What Podcasts About The Office And Other Sitcoms Say About The Stars (And Us)
Office stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey have a new book out this month -- The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office From Two Best Friends Who Were There. If you’re one of the millions who have checked out an episode (or twenty) of their Office Ladies podcast, you might be wondering:
What could there possibly be left to say?
In each episode, best friends Jenna and Angela break down an Office episode, sharing fun facts, telling old stories, and interviewing costars, writers, or other crew members who trade trivia tidbits for obsessive fans. With spinoff animation and book deals, they're undeniably popular. It’s all based on the idea of a good hang with old friends, with each podcast episode lasting about twice as long as The Office episodes themselves.
And the Office Ladies aren’t alone. While true crime still rules the podcast charts, comedy stars have created a cottage industry by waxing nostalgic about their old shows. Juice your commute with shows like:
* The Office Deep Dive (Brian “Kevin” Baumgartner spills chili over the same old stories as Kinsey and Fischer)
* Fly on the Wall (Dana Carvey and David Spade look back on Saturday Night Live)
* Fake Doctors, Real Friends (Zach Braff and Donald Faison also play the “real-life best friends!” card while discussing Scrubs)
* The Darkest Timeline (Joel McHale and Ken Jeong break down Community)
* Parks and Recollection (constant podcaster Rob Lowe pontificates on Parks and Recreation)
* Welcome To Our Show (Zoe Deschanel and friends dish on New Girl)
* The Always Sunny Podcast (Sunny reminiscing with Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, and Rob McElhenney)
What’s in it for old sitcom stars? For starters, the recap podcast has become the new, improved fan convention, with a lot less travel and way fewer handshakes with sweaty obsessives.
Used to be the actors from Star Trek or Gilligan’s Island would show up at your local civic center for FanCon meet-and-greets, a chance for fading stars to cash in on a TV franchise that stopped paying residuals years ago. The work was relatively easy even if the days were long, and it was a way to keep the fame train rolling when new roles were hard to come by.
Nowadays, why bother? By sitting in your home office Zooming with old friends, you can make that sweet SimpliSafe and HelloFresh cash (get three free meals when you use the code OFFICELADIES). For fading stars? Who wouldn't want to see their name atop the Spotify podcast charts?
But what’s in it for the fans? Think of it as comedy comfort food, a way to revisit old friends when you’re tired of binging the same old reruns. And during Covid? Sitcom podcasts provided the perfect pandemic panacea.
"People were looking back at better times, looking for comfort and something to latch onto,” says Will Pearson, chief operating officer of the iHeart Radio Podcast Network. iHeart named Office Ladies its Podcast of the Year.
Now that we can gather with actual pals again, will the popularity of sitting-around-talkin’-’bout-sitcoms podcasts continue? A show like Office Ladies has a built-in shelf life--once they've worked through all the seasons, there won't be a lot left to talk about. Then their sitcom-comedy glut – how many recaps can fandom consume? At some point, podcast listeners will likely prune away all but their best sitcom friends. (Hey Matt LeBlanc, about that old Friends podcast …)
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