The season finale of This American Life nailed it last night. In the hour-long episode, they found seven people all named John Smith but at different stages in their life, and then stitched their stories together to create a single life, sort of. There was the little boy John Smith, and the 20-something line cook John Smith, and the X-Box developer John Smith, and the middle-aged father of a Marine John Smith, and the old John Smith who worked at the information booth at the airport. Of course, as we all know, everyone named John Smith is white, so it just makes sense that there weren’t any blacks or Hispanics or Asians in the episode. But hollow criticisms of racial prejudice aside, this was high class television.
It touched on some of the basic elements that make up life in America: illness, soldiers, parenthood, truck stops, Halloween costumes, retirement, death, X-Box, science fairs, and mustache maintenance. You should check it out on DVD or iTunes if/when it’s available on DVD or iTunes. It was smartly put together and beautifully photographed, which probably means the next season will just be strippers competing for the opportunity to fuck Ira Glass. I’m not sure television can stand to bear the weight of quality. You had me going for a moment there, Hollywood.