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The After Work Drinks duo on everything you should be watching, reading and listening to now

IMAGE VIA @ISABELLETRUMAN/INSTAGRAM
WORDS BY ELLA TAVERNER

“I’m really into silly, easy to watch shows at the moment, which is something that I started indulging in during the early days of the pandemic.”

Since transitioning from the world of audio-blogging into mainstream media, podcasts have captured the zeitgeist of the 21st century with apps and services alike offering up a smorgasbord of options. And in a time where physical connection and social interactions have felt so few and far between, we’ve found solace and reprieve in the comfort of our headphones. 

Sharing podcast recommendations is like new-age Pokemon trading – it’s a currency highly valued among my friendship group. So it would be remiss of me to gatekeep my favourite go-to pod, After Work Drinks. Hosted by freelance journalists and former magazine editors Isabelle Truman and Grace O’Neill, the podcast provides a fine balance between humorous musings on pop cultural happenings and intellectual acuity. 


Want to read more about how others navigate the world? Try our Life section.


Currently residing in London, the duo records their weekly episodes over a glass of vino (true to the podcast’s name), and have carved their niche in the Australian media sphere by providing fresh and nuanced insights into the global melting pot of fashion, pop culture and political affairs. So naturally, when the opportunity arose to pick the pair’s brains on everything they’re currently consuming, I jumped. 

What are three things you have watched recently that you would recommend?

Isabelle: I’m really into silly, easy to watch shows at the moment, which is something that I started indulging in during the early days of the pandemic. I found I felt too stressed and anxious to read or watch anything serious and reality TV was all that would make my mind switch off. My latest obsession is Below Deck Mediterranean which follows young people working on superyachts – sounds boring but I promise it’s good. 

Grace: I thought the third season of Sex Education was so, so brilliant. It’s one of my favourite shows on TV at the moment. The writing is fantastic, and it manages to touch on these very serious and important issues in a non-cringe way which is not easily done. There was a sex scene in this season that was one of the most fascinating and beautifully-done sex scenes I’ve ever seen (you’ll know what I’m talking about). Also, Jemima Kirke, an AWD muse (come on the pod) is in it, and plays a TERF-adjacent cheugy millennial principal, which is an added incentive. 

I: I found out about The White Lotus the day the first episode was released and from the pilot I was hooked. I found the casting brilliant and some moments laugh out loud funny. There’s been a bit of backlash following the season one finale about the way the series covered really important topics, such as White supremacy and classism, which are valid. I think it’s still worth watching – and then worth reading lots of reviews into what it did right and wrong afterwards. I really enjoy consuming content and then finding other people’s views on it to see my blind spots and find it usually teaches me a lot. 

 

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A post shared by Isabelle Truman (@isabelletruman)

What are three things you have read recently that you would recommend?

I: Along with every other millennial this month, we both read Sally Rooney’s latest novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You?. Rooney is a brilliant writer and like her other novels this one was easy to consume, but we both had a lot of thoughts about how it stacked up to Conversations with Friends and Normal People (hint: not that well), which you can hear in detail in a big segment we did on last week’s episode

G: I just read Jeremy O. Harris’ Slave Play. Jeremy wrote it while he was still a student at Yale and it took off-Broadway by storm before moving to Broadway in 2020. It’s one of the most challenging, funny, clever, shocking things I’ve ever read. I don’t want to give too much away as it will spoil it, but everyone should read it – and everyone in New York should see it. I haven’t seen Inheritance but I can’t help but feel Jeremy was #robbed the other night. Also, you should follow him on Insta. I went to see Nick Cave and Warren Ellis play in Oxford a couple of weeks ago and it inspired me to finally buy Warren’s book Nina Simone’s Chewing Gum.

In the documentary 50,000 Days on Earth Warren talks about a legendary concert he saw Simone play in London in the ’90s (she famously demanded “champagne, cocaine, and some sausages” while backstage). Before the concert started Nina shoved a piece of chewing gum under the piano then proceeded to play one of the best shows of her career. Afterwards Warren snuck on stage and stole it, keeping it in a napkin for more than 20 years. In his new book, he documents the gum’s eventual journey from his home to a museum in Copenhagen, and it becomes a kind of meditation on the meaning we assign to objects, talismans etc. I read it one feverish morning, it’s fantastic. 

What are three things you have listened to recently that you would recommend?

I: The Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast has become somewhat of a recurring recommendation of ours because it consistently releases really in-depth, interesting episodes. We spoke about their deep dive on psychedelics as a form of therapy recently and off the back of another one of their eps, we did a big segment on the rise of Brazilian Butt Lifts (BBL). Whenever I’m at a loss for what to put on, I’ll start a random episode of theirs, even if it’s something I don’t think I’ll be that interested in. Now I know all about ultra marathons, the COVID lab leak theory, incels and taking shrooms to heal from trauma.

G: I’m quite literally addicted to watching the Elizabeth Holmes trial play out. Both Bad Blood and The Dropout are releasing weekly episodes with updates on the case as it happens, so [I] would recommend listening back to the whole backlog and the new episodes too. I’ve also been listening to Little Simz’s new album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert on repeat. 

 

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A post shared by Isabelle Truman (@isabelletruman)

What helped keep you motivated during lockdown in London?

I: I actually didn’t stay that motivated work-wise during lockdown, but I think that’s totally fine, too! It’s a really destabilising and stressful time which makes it hard to focus, and working from home is incredibly distracting. I spent far more hours than usual mucking around – reading, watching documentaries and getting into internet worm holes instead of worrying about writing or furthering my career. Podcast-wise, we’re very lucky that our job is to chat to each other about topics we’re interested in over a wine. It feels more like Zoom meditation during lockdown than anything else. 

G: I tried to think about the fact there will be (God willing) no other time in my life where I have the luxury of hibernating for several months, so I tried to lean into the benefits of it as much as I could. I read a lot, caught up on a lot of TV, went for long walks, had long conversations with friends back home who I don’t usually get to speak to. It all wears thin after a while obviously, but trying to find a silver lining where possible was useful for me. 

Balancing work and lockdown life can often often lead to an increase in screen time. Do you have any recommendations for non-screen based activities or to-do lists that helped you both?

I: I took up running in lockdown because all the gyms were closed and I wanted a reason to get out of the house. I used to think I despised it but realised I was just going too fast and exhausting myself. (Very) slow and steady wins the race. I also realised I can’t listen to music and run because it’s not distracting enough – podcasts all the way. 

G: I delete my Instagram app for weeks at a time. When we interviewed Pandora Sykes she said she turned her phone off all weekend which was kind of a revelation for me, I literally didn’t realise you could do that, so I try to turn my phone off for a day or half-day whenever possible.

What’s your number one recommendation for surviving lockdown? (anything from a step in your routine to exercise/food/staying social etc)

I: I find if I don’t have a routine I can get stuck in my own head, so I made sure in lockdown to get up at the same time each day, exercise first thing, make myself a coffee and then sit down at my laptop. I always made myself a to-do list for the day the night before too, so I would feel some sort of structure was in place (even for the smallest, stupidest tasks). Also, like Grace says, get off Insta! 

G: I personally wish I’d had social media deleted completely during lockdown, as I think being on social media a lot while you’re trapped inside with lockdown is a pretty bad combination. My advice would be to delete Instagram, then make a list of all the books, movies, TV shows, podcasts, etc you’ve wanted to watch/read/listen to but have been too busy to do and work your way through it. You’ll be surprised by how liberated you feel with social media off your phone. I promise you’re not missing anything. 

Grace and Isabelle’s podcast After Work Drinks is part of the Acast Creator Network. You can subscribe and listen on the Acast app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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