In America, the the sign that you’ve truly arrived as a cultural institution is to be mocked by The Onion. Finally, the dream has come true for TAL.
It’s all pretty good, but our favorite bit features one of the Exterminating Angels:
Though This American Life is now lauded as the definitive source for material about getting an autistic teenager admitted to Harvard, its early run was marked by painful trial-and-error, according to producer Alex Blumberg.
“At first, we were getting a lot of stories from recovered drug addicts and East African refugees living in the States, which had their compelling elements but came off a bit cloying,” Blumberg said. “But then we realized that if we had overeducated people with voices rather unsuitable for radio narrate the stories with clever analogies and accessible morals, the whole thing would come off far less depressing.”
Blumberg said that the turning point came in 1997, when producers discovered a group of inner-city schoolchildren inadvertently teaching an important lesson to their attractive, suburban-raised teacher about what makes us human.
We’re all very proud.