The Lost Episode

We don’t have a new Overthinking It Podcast this week. Here’s what happened.

UPDATE (2024-05-25T17:35-0700): If you’ve heard the short explanation embedded in this post, you’ll know that I suspected the audio-recording problem was due to a software update. Well, turns out

Ironically, if I had been less scrupulous in updating the recorder, we wouldn’t have lost the recording.

Hi Overthinkers, it’s Matt Wrather. Owing to a technical problem, we lost part of the audio from the episode we recorded tonight, and for the first time in over fiteen years, we don’t have a new episode to post.

I’m responsible, and I’m so sorry. It’s been a point of pride that we’ve never missed a week, and it kind of breaks my heart that now we have.

We’re so glad you come back and listen to us, and I’m sorry to let you down. We love making the show for you. We’ll be back next week.

35 Comments on “The Lost Episode”

  1. Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

    Hi, gang. I’m a tiny bit embarrassed about how upset I was on the recording. Take it as a sign that we really care about doing the show for you!

    And yeah, if you have some jokes or some life experience that gives some perspective, let’s have a great flowering of empathy and fellow-feeling. Let’s wake this comments section up. Let’s party like it’s 2009.


  2. sarielthrawn #

    I’ve been feeling blue today because the manager of the football team that I support (Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool FC) has left the club and managed his last game over the weekend.

    Like you said, there are more important things going on in the world but even the less important things can still make us feel things. Which I think is a good thing.

    So thanks for caring. And thanks for the last 15 years.

    P.S. technically you still did upload a podcast, it was just shorter than normal and a one hander ;-)


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Thanks so much. You know, my wife pointed out something similar: we actually didn’t fail to make the podcast in some sense, only to publish it.

      And 100% agree with you about “the less important things”! We actually did a whole podcast about this when Paul Walker passed. Really the whole mission statement of OTI is that it’s OK to care about the things you care about.

      Anyway — sorry about Liverpool! But congrats on the win over Wolverhampton!


  3. Mr. Spotify #

    Dear Overthinking It,

    We at Spotify had the opportunity this week to review your content, and we’ve noticed that your podcast currently has no episode available.

    At Spotify, we’re always on the lookout for fresh and engaging content that can captivate our global audience. However, our policy requires a minimum portfolio of episodes to consider a multimillion buyout or partnership. This is to ensure that our listeners have a substantial amount of content to enjoy and that our partners have a proven track record of consistent episode releases.

    We encourage you to continue developing your podcast, crafting compelling narratives, and building your listener base. Once you have a series of episodes published, we would be more than happy to revisit the conversation about potential collaboration opportunities.

    We wish you the best in your podcasting journey and look forward to the possibility of working together in the future.

    Warm regards,
    Mr. Spotify


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Y’know, we’re still not on Spotify. I originally didn’t do it back when they started offering podcasts for the same reason I didn’t do Stitcher — they re-host your files. At the time I was concerned with chart position, back when it was still possible for us to chart on Apple Podcasts. Those days seem like a long time in the past.

      I wonder if there’s a lesson there. Would it have been better to give up some control? By and by our tech stack has gotten out of sync with the state of the art, to the point where you need an MS in Computer Science (or an Apple Device) to subscribe. Would we have achieved our multi-million dollar buyout?


  4. lemur #

    Awww… I just want to say you and your merry band are awesome and you don’t need to feel bad about this, it’s totally not your fault, sometimes things just happen. And I totally agree with @sarielthrawn, there’s no rule that says a 5:20 podcast of one person talking about the absence of a podcast isn’t a podcast! But even if it isn’t, maybe at least now the pressure is off a bit — you mentioned your constant compulsive checking of the blinking red light here, and I’ve heard you on multiple other occasions refer to how the longer the streak went on, the more anxiety you felt about breaking it; now that the worst has happened maybe it can be a chance, not only for you to realize that it’s not really “the worst,” but also for all of us in the global overthinking community to feel reassured that even if a weekly podcast does get missed once, next week’s will still be on time and the week after that, and that the OTI podcast can survive something like this.

    I’ll just take this opportunity to emphasize again what a great positive influence Overthinking It has been for me, and I think for so many people. I started out as a reader of the blog and didn’t get into the podcast until it was already a going concern for a few years. Then I got hooked for a while, and although more recently I’ve gotten out of the habit of listening to podcasts altogether, I do like to check the description each week and will give one a listen if it happens to be on a topic I’m especially interested in. (I totally abandoned the spreadsheet project a while ago too; someday when I’m not busy I will go back and start catching up on that.) Anyway, OTI opened my mind to a certain way of enjoying pop culture that I think I had never exactly encountered before. If I had to define the OTI approach, I think its essence is the blending of a few different strands: frankly admitting that some things are just entertaining even if they aren’t works of artistic genius; digging down to find the sometimes surprising complexity and real artistic merit that might be hidden in unexpected places; taking things too seriously as a “bit”; and then truly delighting in all of that, doing it with relish, for the fun and the giddy pleasure of life and the nonsense that our species keeps on producing. There were times when listening to you guys blather on made me feel happy to be alive. The whole archive of OTI podcasts are a blessing to the world. (Yes Matt, even the early ones that you’ve sometimes said “aren’t all gems” have some moments of absolute brilliance in them!)

