The Bright Sessions, a gripping science fiction audio drama, tells the story of several patients’ therapy sessions with one, Dr. Joan Bright. These patients come from various walks of life and struggle with the same mental burdens that many of us do. The twist is these burdens are amplified by the fact that they have superhuman abilities. This provides a stark contradiction to the extravagant and fantastical tales of the majority of modern superhero stories and allows the listeners to more closely relate to the characters. These people are not saving the world or defeating monsters; they are trying to figure out life and seeking happiness just like we all are.
Over the course of the first season, listeners are introduced to three of the Bright’s atypical patients: Sam, an anxiety-ridden young woman with a habit of losing herself in time, Caleb, a confused high school football star that has a difficult time controlling his emotions, and Chloe, a struggling artist with a passion for others and a mind that is always buzzing. Episode by episode, listeners will fall in love with these characters as they grow as people and learn how to control their abilities.
I struggle to find fault with The Bright Sessions. There is a healthy mix of action and filler episodes. Some conflict seems somewhat senseless, but it can be justified by factoring in the characters’ damaged mental statuses. I personally would have liked to see more character development from a few characters, but there is still time for that. It is not a perfect podcast. I am certain I could find several smaller issues if I further thought about it, but they would be with inconsequential in comparison to the utter joy I have found listening to this podcast.
This podcast is clearly a work of passion. The dialogue is calculated yet casual, and it is backed by amazingly talented voice actors. The characters are diverse and complicated. The story is complex enough to simultaneously thoroughly develop each character while constructing a mysterious overarching narrative that keeps the listener constantly guessing about what might happen next. Even the therapy jargon is deeply researched by the writers with the aid of an actual licensed psychological consultant. All of these factors make The Bright Sessions one of the most engaging superhero stories I have ever had the pleasure of encountering.
Over the span of 56 episodes, The Bright Sessions has won much more than my praise. In 2016, it won seven Audio Verse awards, including “Best New Original, Short Form, Small Cast, Ongoing Production” and “Best Writing of an Original, Short Form, Ongoing Production.” Several of the voice actors involved also won awards that year for their phenomenal voice acting. The podcast was also nominated for a Webby Award, an AofP Award, and a People’s Choice Podcast Award.
I highly recommend this podcast whether or not you typically enjoy superhero dramas. The supernatural abilities act as a layer to further deepen the plot, but the basis of the podcast is about normal people, albeit with some odd quirks, trying to navigate this strange world in which we live. I believe this podcast is perfect for high school and college students alike since we are all trying our best to figure out life.
Unfortunately, The Bright Sessions has come to an end, but the universe it has built around it still lives on. Bonus Episodes are released the third Wednesday of every month. There are three young adult novels being written, and there is even a television show in development. I am currently on my second time listening to the series, and I plan on reading the books as soon as they are available.
The Bright Sessions is streamable on Spotify, iTunes, and most larger audio streaming websites. You can visit http://www.thebrightsessions.com/listen/ to check if it is available on your preferred application.