This American Life

This American Life describes contemporary life with themed episodes and a variety of stories on that theme — mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. The stories presented are engaging, intimate, surprising, funny, disturbing and bittersweet.

Recent Episodes

#186: Prom

While the seniors danced at Prom Night 2001 in Hoisington, Kansas—a town of about 3,000—a tornado hit the town, destroying about a third of it. When they emerged from the dance, they discovered what had happened, and in the weeks that followed, they tried to explain to themselves why the tornado hit where it did. Plus other stories that happen on Prom Night.

#585: In Defense of Ignorance

Exactly how incompetent you are. What your ex’s best friend really thinks of you. The approximate time that you will die. Some things in life are better not to know about. And sometimes there can be a benefit to not knowing. In this episode – examples of ignorance truly being bliss, or even being an asset

#449: Middle School

This week, at the suggestion of a 14-year-old listener, we bring you stories from the awkward, confusing, hormonally charged world of middle school. Including a teacher who transforms peer pressure into a force for good, and reports from the frontlines of the middle school dance.

(Pictured: 7th graders at a costume dance, dressed as characters from The Outsiders.)

#584: For Your Reconsideration

The older and wiser we get, the more bewildering our past decisions can seem. This week, people revisit those decisions — and we revisit a story we aired a year ago with new, fascinating updates about a groundbreaking study that turned out to be false.