This American Life : Season 1

  • Network: Showtime
  • Series Premiere Date: Mar 22, 2007
Season #: 1, 2

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20

Where To Watch

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Critic Reviews

  1. 80
    Its power radiates from the screen as forcefully as it does from the radio.
  2. 70
    It's a welcome addition to nonfiction television and a loyal friend to the radio show.
  3. 100
    It's really kind of a glorious little miracle, a half-hour series of little pictures of simple, complex and unfamous Americans breathing everyday lives, with a twist of kookiness, while they search for the Meaning of Everything and The Big Picture.
  4. 60
    “This American Life” really begins to show its TV potential in episode three, when the show stops trying so hard to be perfect and lets its storytelling sprawl.
  5. Entertainment Weekly
    Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    This handsomely produced experimental series ought to please flexible fans. [30 Mar 2007, p.62]
  6. “This American Life” on TV achieves the same contemplative mood as the radio show. And it has a striking spareness of imagery, much as “Life” on radio has a spareness of sound.
  7. The show's attitudinal mix of the jaded and amazed, the shocked and amused, is supported by the production itself.
  8. This TV version not only has a distinct, appealing look, it also retains the radio show's sound and personality.
  9. 88
    In their own bizarre way each episode is very American, very naive and very full of hope. Oh, yeah - and a lot of laughs, too.
  10. Reviewed by: Diane Werts
    They've translated the radio show's aural mosaic to the visual medium so effortlessly in this first season of six half-hours, we hope Showtime orders more of this life we all can recognize.
  11. People Weekly
    Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    The show falls prey to a faint preciousness in the voiceover narration from its correspondents and host Glass. They overarticulate the ironies instead of just letting you watch. Which you should do. Watch. [26 Mar 2007, p.37]
  12. The radio show is so much about voice and language and storytelling, I worried that the TV folks would mess it up. Luckily, the radio show's host, Ira Glass, hasn't allowed that to happen.
  13. 80
    "This American Life" features the same rich, rambling storytelling that makes the radio show so hypnotic, but it's enhanced by cinematography that's lovely and artful without distracting from the story lines or the tone of the show.
  14. The television version of "This American Life" does not ruin the fragile, hip beauty of the radio version. Glass and the team responsible for adding pictures to words have created a compelling television series.
  15. "This American Life" lost none of its authenticity in transition from radio to Showtime.
  16. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    It's an ambitious if occasionally pushy effort.
  17. "Life" makes the ordinary extraordinary and along the way makes the world seem wider, bigger and an eternally more interesting place to be.
  18. The haunting and sometimes mirthful tales that are the stock-and-trade of "This American Life" are not lost in imagery but heightened by it.
  19. If “This American Life” is all like this [opening] segment, it will be an immaculate and historic documentary series, with or without the storytelling pretext.
  20. Reviewed by: Phil Gallo
    The selections in the first two episodes possess compelling strength, whimsy and ambiguity in both the stories and the characters, providing a solid transformation from radio to TV.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. snortch
    May 5, 2007
    While the movies let me down sooo often, I am now discovering that TV seems to have the most compelling stuff. TAL on TV is really really While the movies let me down sooo often, I am now discovering that TV seems to have the most compelling stuff. TAL on TV is really really great. I thought that I wouldnt like being shown the imagery, but this is a perfect translation from radio to TV. Don't get me wrong...I still really enjoy the little pictures that develop in my head when listening on the radio...but this is shot in a way that is not heavy handed. There are still many dots left to connect. I really enjoyed the last act of episode 2. Haunting and poignant as the photographic equipment slides up and down and left to right. Well Done! Full Review »
  2. buzzc
    Apr 18, 2007
  3. CB
    Apr 6, 2007
    It's the best show on TV and RADIO.