Spending time in Shittown was the best part of my utterly exhausting, challenging as hell week.
(I’m so not kidding. This week ground me into a psychological pulp by Monday night, had me up until 1:30 a.m. Wednesday working on a freelance assignment, peeing into a cup–no, there aren’t any surprises happening and everything is fine, thanks–and paying more than $1,000 total for two sets of car repairs within two days.)
So, yeah, this week Shittown was a fucking paradise.
If you’re a podcast junkie like me, you probably know that Shittown — or, S-Town, as it’s commonly known — is a new podcast from Serial and This American Life, hosted by Brian Reed.
And if you haven’t heard about it yet, chances are someone or several someones will tell you about it soon, because it’s the sort of thing that you have to talk about without specifics because you don’t want to be that asshole who spoils an amazing thing.
And S-Town is freaking amazing. It combines all the elements of excellent storytelling with dogged, investigative journalism. (Reed started reporting this story more than three years ago.) It evokes everything possible — love and hate, greed and kindness, sorrow and sex, depression and art — and starts with a compelling premise: an eccentric clock restorer in Woodstock, Alabama (“Shittown”) emails journalist Reed of “This American Life” and asks him to investigate a murder that’s been covered up in his corrupt town. They begin corresponding and talking at length on the phone and Reed eventually visits Woodstock only to discover there’s much, much more to this story than a murder (which would be fodder enough for a podcast, to be sure).
S-Town will make you laugh and cry, gasp and cringe — all within the same minute. It’s addictive listening — one of my coworkers was so engrossed she drove right past the exit she takes every day to get to our office. It’s completely immersive and its the kind of thing you have to talk about it with other people who have had the same experience. I told one Facebook friend that I felt like I needed a support group after listening to this. I’m completely obsessed with all things related to this story now.
Apparently me and my coworker aren’t alone; S-Town has been downloaded 10 million times since it was released on Tuesday.
If you’re into podcasts, this is well worth a listen. (Consider this your #trypod recommendation — all throughout March, podcast fans have been sharing our recommendations.)