Go Behind the Scenes of the Small Screen with These Television Tell-Alls

From retrospective podcasts to deep-dive cultural analyses, these listens will take you onto the set and into the writers' rooms of some of your favorite TV shows.

As of late, many of us are watching more television than ever. Whether you’ve been giving preference to the safety and comfort of home over the uncertainty of COVID-era social outings or you’re preparing to settle in under a nice, cozy blanket as the chilly months of autumn and winter rapidly approach, sometimes nothing quite compares to a night in with your couch, a bowl of popcorn, and a fresh season of your favorite show. 

But what if you just can’t decide what to watch? We’ve all spent literal hours scrolling through our watchlists or recommended carousels, going glassy-eyed at the thousands of options available—before turning on that same familiar sitcom or dependable drama. If you’re looking for something new and different that's also sure to satisfy, look no further. We’ve compiled 15 of the very best listens—audiobooks and podcasts alike—that go behind the scenes on some of the biggest small-screen sensations of all time. From a glimpse into Grey’s Anatomy to the who’s-who’s of The West Wing, these television tell-alls will give you a fresh perspective on your favorites.

How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life

As the long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy enters its 18th season, there’s no better time to catch up on the behind-the-scenes scoop. In this listen, Entertainment Weekly editor-at-large Lynette Rice shares her exhaustively researched deep dive into the show’s origins and cultural impact, as well as bombshell-laden interviews with the cast and crew. Appropriately titled after The Fray hit that soundtracked some of the show’s most tragic moments, How to Save a Life is a must-listen for any superfan.

Generation Friends

Generation Friends

So no one told you life was gonna be this way? Us neither. Luckily, we can always fall back on Chandler, Monica, Joey, Phoebe, Ross, and Rachel—the titular friends of the iconic sitcom that ran for a decade beginning in 1994. After the advent of streaming, the show saw a remarkable resurgence, with younger generations discovering the series anew and others turning to their favorite episodes time and again for comfort. In Generation Friends, pop culture historian Saul Austerlitz sets out to uncover the history of Friends and how it stood the test of time through exclusive interviews with the likes of creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman.

Homey Don't Play That!

Homey Don't Play That!

At a time when so much of comedy (and television in general) was exceedingly white, In Living Color completely shifted the paradigm. Created and written by Keenen Ivory Wayans, the sketch comedy series ushered in a new era of television that reflected the culture and voices of Black comedians, actors, and entertainers—all the while bringing young stars like Jamie Foxx, Rosie Perez, Jennifer Lopez, Jim Carrey, and the Wayans brothers into the limelight. In Homey Don’t Play That! (named for the catchphrase of Wayans's no-nonsense character, "Homey D. Clown"), exclusive interviews with the show’s writers, producers, network execs, and more offer up a bright, contextualized history of the evolution and impact of a TV trailblazer.

Legendary Children

Legendary Children

The time has come for you to lipsync for your life... or, you could simply press play on this insightful and thoroughly entertaining examination of the hit reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race. In Legendary Children, writers Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez not only take listeners inside the show’s defining segments and locales—from the Werk Room to the Runway—but also share meditations on how the program reflects and honors queer culture and history. A love letter to Drag Race and its mirroring of modern queer life and community, this listen offers a heartfelt glimpse into the significance of drag, queer performance, and LGBTQIA+ representation on basic cable.

Seinfeldia

Seinfeldia

How did a show about nothing totally change everything? That’s exactly what television historian and writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong endeavors to discover in her sweeping celebration of Seinfeld, the beloved sitcom that brought in millions of viewers over its decade-long run. Diving into the world created by comedian dream team Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeldia uncovers stories from the show’s time on air, as well as explores the lasting influence felt by fans and former cast members alike.

Sex and the City and Us

Sex and the City and Us

Another gem from Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, Sex and the City and Us reflects on the HBO hit series that totally upended the cultural conversation on womanhood, sexuality, friendship, and fashion. Highlighting the power of a show based on the work of a woman humor columnist, Candace Bushnell; created by a gay man; and led by a predominantly female writers' room, Armstrong underscores the undeniable significance of Sex and the City, while continuing the debate over whether the show was truly feminist at heart. Whether you’re a Carrie, a Samantha, a Charlotte, or a Miranda, you’ll find something to pique your interest in this bright and nostalgic look back.

I Want My MTV

I Want My MTV

It’s impossible to overstate the massive impact that the introduction of the music video—and MTV, the channel made to showcase them—had on the music industry, television, and popular culture as a whole. From “Thriller” to “Addicted to Love,” MTV housed some of the most iconic music videos of all time, with teenagers glued to the screen hoping for their favorite artist to pop up. Authors Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum capture this unlikely success story in I Want My MTV, a fascinating chronicle of the channel’s growth from a taste-making televised jukebox to a behemoth enterprise with a number of top reality shows and scripted programs to its name.

