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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Rom Com Pods


Okay, something slightly different from me ... a Podcast review! 

I don't know about you, but during the 111-days hard lockdown here in Melbourne I clung to my one daily walk, and podcasts became a lifeline for me too. The intimacy and joy of them, having people in my ear-holes chatting away or telling me a story was such a good stress-reliever. I have lots of favourite podcasts now; from political and pop-culture, story-driven, true-crime and mystery .... here's but a brief list of what I love and listen to; 

And then there's also my beloved - Rom Com Pods! This is a scripted podcast, "fiction romcom" listen created by Becca Freeman (Bad on Paper) and Rachael King (Pod People) and I am going to break both seasons down for you and review them. 

So far there have been two seasons (two totally different stories) both 7-episodes each and yes, a third season is currently in the works for 2021. 

Season 1 was Honeymoon For One and deals with 28-year-old Claire finding her fiancée cheating on her right before their wedding. Buoyed by her sympathetic bestie, and depressed at the thought of returning to her dead-end job, Claire decides to go on her honeymoon solo and gift herself a much-needed restart. 

It's just a little sad that the honeymoon they'd booked (and she'd meticulously planned) is a couples tour-group around Italy ... so Claire finds herself on a big tour with a couple of Instagram-influencers, an older couple who have lost *none* of their libido, and a seeming odd-couple of empty-nesters, and their tour-guide is an American living in Italy, Matteo. 

Honeymoon follows Claire on this weeks-long holiday as she lives out her traveller's dream, rediscovers her love for photography and gets closer and closer to guide, Matteo - who while charming, is also a little cagey about his background and just how he ended up living in Italy. Claire's curiosity is particularly piqued when she wanders into Matteo's local bookstore, and finds a book with a dust-jacket that includes his author photo! 

I really, thoroughly enjoyed this first season and as a first-intro to what Rom Com Pods is all about. It's not just that the set-up was great, it's that the story had a natural cast of secondary characters who really filled out the background and made for a more intimate listen. And of course, that Claire and Matteo's romance was so wonderful - they're played by Amy Stricker and Shajehan Khan, and I've got to say it's a staple of the whole production that their casting is *always* brilliant. These actors sparked off each other, and had such great beats that really amped up the feeling of the awkward getting-to-know you stage, and the I'm-developing-feelings-for-you journey. 

This season is very much Under the Tuscan Sun, and for some reason I also kept thinking of the Chasing Liberty casting and European zip-around'ing too. I loved this first season, and it got me so amped for what ever else this production had up their sleeve.

Season 2 is Vote for Love - also 7 episodes long, but a whole new story. This one deals with young woman Lucy, who works for the Governor of Texas when we first meet her - and she's nursing a pretty healthy crush on the governor's son, Lincoln. The two share a passionate kiss on the night that the governor is re-elected, and Lucy is elated to think that maybe her crush will turn into something more ... but then the very next day she learns that Lincoln has run off to L.A. after having yet another falling out with his father. 

Fast-forward 8 years and Lincoln is a legit music star, after breaking out on the reality TV show 'Sink or Sing' - he's like an older Shawn Mendes with the soulful song-writing of Ed Sheeran, and he's got a model girlfriend and chart-topping hits. His father meanwhile, is now running for President and Lucy is assistant to the Governor's chief-of-staff on the campaign. But they've hit a snag with Gen Z voters and poor youth turnout in the lead-up to the election, so even though the Governor and his son have a frosty relationship, Lucy is tasked with representing the campaign and reaching out to (/beg) Lincoln to use his celebrity prowess to help his Dad. 

Lucy and Lincoln come face-to-face for the first time since their electric kiss from eight-years-ago, and radio-silence from Lincoln after he left the next day and never reached out to Lucy again. But he - somewhat reluctantly - does agree that his Democratic father is the better candidate against a conservative Republican, and agrees to help his Dad boost poll numbers amongst 'the youth'. 

But Lincoln and Lucy still have mad-chemistry that just about explodes on the campaign-trail as they both get closer and closer to each other and reveal their insecurities and desires during the turbulent weeks leading up to a make-or-break Presidential election. 

I also loved this season, no surprise. It's The West Wing meets Nashville, by way of Michael Keaton/Geena Davis 1994 movie Speechless. That's a lot of my intersections! But this season was particularly great because of the added bonus of a music-component to the production, Spencer Sutherland who plays Lincoln actually does sing - and in episode one he even performs a rendition of The Backstreet Boy’s “I Want It That Way”! Sutherland is undoubtedly the stand-out in this season, especially the episode where they have him playing a huge concert as Lincoln - and it is just *swoony* (if you're a fan of the Stage Dive Series by Kylie Scott or any of those music-romance sub-genres, this is the season to give you heart-eyes BIG TIME!) And Lucy actress, Regan Shea is also fab - the two just bounce off each other and make this 10/10 cuter. 

So that's Rom Com Pods - - my favourite scripted podcast, and I am eagerly awaiting its third season! 

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