It is a well known fact that readers love stories. Be it books or television shows, we can always be found talking about and sharing our favourites with our friends. But one form of storytelling that often gets overlooked, despite there being a wide range of them available on the Internet, is the audiodrama podcast. There are a few which some readers do like to listen to (Welcome To Night Vale probably being the most well known), but on the whole podcasts tend to be forgotten about. However, there is one podcast that has made waves in the YA community recently: The Bright Sessions.
The Bright Sessions describes itself as “a science fiction podcast about therapy for the strange and unusual”, and is created by Lauren Shippen. In it we meet Dr. Bright and listen in on some of the sessions with her clients as she provides therapy for “atypicals”, or individuals with superpowers. These include Sam (a time traveller), Caleb (an empath) and Chloe (a mind reader). However, as the story unfolds we realise that there is more to Dr. Bright than meets the eye.
I first came across The Bright Sessions when I saw a tweet from Alice Oseman saying how much she was enjoying it. Given that it mixed two of my favourite loves (science fiction and psychology), I thought it would be something I might enjoy and decided to give it a go. I’m so glad I did. I was pulled into Dr. Bright’s world from the first thirteen minute episode, and spent every spare minute for the following week absorbing as much of the story through my ears as I could. What struck me most was that, despite having any visual description of what was happening stripped away, the world building and story telling in The Bright Sessions was more vivid than the majority of books I have read recently. The talent of Lauren Shippen’s writing and the expertise of the voice actors involved meant that I was fully immersed into Dr. Bright’s world and felt like the story was happening around me. Not only that, but the fast pace and dramatic cliffhangers at the end of almost every episode meant that I felt like I was hanging onto the edge of my seat throughout the story, and I constantly needed more.
What really struck me when listening to The Bright Sessions was that, in a time when consumers are crying out for stories to be more representative and inclusive of their audiences, this is a podcast that demonstrates how effortless this can and should be. None of the characters in The Bright Sessions explicitly label their sexuality or have a “coming out” moment, and yet they are widely representative of the LGBT+ community. For the most part, their sexual identities do not shape their storylines, but rather are just shown to be a normal part of their otherwise chaotic lives. It is this that makes The Bright Sessions stand out as something truly diverse, and paves the way for more podcasts and books like it in the future.
Although The Bright Sessions podcast has officially ended now, all 56 episodes can be found on the usual podcast streaming apps, and bonus episodes are currently being uploaded monthly for listeners who want more insight into Dr. Bright’s world. Not only that, but podcast creator Lauren Shippen is also currently writing a trilogy of YA books based on the characters from The Bright Sessions, with the first book scheduled for release in Summer 2019. With the future looking brighter than ever for this podcast, now is the perfect time to get on board.