One December evening in 2019, Chris Stedman noticed a new message in his inbox from his friend Alex, sent at exactly 7 p.m. He and Alex hadn’t talked in a while—was Alex writing to tell him off for being a bad friend? But it wasn’t that. “listen,” the note read. “i am writing to let you know that when you receive this scheduled email, i will no longer be alive.” At the bottom of his message, Alex included a link to a private SoundCloud account. “here’s Alice recordings,” he wrote.
Alice. Alex had talked to Chris about her before. A Britney Spears superfan, Alex had befriended this anonymous figure in a Britney fan forum years earlier. Alice had become the stuff of legend in Britney fan circles, and for good reason—she happens to sound exactly like Britney herself. Why was Alex including these recordings in his goodbye email? Who was Alice, really, and what had she meant to Alex? More importantly, could she help Chris understand why his friend was gone? With help from Alex’s loved ones, Chris decides to track down the elusive Alice, in the hopes that she can answer some of the questions Alex couldn’t.
Episode 4: Give Me a Sign
Chris finds some of the answers he's looking for in a Google folder Alex left behind—and others during a conversation with someone else who loved Alex dearly.
Episode 3: If U Seek Alice
Chris goes down the rabbit hole.
Episode 2: Piece of Me
Some of the people who knew Alex best look back on how he changed their lives—and then give Chris the push he needs.
Episode 1: Email My Heart
A scheduled goodbye email raises as many questions as it answers.
A show about looking for answers in the digital breadcrumbs people leave behind.
(To learn more about Unread, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @unreadpod.)
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Intriguing, heartbreaking, and healing
In this short podcast, Chris Stedman shares the story of his friend Alex and the email he received from Alex before his death by suicide. The podcast is one part ode to his fascinating, funny, and complicated friend, one part detective show as he digs into the mysterious files from a Brittney Spears chat room, and one part a sort of gentle deep-dive into mental illness and suicide, and how difficult it can be to access effective help. Somehow Chris weaves these threads together seamlessly into a story that is intriguing, heartbreaking, and healing at the same time.
A moving, deeply human bit of alchemy
In Unread, Chris Stedman ties together the fragments that surround him in an impossible aftermath: grief, connection and disconnection, friends navigating loss, mental health and suicide, and Britney Spears.
Disparate though the pieces may seem, the thread pulling them together is Alex, a person who lived and changed the lives of everyone who knew him.
I was moved — to tears, to laughter — as I listened. I will carry it around forever.
despite all, there’s beauty in grief
I usually only listen to breezy comedy podcasts so this was a major departure for me but boy, am I glad I did! It awakened so many feelings in me that I had long buried and am so much better for it. Just a lovely journey in empathy and loss that I would recommend to anyone.