Welcome to Podcast Week on Sprudge! The Sprudge Podcast Network is the coffee world's largest, first, and frankly best audio hub dedicated to original podcast content. Throughout this week you are invited to explore the wide world of podcasts on Sprudge, available now streaming wherever podcasts are found, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitchr, and more.

There is nothing else quite like the No Free Refills podcast out there right now. Hosted by two pop culture experts and TV obsessives (who happen to be accomplished coffee professionals), Ezra Baker and Tymika Lawrence are your guiding lights through the world of all things television and film, fueled by a good cup of coffee at the start of each episode—and yes, a glass of wine.

Topics so far on No Free Refills have included (but are not limited to!!) Sex And The City, NXIVM, the Hulu series PEN15, Black Is King, Love Is Blind, the phenomenon of “Very Special Episodes” in TV sitcoms (and specifically the Very Special Episode of A Different World), and 90 Day Fiance.

It has been a non-stop run of favorite moments so far on this show—here are just a few of the highlights.

The NXIVM Episode

NXIVM, a New York-based company that offered “self-help workshops” has been around since 1998. In 2017, former members asked New York State authorities to investigate the company. The case widened in 2018 with allegations of “identity theft, extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking, money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice“. The New York Times billed NXIVM a “sex cult”. In October, the founder Keith Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison for sex trafficking and other crimes.

HBO premiered The Vow, its nine-part series about NVIVM in August of 2020, and renewed the true-crime documentary for the second season in October. Starz debuted “Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult” in October 2020.

Lawrence and Baker discuss the documentaries about NXIVM: the intrigue, the drama, the whys and hows, the volleyball, and so much more. They dig into the nuances of the differences between the way stories were represented in the Starz series versus the HBO series.

“Listen, babies,” Lawrence pleads, “don't join a cult. Okay?”

The Sex And The City Episode 

The focus of Episode Seven is the hit HBO romantic-comedy series Sex and the City based on Candace Bushnell's 1997 book. Why focus on a decades-old series? Several reasons! Quarantine streamers are rediscovering the series on the new streaming platform HBO Max, and there's much buzz about the soon-to-be-released reboot And Just Like That.

Every episode begins with a drink, and this week Baker drinks Eyasu Worasag from Mother Tongue Coffee, and Lawrence drinks Gatuyaini grown by the Othaya Society sourced by Atlas Coffee. Baker's coffee is juicy, Lawrence's coffee is developed and both are delicious.

Baker and Lawrence have a lot of thoughts on the original series, the reboot, the characters—and especially New York City as a character. “Oh, my goodness,” Tymika quips, “New York City is, even if you are from New York mostly like I am, she's a frenemy.”

The Very Special Episode 

This episode is dedicated to the concept of the Very Special Episode, “one my favorite TV vehicles,” says Lawrence. “It's a way for writers to bring a serious, heavy topic into homes where maybe people aren't dealing with it… they humanize it by connecting with characters you know and love.”

Lawrence and Baker dive deep into classic episodes of A Different World, the Cosby Show spin-off focused on Denise Huxtable's life at a Hillman College, a fictional historically Black college located in Virginia. Honeymoon In LA—the two-part premiere of Season Six, aired in September 1992—starts after the “wedding episode” of ADW (“a classic moment of Black television” says Baker) and takes place during the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.

“A Different World always did a good job of getting Black people from different walks of life, and different socioeconomic levels, points of view, showing them together… and it's pretty accurate! We do have different points of view,” says Baker. “Like literally anyone,” adds Lawrence. “Black people are not a monolith. Even inside of our community, we have different relationships to certain kinds of experiences.”

“Rewatching this show at this time is a little bit of a knife in the chest,” says Lawrence, as she and Baker weave this very special episode from nearly 30 years ago into the summer of 2020. “Political disturbance is one part of the plan of multi-faceted resistance that works,” Lawrence adds. “How many Black women and Black men have died just in the last five years? It took literally protests happening in all 50 states and other countries to make a movement.”

Lawrence and Baker take us on an intellectual ride with this episode—intersectional, reaching across decades and shared moments and differences of opinion, exploring the source material but expanding to talk about the living history happening today and their own personal experiences within it. “This is a mindfuck for me to be watching this show as an adult,” says Lawrence, “and to say, ‘damn, we are really having these same conversations.'” Baker adds simply: “It's a mess.”

Was “A Different World” as Baker describes it, quote, “The greatest Black sitcom ever made?

Explore every episode of No Free Refills is available right here on our podcast series hub. 

No Free Refills is available now via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or load it up on your favorite podcast platform using this RSS link. Subscribe, like, rate, and review A Better Table on Apple Podcasts.

Check out all of the Sprudge Podcast Networks show here. No Free Refills is sponsored by Pacific Barista Series and Seattle Coffee Gear. Interested in sponsoring No Free Refills on the Sprudge Podcast Network? Get in touch.