Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture – what’s new and old in entertainment.
One of the biggest trends over the last few years in our culture is our gravitation toward podcasts. They help us get through long commutes, they entertain us, inform us, and ever since season one of Serial, they have been obsessing us.
It began last year with a quest: to recap and analyze every episode of Game of Thrones before the HBO fantasy show’s seventh season. Hosts Jason Concepcion and Mallory Rubin are hardcore fans who have pored over every word of the books and every moment of the show multiple times. They guided listeners through all 60 previously aired episodes and then the entirety of season seven as it aired. For their work, they were lauded, even being named Time Magazines’ best podcast of 2017.
This year, they were faced with a conundrum: Game of Thrones won’t be airing until 2019, so how would they fill the time?
They decided to launch Bing Mode weekly, a more traditional format where they interrogate different subjects every week. One episode focused on coming of age stories and the film Coco and then a few weeks later, they were discussing what it means to be a hero or a villian within Star Wars.
But the secret to Binge Mode’s success is that they don’t just recap and discuss. They truly inform the audience with their deep-dives. They don’t just recount the story of Coco, the discuss the themes of family bonds, feeling like an outsider, and growing jaded by the cruelties of the world within the context of the Pixar family, comparing the film extensively to other Pixar movies like Up, Wall-E, and Inside Out.
Listening to Binge Mode feels less like listening to a pop culture podcast and more like going to a college-level course on storytelling.
In a world of hot takes and broad strokes, Binge Mode uses pop culture as a launching point for larger discussions relevant to the themes and ideas that serve as motivation for much of the art we all appreciate so much in the first place.
I’m Evan Rook.