The widely popular, award-winning Chicago Public Radio show of the same name is now a Showtime show. Drawing on a different theme each week, viewers hear compelling stories from everyday folks culled from six months on the road. Host Ira Glass and company create a captivating look at the American Life in a series thats not quite documentary, not much of a news magazine and definitely not a reality show its simply unlike anything else.
Host of Chicago Public Radio's This American Life
since 1995, Ira Glass segues successfully to the small screen with this Showtime series. The first season begins with the saga of Chance, a Brahma bull who met President Bush, appeared in a movie with Vince Vaughn, and guested on The Late Show
. To prepare for the passing of their elderly pet and "business associate," Chance's owners clone him, but things don't go as planned. Their segment airs in tandem with a piece in which an improv group gives a band their best gig ever--to mixed results. In other episodes, Glass profiles a late-in-life screenwriter, the stepson of a one-hit wonder, and a 14-year-old who's sworn off love. As quirky as these one-act movies sound, Glass and reporters Jorge Just, Nancy Updike, Nazanin Rafsanjani, and Alex Blumberg play up the universality of their subjects rather going for exploitation or easy laughs. They also leave it up to viewers to provide morals and conclusions (We never find out, for instance, whether the short featured in "Lights" makes it into the Sundance Film Festival). In each of the six half-hour programs, prologues or epilogues reinforce the theme, such as Chris Ware's animation about a childhood craze for fake TV cameras. Emmy voters presented This American Life
with awards for outstanding non-fiction series and direction, while Showtime renewed the show for a second season. Bonus features include a photo gallery, a Glass biography, and commentary from Glass and director Christopher Wilcha on the pilot. --Kathleen C. Fennessy