If you’re already a Binge Mode fan, that greeting will be as familiar to you as the Harry Potter canon. And if you’re not already a Binge Mode fan, welcome. I hope to win you over by the end of this post. Let’s start by explaining what Binge Mode even is. Well, it’s a podcast. First, there was Binge Mode: Game of Thrones, a podcast that recapped every Game of Thrones episode while the show was airing, diving deep (deep) into differences between the book and the show, and exploring the wider world of the series since none of us have time for that reread.
And then there came Binge Mode: Harry Potter. Remember that GIANT gap between seasons 6 and 7 of Game of Thrones? What else was there to do but turn back to the most beloved fantasy series that exists (don’t @ me), Harry Potter? Binge Mode: Harry Potter follows the format of the Game of Thrones podcast, where each episode breaks down in detail a portion of the story. Instead of by episode, BM: HP covers 4 to 5 chapters per podcast.
Both podcasts are hosted by Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion, editor-in-chief and senior creative, respectively, of The Ringer (what a great website). And let me tell you, Mal and Jason know their Harry Potter. As a lifelong Harry Potter fan, listening to them talk within the first minutes of the very first podcast, I knew I was making two instant best friends. You already know you share the same favorite books so what else do you need to bond you? Is just the idea of a Harry Potter podcast not enough to get you on board? I knew it wouldn’t be that easy. Here are a few reasons why this podcast is about to become your new binge. Geddit?
Each episode of Binge Mode follows the same format – first, we follow that scarlet steam engine of plot, The Hogwarts Express, through a quick recap of what happened in the chapters being covered. Then we dive into the Pensieve to sift through our thoughts on every tiny detail of the chapters. This part usually lasts a good hour. It’s great.
I’ve read all of the Harry Potter books at least five times each, and that’s a conservative guess. I was six when the first book came out, and I vividly remember my mother reading it to me soon after it’s release. She had the best Hagrid voice – no audiobook can compare. We read the first couple of books together, and then I started reading them to her while she promptly fell asleep. Very quickly I decided, screw that, and read them on my own. It was an obsession from that point forward. Four out of the five people in my house were Harry Potter fans, and with every new release there came a schedule of who got to read first. I got dibs, as the fastest reader. Followed by my sisters, and finally, my mom, as she was the slowest reader (falling asleep while reading will do that to you). And this was back in the glory days of Amazon where if you pre-ordered the book you would get it the day it was released. I’ve never loved mail that much, to this day.
All of that rambling is to say I’m a fan. I’ve always been a fan. I’m the Harry Potter authority in my circle of friends and family. My Snape impression is unparalleled. But Binge Mode taught me I know nothing, Jon Snow. Mal and Jason sift through details and make connections that my tiny baby mind could never find. Going deep is, of course, a giggle-worthy innuendo on the show, but it’s definitely not a false one. I can’t imagine the research that goes into preparing for an episode of Binge Mode. There are scripts, takes, and asides. Oh, to be a fly in that recording booth.
The Restricted Section
After we pull our heads out of the Pensieve, it’s time to sneak into the Restricted Section. We dutifully flip the bird to Madam Pince from under the safety of our collective invisibility cloak because the knowledge is worth it. This portion of the podcast is an even deeper dive into an element mentioned in the episode’s reading. Some examples are the Knight Bus, Portkeys, Time-Turners (shouts to Eloise Mintumble), and Death Eaters.
I’ve learned so much from the Restricted Section as even though I’m a fan til the end, I’m a lazy fan, so I don’t hang out on Reddit or Twitter or Pottermore or anywhere else that Potter knowledge gets shared. I’m a true blue book girl, so if it’s not on the pages, I probably don’t know it. Much to my sometimes dismay, J.K. Rowling loves to add to her canon, so the Restricted Section keeps me up to date. And honestly, my life has changed for the better since I learned about Eloise Mintumble. Check out the Prisoner of Azkaban episodes of Binge Mode to get in the know on my girl.
Beyond the chapter by chapter podcast episodes, there are HP extras. Because the Harry Potter fandom has no end and no one ever wants to stop talking about it. Some of these extras include entire episodes on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, an extra deep dive on Quidditch and how people play it in the real world, and, of course, the movies. No Harry Potter podcast would be complete without comparing the books to the movies. And Mal and Jason do just that. After recapping a book in its entirety, there’s an episode dedicated to the corresponding movie(s). We get a chance to make fun of Seamus, bemoan the choice to have Harry murder Quirrell, and analyze who made the better Dumbledore (honestly, they both weren’t great…).
More than anything, these episodes serve as an excuse to watch the movies again. Even if some questionable choices were made, there’s no denying the nostalgia that diving into this world brings. Bonus points to you if Hedwig’s Theme doesn’t make you cry, you robot.
There’s no one better than a Harry Potter fan. They’re smart, witty, imaginative, and yeah, a little weird and obsessive. I wouldn’t want it any other way. These books and this world have meant so much to so many people and we’re all just so grateful for it. So any place that we can come together and talk about these words that we love is a good one. Enter the Binge Mode Facebook group. Do you want your feed to be littered with Potter memes and insightful Potter questions? Well, this is the group for you. Have you ever wondered what the correlation is between Hogwarts houses and the Meyers-Briggs personality test? Me neither, but after about ten posts about it in the Binge Mode group, I (still) know that you don’t have to suck to be a Slytherin (proud Slytherin writing this so watch yourself).
The community that surrounds Harry Potter, and Binge Mode specifically, is a great one. The people are kind and smart and more than anything, welcoming. They learned empathy in part from reading a book about a boy that lived in a cupboard under the stairs who grew up with the fate of the world on his shoulders and still managed to be good (minus some bits in Order of the Phoenix…). Potterheads are my favorite people.
So if you can’t get enough of the Potterverse, dive back in again with Binge Mode: Harry Potter. I’ve been listening pretty obsessively to the podcast for the last few months and I’m about to start the deep dive into Order of the Phoenix. I can’t wait to hear what Mal and Jason have to say about the most divisive of Harry Potter books. I know whatever they say, it will be filled with their trademark balance of humor and insightfulness.
I will issue a warning though: if you have not finished the Harry Potter series in its entirety, please don’t listen to Binge Mode. Spoilers abound as Mal and Jason make connections across the series, linking moments from all the books to the narrative as a whole. Don’t see this necessarily as your reading companion podcast – I’m sure there are other Pottercasts out there with that intent. See Binge Mode more as another way to keep your Harry Potter knowledge fresh. I’m listening in place of a reread – it’s been much quicker and since I know the stories so well, it’s been lovely to hear another take on it. I’m gleaning so many new facts and connections listening to Binge Mode than I ever would on my own. Plus, I get to laugh at the thought of McGonagall being a notorious gambler and lament that Vik ‘the dick’ Krum never got it on with Hermione (that we know of…). Because if you can’t make fun of something you love, what’s the point? To all my Potterheads out there, listen to Binge Mode: Harry Potter – you’ll be so happy you did. I’m dreading making it to the last episode, but it’s nice to know that like the books, I can always return.