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The Best Fake Podcasts of the Year

Photo: Universal Pictures/YouTube

2022 was a peculiar year for podcasts. In addition to the usual sex-and-relationship chatcasts and true-crime projects you’d expect to drive conversation, a considerable number of shows that popped this year were linked to unsettling phenomena — including one grisly murder scene in upstate New York. As we close out the year, here are eight podcasts that stood out in pop culture over the past 12 months.

8. Organized Chaos

From: Don’t Worry Darling

Wait. Before you blast us on social, know that we’re recognizing Organized Chaos on this list specifically on the merits of its ability to drive headlines this year. The so-called “radical individualist” podcast has firmly eclipsed The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast as the “platform for disaffected young men” du jour, which makes it a newsworthy artifact. Sure, there’s the whole rumor about the show’s mysterious host, Frank, being involved in a spate of recent disappearances, but who knows what that’s all about.

7. Everything’s Trash

From: Everything’s Trash

What started out as a 2 Dope Queens clone quickly grew into its own, with Phoebe Hill and producer Malika Jones amassing a devoted following for their messy chatcast navigating life and relationships. It ran into some turbulence over the election season when appearances of Hill’s brother, the rising New York political star Jayden Hill, drew sharp criticism from pockets of the show’s fan base, but that fomenting fan frustration ultimately fizzled out when Everything’s Trash duo abruptly broke off from its network, Parakeet, to go independent.

6. The trailer for Vengeance

This one’s a bit of a cheat. Buzz around New Yorker writer Ben Manalowitz’s ambitious audio documentary “about America” got a huge boost when its trailer was previewed on NPR’s All Things Considered, which seemed to promise a moody Truman Capote–inspired investigation into a murder in rural Texas. Except, of course, the series never came out, and Manalowitz has since appeared to fall off the face of the earth. We might not learn about what exactly happened in Texas, but at least we’re left with an engrossing ten-minute trailer that’s now become the stuff of creepypastas and internet legend.

5. The podcast in Bodies Bodies Bodies

Also the stuff of creepypastas: This rambling Red Scare–inspired chatcast, ostensibly about hanging with your smartest and funniest friends, shot up the charts following news of its host being among the several dead in the mysterious New York state massacre that happened back in the spring. Since the killings, it has found an afterlife on TikTok, with scores of budding influencers sampling clips from the show’s deep archive of three-hour-long episodes. Say what you want about the situation, but you can’t deny that it was hard to avoid the macabre shadow of this podcast in 2022.

4. The 11th Brick at Stonewall

From: Bros

It’s been a strange year for the combination podcast, radio show, and Facebook Watch program. On the one hand, Lieber’s star has never been brighter, as the Are You There God? It’s Martina Navratilova author was recognized at the recent LGBTQ+ Pride Awards shortly after being appointed a curator for the upcoming National LGBTQ+ History Museum in Manhattan. On the other hand, the new job has also resulted in Lieber scaling-down production for The Eleventh Brick at Stonewall, which one critic called “a shouty mix between Making Gay History and The Bill Simmons Podcast.” Still, what episodes did come out showed the podcast to be in good form, and one imagines that once the museum finally opens and things settle down, Lieber might finally get more free time to resume regular recordings.

3. Life Comes at You Swiftly

From: “Anti-Hero”

Yes, it’s an obvious ploy for fame, notoriety, and a lucrative Roku–Sony–Warner Bros Discovery–Max Plus podcast deal by Chad Swift, the youngest and most tabloid-friendly of Taylor Swift’s children, looking to squeeze whatever juice is left of his nepo-baby trappings. But I’d be damned if Life Comes at You Swiftly wasn’t recognized for what it is: an exceptionally revealing — if ethically dubious and invasive — document offering insight into the latter decades of the elder Swift, who famously turned reclusive after her career as a film director took off.

2. X, Y, and Me

From: And Just Like That …

One last hurrah for the pandemic side project-turned-breakout podcast hit that supercharged one career (comedian Che Diaz) and revived another (the ’90s columnist Carrie Bradshaw). X, Y, and Me might have drawn eye rolls over the years for aggressively blending a morning-zoo aesthetic with its hokey conceit, which critics generally found cringeworthy, but the show ended up drawing a large, passionate following nevertheless. The departure of Diaz and the show’s other co-host, Jackie Nee, all but closes out X, Y, and Me’s run, as the podcast will soon be rebooting as a solo Bradshaw advice show. It’s unclear whether or not fans of the original podcast will carry over, as Bradshaw will be in direct competition with the Glennon Doyles and the Brené Browns of the world.

1. Only Murders in the Building

From: Only Murders in the Building

The Arconia trio pulled off a surprisingly strong sophomore effort when the show abruptly returned earlier this year. This was no small feat given the sheer difficulty involved in piecing together a coherent audio doc when the hosts themselves were initially prime suspects in the case of Bunny Folger. Some devoted fans took issue with the eleventh-hour crossover with Cinda Canning’s parallel project on the Arconia Murders, but how else could things have ended? After all, the culprit was directly related to Canning’s breakout Peabody Award–winning project All Is Not OK in Oklahoma. In any case, this might be all that we’ll get from the beloved indie true-crime podcast. After all, hosts Charles-Haden Savage and Oliver Putnam are said to now be collaborating on a new theater project, so who knows if we’ll ever hear from the podcasting trio ever again.

The Best Fake Podcasts of the Year