I confess: the original reason I was drawn to Armchair Expert, the podcast hosted by Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, is because of the show Parenthood, on which Dax played Crosby Braverman.

I’m obsessed with Parenthood. It connects with me on a deep, personal level. So when I—behind the curve, as usual—found out Dax Shepard had a podcast, and he had interviewed several of his Parenthood co-stars, I put aside my general podcast skepticism and had a listen. It quickly became my favorite podcast, and it could be yours, too. Here are some reasons why:

He Actually Listens

Dax and I are very different; he fiercely loves things I have absolutely no interest in like bodybuilding, or cars. But I was reeled in by his willingness to discuss any topic with any person and look at it from an entirely new angle. In fact, he relishes it. If someone disagrees with him, his response isn’t just to explain his own point of view, but to ask them more questions so he can understand THEIR point of view, not to debate it, but crawl around inside it until he can see it the way they do. He’s a voracious learner!

He’s Completely Authentic

This is not a celebrity posturing, or trying to show off how witty and clever he is. He tells wonderfully embarrassing, laugh-out-loud stories about himself—he’ll talk about shitting his pants, or saying just the wrong thing at the worst possible moment—and he doesn’t hesitate to talk about his more difficult experiences in a serious way, too. He’s not faking any of it; there’s no way this is not who he really is.

He’s willing to be vulnerable.

Sure, Dax is a total dude. He likes traditional man-things, he doesn’t really understand a lot of woman-things, and he’s into sports and vehicles and likes to think of himself as a masculine dude. But bless him, he’s also like the women I know who reveal thoughts, ideas, and emotions with tremendous vulnerability. He explores himself emotionally, which makes him connect with Monica and his guests at a whole other level, and with me, too.

The Podcasts Are Long

This one’s funny, because I used to be 100% against long podcasts. His run well over an hour, sometimes almost two hours. Shockingly, not only am I okay with how long they are, I kept wishing they were longer. More, more, more!

Every Episode Has a Fact Check

After the interview is done, Monica goes through every fact said by Dax or the guest, confirms or refutes it, and while they do that, she and Dax chat about everything from life philosophies to farting. Seriously. Their friendship and honesty is both life-affirming and hilarious. Dax calls it his favorite part of the podcast, and I can see why.

His Guests Are Amazing

I still haven’t even listened to all of them! In addition to various fabulous members of the Parenthood cast (hi! I love you all!), he and Monica have spoken to actors, musicians, scientists, doctors, authors, thinkers, journalists, therapists, philosophers, psychologists, and more. I’ve been fascinated by celebrities I didn’t think I cared about and learned so much from experts across multiple fields. While I’m getting enlightened, I’m often laughing my ass off, too, because the conversations are just so entertaining. Just go scan the list, it’s impossible NOT to find somebody you’re interested in.

I confess I don’t like the live episodes as much, as they rely on crowd reaction and lack the intimacy of recording in Dax’s attic. But don’t skip the live ones with Peter Krause or Jason Ritter, fellow Parenthood fans.So right now, while we’re all inside our homes (if we’re lucky), looking for distractions and amusements, I say, start listening to Armchair Expert! It’ll make you feel less lonely.

About Laurie Ulster

A transplanted Canadian living in New York, Laurie Ulster is a freelance writer and a TV producer who somehow survived her very confusing adolescence as the lone female Star Trek fan in middle school. She writes about pop culture, lifestyle topics, feminism, food, and other topics for print, digital, podcasts, and TV.

View all posts by Laurie Ulster

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