Chameleon: Wild Boys: Bingeable podcast strikes critical-but-empathetic balance

Chameleon: Wild Boys

Great true-crime media storytelling is a careful art: how do you do it in a way that explores the complexity of the perpetrator, without being too soft and minimizing the impact of their behavior?

Chameleon: Wild Boys does a great job of striking that critical-but-empathetic balance, and while it’s not strictly true-crime, it will nevertheless tick a number of boxes for true-crime podcast fans.

The premise of Chameleon: Wild Boys revisits an old news story from the early 2000s, in which two teenage brothers wound up in a small Canadian town claiming to the locals that they’d grown up in the wilderness. As you can probably guess, all was not quite as it seemed, and their story soon starts to unravel.

The podcast’s numerous cliffhangers make it a very bingeable listen, and host Sam Mullins deserves much credit for his persistent desire to understand why the boys did what they did throughout the 9-part series.

This is the third season of Chameleon by US-based podcast outlet Campside Media-if you get to the end of Wild Boys, and you’re keen for more of the same, the first season, Hollywood Con Queen, is definitely worth a listen too.

Chameleon: Wild Boys' numerous cliffhangers make it a very bingeable listen.


Chameleon: Wild Boys’ numerous cliffhangers make it a very bingeable listen.

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One of the latest offerings from podcasting powerhouse Wondery is this new weekly show, which chronicles some of the most audacious con artists the world has seen in recent times.

Co-hosts Scaachi Koul and Sarah Hagi delve into a wide range of juicy scams, with each one being told over the course of several episodes. So far we’ve heard about a Hollywood Ponzi schemer and “the Fyre Fest of the ballet world”, with later episodes promising to explore grifts from the worlds of healthcare, religion, social media and more.

The podcast’s stylistic audio flourishes, sound effects and music make it in keeping with Wondery’s signature “blockbuster” style of audio storytelling, meaning there’s never a dull moment, as co-hosts Scaachi Koul and Sarah Hagi conversationally take listeners through the sordid details of each case.

Narrative podcasts driven primarily through a conversation between hosts can be risky business, as scripted dialogue can sometimes veer into the stilted and unnatural-sounding territory, but the relaxed, easy-going chemistry between Koul and Hagi has made each episode of Scamfluencers an enjoyable experience so far.

If you’re freshly finished with watching Netflix’s Inventing Anna and in need of some new scammer stories to fill that void, then Scamfluencers is just the ticket.

Conviction: the Disappearance of Nuseiba Hasan

The third season of Gimlet’s Conviction tells the heart-wrenching story of Nuseiba Hasan, a Jordanian-Canadian woman who suddenly went missing without a trace in 2006.

The gripping eight-part series is a result of years of investigative work by host Habiba Nosheen, who manages to uncover a web of family secrets that have been kept hidden for two decades.

Nosheen is a thoughtful and introspective host throughout the series, treating both Hasan’s story and wider themes like islamophobia and misogyny with care and nuance.

The story is also deeply personal for Nosheen, as she shares with the listener her reflections on how parts of her own life paralleled what happened to Hasan.

The first two seasons of Conviction are also both excellent listens, albeit very different subject matter-the first followed the story of a vigilante private eye, and the second re-examined the Satanic Panic, four decades on.

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