether the guests are fans, returning favorites like John Mulaney, actual real-life Conan friends like Timothy Olyphant, legends like Harrison Ford, or the sitting President of the United States, the vibe is the same: a breezy hang with the guest, Conan, and co-hosts Sona Movsesian and Matt Gourley. — Jason Tabrys

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The Basement Yard
Santagato Studios

The Basement Yard

You’ve absolutely seen The Basement Yard on TikTok. This is how I got my introduction to them: These clips of two dudes going back and forth talking about god knows what pop up on my FYP all the time. At some point, I made the decision to actually listen to them, which made me realize these are two of the funniest guys on the planet. The chemistry between Joe Santagato and Frank Alvarez is something that can only come from childhood friends, while their ability to take mundane topics and make them hilarious is something few (if any) can match. — Bill Difilippo

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Six Trophies Podcast

Six Trophies with Jason Concepcion and Shea Serrano

Okay, sure, I’m biased with this podcast pick. But set aside my admiration for both hosts and look at the pedigrees involved; both men are clearly in their wheelhouse and their friendship and working chemistry makes this hangout sports show even more of a gem. This is how hoops talk should be done: by people with unadulterated love for the game and all the awe, curiosity, and humor the insane feats and quirks the modern NBA and its culture-dominating figures deserve. – Aaron Williams

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Pablo Torre Podcast
Pablo Torre

Pablo Torre Finds Out

My favorite kind of projects are ones that balance the very serious with the very silly. Think about a show like Succession, where the drama and comedy co-exist to make each hit harder. It’s a tough trick to pull off, sure, because the wrong formula or the wrong process of mixing them can bungle everything, but when it works, hoo boy. That’s probably my favorite thing about Pablo Torre’s new podcast, Pablo Torre Finds Out. Where else are you going to find silly extended chats with Action Bronson next to legitimate and humanizing pieces of journalism like the episode where he looked into a state law banning trans athletes from high school sports in the name of competitive fairness and then interviewed the one (1) trans athlete in the entire state it impacted, who wasn’t even all that good at the sport in question? Nowhere, I suspect. It’s a nice reminder that anything can be more than one thing and still do all of them well. And it’s also a really good time. – Brian Grubb

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Las Culturistas

Las Culturistas

Ding dong, the best pop culture podcast of 2023 is calling. Saturday Night Live breakout Bowen Yang and comedian Matt Rogers have been serving the tea on all things pop culture since 2016 and, despite the podcast market being flooded with imitators, their brand of savvy, sharp-tongued, hysterical commentary is still the best of its kind. That’s mostly thanks to their easy banter – an inimitable byproduct of their years-long IRL friendship – and their in-depth knowledge of all things Real Housewives, but their roster of celebrity guests, unique industry insight, and comedic instincts also elevate the show beyond its format. — Jessica Toomer

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Blank Check Podcasts

Blank Check with Griffin & David

There are surely countless film podcasts currently running (I’m not going to verify this, but it just feels true) and even more comedy podcasts (same), but there is only one comedy-film hybrid podcast hosted by two friends that go through the filmography of auteurs (probably?). This podcast is Blank Check With Griffin & David, hosted by actor Griffin Newman and The Atlantic film critic David Sims. The episodes often run long as all hell (sometimes going beyond three hours) but somehow the duo, their beloved scum-bum producer Ben Hosley, and generally fantastic guests (Tatiana Maslany, Zach Cherry, Nia DaCosta) never wear out their welcome while breaking down the work of recently featured directors David Fincher, Park Chan-wook, and Danny Boyle. Weekly episodes focus on a single film and are typically hilarious, empathetic, and deeply insightful. But what always strikes me is how after years of doing this, the podcast still comes from a place of love that increases both the cinematic knowledge and appreciation of the listeners. — Philip Cosores

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Sawbones Podcast
Maximum Fun

Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine

There are few podcasts that can mix history lessons, humor, and the occasional public health service all in one, but Sawbones: A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine does just that. While the podcast began as a way for Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin (of My Brother My Brother and Me fame) to discuss interesting stories from medical history, in recent years they have also debunked dangerous myths, helped promote proper vaccinations, and more, making them a must-listen. Sydnee is knowledgeable and self-assured, bringing her experience as a physician to help explain everything from leprosy to burping, while Justin jokes and helps represent the audience, who are likely not doctors themselves. The podcast has been going strong for a decade, but it’s never dipped in quality and is still hilarious and educational. — Danielle Ryan

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Podcast The Ride
Forever Dog Podcasts

Podcast: The Ride

I listen to a lot of film podcasts, too many to recommend just one. So let’s zig over to film-adjacent territory because this is the year I finally listened to a friend’s advice and started listening to Podcast: The Ride. Tied, sometimes loosely, to amusement park rides and attractions (or any sort of themed entity really, it finds Mike Carlson, Jason Sheridan, and Scott Gairdner exploring the obsessions that have stayed with them well into adulthood, be it old TV specials filmed in EPCOT or long-forgotten celebrity-branded restaurants. I’m probably at the low end of theme park appreciation in my house, but their enthusiasm is infectious, their knowledge of this world impressive, and their digressions often as fun as their discussion of the topic at hand. — Keith Phipps

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Cows in the Field Podcast
Blobcat Filmindustri

Cows in the Field

Werner Herzog said, “We have to articulate ourselves, otherwise we would be cows in the field.” Cows in the Field puts that quote to the test, packaging the headiest of concepts into language that any curious filmgoers can understand. Each week, MIT philosopher Justin Khoo and his wife Laura Khoo invite a film critic, friend, or colleague in academia to bring one of their favorite movies for discussion. While the conversation can go in many directions — Justin and Laura are as informed about film as they are about philosophy — the common denominator is their rare blend of intelligence, curiosity, and accessibility. If you ever wanted a film podcast that considered Joe vs. the Volcano in the context of Immanuel Kant’s notion of the sublime, or compared Yoda to Christian philosopher St. Augustine, Cows in the Field is the film podcast you’ve been waiting for. — Noah Gittell

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