Picks of the week
Poet Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr hosts this unsanitised look at the human stories behind the surge of protests for racial equality in the US in 2020. From disturbing audio of a police raid on the home of D-Wreck Ingram, a member of NYC activists Warriors in the Garden, to an interview with Jermaine Guinyard – the only black man in Harvard, Nebraska, who staged the city’s first BLM protest – Tejan-Thomas zooms in on the people behind the headlines. Powerful and current, with language some listeners may find troubling. Hannah J Davies
The Yungblud Podcast
Charismatic Dominic Harrison – AKA Yungblud – is the perfect pop star and spokesperson for Gen Z, with his huge fanbase and ‘baby Keith Flint’ persona. In under 20 minutes of podcasting, he offers so much warmth, reassurance and cheerleading to youngsters that it should be compulsory listening. The format is simple: he chats to one non-famous guest, starting with Ashley, who talks frankly about sexuality, “the subject of 10 zillion possibilities”. Fluidity, coming out and how things have evolved for their generation are all covered openly and wisely.
Chosen by Charlie Phillips
I’ll eat up anything that the wild crew at Mermaid Palace release, but I’ve been particularly blown away by Appearances, the new serialised show from Sharon Mashihi, about working out whether to have a baby and dealing with a suffocating Iranian-Jewish family. It’s achieved the ultimate accolade for a podcast from me – I’ll listen to it when I’m walking, painting walls, or hoovering (when I can completely concentrate on it) rather than when I’m cooking dinner or doing another involved task (when I can’t). You need to focus on it because Sharon’s created an alter ego, Melanie, to figure out the baby and family stuff, and if you let your mind drift, you might lose track of whether the fourth wall is up or down. Sometimes she talks about where the wall is, too, so you need to concentrate on that as well.
This isn’t an intellectual game, though – it’s a mostly linear, emotional journey in which Melanie drifts further from her family as she gets closer to trying for a baby. It’s funny – if you’re into Jewish, immigrant or other families where everyone wants to know everyone else’s business, you’ll laugh. If you’re into pretentious art that loves and celebrates its own pretentiousness, you’ll laugh too.
All the players are introduced – Sharon’s mum, her brother, the local gossip, and a host of other bit parts, many played with gusto by Mashihi herself. You’re wondering what’s true or not until, in classic Mermaid Palace style, she tells us directly that the real and the fictional have diverged, and then we know for sure. The series is self-described as ‘a mind trip’, and that’s accurate – a long inner debate about how to make a big decision, and how selfish it’s OK to be.