Live from New York

Live from New York

With more than 80 Emmy Awards to its name, Saturday Night Live—one of the longest-running television series in American history!—is certainly a standout in the comedy space. Sometimes outrageous, sometimes controversial, but always a point of conversation, the sketch comedy variety show catapulted an array of cast members—Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey, for starters—into stardom. In Live From New York, you’ll hear insights from the show’s stars, writers, guests, and more on everything, including the biggest backstage stories and their personal battles ranging from workplace feuds to addiction, culminating in the most comprehensive oral history of the program ever recorded. Now isn’t that special!

Bachelor Nation

Bachelor Nation

Drama. Heartbreak. Betrayal. Romance. It’s all in a week’s episode for The Bachelor franchise, the American guilty pleasure that’s only increased in popularity since it first hit the small screen back in 2002. Bachelor Nation, eponymously named for the hardcore fanbase that’s cemented the show as a prime time mainstay, taps into the lasting fascination with the series that made love and marriage a televised event. In this listen, Amy Kaufman, a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and a diehard fan of the show, shares interviews with everyone from contestants to producers to uncover the show’s juiciest secrets—from the mansion to the fantasy suite. We’d give a rose to this listen without hesitation.

The Office

The Office

Even if you’re still working remotely, you can get your fill of corporate mishaps, office friends and nemeses, and workplace shenanigans anytime with your pals at Dunder Mifflin. The single-camera, mockumentary-style sitcom The Office—lauded as one of the greatest sitcoms of the 2000s, if not of all time—introduced a lovably quirky cast and a whole host of quips and phrases (from “That’s what she said!” to “Catch you on the flippity flip!”) into our collective lexicon. In this audiobook, Rolling Stone’s Andy Greene offers an inside scoop on the BBC-sitcom-turned-American-sensation, sharing history, trivia, and interviews along the way.

Get Ready

Get Ready

While the long-and-storied search for a permanent host may be ongoing, it seems likely that Jeopardy! will remain America’s favorite quiz show regardless of who’s behind the podium. But how, exactly, does a competitor go from run-of-the-mill trivia buff to Jeopardy! champ? Few know better than the beloved Buzzy Cohen, the quirky fan-favorite contestant who won hearts... and game after game. In this Audible Original, Cohen shares his eccentric approach to getting ready for life's biggest moments—whether or not they're filmed on the Alex Trebek soundstage. I’ll take “Must-Listen Audiobooks” for $1,000.

Drama Queens

Drama Queens

First of all, you don’t know me. Second of all, you don’t know me. But what you should know is that this new podcast is one you just can’t miss. There’s no teen drama quite like One Tree Hill: with unforgettable, dynamic characters, the ups-and-downs of high school basketball (both on the River Court and with the Ravens), and some truly off-the-walls plot twists (looking at you, Nanny Carrie and the transplant-eating golden retriever!), the series was nothing short of generation-defining. Hear the stories behind your favorite episodes—and the sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious recollections that accompany youth in the spotlight—all told by hosts Hilarie Burton Morgan, Sophia Bush, and Bethany Joy Lenz, who portrayed female leads Peyton, Brooke, and Haley.

Fake Doctors, Real Friends with Zach and Donald

Fake Doctors, Real Friends with Zach and Donald

Dr. John “J.D” Dorian and his best friend, surgeon Dr. Christopher Turkleton—uh sorry, Turk—are the heart and soul of Scrubs, the hit hospital-set sitcom beloved for its ability to blend laugh-out-loud absurdist humor and stirring reflections on death, heartbreak, and regret. And though they might not actually be qualified to assist in a medical crisis, real-life pals Zach Braff and Donald Faison (alongside some sensational guest stars) are more than equipped to take you through each and every episode of the show that made them household names.

The West Wing Weekly

The West Wing Weekly

Ginger, get the popcorn, and then settle in with an episode of the now-retired but long-running The West Wing Weekly, a must-listen podcast for anyone obsessed with the political drama that ruled the late nineties and early aughts—and just may be one of the very best programs ever made. Joshua Malina, who played the polarizing Will Bailey, is joined by Song Exploder’s Hrishikesh Hirway as they discuss each episode of the Emmy-winning series, hosting guests ranging from cast and crew (like Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, and creator Aaron Sorkin) to real-life politicians and ambassadors. What’s next? Well, you’ll have to listen to find out.

Parks and Recollection

Parks and Recollection

Whether you’re still mourning the untimely death of Li’l Sebastian or just craving a stack of JJ’s Waffles, go ahead and treat yo’ self to something special with the new podcast Parks and Recollection. Hosted by actor Rob Lowe (Chris Traeger himself!) and Parks and Rec writer and producer Alan Yang, this episode-by-episode look at the hilarious mockumentary-style sitcom is a must for any fan curious about what it was like on set and in the writers' room. The pair answer fan questions, share the mic with some exciting guest stars, and relive their favorite behind-the-scenes moments from Pawnee.

Small Screen Listens Coming Soon

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