    So my message is… Don’t be too dismayed by this setback, get back in the saddle next week, and keep up the good work!


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      I really appreciate that — I’m glad we’ve done some good. And the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” angle is very generous of you.

      Those early ones aren’t all gems though. And I’m vaguely afraid we’ve said something impolitic at one point and it will surface in some future job interview. It’s so easy to transcribe and index audio now. Maybe I should take them off the internet and make them available to members only. I think we had promised to do that for members at some point.


      • April #

        I feel a lot of fellowship with what you sound like you’re feeling in the update you recorded.

        As an anxiety-haver, I go through frequent cycles of realizing I’ve made a mistake and thinking it’ll mean everyone is angry at me and thinks I’m incompetent. Gradually, I’ve learned that people overwhelmingly don’t expect perfection and are understanding about the odd mistakes. Also, if something is a big enough deal for me to find the mistake and kinda freak out about it, the thing it relates to is probably a bigger deal in my life than it is in most other people’s lives.

        I love this podcast and enjoy watching out for new episodes, but a missing one is more a matter of shrugging and deciding to check out an old episode I haven’t gotten to yet or relisten to an old one I loved. Especially with your reassurance that this isn’t a sign that you’re phasing it out.

        It makes sense that a 15 year streak would be a big deal and something you’d feel emotional about. But I don’t think anyone who isn’t an asshole is really upset with you.


  5. Joseph Member #

    Please don’t beat yourself up about this, Matt. It was an honest mistake that could happen to anyone.

    Speaking from experience here, because I’ve screwed up the recording of my own podcast half a dozen times over the last ten years. It never, ever feels good. The only thing you can do is take a deep breath, be kind to yourself, and try really hard to remember that mistake next week. You’re only human; your listeners understand that.

    Thank you for all the hard work you and the entire OTI crew have put into bringing us weekly podcasts for the past 15 years. That’s an amazing feat all on its own! And in a weird way, it’s comforting to know that this sort of thing happens to the best of us.

    You’re the best, Matt.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      That’s too kind. Really appreciate the support, especially since you know how it feels.

      But one point of clarification — we are not human, we are disembodied floating clouds with wry, ironical expressions.


  6. Mark Lee OTI Staff #

    If any of you work in IT, now is the time to share the story of when you took down a production environment and how you’ve lived to tell the tale.

    (I once took down a development environment a few hours before a client demo but was able to hastily reassemble it in time…or at least that’s the story I tell myself to paper over the trauma.)

    Thank you all for listening over the years! To borrow a certain phrase…

    We’ll be back.


  7. Greg #

    It’s not your fault. It’s technology’s fault. I work at MIT. We have tech screw-ups in our office all the time. Usually trying to get a laptop to connect to give a presentation to some VIP group. If only the T in our name stood f0r something else.

    And let’s reverse things. You did FIFTEEN flipping years in a row!!! Do you know how hard that is to pull off? Including holidays, life events, and just the regular day to day? The answer is Of course you do, because you did that. 15 years.

    Kudos to you and the OTI crew for your devotion to this endeavor. Hopefully you woke up this morning feeling a little less of the sting of immediacy. And you will move along, as we all do.

    Final statement – most things like this might have started to feel a little phoned in. Such as “we are still doing the podcast because that’s what we do every week”. That’s not the case here. You all still bring the passion to your discussions.

    So exhale and focus on the 800+ episodes you’ve recorded and not the 1 that technology caused you to miss.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Thanks @Greg. That’s a really great reframe. If there’s a silver lining for me in this, it reminds me that I really do care about this show I do with my friends and the audience of awesome folks we do it for.


    • Emil #

      Let’s say that my feelings are mixed but I’m not disappointed as strange as it seems to me. It’s a mix of feeling sorry on your behalf, warmth, amusement… I’m still parsing it.


  8. Juliet #

    Once, during a live performance in an amphitheater, I did a normal tumbling somersault to get an extra laugh — and the expensive character wig I was wearing came entirely off in front of the audience. This had never happened to me before — I was filling in for a character I hadn’t played before, and thought I had been doing a pretty good job, and then there was this moment of “oh no I have broken the reality of the fiction for everyone involved.” I swept up the wig, darted into the woods behind the amphitheater, and forty seconds later emerged more-or-less intact with an air of a person hunting and the hope to fold my mistake into the fabric of the story. “Have any of you seen an impostor”, I asked the audience, “who is pretending to be me, with a bad wig?”


