A lot has been written online in the past week about the new podcast “S-Town” from the producers of Serial and This American Life. “S-Town” seemed to drop out of the blue last week as a bingable, 7-episode monster of humanistic insight and emotion. The story is about producer Brian Reed and his path of discovery after being contacted in 2014 by a reclusive Alabamian who wants help solving a murder. That reclusive figure turn out to be John B. McLemore, an horologist (watch maker/time scientist) with seemingly the brain of genius and the life that I can only describe as “liberal hillbilly monk” for lack of a better term. You will understand when you start listening.
Nothing is as it seems in S-Town (“Shit Town” as the area is described by John to Brian) and less said about the events that unfold the better. If you enjoy any of the Gimlet Media podcasts (“S-Town” unfolds like a multi-part episode of one of my favorite podcasts from Gimlet, Reply-All), This American Life, Serial, or the like, you are bound to find “S-Town” thrilling and enthralling.
I think the best decision the producers made for “S-Town” was to release it “binge” style, with all the episodes appear at once. The story is so intimate, delicate, and shocking, that it probably would not have worked serialized weekly. There is too much to remember in S-Town, too much to forget, and too much to ponder to let each serving of an episode digest for too long before mixing it with a new one. Sure, this means it is over too fast, and it leaves the listener with more questions than answers, but that’s okay. In an age when the IV drip of the 24 hour news cycle has us clamoring to find out next tiny bit of information that might turn things to our favor, taking seven hours out of your life to hear a single, maze-like like story is transcendental by comparison.
You can preview the show below: