Honesty, struggle highlighted in podcast


Kate Tender, Staff Writer

With all the time I spend looking at screens, whether it be for school or mindlessly staring at my phone, I’ve found entertainment in podcasts. Whether it’s while cooking, driving or just wanting a break from my screen, podcasts are overall a great way to consume content. Over the spring and summer, I had the time to explore different podcasts beyond my traditional interests. Through asking around for podcast recommendations, a friend suggested Armchair Expert.

This podcast is hosted by Dax Shepard and Monica Padman. Dax Shepard is an actor, comedian and graduated with a degree in anthropology from UCLA. For this reason, he is a charismatic and personable host to the show. Padman usually listens, contributing to the conversation by asking clarifying questions, and doing a lot of the background work. Episodes focus on interviews with an array of different people, ranging from other actors, journalists, scientists and more. This show has something for everyone, as it is conversational and casual, but also probes into important topics pertaining to a variety of issues. 

I haven’t listened to every episode, nor do I listen in chronological order. Instead, I’ve just picked based on the guest. The episode with Ibram X. Kendi, an author and historian, was particularly insightful. Kendi is part of the BU Center for Antiracist Research and discusses definitions, acknowledging racism and the police system. This conversation is especially relevant considering the current climate and Black Lives Matter Movement. For those interested in politics, Bob Woodard, a highly renowned investigative journalist, has also been on the show. He discusses his bipartisan approach to reporting in pursuit of the truth and the various presidents he’s investigated. For comedy fans, I’d recommend episodes including Will Arnett, Jason Bateman or Melissa McCarthy. Each has great banter with Shepard, but also discuss their struggle in becoming successful actors/comedians and insecurities which was interesting to hear about. While these are only a few, there are lots of great options for whichever mood you’re in. 

One major theme throughout the podcast is Dax Shepard’s openness with his past addiction and recovery. In past episodes, he references his experiences with addiction, concepts he implements through his recovery, and his AA meetings. Recently, in an episode entitled “Day 7,” Shepard admits to Padman that he relapsed. However, he was struggling with an opioid addiction rather than the substances he was using previously. He details the descent into his addiction, beginning with being on painkillers after an injury. Slowly, his usage and dependence escalated to the point where he felt as if he was losing control. 

While I don’t personally know the struggle with addiction, it was very courageous of Shepard to discuss this openly and publicly. While he already leads a public life, as does his wife Kristen Bell, this would be a very difficult thing to admit not only to your loved ones, but random strangers who enjoy listening to you and admire you. During the episode, one thing he was grappling with was the idea that a relapse discounts the previous years spent sober. Shepard was 14 years sober until the current relapse. Padman reassured him that his progress wasn’t lost and those 14 years are still a major accomplishment. Conversations like these on a public platform are so important to have. Mental health is always important, but there is still a certain stigma around it, even though it has been more widely accepted in recent years. These open discussions emphasize that it’s okay to ask for help, as Shepard had to do when he was losing control. 

Whether you’ve listened to lots of podcasts or want to get into them, Armchair Expert is a great option. There is a balance of humor and meaningful, important conversations that is difficult to find elsewhere. Shepard’s ability to be raw and honest adds another element that is refreshing to hear and stimulates the conversations.