This American Life debuts on Showtime tonight

The groundbreaking public radio show This American Life comes to television tonight on Showtime at 10:30 p.m. ET (and repeats frequently).

The series follows the same structure as the PRI and Chicago Public Radio broadcast, telling multiple personal stories on the same theme. Each episode, however, is just 30 minutes long. The first, “Reality Check,” “tells three stories of people who set out to make their dreams come true, but were snapped back to reality by unpleasant outcomes,” according to Showtime.

After watching the first episode, I was surprised how seamlessly Ira Glass and his producers managed to translate the radio show to television. Watching the show feels like listening to the radio, except there are images, which is perhaps really obvious. But the tone and pacing feel the same, even though it works as a TV show, a format that requires a whole different approach, as Glass explained to Terry Gross recently.

This American Life [Showtime]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.