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Quick thinking! Audiences love things like that anyway, because it demonstrates that something real has happened.

      Once my pants fell down while I was doing children’s theater.


  9. Vishal #

    Hearing Matt get so emotional was amazing. Sometimes you take your best friends for granted, and it takes a big event to remind you of what they mean to you. Been a weekly listener since Ep.72, and 14 1/2 years of flawless production is quite a streak. All streaks must come to an end. A podcast is just a podcast, ya know, but (to quote from Matrix 2) “What matters is the connection the word implies.”


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Thanks, Vishal! I don’t know why, but YouTube has decided that I need to watch a lot of clips from Reloaded and Revolutions recently, and so I have actually heard these very words on my phone screen within the last few days.

      Sorry for losing my cool a little bit. I was pretty upset when I loaded up the file and saw a blank line. I took some deep breaths and had a glass of wine or 3, and life is better now.


  10. ElitistDog #

    One for the record books. I’ve been listening for just about 12 years now (…wow). This was one of the first podcasts I subscribed to when I started working full time and needed something to listen to. Looking over my podcatcher today, this is the only show from then I still listen to, with only a handful of episodes skipped in that entire time. I’ve had as much fun finding new ways to appreciate Ghost Rider as I have Bluey over the years from these discussions and I look forward to the next 15 years of these! By next week the Lost Episode will be Lore for OTI super nerds to over think.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      I’m definitely looking forward to having it in the past! Let’s get one regular episode out and then Never Speak Of This Again!


  11. Phizzled #

    It’s hard for me to imagine being consistent as you have been for 15 years. Every so often as ai listen, I think about the changes that feel inevitable in creating art and how you continue to do a fantastic job of doing so.
    You had a discussion with my smarter, funny friends from the internet about loss, and you presented a shorter than planned episode about loss. Your streak continues, to this humble listener.

    The practice of law is full of opportunities to treat perfection as the only acceptable amount of effort. My colleagues struggle to perform that way, for years on end, until we retire. The most freeing moment I’ve had since 2008 was the first time I called another attorney and said “hey, I forgot to attach the document I said was in this email” and he replied “no problem, it happens to all of us eventually.”
    It may help that we work in a field that is rarely life and death, but thousands of dollars are involved in a lot of what I do, and it turns out that baby attorney me didn’t know how to get past making an expensive error. (The answer was apologize and resend the correct file when someone let me know a few weeks later).


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      I think Jed Bartlett said something like, “Mistakes are gonna happen. Fix them and move on.” Very hard to take to heart!!


  12. Charlie X #

    It’s been an age since I’ve been on the comments here, but my login’s still good.

    It’s sad about the break of the streak, I totally get that horror, especially knowing that there’s nothing which can be done about it.
    Just remember, the world didn’t end, the audience aren’t going away. We’re eager to see what discourse (drink!) will be the subject of your thoughts in the future.

    I mostly went to the OTI site when I worked for a large bank with a commute via train each morning. My iPod had died, so I listened to a small amount of podcasts on my busted PSP. That meant manually downloading and moving over Overthinking It, TFT, Geek Syndicate and War Rocket Ajax each week.

    In those times I was out of my element and didn’t have anyone to chat about geeky things (hence the latter two podcasts) or to enjoy overthinking the popular culture. It was enough of a joy listening to your episodes on my travels that when you reached your legendary Karate Kid episode, I’d arrived home and simply kept walking. Your description of LA was nothing like the leafy Brighton suburbs I was wandering in the dark, but it was a perfect slice of time.
    Similarly, as someone with The Anxiety, I’d often go for walks late at night when I couldn’t sleep. One of the things I loved to do during that time was listening to the albums being covered in a queued up episode of TFT.

    Finally, I have a Eurovision WhatsApp chat with some old colleagues. One of them recommended me an Overthinking It Eurovision video out of the blue.


  13. Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

    Thanks, Charlie!

    your legendary Karate Kid episode

    If you ever come to Los Angeles, visit beautiful Reseda!!

    (Actually don’t)


  14. Derek KJ #

    I’m so sorry, Matt.
    That must have been such a stressful, demoralizing experience. Be gentle with yourself and know how much we all value what you do and admire the standards to which you hold yourself. Although it may be impossible to imagine now, someday this may be a humorous anecdote or even a new in-show reference.
    Sending love, #discoursedrink


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Appreciate that. I am surprised by how hard I took the bad news! Don’t worry — I took some deep breaths and got some perspective. Adn it’s good to know how much we care about what we do here!


