Actor Conor Ratliff was once fired for having "dead eyes"—now his podcast explores other people's crushing failures in showbusiness. © Mindy Tucker

The best new podcasts this summer

Refugees tell their own stories and the crushing failures of Hollywood explored in Dead Eyes
July 14, 2021

Web Masters, Aaron Dinin

Digital media scholar Dinin interviews some of the people who were influential in the early days of the internet and shaped the web as we use it today. Contributors include Louis Monier, who almost bought Google; the founders of OKCupid, Second Life, Snopes and GeoCities; and Jonathan Abrams, creator of Friendster, the first truly recognisable social media platform. Less well known but still influential participants include John Danner, who developed early internet advertising, and two brothers who were pioneers of viral videos.

The Kind Place: We are VOICES, British Red Cross

Refugees discuss how they arrived in the UK and what their life has been like since in this podcast made with the British Red Cross. They share their experiences of what they have been through, how their new country sees them, and how they have survived. Remarkably, the podcast is made by refugees who are often living in asylum accommodation and learning microphone and production techniques remotely, without laptops or reliable wifi, while juggling appointments with the Home Office.

Dead Eyes, Connor Ratliff

Connor Ratliff is an actor who, 20 years ago, had a small part in Band of Brothers alongside Tom Hanks. Except the day before filming, Ratliff was fired—apparently Hanks, an executive producer, thought he had “dead eyes.” Ratliff has, naturally, spent the last 20 years obsessing over this. The podcast is his attempt to solve the mystery of why it happened, and along the way he interviews other people in showbusiness who’ve been through humiliating, crushing work failures. It’s very funny, thought-provoking, and even strangely consoling.