Whether in the car, in the office, or in the saddle, queue up enlightening and entertaining podcasts like Canada’s Unreserved and nostalgic Bonanas for Bonanza.
Editor’s Note: The Real Deal is C&I’s 2021 entertainment feature where we share our recommendations for musicians, writers, entertainers, and podcasters who possess a common trait: unmistakable authenticity.
Originally hosted by Rosanna Deerchild, an award-winning author and broadcaster from O-Pipon-Na-Piwan Cree Nation, this CBC Radio One show tells the stories of Canada’s Indigenous population, from the remote archipelago of Haida Gwaii to the bustling city of Toronto. The upcoming season will be hosted by writer and podcaster Falen Johnson (Mohawk and Tuscarora).
Each episode features conversations with Native “culture-shakers,” the teachers, priests, artists, and everyday citizens across the country. The show covers any and all topics affecting the community, from representation in Hollywood (see episode “In a Galaxy Far, Far Away,” in which the pod examines Star Wars through a Native lens, or “Lights, camera, Oscars” to meet directors, actors, and producers “decolonizing” Hollywood) to how people are overcoming language barriers and cultural differences to navigate the healthcare system. Recent pandemic-related editions focus on how individuals are figuring out life in isolation by producing music at home instead of the studio, hosting virtual book clubs, or finding hope in nature.
Coffee With My Ma
Kahentinetha Horn is a member of the Mohawk Bear Clan (Quebec, Canada), and has led a long career as an actress, model, and, most notably, activist. She was a prominent figure in the Indigenous rights movement in the 1960s and ’70s, known for her public criticisms of government policies that negatively impact and harm the Native population.
Coffee With My Ma is entertainingly candid and simple in concept — a weekly chat hosted and produced by Horn’s daughter Kaniehtiio Horn that takes place right at the kitchen table. You can hear Kaniehtiio shuffling in the background as she asks her mother, referred to simply as “Ma,” to relay the stories of her eventful life, reacting with the more-than-occasional swear word at some of the unbelievable characters she encounters.
Grab a cup of joe and listen in as the duo discuss the time Ma attended Robert Kennedy’s funeral, when Chief Pine of Garden River First Nation asked her to help him meet with the National Indian Brotherhood, or when her months-long exchange trip to Europe turned into a year (where she found herself in Berlin being interrogated by Russians). The sole downside to this podcast? There’s only one season so far! Thankfully, a July tweet from the podcast signals a new season is on the horizon.
Bonanas for Bonanza
Recapping a classic western TV series in podcast form is a promising enough idea — it’s always interesting to hear how modern audiences take in vintage entertainment. But Bonanas for Bonanza takes the concept a bit further into the delirium zone. Starring LA comics Andy Daley, Matt Gourley, and Maria Bamford with a slew of weekly guests added in, this podcast is essentially a show within a show. Daley leads the recapping charge in character as Dalton Wilcox, the “self-described Poet Laureate of the West,” and Gourley and Bamford act as side characters helping to break down a different episode of Bonanza each week. But you realize quickly when listening that a love for Bonanza is just the baseline — the plots of the old show give the podcasts’ fictional hosts plenty of reasons to break off into improvisation. The jokes and the banter aren’t quite family-friendly, either. So if you love the old western shows and can also enjoy inappropriate jokes about their tropes, you’ll get a kick out of this one. Little Joe and the other Cartwrights don’t have to know about it. Listen on Earwolf or any podcast platform.
Unlocking Us With Brené Brown
The global pandemic left us all wanting for the most basic of connections and activities. Earlier in 2020, suddenly apart from loved ones and workplaces, we looked to books, podcasts, and binge-watching as a safer way to process our jumbled feelings. One of the many balms to surface was a new podcast hosted by a capable, compelling guide through what we would describe as “mental muck.” Research prof, author, and speaker Brené Brown was already beginning to enjoy an Oprah-level following before the pandemic thanks to her no-nonsense, unapologetically Texan self-help advice in books and viral TED Talks. Now there’s the Unlocking Us podcast, discussions between Brown and thoughtful guests from literature and culture about how humans react to fear, shame, and other dangerous emotions. If you think this all sounds a little touchy-feely, just give it a listen and you’ll find that Brown doesn’t sweeten her language or drift too far into lofty therapy terms. She’s the counselor you’d have a Shiner with. You can do just that on any podcast platform or at brenebrown.com.
From our January 2021 issue.