Question No. 6: “Is Dad home?”

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

The great thing about the Season Two DVD of This American Life is the additional content. Not only are the stories unbelievable (dental floss?) but there is commentary from Ira and the producers giving insight into the ideas and production on certain episodes.

However, even with that extra exposure, at least one question from that season really looms.

There is a very memorable episode entitled “Escape” that centers around a man with an absolutely crippling physical condition. He is bed-ridden, breathes and eats through tubes, talks via a computer monitor. The story focuses on the universal idea of wanting independence and breaking away from your parents’  home through his very unique lens.

We’re introduced to the man, his girlfriend, his caregiver, his mom and his… (wait, were you expecting “dad” here? My friends and I were too).

Now obviously the traditional nuclear family isn’t an assumption as if it were the 1950s, but in a story so focused on breaking away from  home wouldn’t it make sense to thoroughly lay out what that home is composed of? It’s understandable if someone declines to participate, but if they’re intimately tied to the subject matter do you have to at least mention their status? It’s worth asking…

How you determine when a bit of traditional information (specifically, the status of dad in “Escape”) can not only be left out, but can be completely ignored within a piece?

Links: Amazon.com| Film.com| TV Guide

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one
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