Lea Thau is both the creator and hostess of Strangers. The podcast includes a series of independent episodes, each featuring a different speaker with a unique story. After a brief introduction by Thau, the speaker begins telling their tale. Thau scarcely speaks throughout the episodes, allowing the speakers to have primary control of the story.
Soft music plays in the background, occasionally building and acting as a release from the story. The music makes the stories feel more poetic than they are. Each episode shares a single story, where the speaker exposes a burden or vulnerability. Some stories defy reality, while others are cathartic for the speakers.
The episode “Astringent Blues” features Brian Finkelstein as the guest speaker. Finkelstein works as a doorman at a skincare product store. Although he dreads this job, he feels “heartbroken” when he’s fired after seven years. When Thau asks Finkelstein, “Do you still wish you were there?” Finkelstein replies, “I wish. I still wish I were there.”
Finkelstein is an Emmy-nominated writer for his work on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He is also a regular performer and teacher in Los Angeles and host of the podcast, The Moth. Since his firing at the skincare store, Finkelstein hasn’t been able to maintain a “normal day job.”
Another episode, titled “Unconditional,” features Deborah, a woman who was born in a prison cell. She begins an identity crisis when separated from her biological mother. After this separation, Deborah endures a cascade of foster mothers who feel like strangers to her. As an adult, Deborah visits the prison cell where she was born. She says the prison cell is the most familiar place to her, although she doesn’t remember it. She claims to smell and visualize her biological mother in every corner of the cell. However, her mother remains a stranger to her.
Hope, loss, and recovery comprise the stories told in Strangers. Thau touches on our humanity and unravels its deepest meanings. She provides each speaker with a platform to express their burdens. Strangers intends to defy the darkest moments in our lives, proving that strength and endurance will give us power to move forward.