Best podcasts of the week: How Danielle Miller went from socialite to swindler

In this week’s newsletter: The new season of Queen of the Con tells the wild story of how the New York ‘rich girl’ stole $1m from the US government. Plus: five of the best documentary podcasts

Picks of the week

I’m OK Though
Widely available, episodes weekly
“I never go: ‘You know what? I’m glad you asked because I’m really struggling.’” A lack of honesty around our feelings is just one of the issues tackled in this chatty mental health podcast from Stormzy’s music producer Owen Cutts and his therapist friend Jodie Cariss. They discuss the ways our unconscious can affect our day-to-day, and why Cariss’s drama therapy doesn’t actually involve ropey acting in community halls. Alexi Duggins

Queen of the Con: Rich Girl
Widely available, episodes weekly

This new season is all about notorious con artist Danielle Miller, who flaunted her glamorous life on social media. It opens with Miller (“She looks like a Kardashian if you squint”) being busted as she recovers from her Brazilian butt lift and examines how she swindled the US government out of $1m. Hannah Verdier

London Pub Reviews
Widely available, episodes weekly

December means one thing for aficionados of London public houses: the return of the Tim Key-hosted deep dive into the finest places to find quality craft ale. Each venue gets an enjoyably daft five-minute narrative about the experience of drinking there, from squabbles over dartboards to surreal skits about a hurricane caused by a toilet hand dryer. AD

Retirement House
Widely available, episodes weekly

For the uninitiated, Retirement House is a TikTok hit, with its over-70s inhabitants entertaining the youngsters with a knowing wink. And here comes their podcast, with rapper Lil Pump getting a full inquisition (“What is this SoundCloud?”) along with some touching life lessons from the six seniors about gratitude, grasping life and living it to the full. HV

Frozen Head
Widely available, episodes weekly

Would you freeze your body in the hope of being resurrected one day? In this engrossing and slightly gruesome series, hosts Alaina Urquhart and Ash Kelley delve into cryonics and the quest for eternal life. The bonkers case of Laurence Pilgeram and his frozen head is just the start of their investigation. Hollie Richardson

There’s a podcast for that

This week, Hannah Verdier chooses five of the best documentary podcasts, from the story of a mistreated transgender reality star to a show telling the rise and fall of WeWork.

Harsh Reality: The Story of Miriam Rivera
In the heady days before reality TV adhered to a proper duty of care (2004), Miriam Rivera was offered up as the prize in a dating show. But when the six hot men in the Ibizan villa with her discovered the beautiful woman was transgender, things took a turn for the worse. This six-part podcast takes a sensitive look at what happened, with enlightening interviews from people who worked on the show. Ultimately, it’s laced with sadness as – behind the champagne, flirting and seemingly shallow choices – was a woman hurt by the experience.

Fiasco
Slow Burn’s Leon Neyfakh takes a deep dive into the Aids epidemic in America, illuminating the slow-moving and bigoted response that led to so much devastation back in the early 80s. Denial, blame and preachers calling for tattoos denoting people’s HIV status are just part of the story, as is the dilemma about whether to close San Francisco bathhouses, which were both places of freedom and the perfect vehicle for the infection to spread. Survivors talk about coming together in a joyful community, as Neyfakh delivers many lessons and parallels with the Covid pandemic.

Disaster Trolls
Why would an online troll tell someone that the worst experience of their life never happened? The BBC’s fearless Marianna Spring is on their trail in the podcast that counts the human cost of conspiracy theorists. In one of the most powerful episodes, Spring speaks to Daren Buckley, who was at Manchester Arena the night a suicide bomber hit the Ariana Grande concert. Trolls claim he’s an actor and the attack was a fake terrorist incident, with one convinced he even made a surveillance device to monitor a young survivor in a wheelchair.

WeCrashed
With its eccentricity, private jets and bamboozling finances, the rise and fall of WeWork is irresistible, inspiring both this podcast and a subsequent Apple TV+ miniseries of the same name starring Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway. As the action starts, this pod is just a simple tale of charismatic entrepreneur Adam Neumann’s burning ambition, and a cracking idea at the right time. However, as his network of flexible working hubs was born, what emerges is a fun, wry wreck of a ride in which host David Brown barely disguises his own incredulity.

Bad Money: Big Spender
Cheung Tze-keung went from a petty pickpocket to one of Hong Kong’s most wanted men. The story of how the “Big Spender” did it, told in six parts by Jason Wong, is an incredible one. It’s not a spoiler to say that after many high-profile heists and an audacious kidnapping or two he was eventually caught. In that moment, the tale turns from roguish gangster yarn to an examination of how he became a pawn in the fragile relationship between China and Hong Kong, as he was hunted down by the mainland government.

Why not try …

  • The story of a mental health startup that went off the rails in the Wall Street Journal miniseries Uncontrolled Substances.

  • Smart stories of paranormal activity in Otherworld.

If you want to read the complete version of the newsletter please subscribe to receive Hear Here in your inbox every Thursday

Contributors

Alexi Duggins, Hannah Verdier and Hollie Richardson

The GuardianTramp

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