From the mind of NYT bestselling author Allison Raskin comes GOSSIP, a 12-episode narrative mini-series that strives to be the first stab at a comedic audio soap opera in the vein of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES and GOSSIP GIRL. While there are plenty of dramatic narrative podcasts out there, the buck for well-known scripted comedy outings stops around the seminal WELCOME TO NIGHTVALE. All in all, Raskin has done something fresh and exciting here with GOSSIP, and one that’s worth paying attention to, and while it takes about two episodes to fully get sucked into the tone and pacing of the fictional community of Golden Acres, you’ll soon find yourselves slamming through the intensely bingeable remainder of the season.
Centering around Bethany, Mia, and Valerie, three women from varying backgrounds that meet once a week to discuss the must-hear going-ons of their hometown. I’m not the first to say it, but it’s impressive how much GOSSIP reads like a television show. With vibrant characters that jump out of the speakers; heightened, humorous scenarios that give us a glimpse into the quirky denizens of Golden Acres, and longer-form arcs and plotlines that dole out growth and development where you’d least expect, it’s truly an impressive return-to-form for the audio play at large, able to entirely realize every nook and cranny of its potential and never once causing us to feel as if a visual component is necessitated. What’s more, the episodes all round out with an actual discussion of real-life gossip from the creatives’ personal lives, and while the fictionalized rumor mills tend to be a bit juicier, it’s a nice “real-time” glimpse into the inspiration for the show, giving everything a lightly personal sheen and painting a cohesive portrait of the way in which a little whisper can affect communities in real-time.
The show is so succinct (coming in at around six hours total) that if you think it’s something that’ll appeal to you, you might as well just binge it all, but personal favorites include Episode Two’s look at a gay British couple who turn an Air BnB into a meth lab and Episode Four’s deep-dive into an elderly escort service at a local senior citizen home. It’s goofy, it’s pulpy, it makes an endearing attempt to not be mean-spirited in its satirical look at various hometown types, and it’s a refreshing break from the increasing trend of pushing episode lengths to the two-hour marks. Give GOSSIP a try!