This is a long’n, so sorry. I’ll start by saying the premise is interesting, and it is unique to hear an adult react to one of my favorite series for the first time. I’ve laughed at this show, found myself agreeing and being surprised at missing or not considering some things. I do not dislike everything about this podcast and will eventually finish the rest of the main series because I want to see how Mike reacts to major events in the series.
I’m on episode 30, and just had to stop it and leave a review because I’ve had an unfortunate revelation: Mike is a pretty below average podcast host. Throughout this exercise of re-capping each chapter and commenting on certain moments in each one, you get the sense that Mike ~should~ be improving. There should be a progression, as this seems like a pod that is very grassroots oriented, to Mike finding his footing, and developing serious skills as a conversationalist and holding an episode together. And 30 episodes may not be enough time to improve that much. But Mike does not allow room for his guests to have discussions about the chapters. If this isn’t the purpose of the guests then why have them on? To just react to your reaction? Also, as many have noted, a lot of the guests are pretty average HP fans. It’s frustrating that you have *two* people on a podcast episode about HP both make extended points about Harry being a pure-blood. Just an example, but the idea is that Mike doesn’t know anything about the world that he’s experiencing for the first time and the guests come on to set him straight and discuss in further detail the things he doesn’t understand or is simply learning as they happen. When your guest can’t achieve that, it’s the hosts responsibility to kind of push back and try to get a better understanding of the situation. It happens, just infrequently.
That leads to Mike’s poor descriptive skills. The tag line for Potterless should be “Ugh! So dumb!!! So good!!!” Wish I had the energy to mark every time he uses these phrases to describe a moment, rather than to take a few seconds and dive in to why he thinks those things are “so dumb” or “so good.” Of course he does go further sometimes, and those moments are good. But really anyone has that ability to just add a few more details about why they feel a certain way. He constantly uses stand-ins like “sassy” “angsty” “amazing” “dope” (at first this was kind of a fun, more down to earth approach)—you just want the two people talking to explain more of why these things are that. That’s all. There’s also this weird TV scheduled energy he gives off, like he has a producer in his ear yelling at him to keep it under 45 mins. I don’t know who imparted this wisdom onto him, but Harry Potter is absolutely a subject that will be consumed, no matter the length and depth by HP fans. Mike is constantly trying to fit in one-liners to moments that deserve genuine conversation and debate so that he can....complain about quidditch? Or simply just move on to the next event in the chapter? Why so quickly? Stylistically this doesn’t work because, again, why have an HP fan guest on?
The rushed feeling of these conversations actually leads me to now—today. When I’ve paused the podcast and decided to write this. EP 30, Mike is on with OG guest Alex Moothart and girlfriend Kelly Beckman. Mike and Kelly get into a disagreement about something, and Kelly has more to say. But Mike disagrees ~so~ much with her that he raises his voice, drowns her out mid-sentence in a dramatic “shut, up we are moving on” tone and moves on to describing the next scene (again, slow down man) that I literally gasped. I get they have a relationship and they can be more direct with each other, but as a guest on a podcast, shutting someone down in the middle of an argument like that really turns me off and reeks of unchecked disrespect. Another fun (toxic) example is Mike replying to Kelly’s point about something with “valid, valid, valid” in the same disinterested and off-hand tone of “yeah, yeah, yeah.” Cool, Mike.
Mike isn’t a professional podcaster. I get that. I listened to the deleted scenes episodes that are more recent, and he seems to be more polished there than here. It actually convinced me to listen from the beginning. But Mike seems to come from the YouTube, homegrown entertainment world, which you would think he’d have more intentionality with the way he structured this. You never get the sense that he himself is energizing the conversation. Rather, he is hyperbolic and uses the events in the books to move along a conversation that he either cannot make more out of, or feels compelled to be disciplined to the story. Given how much he trashes HP and takes weird tangents, the latter doesn’t seem to be the case.
Also, Mike (as if you’d read this lol), as a fellow podcaster and editor, edit your stuff, man. Either you constantly have to say “AAAAAANYWAY” to stop the tangent then continue on with the next event in the chapter, or you simply learn how to use pauses in your speech and then edit out the part where you let your guest know you’re moving on. Just a stylistic choice but it contributes to my frustration with the overall presentation.
Again, also: Alex calls out your privilege as a straight white man in this episode, which I think contributes to a lot of how unoriginal your commentary is, how little you’re challenged on your “problems” with the series (usually you misreading the text), and how frequently you overpower your guests and render them useless. Again, there’s positives, but the hosting is a real problem that I desperately hope improves.