Podcasts and radio shows explore the way other people experience life. As you wash your dishes or walk the dog, you understand their beliefs, concerns, and day-to-day life. You stretch your worldview to include more people and more experiences, which can make you more empathetic. The influx of strangers in your daily routine lets you hear how human beings are alike and different.
The podcast Sleepover takes this idea one step further. Host Sook-Yin Lee invites three strangers of different ages, ethnicities, and abilities to spend 24 hours in a hotel room with her. Each guest brings an item that represents a problem they want to discuss. One at a time, each stranger reveals their item and explains the biggest problem in their life right now, such as the child dealing with his grandfather’s terminal illness and the doctor who’s frustrated with working on a Reservation.
Together, they discuss the issue, and Sook-Yin Lee reframes the problem into one they’ve all faced. A discussion about bright turbans leads to a conversation about the ways everyone has felt judged on their appearance. A high school student’s fears about going to college has everyone discussing major life milestones and how hard it is to leave behind places that comfort you. At the end of the 24 hours, the three strangers have become friends and they each have a new perspective on their problems.
The first season divides each sleepover into three episodes for nine regular episodes. The tenth episode follows up on the strangers to see what decisions they made. You hear how their life has changed since sharing a hotel room with three strangers, but the outcome seems like an afterthought to the experience.
If you want to hear a nine-year-old boy give dating advice to a sixty-one-year-old woman or two adults help a girl dealing with bullies, listen to Sleepover. Start with episode one, Charlie’s Conundrum, and see if Sleepover doesn’t leave you wishing for more friends in different generations.
Season two starts in May.
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