In 2009, a couple of Norwegians pioneered a whole new genre of television: Slow TV. They debuted with the story of a train traveling from one side of the country to the other over the course of seven hours. Every once in a while, the point of view switched from a landscape shot to one of a mustachioed conductor announcing a stop or collecting tickets. Its airing was a viral event in Norway. But when an American television producer optioned the idea and took it to the U.S., it flopped. It may even be fair to say it was dead on arrival. Why would another country have such a radically different reaction? A look at how America's reliance on plot and hooks in storytelling reflects how we live, think and even participate in democracy.
Editor's note: This episode included extensive research and original interviews on the subject of narrativity, including an interview with Dan Irving, Ph.D., of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, an expert in this subject area. He wrote an academic paper, published in the Frontiers of Narrative Studies, on slow TV as narrative and the "gradient" of narrative that informed the reporting for this episode. We've updated the episode audio to reflect his contribution.
Special thanks to the following musicians: