9 episodes

Each week we choose a theme. Then anything can happen. This American Life is true stories that unfold like little movies for radio. Personal stories with funny moments, big feelings, and surprising plot twists. Newsy stories that try to capture what it’s like to be alive right now. It’s the most popular weekly podcast in the world, and winner of the first ever Pulitzer Prize for a radio show or podcast. Hosted by Ira Glass and produced in collaboration with WBEZ Chicago.

This American Life This American Life

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 83.3K Ratings

Each week we choose a theme. Then anything can happen. This American Life is true stories that unfold like little movies for radio. Personal stories with funny moments, big feelings, and surprising plot twists. Newsy stories that try to capture what it’s like to be alive right now. It’s the most popular weekly podcast in the world, and winner of the first ever Pulitzer Prize for a radio show or podcast. Hosted by Ira Glass and produced in collaboration with WBEZ Chicago.

    836: The Big Rethink

    836: The Big Rethink

    People rethinking some of the most important relationships in their lives — with their sister, their political party, and the nominee for president.


    Prologue: Ira observes that we are in a moment of national reconsideration. (2 minutes)

    Act One: Zoe Chace reports on a surprising guest at the Republican National Convention: Teamsters president Sean O’Brien. (18 minutes)

    Act Two: Ira talks to Representative Seth Moulton about what it was like to be among the first members of Congress to call for President Joe Biden to step aside. (18 minutes)

    Act Three: Two adult sisters revisit old rivalries when they compete for a world record in typing with their pinkies. (16 minutes)

    • 59 min
    794: So Close and Yet So Far

    794: So Close and Yet So Far

    People ​so close to each other, ​in ​extremely intimate situations​,​ who are also a million miles apart.


    Prologue: Valerie Kipnis tells Ira about riding the subway, shoulder-to-shoulder with someone she knows quite well, pretending she doesn’t see him. (8 minutes)

    Act One: How much can you trust whether somebody who you think is close to you really is close to you? Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr.’s been thinking about that question since a recent visit with some of his childhood friends in Sierra Leone. (37 minutes)

    Act Two: Comedian Tig Notaro has the story of someone as close as her actual bedside yet who, in another way, is impossibly far away. (9 minutes)

    • 1 hr 3 min
    443: Amusement Park

    443: Amusement Park

    We head to some of the happiest places on earth: amusement parks! Ira Glass takes us behind the scenes at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, where the young staff – coached by a funny, fun-loving boss just a little older than they are – truly seem to love their jobs.  


    Prologue: Host Ira Glass walks through a Kansas City Missouri amusement park called Worlds of Fun with Cole Lindbergh, who had a season pass to the park as a little kid, starting working there summers at 14, and then just stayed. Now he's a full-time, year-round employee, running the games department. It's possible he does this job better than anyone in the country. It's rare to witness someone so happily great at his job. (9 minutes)

    Act One: Ira continues with Cole Lindbergh and the hundred teenagers who work for him
    in the games department at Worlds of Fun. We watch them compete against
    each other to see who can do the most business, in Cole's Sweet Sixteen
    bracket tournament, which pits all 32 games in the park against each other.
    We hear about all the things Cole does that other games managers don't. He
    invents games. He directs music videos starring his team. (23 minutes)

    Act Two: We asked for your stories about amusement parks. Three hundred of you
    called in, with stories of fear, floating carnies and, um, vomit. (9
    minutes)

    Act Three: Jonathan Goldstein returns to Wildwood, New Jersey, where he spent one not-fateful summer when he was sixteen. Jonathan's the host of the podcast Heavyweight. (13 minutes)

    • 1 hr
    835: Children of Dave

    835: Children of Dave

    Boen Wang has a theory that a lot of the misery in his life can be traced to a single moment that happened years before he was born. So he makes a pilgrimage to see if he’s right.


    Prologue: Ira talks about what it’s like to go back to 1119 Bayard Street in Baltimore. (6 minutes)

    Part One: Boen visits Norman, Oklahoma, where he was born, to meet the man he thinks changed his parents’ lives—and his life, too. (31 minutes)

    Part Two: Boen’s friend, Andrew, and his parents take what he learned in Part One, throw it into a blender, and push puree. (20 minutes)

    • 1 hr 1 min
    834: Yousef and the Fourth Move

    834: Yousef and the Fourth Move

    In Rafah, Yousef is out of options and faces his toughest move yet.


