• Network:
  • Series Premiere Date: Mar 22, 2007
  • Season #: 1 , 2
This American Life Image
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

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  • Summary: This spinoff of the popular public radio show (well, as popular as a public radio show can get) hosted by Ira Glass adds visuals to the program's usual mix of storytelling and reporting, revolving around a single theme each week.
  • Genre(s): News, Documentary
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Sacha Zimmerman
    90
    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.
  3. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    83
    This handsomely produced experimental series ought to please flexible fans. [30 Mar 2007, p.62]
  4. 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.
  5. This TV version not only has a distinct, appealing look, it also retains the radio show's sound and personality.
  6. The show's attitudinal mix of the jaded and amazed, the shocked and amused, is supported by the production itself.
  7. 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.

See all 20 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. leef
    Mar 23, 2007
    10
    real people are so much more interesting than made-up people
  2. AndrewH
    Mar 23, 2007
    10
    Ira Glass. Dramatic tension. Straightforwardness. Like nothing else on television or in radio or in books. Keep watching, listening, attending to the sensibility of the show and you will start living better and getting more out of your own life. I think the radio show is just as good or better, but there is a silliness in Glass that you don't get if you can't see him. He's attached to a body! And a desk, apparently! Expand
  3. snortch
    May 5, 2007
    10
    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! Expand
  4. RonW
    Mar 23, 2007
    10
    This is real for the real and life for those who love to live it. Phenomenal production. Shadows on the ground and clouds in the sky. True love hurts and through pain we can grow. Bravo Mr. Glass. Expand
  5. CB
    Apr 6, 2007
    10
    It's the best show on TV and RADIO.
  6. buzzc
    Apr 18, 2007
    10
    perfect.
  7. KevinN
    Mar 30, 2007
    9
    This nearly perfect television show surprised me in a couple of ways. Showtime's clearly taking a risk by airing this unusual take on the human-interest story from the nightly television news of decades gone. A minimalistic take on storytelling accompanied by a spare soundtrack encourages a kind of philosophic contemplation in the viewer. The tone is both sad and hopeful. 'This American Life' is unlike any television show I've seen and elegantly captures the spirit of its public radio progenitor. Expand

See all 10 User Reviews