Verified: Trust no one
It's Series Sunday! I love bingeing a whole series on Sundays. Officially, I’m still just publishing one new podcast review each week (on Fridays), but occasionally, I’ll publish an extra serial podcast review--often, but not always, true crime--on Sundays.
The Premise (adapted from Apple Podcasts description):
Host Natasha Del Toro and the Verified team again ask tough questions about whom we trust and why.
Series or standalone:
Begin listening to:
Either season but go in order.
Natasha Del Toro
Approximate length of episodes:
Similar recommended pods:
Podcast Librarian’s Review:
The concept of Verified was, at first, a little unclear to me. I listened to Season 1 first, which covered a serial rapist who would host women at his Italian home through the Couch Surfer website. He drugged, assaulted, raped, and/or terrorized dozens of women from all over the world. When they fought back, there were many roadblocks, including the fact that he was an Italian police officer. It wasn’t until a few episodes in that I realized the connection to the title; I’m not giving much away here, but basically, it’s incredibly easy to get a “Verified” badge on websites like Couch Surfer. There were no background checks of hosts that could maybe have prevented the attacks. The perpetrator also created many, many new accounts once he was found out and had hundreds of fake reviews to attract young women to stay at his place. Obviously, there are many content warnings that go along with this, but it was a really compelling story.
The second season’s story is completely different but covers another instance of how we put our trust in people or things that may not have our best interests at heart. It’s about how Johnson & Johnson baby powder (specifically, the ingredient talc) is strongly linked to many cases of ovarian cancer. It's heartbreaking and infuriating that many women--especially those in minority groups which J&J advertising specifically targeted--trusted this product for so long and grew up shaking it into their underwear to stay fresh. It was part of J&J's advertising for "shower to shower," and that ritual caused these women to get cancer that would have been otherwise preventable. J&J's history of cover-up is also infuriating. I love that the series focuses on the woman who actually helped the case come to light when there was just about every obstacle in the way (like, say, going up against a ginormous company that most of America associates with safety and trust). It also features a small-time lawyer who little-engine-that-could-style faces the giant. I’m shocked that I haven’t heard more about the dangers of talc and this lawsuit outside of this podcast. I highly recommend both seasons.