Update: The Heart ★★★★★
I last wrote about The Heart back in the fall of 2015, and it’s time for an update. Having listened to nearly every episode in the catalog, I can firmly stand by a 5-star review – an upgrade from my previous 3 stars. In 2016 and 2017, this show has appeared on my Delicious Ingredients list of the best podcasts of the week 3 times (about to be a 4th this week), its mini-season “Silent Evidence” was critically acclaimed (a Peabody Award finalist), and it featured two crossover episodes with Reveal and This American Life (for the Silent Evidence and Mariya episodes, respectively). Wow.
The current season is called “No” and it features stories from host Kaitlin Prest’s sexual awakening and learned mistrust. It is heart-wrenchingly relatable and I suspect reflects a near-universal experience for women. Prest is a masterful producer, using tone, pause, music, and sound design to enhance her story.
Silent Evidence was compelling – it was about a woman who had been molested by a gymnastics coach when she was a child, and she actually confronted him about it as an adult – it was painful to hear. Mariya was also a phenomenal single episode about a woman who endured female genital mutilation. And in My Everything, My Bear, a woman shares her teenage journal chronicling her first love. It’s raw and lovely.
Even a few episodes that aired in late 2015 are still fresh in my mind. I absolutely loved the Make or Break season – especially the episodes Desiray + Aaron and Kaitlin + Mitra (parts 1 and 2). The Heart is able to capture intensity better than any show I listen to – and what a privilege it is to hear about intensity of love vs. violence, hate, or anger. The love doesn’t always work out the way the subjects want it to, but it sure is intense and I love being along for the ride.
Definitely give this show a listen. It’s made me cry, laugh, feel a pit in my stomach, question my own relationships, and made me reflect on self-worth. It’s very raw – it’s going to go too far in describing body parts or sexual activity for some listeners – but it’s never done in a raunchy way, it’s always to illustrate the intensity felt by the heart.
Educational Value (5 / 5)
Pop Culture Value (4 / 5)
Host Listen-ability (4 / 5)
Flowand production value (5 / 5)
Humor (2 / 5)
Investigation (3 / 5)
Storytelling (5 / 5)
Makes Me a Better Person (5 / 5)
Overall Audible Feast Rating: (5 / 5)
***Original Review from 9/2015***
What’s It All About?
The Heart is a podcast about love and intimacy. It is hosted by women and I believe women are the target audience. Sometimes it is light, tender, and warm; other times it is dark, hard, complex. This podcast does contain sexual content and is not suitable to listen to with children around. It is definitely not for everyone.
When I was researching other reviews of The Heart, I came across this article from salon.com: 7 Feminist Podcasts That Are Way, Way Sexier Than “Serial”, which is a bit of a misleading title but does its job of making me want to check out other podcasts on the list (I subscribed to a couple immediately after reading the article). What intrigued me about the review of The Heart was that it was described as sex-positive. I didn’t know much about this, so I did a little more research. The Wikipedia entry for sex-positive describes it as “a social movement which promotes and embraces sexuality with few limits beyond an emphasis on safe sex and the importance of consent.” Sounds pretty good.
So I listened to some more episodes that I hadn’t heard yet, and generally I’d agree that the podcast provides a positive spin on intimacy on most of the episodes. Not all of the stories are about women or narrated by women. But this is a “free love” podcast and very little is off the table! After all, the podcast used to be called “Audio Smut” until it became part of Radiotopia, which is a collective of storytelling podcasts by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.
I love that episodes of The Heart are short but compelling. Some are 5 minutes, few are longer than 20. The length gives you a little tidbit and if you are interested in more about the topic you can find links on their web page.
I would recommend listening to the first episode called “First” to get a taste of what the podcast is all about.
Audible Feast Ratings
Educational Value ★★★☆☆
Honestly, this podcast is going to have different educational value for different listeners – but in general if you’re open minded that sex-positive rhetoric is a good thing, you’ll learn something about intimacy by listening.
Pop Culture Value ★★★☆☆
Host Listen-ability ★★★★☆
Flow (both planned podcast flow and advertisement-impacted) ★★★★☆
This show is usually more tender and thoughtful than funny, but sometimes it’s light and humorous.
Terrific storytelling if you are interested in the content! This is what the hosts and their special guest narrators excel at, which is probably one reason it is part of Radiotopia.
Makes Me a Better Person ★★☆☆☆
Overall Audible Feast Rating: ★★★☆☆
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