Any ranking of the best entertainment of the year is necessarily incomplete and represents the personal proclivities of the ranker, and that’s especially true in the case of podcasts. I listen to more podcasts than anyone I know personally (by a wide margin), but that’s still less than approximately 0.0001% of all the podcasts out there. So for my Best Podcasts of 2020 feature, I decided to make it particularly personal by listing ALL the podcasts that I listened to in the past year, because they’re all special, and all worth shouting out. I’ve organized them into a few categories: 2020 Debuts, Veterans, a few specialty categories that you’ll discover when you get to them, and Podcasts That I Host.

2020 Debuts
First off, I must declare my love for Newcomers, my absolute favorite debut of the year. Co-hosts Nicole Byer and Lauren Lapkus are always a delight, and that’s especially true when they’re watching Star Wars (and later Lord of the Rings) for the first time and letting us know what they think about it. Please mispronounce every one of those galactic names all day, ladies! … Actor/comedian Connor Ratliff reportedly has “dead eyes,” or at least he supposedly did when he auditioned for the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, thus why he created a podcast called Dead Eyes, in which he tries to (satirically?) understand why Tom Hanks fired him from that show … With much of the world on lockdown, Community stars Joel McHale and Ken Jeong teamed up for The Darkest Timeline, ostensibly to recap Community (see below) but ultimately to be just two best friends ragging on each other … Oh, Hello: the P’dcast is “Oh, Hello” in p’dcast form, and trust me, you cannot have too much tuna in your podcast feed … The Anonymous Advice Podcast is something I stumbled upon because of one of those “I know someone who knows someone” connections, but I kept listening when I discovered that there’s a part of me that enjoys hearing some random guy offering solutions to strangers for what ails them … Sports Illustrated got into the podcast game with The Record, and luckily for them, I like sports and I don’t care who knows it.

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend is a consistent source of silly joy from a silly man and his often-silly-as-well (potential) friends … Adam Scoutt Aukerman continued their musical excursions with U Talkin’ Talking Heads 2 My Talking Head?, as they examined the work of Mr. Burns, Tina Verymouth, George Harrison, and Chris Fartz … Blank Check with Griffin and David was almost certainly the show I spent the most hours listening to in 2020 – their episodes are often quite long! … How Did This Get Made? is still trying to figure out how those dang movies got made! … 2020 was actually the first year I listened to every single new episode of Comedy Bang! Bang!Judge John Hodgman is reliably solving humanity’s Internet disputes … NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour went daily at the end of 2020 – there’s a lot of pop culture to talk about! … Unspooled finally got through the entirety of the AFI’s list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time, and now they’re building their own list! … Drag Her! recaps RuPaul’s Drag Race – it’s a fun show to talk about … Good One features Vulture‘s Jesse David Fox interviewing comedians, and he really digs in … Want to know the stories behind Conan O’Brien’s talk shows? Then listen to Inside Conan: An Important Hollywood Podcast! … Did you know that Ron Burgundy has a podcast? It’s true! And it’s called The Ron Burgundy Podcast … TV romance gets the hardcore analysis it deserves on Shipping Room Podcast … On Pop Mom, pop culture critic John Teti and his mom Bonney discuss pop culture, and boy, can it get pretty rowdy … If you like cult movies, then you just might enjoy Cult Movie Cult. Fun fact: one of the hosts is an old friend of mine! Funner fact: I once appeared as a guest! … Fighting in the War Room remains steadily ensconced on my film discussion rotation … Dead Times is a horror movie discussion podcast hosted by a couple of guys that I know, and let me tell you: they love talking about horror movies.

Community is my favorite TV show of all time, but for a long time, there was a severe shortage of podcasts discussing it. That changed in a big way in 2020. In the wake of the show’s tenth anniversary in the fall of 2019 and its arrival on Netflix in April 2020, more than a dozen podcasts dedicated to those Greendale Human Beings sprouted up. It got to the point where it was nearly impossible to listen to all of them at once! So while I’m not entirely caught up on every single one of them, each one of their backlogs is on my feed waiting to be listened to. Let’s take a closer look: Advanced Community Studies, Communication Studies, Dom and Andre in the Morning, Fluffy Town, Good Morning Greendale, The Greendale Seven Podcast, Save Greendale Committee, Welcome to Greendale, and You Can’t Disappoint a Podcast are all of the “let’s dive deep into each episode” variety. (Dom and Andre sticks out among the bunch thanks to its Mr. Peanut obsession.) … The Community Rewatch Podcast also usually dives deep on an episode-by-episode basis but skips around when deciding which episodes to cover … Apartment 303 takes a themed approach, tying together similar Community episodes in a single outing … Six Seasons & a Podcast started out as a recap podcast but has since evolved into an interview show with various Community personnel … Cool Abed Films Chat checks out the movies referenced on Community … And finally, there’s MetaMeta, a Community podcast about all the other Community podcasts!

A.P. Bio
The Community podcast explosion was repeated in miniature form with the former-NBC/now-Peacock sitcom A.P. Bio, which is appropriate enough, as the two shows share a similar sensibility. First came The AP Bio Rewatch Podcast, courtesy of a couple of Community superfans, including the host of Six Seasons & a Podcast. It was actually originally called (if I’m remembering correctly) “The AP Bio Podcast,” but it changed its name in deference to the official A.P. Bio: The Podcast, which is hosted by cast members Sari Arambulo and Eddie Leavy and features interviews with writers and other cast members.

Podcasts That I Host
And finally, it was a banner year for That’s Auntertainment!, the podcast that I co-host with my Aunt Beth, as we discussed the likes of Hamilton, The Baby-Sitters Club, and even our favorite Christmas songs of all time!