    Prologue: Since the beginning of the war in Gaza, Yousef Hammash has decided where to go next and when. In Rafah, he is out of options and faces his toughest move yet. (5 minutes)

    Act One: Yousef does not even want to think about leaving Gaza. (18 minutes)

    Act Two: The actual price — in cash — of getting out of Gaza. (31 minutes)

    • 58 min
    833: Come Retribution

    833: Come Retribution

    Donald Trump has talked about taking retribution on his enemies since the early days of his 2024 presidential campaign. After his conviction last week in New York, his talk intensified. We try to understand what his retribution might look like by speaking with people who have the most to lose in a second Trump administration: people who believe Trump will be coming for them.


    Prologue: Donald Trump has talked about taking revenge on his enemies since the early days of his 2024 presidential campaign. Ira Glass talks to reporter Jonathan Karl about how Trump has placed retribution at the center of his run and what we know about how he’s thinking about it. (16 minutes)

    Act One: Reporter Alix Spiegel talks to two people with good reason to fear a second Trump administration. Former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham spent six years with the Trumps but resigned after January 6th and wrote a scathing tell-all book about her experience. Fred Wellman worked for The Lincoln Project - a group of high-profile Republicans who pledged to keep Trump out of office during the 2020 campaign. (22 minutes)

    Act Two: Alex Vindman became the face of the first Trump impeachment after he reported to his superiors that Trump had asked the President of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of his political opponent. At the time, Vindman believed that his Congressional testimony would not jeopardize him; now, he and his wife Rachel are having second thoughts. (14 minutes)

    Act Three: After hearing from people who dread a possible second Trump term, we hear from those who are excited about it. Reporter Zoe Chace checks into whether his supporters are excited for retribution. (7 minutes)

    • 1 hr 4 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
83.3K Ratings

83.3K Ratings

Murrrrrrry ,

Beware Of This Show!

Oh sure, This American Life almost always begins with some rollicking, humors piece directly related to its theme. You’ll hear Ira interview someone to a backdrop of fun, upbeat or whimsical music….You can’t help but get sucked in.

But know this, and know it well: Ira Glass is an insidious and manipulative genius. Sure you’ll start out the hour laughing (maybe harder than you’ve ever laughed at a public radio show) but inevitably and seamlessly, in a completely unconscious manner your emotions will be turned inside out and you’ll end the hour sobbing in your car, in the Target parking lot you’ve been parked in for the last 40 minutes. And sometimes you won’t even know why you’re crying, all you’ll know is that some sort of emotional release is needed before reintegrating yourself into the outside world.

Remember how the television show The Outer Limits began with the warning, “We have taken control of your TV….” well, Ira Glass and Co. take control of your emotional state with full reign to raise you to dizzying heights of euphoric happiness or plung you down, down into unsettling depths of despair.

So beware. The stories within have the ability cling to you for days, weeks, month, or even a lifetime. That’s why I never miss a show.

Callipygian ,

The Last Remaining Reason to Own a Radio is Gone

The podcast itself is evidence of the producers' dedication to their art. I've purchased this program for the last couple of years from Audible. I held on to an XM Radio subscription only because they added TAL to their lineup. I've streamed it online. I even offered to help my local public radio station raise money to carry the program JUST so they could carry TAL. The fact that it is now available as a free podcast is a great public service. Since Audible will be refunding this year's subscription price, I plan to send the money to my local public radio affiliate. Thanks, Ira and Gang!!

wurdNinja ,

Wish I could give it six stars, because it outshines SO MUCH of radio.

I don't know if it's true for you, but I am SO very tired of listening to ridiculous, air-headed, disingenuous disc jockeys handing me "life trivia" stories of "public interest." Most of the time their false giggles make me want to puke.
This American Life is so very different from any other radio experience I've probably ever had or will have. It captures, as well as it can, in audible form, the human condition, in all its delicious and uncanny glory. Glass may well be suited to manipulate his audience into convulsive laughter or tears, but I have never finished broadcast feeling as though I were duped into feeling anything. Each one of the participating storytellers edits his or her tale brilliantly and with individual flourish. I would be loathe not to admit that it sometimes can be geekily playful, but really, my friends, if you're telling yourself you've never been a geek about anything, you need to check your pulse. You're downloading podcasts for goodness' sake. Regardless, this is an excellent, moving and already blazingly popular radio program, so if you don't listen to it already, you should at least give it a try. I have NEVER heard an unsatisfying show yet from Glass and his crew.

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