S – Town (No Spoilers)

I found out Sunday night that the creators of Serial and This American Life had a new podcast coming out, and that all seven episodes were to be released on Tuesday.

So, on Tuesday I downloaded all seven episodes. I listened during my commute to and from work, and as I went about my day. I just finished the seventh episode. I’m done!

I finished the entire thing in half a week to gain bragging rights and a feeling of superiority. Why do you think that I’m blogging about it?

Seriously, I listened because  my sister E. is also listening to it. I will see E. this weekend, which is rare because E. and I live several hundred miles apart.  This is a my chance to discuss the podcast in person with E.

I also have a major Fear of Missing Out, as well as a fear of hearing spoilers.

This podcast, called S-Town, is hosted by Brian Reed. It takes place in a small town in Alabama.  I can’t really say what it’s about without giving away spoilers. However, themes include a suspected murder, a treasure hunt, climate change, clockmaking, untreated mental illness, homosexuality, and what it’s like to spend an entire life in a small town where one doesn’t really fit.

Three or four episodes in, I was hooked. Then, I finished episode seven and realized that I didn’t actually like it. I felt depressed and not at all superior to anybody.

I’m a bit touchy about reporters from the public radio elite highlighting the sins and vices of small owns. I spent my first 18 years in two small towns in Pennsylvania. I grew up near the top of a mountain in Appalachia. During every presidential election, the entire nation and also the world hears about what kind of people live in places like these.

I didn’t fit into the small town where I grew up. So I moved away. (I also moved away to get a job that had health insurance.) I just don’t see the point of shitting on people who live in small towns. And that’s what this podcast does. (One of the main people interviewed for this podcast constantly calls his hometown  “Shit Town.” That’s where the title of S-Town originated.”)

So, this whole thing seems like Hillbilly Tourism or Hillbilly Voyerism. And I know that this is trendy right now.

When I googled S-Town before I wrote this blog entry, I saw a bunch of links to write-ups in fancy publications, all with references to Southern Gothic. In fact, S-Town specifically mentions William Faulkner.

I also felt depressed and confused after reading Faulkner in high school.

Still, I would love to discuss this podcast further with anyone out there. And if you’re not yet finished, I promise not to give away the spoilers.

(Jonathan does not listen to podcasts, except when I make him. I doubt he would listen to all seven episodes of S-town. However, he is an amateur clock maker. I posted above a movement that he purchased for one of the clocks that he is making.)