The last time Westworld aired, America had a different president. The show finally returns for Season 2 this Sunday, and so the Westworld podcast industrial complex shudders back into motion. During season 1, HuffPost counted 28 goddamn Westworld podcasts, and many more have started since then. We’ll be screwed when these shows gain sentience. Here are the best.
If you’re not afraid of theories that become accidental spoilers, subscribe to Decoding Westworld. Hosts David Chen and Joanna Robinson (who also run the Game of Thrones podcast A Cast of Kings) go over fan theories and evaluate each episode. They treat the show as both story and puzzle, and their conversation has a smart and friendly vibe, kind of like NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. As a redditor points out, Chen is the Scully of the pair, while Robinson is the Mulder. In season 1, she promoted every crazy fan theory she found online, and she was usually proven right. (Poor Bernard.) Episodes run anywhere from one to two hours.
If you only want to hear about fan theories, listen to Out West, a podcast from Josh Topolsky, Adrianne Jeffries, and John Lagomarsino of the Outline. There are only eight episodes, each “just” an hour long. This is one of the slickest Westworld podcasts, with lively conversation and sophisticated discussion.
Another fan favourite is Watching Westworld, from the Bald Move slate of TV podcasts. Each episode spends over two hours covering a one-hour ep of the show. The hosts, who have covered dozens of TV shows, bring a little more scepticism to the show’s quality than Chen and Robinson do, but both are won over by the season finale.
TV podcasts have to decide whether to shut down in the off-season, and Westworld has one hell of an off-season. Decoding Westworld shut down for over a year. Westworld: The Podcast, marches onward with episodes on related stories, cast interviews, and even a rewatch of the whole first season – yesterday they released episode 72. Beyond Westworld found a good balance with just two post-season episodes and a new season 2 preview episode, covering all the promotion and rumours about the new season of the HBO show.
The Dollars and Sense of Westworld discusses the business and economics of the fictional Westworld. The hosts are kind of amateurish and hard to hear, but they get a lot of humour and thought out of exploring the feasibility of running a giant theme park full of murder sex robots.
And if you like, you can wade through a couple dozen more shows. Here lie some very poor production values and dodgy discourse, but if the shows above leave you wanting, maybe you need to keep searching through this maze.
But wait. At the end of season 1, Out West co-hosts Topolsky and Jeffries envy any viewers who managed to avoid all the rumours, discussions, and fan theories and got to experience all the reveals armed only with their own thoughts. For season 2, what if you watched a show … without listening to a podcast? Without checking the subreddit? Without tweeting?
Hahaha no, that wouldn’t be any fun!