Definitely Not a Best of List
This is a list of audio dramas I enjoyed listening to in 2020! Not a list of my favorite audio dramas. Not what I declare the best audio dramas of 2020. Not even a list of all the audio dramas I enjoyed listening to in 2020. It’s not a best of list. Just a list! I cannot possibly style myself a critic because so many of the shows I love are shows I am directly involved in. This will rapidly become apparent as you scroll down this list. Also know — I have personal preferences towards both fantasy stories and lighthearted shows! Not everything on here is that, but the bias is clear. Okay, caveats over. Let the roundup begin.
A list of audio dramas I enjoyed in 2020
Listen, I know this show only released one episode this year, but I am ride or die for Flyest Fables. This show hits so much of what I love: it’s queer, it’s diverse, it’s wonderful, it’s wholesome. The show takes place in both the modern day and in a fantasy world, but the two realms are not as different as they seem. The connections are ever-present and the transitions seamless. Treat yourself to some Flyest Fables, it’s a balm to the soul.
For a show set it a dystopian capitalistic hellscape, Null/Void is too real. This show hits hard and it hits with meaning, and that meaning reverberates ever farther in the cursed timeline that is this year. This podcast explores the connections between privacy, technology, life, and meaning — not necessarily in that order. Null/Void is an exciting ride, and it’s a story that will sit with you long after you’re finished listening.
If anyone ever criticizes narration in audio drama I recommend sitting them down and making them listen to this show. The writing of Desperado is stunningly beautiful. There’s literal magic in the show, but the real magic is found within the characters and how they tell their story. It’s fascinating, it’s fun, and it’s fantastic.
(I cannot get the embed to work for this show but don’t let that stop you from looking it up in your podcast app please!)
Childish: The Podcast Musical
Most of this show came out at the end of 2019 but the last couple of episodes dropped earlier this year so it definitely counts. Childish is amazingly entertaining. It carries you along, sweeping you from one part of the narrative to the other with songs of all different varieties. It’s a slice of life show, but the musical aspect of it elevates it to a place where it doesn’t feel like a slice of life show. It’s almost magical, and I highly recommend listening to it.
Less is Morgue
This podcast is hosted by a ghost and a ghoul and plays with classic audio drama framing device in an incredibly fun way. Unlike most audio dramas, the characters (Riley and Evelyn) are making this show for the listeners. The framing device is literally a podcast. It lets them address and interact with their audience in ways others can’t, and Less is Morgue takes great advantage of this fact. Episodes of Less is Morgue get very unhinged, and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s a great listen.
Hit The Bricks
A whimsical musical extravaganza that’s not only set in Oz, it sounds like it came straight out of it. Hit the Bricks not only has a fantastic soundtrack, but the sound design is also amazing. I’m not going to forget how the tornado at the beginning sounded for a long time. This show is also just really cute, full of characters you connect with right away and root for. Hit the Bricks is an experience to listen to, and I highly recommend it.
I’ve been a fan of this fantasy adventure podcast for some time now, and that certainly hasn’t changed with the new crew in season three. This is as close as you can get to a DnD show without it being an actual play podcast — it’s the story of a fictional DnD game told only from the perspective of the game. Inn Between takes place at an inn, between the party’s adventures, but there’s still plenty of action. Inn Between is a fun romp of a show, and it hits some incredibly heartfelt and adorable moments to boot.
Wizard Seeking Wizard
Give me more funky wizards PLEASE. Let me sit here for hours and hear all about how they want to find a fellow wizardly companion and why. Wizard Seeking Wizard is a big comfort show for me. It’s adorable, it’s fun, it’s low-stakes, and it’s so entertaining. The music and sound design are both fantastic, and it immerses you in the whimsical stories of these wizards. If you want more wizards in your life, this is the podcast for you.
This is the only true crime show I’ll listen to. (It’s fake true crime, but you know what, close enough). It hits beats that are hilarious, heartfelt, heart-wrenching, and sometimes all three at once. Season two came out this year, and WOW did the Arden team live up to the hype they built in season one. I’d suggest starting from the beginning of the first season. You’ll hear a little bit of me in season two! :)
Be gay, do crime — in space! I act in this in a fairly major way but that’s it! This show is an absolute romp. Romance! Betrayal! Romance again! Shenanigans! Plotting! Possibly more betrayal! The character interactions are extraordinary fun and the way the secrets unravel will keep you wondering what else is coming next. It’s a very fun show, with great writing and sound design.
The One Stars
So I helped write some of this, but look, I didn’t do most of the writing or much of any voice acting or any of the sound design AND I simply adore all the parts of the show I didn’t do. This show is made for Tal. It combines absurd reviews with sci-fi shenanigans, taking something we all kind of hate (one star reviews) and turning it into a source of comedy and joy. The music really ties this show together in a way that goes beyond what most audio dramas do. Listen to the theme music, and you’ll see what I mean.
Seen and Not Heard
Alright, you got me, I did the sound design for this, BUT I did not write it nor did I act in it. This story is important and meaningful in ways I can’t fully express. This is a story that I knew needed to be out in the world from the moment I heard about it, and I feel lucky to have a part in making it. Caroline Mincks has poured their heart into this podcast and you can see it in every corner of the show. Seen and Not Heard is a different kind of audio drama than most of the shows out there, and I recommend giving it a listen to see what the medium can do.