Just one show featured this week, but what a special one it was: the Podmass debut of Gimlet’s surprise classic, Mystery Show.
Case #2 Britney: Andrea Seigel
Gimlet Media has something special on its hands here. The bones of the program are deceptively simple, but the results are breathtakingly complex. Mystery Show is an investigative procedural where host Starlee Kine—an alum of This American Life like Gimlet co-founder Alex Blumberg—seeks to solve everyday mysteries proposed by friends and acquaintances. The magic of Mystery Show is found less in the mysteries and more in the way that Kine goes about their solving. In This American Life’s 2003 episode “Time To Save The World,” Kine proposed a new approach to small talk that she called The Rundown, and its fingerprints are all over her winningly shaggy-dog approach to gumshoeing: never straightforward, always fascinating. Think of it this way: If Serial host Sarah Koenig’s detective style is that of Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep, then Kine’s is Philip Marlowe from The Long Goodbye. This week’s investigation is focused on a paparazzi photo of Britney Spears, seen holding a copy of To Feel Stuff, a little-known book written by Kine’s friend Andrea Seigel, who is eager to know how Spears came to posses the tome and whether or not she enjoyed it. Kine is able to wring a surprising amount of suspense and humanity out of this simple quest, auguring very well for the show’s future.