  15. Martin K-E #


    I honour and thank you for your vulnerability, care, and love for the work that you do and the audience you create for. Forget the “should’s” and “shouldn’t’s” – you revealed to us the truth that, no matter how we engage with it, this is more than just a podcast for you, just a recording session, just an hour of banter. That insight is something we ought to be – and I am – grateful for.

    There’s a story about a $1/2bn deployment error that I sadly can’t tell, but here’s one about snatching the barest of positive outcomes from an awkward situation…

    I was standing at the front of my mother’s church, performing a horn solo in the Christmas eve service for a congregation of about 1,000 people when the dreaded ‘blub, blub’ of condensation in the pipes infiltrated my notes.

    What to do? I couldn’t play through it. I daren’t dump it on the floor…

    In a brief rest in my part, I flipped the horn, pulled the slide, and poured the liquid into the breast pocket of my black suit.

    The rest of the service felt a little damp; few, if any, congregants knew what had happened; but the notes that followed that moment were true and pure and that’s all that mattered.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      This is an excellent story, not least because you may know that the members of OTI met and became friends in a marching band. Our very own Matt Belinkie is in fact a hornist. Or “is horny.” I forget how you say it.


  16. blisterguy #

    “Bummer” is right! There have been plenty of times I’ve messed things up in life, and each time it has largely worked out ok, but I’m sure I’ll feel the next one will be as distressing in the moment as much as the last one that worked out ok was.

    My story of one time I messed up. While I was in my late teens and studying, I had a night job at a local supermarket. Over time I had earned some responsibility in the role and did more than just packing shelves. Stuff like driving the forklift and opening the huge roller doors at the back to receive 12am deliveries. There were two roller doors, but only one key between them. The key would hang on a hook in the store room, and you’d have to carry it from one door to another often. One particularly cold night I was carrying the key in my jacket pocket and somehow forgot to hang it back on the hook before heading home. When I finally woke up at 9am, I woke with a start as I suddenly remembered the supermarket roller door key was still in my jacket pocket. The jacket just over there hanging on my door. My door at home. Not at the supermarket. The supermarket that at the time of waking, had now been open for nearly 3 hours. I sheepishly phoned the supermarket to apologise and my supervisor was all “yeah nah, it’s all good. We had another key in the office.”

    But boy oh boy did I feel like I had just broken everything for everybody for a hot moment.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      See, that feeling—that sinking kind of “oh sugar” feeling—is exactly what I experienced when I found out that we had lost one side of our audio. I describe it a little more in our next episode, which we pre-taped on account of the holiday, so stay tuned for more.


  17. Hila #

    I’ve been listening to Overthinking It on and off since I was 14, and now I’m 27… so, over half my life at this point. You taught me the word “hegemony”! The number of deadlines I’ve missed in that amount of time strains credibility, and meanwhile all you’ve missed is one episode. Pretty amazing.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Thank you so much for listening, but also I feel like I should say I’m sorry for whatever effect we had on the development of your brain! We never really thought that we would be talking to actual minors. And though we don’t swear on the show—a decision I’m glad we made early on—the exposure to bad puns has got to stunt your mental growth somehow!


      • Jonathan #

        As Hila’s boyfriend: you have no idea.


  18. Esther #

    Oh, Matt. My heart broke when I heard the lost episode last night. I’m not sure how long I’ve been listening (I think 13-14 years), but whatever the length, I do consider y’all my smart funny friends on the internet so to hear your distress made me feel for you so much and wish I could give you a non-creepy internet hug, ha ha.

    I went to college at a medium- sized public university in TX that was known for its chess more than its arts programs. But for all that, we had a healthy community who did musicals while I was there. My second year there, the show was Songs for a New World, which I had fallen in love with. I was so nervous for my singing audition that in spite of my many hours of practice, I totally bombed and couldn’t even finish the song. The director and student AD had me come and sit with them and told me they already had a part in mind for me. They wanted me to choreograph the show, as well as have the female “World was Dancing” solo because of my dance background.

    That show remains one of my fondest memories of college as well as some of my favorite artistic work. I grew as a choreographer, crafting pieces that (I think) gave life to the show without distracting from the singing, and it cemented my friendships with two people who I remain close to to this day.

    It sucks that technology betrayed you like that, but your loyal listeners still love you and can’t wait to hear more from y’all next week.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Aww, thanks for the internet hug! You know, your story highlights that one of the ways to create a soft landing in such moments of disappointment or embarrassment is to have some supportive people around you. You have no idea how much it meant to me to have the community of Overthinkers—including you—be so nice to me in the aftermath!

      Doubly glad we have some musical theater folks in the audience.


Add a Comment