Listen To These Podcasts Before They Become TV Shows

Fact: Many of the best TV shows on air did not begin as TV shows. Sharp Objects. You. Game of Thrones. In the best cases, these shows are more than just scene-by-scene translations of book to screen. They're adaptations, creatively using TV's visual element to amplify the source material.

Book-to-TV is a well-trodden path to adaptation. With the rise of podcast popularity, there's a new route for the creation of prestige TV: Podcast-to-TV. On November 2, Gimlet's scripted podcast Homecoming will debut as an Amazon Original Series. The visually stunning adaptation sets a high bar for all future shows crafted from podcasts.


Now, instead of people asking whether you read the book first, they'll ask if you've listened to the podcast first. Here are the podcasts to listen to start sooner than later — if you'd like.

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2 Dope Queens (2015-present)

What's It About? In each episode of 2 Dope Queens, Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson riff about their lives and obsessions, and feature three different comics. Typically, each episode features a wild interview with an A-Lister, too. After enough episodes, Williams and Robinson feel like your best friends.

When Can I Watch The Show? HBO has aired a series of taped specials.
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Welcome to Night Vale (2012-present)

What's It About? Welcome to Night Vale is a fascinating fictional podcast, which straddles comedy and the surreal. Each episode is a dispatch from a small town plagued by strange, supernatural events. The droll narrator's voice is strangely soothing. Here's where to start.

When Can I Watch The Show? FX is currently adapting a TV show. For now, read one of the many Night Vale spinoff books.
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Sword and Scale (2014-present)

What's It About? Calling all true crime fans: Sword and Scale's massive catalog of episodes focusing on gristly crime stories is there for you when you finish Serial and Dirty John.

When Can I Watch The Show? Through his production company Propogate, Ben Silverman is adapting Sword and Scale for TV. Silverman also was responsible for the TV adaptation of the podcast Lore. Likely, Sword and Scale will become a cable show.
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Serial (2014-present)

What's It About? In the first season of Serial, reporter Sarah Koenig pried open the closed case of the 1999 murder of Baltimore teenager Hae Min Lee, and questions the veracity of the trial's conclusion. Was Adnan Syed, Lee's ex-boyfriend and classmate, actually responsible for her death? The second season focused on Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl; the third looks at the American criminal justice system through a series of stories. Serial introduced a new way for people to consume investigative works — aurally instead of visually.

When Can I Watch The Show? In 2015, it was announced that Fox 21 Television Studios options the rights to Serial. The Writer/producer/director team Christopher Miller and Phil Lord are to develop a series about the making of Serial. HBO is continuing Serial's work with a true-crime series called The Case Against Adnan Syed.
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Lore (2015-present)

What's It About? If you're looking to be seriously spooked, download a couple of episodes of Lore. In each episode, Aaron Mahnke picks apart urban legends and presents recorded examples of the paranormal that can't be explained through logic. Lore proves that the scariest stories of them all are true ones.

When Can I Watch The Show? In October 2017, Lore premiered on Amazon Prime Video, becoming the first podcast to be turned into a TV show. The show combines Mahnke's narration with recreations. The second season of the Lore TV show drops in October 2018.
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Tanis (2015-present)

What's It About? Are you susceptible to believing conspiracy theories? Do you frequently lose yourself in an internet wormhole? Then you must download Tanis, a podcast that you will desperately want to be real. Producer Nic Silver (voiced by creator Terry Miles) goes on a quest to discover what the entity Tanis might be.

When Can I Watch The Show? In a July 2017 announcement, Universal Cable Productions and Dark Horse Entertainment revealed they are creating series based on two podcasts: Tanis and The Bright Sessions. Lee Shipman and creator Terry Miles will be writing the the TV adaptation of Tanis; Sam Raimi (Evil Dead) and Debbie Liebling (South Park) will produce, along with Dark Horse.
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The Bright Sessions (2015-2018)

What's It About? Psychologist Dr. Bright has an unusual set of patients: They're all budding superheroes. In each of their sessions, she helps them unlock their supernatural abilities. But to what ends?

When Can I Watch The Show: The Bright Sessions TV show will be written by its creator Lauren Shippen, as well as Gabrielle G. Stanton, known for her work on Grey's Anatomy and The Flash. Universal Cable Productions and Dark Horse Entertainment will produce.
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Limetown (2015-present)

What's It About? If you didn't know better, you might think reporter Lia Haddock (voiced by Annie-Sage Whitehurst) was narrating a true story in Limetown. The podcast unfolds as if it were a season of Serial or another investigative podcast. The story's unbelievable premise is the only giveaway it's fictional. Lia's investigating how and why 300 people disappeared from a neuroscience research facility in Tennessee.

When Can I Watch The Show? On October 8, we learned Facebook Watch ordered a 10-episode series based on Limetown. The show will star Jessica Biel as Lia Haddock. For now, catch season 2 of the podcast, which premieres on October 31.
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Homecoming (2016-present)

What's It About? Currently, Heidi Bergman (Catherine Keener) lives at home and works as a waitress at a Florida diner. Not so long ago, though, Heidi was a therapist for a revolutionary experimental treatment program aiming to help returning soldiers recover from PTSD. Heidi's past comes back when a stranger arrives at her restaurant shift, demanding to know what she knows about the Homecoming Initiative, and what happened to one of her patients, Walter Cruz (Oscar Isaac).

When Can I Watch The Show? Homecoming premieres on Amazon Prime on November 2. The TV show's cast is as stellar as the podcast's: Julia Roberts stars as Heidi Bergman. Stephan James, who will appear in If Beale Street Could Talk later this year, is Walter Cruz.
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Up and Vanished (2016-present)

What's It About? In the vein of Serial's Sarah Koenig, Up and Vanished host Payne Lindsey looks into the 2005 disappearance of Tara Grinstead, a 30-year-old pageant queen and high school teacher who vanished from her Georgia home. Thanks to Lindsey's reporting, the case of Grinstead's disappearance was cracked in 2017.

When Can I Watch The Show? Through his production company Propogate, Ben Silverman is adapting Up and Vanished for TV.
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Dirty John (2017)

What's It About? When Dirty John premiered in October 2017, it launched a craze reminiscent of Serial. Over the course of six episodes, journalist Christopher Goffard unspools a story so salacious it could be fictional. The ingredients are all there: A man described as pure evil, and the kind woman who falls for him. A coalition of suspicious daughters. An unsolved murder. Essentially, it's prime time TV — it's real life.

When Can I Watch The Show? Dirty John premieres on Bravo on November 25. Connie Britton plays Debra Newell, a successful single mother who meets John Meehan (Eric Bana) online. She's taken by his attentive persona, his stories of being a surgeon. Her daughters — played by Juno Temple and Julia Garner — are far less charmed, and with reason.
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