Are you listening to the podcast S-Town (from producers of Serial)?


I am on episode 3. I would love to find people who want to discuss the topics raised around mental health. I’m especially noticing how little the reporter seemed to notice about mental health ramifications – how unaware he was – as he was reporting. It was like it didn’t even cross his mind.

Is anyone else listening? Have you noticed the same? Let’s talk.



OK, I’ve now listened to all of the episodes and more than ever I want to talk to others about this podcast! Wow! What incredible implications on so many fronts about mental health. This was a good one for discussions.


I’ve finished the podcast but still agree with Meredith’s comment about how unaware the narrator/producer seemed to be when it came to mental illness and health. The more I think about it, the more irresponsible I think the producers were about their decision to reveal so much about a character’s struggles without any substantive reference to medical treatment. They didn’t seem to feel a need to contextualize the mental health issues they raised so forcefully.

I was riveted and repulsed, concerned and deeply moved. But I also felt manipulated.

This was a huge, important story, with so many ramifications on so many levels. Right now I’m feeling unsettled. I need to sit with the experience for a while…


@Priscilla I couldn’t agree with you more! Over the weekend my husband was reading this great essay by Bill McKibben to me and the line “We live in a mediated age,” stuck out at me. I keep thinking about how the reporter crafted S-Town, and how mediated his own experience felt…Including (SPOILER) that moment when he hears about John’s suicide. It was like he was thinking about how he, the reporter, would be perceived the whole time.

And part of that time all I could perceive was utter cluelessness about mental health! And it was almost like that was intentional in order to build into his findings…but that made it feel like a manipulation.

Thank you for weighing in here @Priscilla – so appreciated!

p.s Here’s the piece by McKibben:


I just finished the pod. Wow.

I feel like they (producers) used John. I understand why, at first, they contacted him and wanted to see if there was a story around the murder. But then, once they realized there wasn’t — it was like John was some character for them.

I just don’t understand the purpose of continuing on. It wasn’t like they were able to help Tyler or find money for the mom. It just felt so hipsterish.

I particularly was bothered when Brian made the comment about John having people in his life, that tried to help him. Frankly, I was bothered by Brian. A lot. lol.

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts as I sit with it.


You nailed it @Rachel_Michelson. “Once they realized there wasn’t [a story around the murder] it was like John was some character for them.”

I keep remembering that moment I mentioned above when producer Brian Reid received word about the suicide on tape. It was like he was thinking, “I know I’m on tape, but how does a person respond to this?” It felt…weird.

I agree with you about feeling bothered by Brian. Interested to hear what you think, @Priscilla, as time passes for you, too.


More time to ponder…
I can’t help but wonder if John was playing Brian. I really want to understand why John contacted Brian in the first place.

I also want to understand why Brian/Serial/This America Life producers thought it would be a good story.


It makes me wonder, @Rachel_Michelson, if producers just follow lots of loose threads for years. If that’s just what they do, you know? It’s almost like gambling…you never know what will pay off with a story.