As Siri, Alexa, and Cortana slowly integrate themselves into every aspect of our modern lives, it was only a matter of time until one of those virtual assistants scored a starring role in their own podcast.
Gimlet’s latest series, Sandra, stars Kristen Wiig as Sandra, yet another female AI, created by Orbital Teledynamics to be “the world’s most intuitive virtual assistant.” The secret to Sandra’s success is that she is less artificial than most artificial intelligence. Instead, she is operated by Helen (Alia Shawkat), who spends her days helping Sandra answer every question her users ask. At first Helen is thrilled by the job, falling for the line her boss (played by Ethan Hawke) feeds her about how being Sandra is “like a superpower,” because she has full access to users’ browser histories, shopping habits, and major events in their lives. Helen is reeling from a failed relationship when she takes the job and slowly gets sucked into the life of one of her Sandra users.
Based on the first few episodes, it’s a bit like a reverse version of Her, which is definitely a good thing. It’s hard to shake the feeling that a few years ago, Sandra and its A-list cast would have been an indie movie, like Safety Not Guaranteed or The Skeleton Twins. Now, listeners get to indulge for free, no movie ticket required. It’s yet another sign that podcasts are all grown up.
All seven episodes are available now for your binging pleasure.