Armchair Expert Umbrella is a media/podcast network comprised of all shows produced by Armchair Expert.
Flightless Bird: RVs
This week on Flightless Bird, David sets out to understand America's obsession with recreational vehicles, also known as RVs. Joined by Monica and Dax, David discovers why 11.2 million American homes have an RV of some kind and why 10 million more are considering buying one within the next five years. David sits down with Monica Geraci, the official spokesperson for the American RV Industry Association, to find out some tips and tricks before descending into Griffith Park to meet an actor who lives in an RV full time. It's there he learns of a mysterious man who rents RVs out to the unhoused around Los Angeles, begging the question: is this mystery man doing them a favor or is he exploiting their situation as a kind of RV slumlord?
Flightless Bird: Bunkers
This week on Flightless Bird, David descends underground into the world of preppers and bunkers, learning that 40% of Americans believe that stocking up on supplies or building an underground shelter is a better investment than saving for retirement. Joined by Monica Mouse, David discovers that humans have wanted to live underground for the last 2000 years. David interviews ethnographic researcher Bradley Garrett about the mindset of the American bunker enthusiast since Covid and finds out why Brad was arrested on the tarmac back in 2012, spending two years marooned in the UK. David finds out about the American man who wanted to buy a nuclear bunker with 56 bedrooms and calls up a bunker company to find out what’s in their million-dollar bunker package.
Flightless Bird: Baseball
This week on Flightless Bird, David heads to San Francisco to meet the San Francisco Giants. Joined by Wobby Wob, David attempts to learn how to catch a baseball, before becoming distracted by some loud screams coming from the field. It's there he meets the Chicago White Sox's Liam Hendriks, an outspoken Australian with a good arm and lots of opinions. David learns why 16 million Americans play baseball in some kind of organized fashion and talks to bench coach Kai Correa about how to win a game. Farrier then interrogates Giants pitcher Logan Webb about pre-game rituals, before watching his first-ever baseball game... trying to figure out what he likes more: the game, the drinks, or the food?
Flightless Bird: Tipping
This week on Flightless Bird, David gets out his wallet and dives into the culture and politics of tipping. Joined by Monica Padman, he sets out to discover why 52% of Americans tip their hairdresser while only 14% always tip their barista. David interviews Mike Lynn, a professor at the Cornell Hotel School, about the social pressures of tipping and why we tip what we tip. David also talks to Saru Jayaraman of “One Fair Wage”, who explains that tipping is a deeply warped version of what Americans brought back from Europe - and that in America tipping has some fairly racist origins - which has led to power imbalances for the 5.5 million Americans that rely on tips. David is encouraged to hear that America is at a tipping point for workers and that there may be a future with a decent minimum wage - as well as tips. Unless you’re one of the 4% of Americans who refuse to tip, ever.
Flightless Bird: Juggalos
This week on Flightless Bird, David dives into the insane world of Insane Clown Posse fans, who called themselves “Juggalos.” David is shocked to discover that due to the criminal enterprises of certain members of the fandom, the FBI decided to classify them as a gang. David talks to one of the first people to document Juggalo culture, Derek Erdman - before meeting another documentary maker who spent years with ICP’s “Violent J” and “Shaggy 2 Dope”, unlocking the magic that makes this band a $10 million-dollars-a-year business. With the annual Gathering of the Juggalos approaching, David learns ICP and their fans tell the story of a very specific part of American culture, that isn’t going away anytime soon. “Woop woop!”
Flightless Bird: Amazon
This week on Flightless Bird, David prepares to hit “Buy Now” as he embarks into the world of Amazon, the company that notched up $116 billion in sales during the first three months of this year. Joined by Monica, he looks at how this company has slowly inserted itself into the American lifestyle, from TV and film, to products, to Alexa living in everyone’s house, tending to their every need. David interviews Emily West, an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Massachusets, about how Amazon’s marketing made a brown cardboard box so popular. He also talks to the author of “Fulfillment,” Alec MacGillis about how Amazon’s various factories are changing the face of America, city by city - as Amazon is now America’s second-largest private employer next to Walmart.