2021 continues to be the year of women. In addition to several female firsts in the realm of elected government officials, women are now beginning to take up their proper space in the world of podcasts and audio entertainment. Here a just a few of our favorites.
The Laverne Cox Show
Trailblazing Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox hosts a weekly series that is creating a space for women, people of color, and transgender folks to be heard while also providing diverse topics that will appeal to a wide variety of people. On working with Shonda Rhimes’s Shondaland Audio and iHeartMedia for the series that debuted in February, Cox says, “I’m thrilled to be continuing and expanding my relationship with Shondaland by doing my first podcast with Shonda’s amazing team along with iHeartRadio. I can’t wait for everyone to hear the incredibly interesting conversations I have had with my guests.”
Shondaland chief design and digital media officer Sandie Bailey adds, “We all know her on-screen talents and her role as a producer, but this show affords Laverne the opportunity to produce something very personal. She’s clearly interested in engaging her listeners and herself in ways she hasn’t before. And we’re committed to supporting her in doing just that.”
As its title insinuates, this is a podcast that is not afraid to go there — and does so with hilarious aplomb. The new scripted audio series from creators Alysia Brown, Sarah Aument, Sophie Dinicol is equal parts musical and comedy and features fun, fleshed-out, and fabulously flawed queer characters. Following lesbian besties and bandmates Deja and Chloe through the ups and downs of dating life (accompanied by a wickedly cool original score), Tampon Rock is the relatable comic relief you didn’t know you needed. “The three of us have worked together at Jingle Punks for a long time and wanted to put our skills and resources into a funny, creative project,” the creative trio notes in a written statement. “One of the main driving forces behind Tampon Rock is that we wanted to create more of the content that we want to consume (and that we feel is lacking in the media).… We hope to provide more representation for queer voices, particularly queer Black voices. And make people laugh!”
Pants With Kate and Leisha
The title of Leisha Hailey and Kate Moennig’s podcast was actually inspired by a nickname for the inseparable duo given by fellow L Word castmate Mia Kirshner (because “you can’t have one leg without the other”) — which is exactly the kind of entertaining inside stories you can expect to hear on the weekly series. Born out of feelings of isolation and helplessness brought on when the pandemic caused filming the second season of The L Word: Generation Q to be postponed, Pants brings you fun and intimate conversations between the friends and costars of 20 years. Moennig and Hailey say they started the loose-format podcast without a specific message in mind and “with no expectation. We didn’t know what we were doing and to a certain extent still don’t. What seems to be the undercurrent of this show is the universal appreciation and importance of friendship. Not only with each other but also with our guests. During a time that so many people are isolated and lonely, it’s comforting to know this is a bright spot in someone’s day.”
Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club
An obvious downside for many during the pandemic is the inability to see live performances in a theater. However, one upside is now having even more access to critically acclaimed productions via streaming audio services. Chonburi International Hotel & Butterfly Club is a full-length original audio play written by and starring the multitalented Shakina Nayfack (Difficult People). The Audible Original is part of the Williamstown Theatre Festival and follows an international group of transgender women who bond in a Thailand hotel as Nayfack’s character, Kina, prepares for gender-confirmation surgery.
Though Nayfack admits she was somewhat disappointed the play couldn’t make its world premiere on stage, she’s excited to now present Chonburi to a much wider audience. “While having a world premiere production at Williamstown Theatre Festival would have been amazing, the pivot to Audible now allows the piece to be heard by tens of thousands of people all around the world, including and especially trans people who deserve to hear stories with their experience at the center,” she says. “I’m not sure how many people would have been able to make it to western Massachusetts for a two-week run last summer, but now the play lives on forever in a more accessible way. Listening to it takes you to the theater and to Thailand — it’s a whole experience.”