TV creators are constantly searching for inspiration for their next projects, and in the past, books, comics and movies provided the source material for many series. In the past few years, podcasts have become a fertile source of ideas for documentary series and dramatic shows as well as comedies and talkshows. The episodic nature of podcasts lends itself perfectly to TV, where six to 10 episodes lets the viewer really dive into complicated stories like “Dirty John” or “The Shrink Next Door.”
For faithful podcast listeners, it’s fun to see which actors were cast to bring the real people to life and which elements of the story are emphasized. If you started out by watching the TV series, you’ll get a deeper understanding of the story by going back to the podcast to listen to all the supporting details. With both “The Thing About Pam” and “The Dropout” coming to TV in March, it’s the perfect time to check out some of the podcasts that spawned TV series.
The Thing About Pam
At first, it seemed like Russ Faria must have killed his wife Betsy. After all, isn’t the husband usually the first suspect? But when Dateline’s true-crime podcast looked into the murder, investigators found there were actually way more clues pointing to her good friend, Pam Huff, who always seemed to have an answer for any accusation thrown at her. The new series “The Thing About Pam” premieres on NBC on March 8.
Elizabeth Holmes became the wealthiest and youngest self-made billionaire after founding health technology company Theranos. But it all came tumbling down when the company was accused of misrepresenting the company’s claims, and Theranos was convicted of defrauding investors. Her story was told in an ABC News podcast hosted by Rebecca Jarvis, and the Hulu TV series based on the podcast is now available to stream. Amanda Seyfried plays Holmes.
WeWork was created as a co-working company that was more than just a series of office spaces. Founder Adam Neumann wanted to change how people worked, lived and slept, and he even briefly opened a school based on WeWork principles. The Wondery podcast “WeCrashed” looks at the incredible vision Neumann had for the company and its dramatic tumble after a failed IPO. Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway will play the Neumanns in an Apple TV Plus series based on the podcast that premieres March 18.
The Shrink Next Door
The Wondery podcast became one of the most popular of 2019, telling the riveting and disturbing story of psychiatrist Isaac Herschkopf and his patient Marty Markowitz, whose friendship went way beyond an ordinary doctor-patient relationship until it started to ruin Markowitz’s life. Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd starred in the Apple TV Plus series based on the true story that premiered in November, 2021.
Handsome, confident doctor John Michael Meehan seemed like a real catch when he first started dating California divorcee Debra Newell. But the more she got to know him, the more his story unraveled, until it ended in murder. Starting as a Los Angeles Times story by Christopher Goffard, “Dirty John” became a podcast from Wondery and the L.A. Times before becoming a Bravo series starring Eric Bana and Connie Britton. The TV series is now available on Netflix and NBC.
The first season of the Wondery podcast tells the gruesome true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a Texas surgeon who left 31 of his patients seriously injured and two dead after operating on them. The 2021 Peacock series starred Joshua Jackson as the dangerous doctor.
Gimlet’s podcast is a fictional psychological thriller revolving around a social worker, her supervisor and a soldier who wants to get back to civilian life. Several years later, as the social worker starts a new life and a different job, she finds she can’t remember her time at the veterans’ facility. Catherine Keener, David Schwimmer and Oscar Isaac narrate the podcast, while the Amazon Prime Video series based on the Gimlet story starred Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale and Stephan James.
Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast
Earwolf Media’s longtime comedy podcast, hosted by “Mr. Show’s” Scott Aukerman, has hosted guests from comedy, music, film and TV including Bob Odenkirk, Ben Stiller, Amy Poehler, St. Vincent, Jon Hamm and many more. Aukerman also hosts the TV series version on IFC, with season 5 guests including Kevin Bacon, Aubrey Plaza and Tegan and Sara.
Created by Aaron Mahnke, the non-fiction podcast about mysterious historical stories has over 200 episodes available, enough for weeks of commuting or a lengthy road trip. From the history of vampires to haunted mental hospitals, old Chicago’s murder castle and the origin of werewolves, you’ll be spooked but also extremely well informed after a few episodes of “Lore.” The Amazon Prime Video anthology series based on the podcast ran for two seasons.
This fictional series became the top podcast in the U.S. when it premiered in 2015. It’s the story of investigative journalist Lia Haddock who goes to Tennessee to investigate why 300 people disappeared at the Limetown neuroscience research facility. She eventually tracks down the survivors to interview them about their mysterious experiences. Jessica Biel and Stanley Tucci starred in the Facebook Watch TV series based on the story.
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