Great Job, Internet!: Read This: At 20, This American Life is darker than it’s given credit for

Dennis Young has heard the standard criticism of This American Lifenamely that it’s an oasis of twee, feel-good preciousness for smug liberals—but he doesn’t buy it. In an editorial at The Concourse on the occasion of the radio show and podcast’s 20th anniversary, Young argues that TAL is much darker and harsher than its critics seem to think and certainly doesn’t devote all of its time and energy to flawed but redeemable eccentrics. Either the show’s critics haven’t really been paying attention, Young suggests, or they haven’t been listening in years. As just one example of many, he cites the show’s “Petty Tyrant” episode, devoted to a decidedly unlovable maintenance man in Schenectady, New York, who grossly abused the moderate amount of power he had been given and made life a hell for his subordinates. Where’s the redemption there …

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