Screener Girl Checks Out Showtime’s This American Life

Ira Glass PhotoThought Provoking And Informative All At Once

Ira Glass Photo

Season Premiere Of This American Life – Sunday, May 4th 10PM ET/PT On Showtime
Ira Glass’ second season of This American Life continues where the first left off – in the heart of America, finding stories throughout the country that are thought provoking and informative all at once.  In the season premiere, Ira points out that the topic of the week is Escape.  We start in my corner of the globe, following the story of teenagers in North Philly staying on the straight and narrow, not thanks to community out reach programs or anything like that, but rather through a bond they share of a love for horseback riding.  That’s right, in the middle of the dark and oft times desolate North Philly, there sits a stable.  These young men get together and ride their horses in, one assumes, Fairmount Park (if not Fairmount, something equally a beautiful in the Philly area).  They say they don’t mind the occasional joke about their horseback riding.  It keeps them out of the house and out of the house.  

The main story of the episode, however, is the touching and heartbreaking story of a 27 year old man and his mother, who are both trying to escape from each other and from their lives.  Mike was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy that causes him to be confined to a wheelchair, flat on his back.  Without the ability to speak or move, or do anything other than use his right thumb to type words into a computer, this atypical SMA patient had me in tears.  I don’t want to give too much of the story away, other than that his story kept me welling up from minute one (especially because of a surprise guest speaker) until the episode ended, and that it’s mind-blowing to learn about how some people are forced to live their lives and how inspiring it can be.

Episode 2 takes the viewer in a completely different direction, focusing this time on War.  In Act I, entitled “Ask an Iraqi”, we spend a few days with a young man recently out of college who came to the United States from Iraq on a Fulbright Scholarship.  He sets out to see what southern Americans think about the war, and it’s almost surprising what he finds out.  His story gives you background into the war in Iraq from a completely different direction than we’re used to hearing.  Act II is about a war between a husband from Bulgaria, a wife from the US, and the lawn they both share in Providence, RI.  He doesn’t want to mow, she’s allergic to the grass, and so they live in disharmony among the green grass and manicured lawns of their neighbors.

Both episodes have kept me thinking about a wide range of topics, hours after viewing them the first time.  Be sure to tune in Sunday to see the season premiere, and don’t miss what I’m sure is set to be an amazing second season.