Doc of the Week > This American Life – Season 2 – Finale

Documentary: This American LIfe – Season 2 – Finale

Reviewed By: becky b

This show is in the top 5 of my all time fav TV shows ever.  It ranks somewhere in between The Wire and Weeds .  It is  just so well done – every part of it.

For those of you who don’t know – this TV show started as a weekly radio show.  You can find that on your local NPR station and as a podcast via iTunes.  That program is equally as amusing and is what lead to my interest in the TV series.  They are both in the same “format”.  Every week is a new theme and that theme is told in several acts.  Each act is a true story that is always entertaining and true.  The characters are real people and always approachable.  The story telling is pushed forward by the always quirky Ira Glass (pictured above).  The tv show is also beautifully shot.  Every moment is thoughtful and therefore appreciated by me.

Summary of the Finale: John Smith
The story of one life, told through the lives of people from all over the country, all named John Smith. Baby John Smith is 11 weeks old, in South Carolina, and his parents are still reeling from the sonograms that all predicted he would be a girl. By the time he’s 23, John Smith in Laramie, Wyoming, has made some mistakes and is appearing in front of a judge. At 46, he’s in Texas, welcoming his oldest son back from Iraq. In-depth portraits of people growing up, growing old, and figuring out how to be fathers, husbands, and men in America today.

The writers of this episode twist these stories together perfectly.  It is baffling how good this creative team is.  I hope everyone takes an hour to enjoy this episode.

I find it much easier to make comments about the docs I’m not thrilled about than the ones I love.

5 out 5 Cheers



One Reply to “Doc of the Week > This American Life – Season 2 – Finale”

  1. On the “This American Life” – if I compare it to the radio program, then I don’t really like the TV show. I LOVE the radio program. Remember that conversation we had about how I like going to church because I like the participation in “active listening” even if I don’t agree with what’s being said. It’s like that with this podcast – I love the active listening to the radio version of “This American Life,” listening to people’s stories unfold and participating with my imagination. And I miss the listening when I have to watch it unfold.

    But if I shake the radio out of my ears, I do like this program very much. Thoughtful is a good word for it, the use of visuals is very well planned and you have to watch to pick up on all the subtlety of each story. It’s not at all like the radio show, it has to be watched. And it has some really beautiful observational moments.

    This whole concept on this episode – the telling the story of “John Smith” through a bunch of John Smith’s at different stages of their life (all white guys living in rural Americana), kind of irritated me in the beginning. I was all “oh, you think you’re sooooo clever.” and I got a bit twitchy footed while I watched the first half of people’s boring lives move across the screen…these are totally normal people – doing stuff I’ve already seen in my life, (yawn).

    But once you get to know John Smith, the second half of the episode is AWESOME. This is also where the tearjerking unexpectedly begins. Because in every “normal” life – there is painful loss, and internal doubt, and secret joys, and hopes and dreams and love and disappointment. And that was a beautiful payoff. The “American Beauty” if you will.

    I’m going to go with 3 out of 5 cheers on it.

    And I think I’m going to watch more episodes.


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