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I'm 17 and I work at the food court in the mall. No, I work at the post office and have 12 pets, including a ferret and a snake. No, wait, I'm a 47 year old housewife with a really really active imagination. Wait a minute, why do all of those things sound so plausible? Why it's because I'm a pathological liar. Seriously.
Don't trust a word I say. It's lies, all lies. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!
This American Life (2007)
A Long Time Fan Wasn't Disappointed
Even though there have been over 375 shows, I have heard many of them over and over again and the stories haunt me for days, they are so poignant and thought provoking and timeless. I don't wish to sound hyperbolic, but I think the show has deepened my appreciation for almost everything.
This American Life focuses on stories that tend to fly below the radar, stories that you'll never hear anywhere else. As another commenter explained, Ira Glass finds the remarkable in the mundane, the beauty in everyday experiences, but he also finds the wacky stories that rarely happen and the real stories that should have been told but aren't.
The TV show retells many of the stories originally told in the radio show, which may disappoint if you were expecting new stories. Ira Glass' deep respect for his interview subject's individual viewpoints, his insightful commentary, and his careful editing couples beautifully with some of the most gorgeous cinematography I have ever seen in a documentary. Most of the episodes have kept the radio show format of telling multiple stories on a single theme, although a few of the shows only focus upon a single story because of time restraints.
Another commenter wrote that this TV show is like a "reality show". I have never seen a reality show that respects it's subjects or empathizes with them like this, nor one that explores the types of stories that Ira Glass brings to his audience. Perhaps she was responding to how raw the emotions are on the TV show, a feature that is fully present on the radio show, but it hits home so much harder when you see the expressions on the faces of the storytellers as they talk about their experiences. To me, it is honest and empathetic, and your heart breaks with them. It's beautiful.
The first season of This American Life is available on Amazon Unbox for instant play and it only costs about two dollars per episode, so try it out. It's instant gratification for less than a latte. Each week's radio show may be streamed from the TAL website for free.