Let me cut to the chase: The Penumbra Podcast is a phenomenal show and I can’t recommend enough that you, yes you reading this, listen to it right away. If that endorsement alone isn’t good enough, then please allow me to give you some of my top reasons for loving this show:
- Both series on The Penumbra Podcast feature relatable queer characters who are actual adults.
- Yes, that’s right. Stories about queer adults written by queer adults and, more or less, for queer adults. Don’t let the loudest, tumblr-based sections of the fandom fool you. This show is family-friendly in that there is not a great wealth of profanity or explicit sexual content but the themes that arise in both the scifi-noir drama of Juno Steel and the entwined ensemble high fantasy narratives of The Second Citadel are definitely for adults. Whether it’s addiction recovery, the rough road to accepting one’s own queerness, speed-running trauma therapy, or tackling the ninja-level communication skills required for a healthy polyamorous relationship– these are stories focused on the lives of queer people who have more or less already grown up.
- I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to see media reflect lives of queer people. Stories where queerness is neither the sole focus of the plot nor is it simply tacked on as a sloppy afterthought; rather it is a thread present throughout every episode, present and acknowledged. Until I listened to The Penumbra, I genuinely didn’t know it was possible for a show to do that!
- The settings are vivid, living worlds!
- The Juno Steel series is a sci-fi noir drama set on Mars approximately 8,000 years in our future, if some throwaway lines from side characters are to be taken seriously! The resultant world is both familiar and refreshingly new, filled with long-dead alien species, shady, deep-pocketed politicians, raucous reality shows, sentient cars, and no small amount of teleportation-based shenanigans.
- You might expect The Second Citadel, a high fantasy ensemble drama, to be yet another pseudo-medieval rehashing of Tolkien. You would be sorely mistaken. The Second Citadel successfully circumvents the hallmarks of its genre while still building a rich history and religious system– and challenging both of those narratives in-universe!– and developing a wholly unique “monster” society which cannot be underestimated!
- Phenomenal. Voice. Acting.
- I can’t say too much here without giving away more vital plot details but suffice it to say that ever member of The Penumbra’s cast is stacked with the most-talented voices I’ve had the pleasure of hearing.
- Never once does this show leave me thinking, “Wait is this X or Y or C?” after zoning out for a few minutes. Every actor has incredible range and character voices and syntax are clear and unique and vibrant. I could go on for days– but, really, you have to hear it for yourself.
The show’s creators, Sophie Takagi Kaner and Kevin Vibert, both maintain that we, the audience, deserve to see ourselves represented in the stories we hear. Suffice it to say, I think they successfully do that with The Penumbra. You can start your listening journey right here.