List of This American Life (TV series) episodes

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The This American Life television program aired on Showtime and consisted of two seasons with six episodes each.

Season one (2007)[edit]

These six episodes aired on Showtime in March and April 2007. Episodes were available for free streaming following the broadcast.[1] Showtime announced on April 16, 2007 that the series would return in 2008 for a second season with six more episodes.[2] The production staff ended the series after two seasons, citing the cost of producing the program.[3]

101 "Reality Check" March 22, 2007 (2007-03-22)

Plans that started out as a good idea or a dream come true, but turn sour: the unpleasant experience known as a "reality check". All of the stories had been aired previously on the radio show, but were developed into film for the TV series.

  • Prologue: Pee Girl — Heather McElhatton
  • Act I. If by Chance We Meet Again — Jane Feltes/Ira Glass (originally from radio episode #291)
    • Ralph and Sandra Fisher's gentle and beloved Brahman bull "Chance" was nearing the end of his long life. The Fishers couldn't bear to live without Chance, so they asked researchers at Texas A&M University to clone him—the result being the first ever bull clone, whom they dub "Second Chance". But Second Chance is not as gentle as his namesake.
  • Act II. The Spy Who Loved Everyone – Jorge Just (originally from radio episode #286)
    • The flash mob group Improv Everywhere decides to give Vermont band Ghosts of Pasha their "Best Gig Ever" and pack a small club posing as highly devoted fans. But when the band realizes it was a prank, the effect is devastating.[4]
102 "My Way" March 29, 2007 (2007-03-29)

An exploration of the benefits and costs of stubbornness.

  • Prologue: Side by Side – Ira Glass interviews Larry Wegielski, a man who spends several hours a day with his wife, in the family mausoleum.
  • Act I. Untitled — Ira Glass
    • Joe Kendrick, age 14, doesn't want to fall in love. Thus, he has chosen to never fall in love.
  • Act II. And Nothing but the Truth – Nazanin Rafsanjani
  • Act III. Still Life – Josh Seftel (part of his upcoming documentary feature)
    • Photographer Marcus Halevi discusses a sequence of tragic photos he took that led him to change his career path.[5]
103 "God's Close-Up" April 5, 2007 (2007-04-05)
Stories where the faithful and the not-so-faithful cross paths, and where unexpected things happen when people try to get closer to God through pictures: hundreds of Polaroid camera-toting believers gather in the Mojave Desert each month hoping to see God. And an artist, his Jesus model, the model's atheist girlfriend, and her religious father face off over The Last Supper.[6]
104 "The Cameraman" April 12, 2007 (2007-04-12)

Stories of how people act differently behind the camera can change a person, even if the camera isn't real.

  • Prologue: Untitled – Cartoonist Chris Ware illustrates a story of an elementary school art project and how a camera, even though it wasn't real, changed the way kids acted
  • Act 1. The Cameraman
    • G. J. Echternkamp makes a documentary of his family life in order to humiliate his parents (particularly his step-father, who was the bass player for the 1980s pop band OXO) for all the trouble they caused him. However, while doing this, he uncovers another side of his parents.
105 "Growth Spurt" April 19, 2007 (2007-04-19)

What do you do if you don't like where you are in life? You simply decide to move forward into the next stage by sheer force of will. A widow; an ambitious, first-time screenwriter; and a 13-year-old girl all charge forward into their futures with uneven results.[7]

The first-time filmmaker is screenwriter Susan Knode, who produced her short "Bandida" [8] with help from her cohort at the Burbank Senior Arts Colony.[9]
106 "Pandora's Box" April 26, 2007 (2007-04-26)
Three stories of consequences that follow from human beings doing what we do best: poking our noses everywhere, fixing things that may or may not be broken, and opening our big mouths. A hot dog stand in Chicago unleashes dark forces in the human soul and scientists try, unsuccessfully, to create perfect pigs.[10]

Season two (2008)[edit]

Six episodes aired on Showtime in May and June 2008, and a seventh new episode based on web content was aired in May 2009[11]

201 "Escape" May 4, 2008 (2008-05-04)
People escaping home without going very far away. In Philadelphia, teenaged boys find ways to impress girls and break out of the confines of their families, using technology that's been obsolete in their neighborhood since the 19th century. And a mother and son get caught up in a fight that lots of kids have with their parents. Except in their case, due to some very specialized circumstances, they go through the fight in slow motion, over the course of years.
202 "Two Wars" May 11, 2008 (2008-05-11)
Two foreigners try to make sense of life in the United States in the aftermath of two very different wars. A young Iraqi ends up in America after fleeing Iraq and goes on a road trip full of questions for Americans about the War. And a Bulgarian man in Rhode Island realizes that an ongoing argument with his American wife has to do with the life he left behind 20 years ago, on the other side of the Iron Curtain.
203 "Going Down in History" May 18, 2008 (2008-05-18)
Stories of people trying to make, and remake, history, while others go down in history in ways they never intended. Two Wisconsin convicts gain local fame for almost escaping prison using dental floss. High school students pose for smiley yearbook snapshots, which capture nothing of the dramas in their lives. And a man with a 30-year obsession with one particular bird unveils the grainy, Bigfoot-style video evidence that he saw it.
204 "Underdogs" May 25, 2008 (2008-05-25)
There's a whole world of boxing way down the food chain from championship fights, and the stakes are high even without media hype and massive cash prizes. Two boxers in Tennessee who've known each other all their lives face off in a match that neither can afford to lose.
205 "Every Marriage Is a Courtroom" June 1, 2008 (2008-06-01)
Cartoonist Chris Ware animates a true story that demonstrates that every marriage—even the happiest—is a courtroom. But most of the episode is devoted to the slow-motion disintegration of one couple's marriage. The husband's obsession with a legal battle forces the most basic marital questions into the open: what do I need? And what can I put up with?
206 "John Smith" June 8, 2008 (2008-06-08)
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 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.
207 "No Respect" May 28, 2009 (2009-05-28)
This episode examines comedians and their audiences. It includes segments about performing for a rowdy crowd, and a piece about Mike Birbiglia's worst gig ever.[12]

DVD releases[edit]

Season one was released on DVD exclusively to Borders bookstores in April, 2008. Season one received a wide release in the U.S. on September 23, 2008. Season two was released the following year, along with a bound version of both seasons available from This American Life's online store.


External links[edit]