The Pod Nod: The Bright Sessions Brings Therapy for Unlikely Heroes

The Bright Sessions podcast just had their season three finale, and now is the BEST time to start listening to this fantastic series. If you enjoy shows like Legion or the X-Men movies, this is your next podcast addiction. The Bright Sessions centers around a group of gifted individuals called “atypicals” and their therapy session with their special psychologist Dr. Joan Bright.

The series slowly eases you into the lives of Dr. Bright and her patients, all who have powers, all who have come to her for help. Initially, you listen to their stories through Dr. Bright’s recorded sessions, but eventually, the story expands beyond the confines of her office. Although I tend to enjoy almost all radio drama styled podcasts, The Bright Sessions goes above and beyond. Some podcasts might boast heavy production value or big name stars, but few measure up to the actual quality that goes into the story being told here.

You want secret government science experiments? You got it. You want complex and morally gray villains? You got it. You want family drama and high emotional stakes? You got it. You want young love? You got it. The best part about The Bright Sessions is that the plot itself is cinematic. It accommodates for several layers of storytelling while branching out the development of each of the main characters.

As outlandish as science fiction stories can be, this one backs it up and supports it with emotional depth and quality writing on the part of Lauren Shippen. On top of that, Mischa Stanton’s fantastic audio engineering only serves to enhance a fantastic story. The production team itself is small, with many of the team also the contributing their voices for the main characters. 

Here’s a little more background on the plot if my praise hasn’t at least inspired you to check out the first few episodes: Dr. Bright is a psychologist working in conjunction with an organization called The AM. She works solely with atypicals in helping them adjust to their abilities in their daily lives. Although The AM is shady at best and evil at worst, Dr. Bright is forced to work with them because they have her younger brother Mark in their possession (another atypical), and she’s desperate to get him back. Much of the first season centers around getting to know her 

Much of the first season centers around getting to know her patients. There’s Chloe, who is a telepath, Caleb, an empath, Sam, a time traveler, and Damien, a guy who can make people do exactly what he wants them to do. On top of them, we meet Adam, another boy from Caleb’s high school, Frank, a vet who befriends Chloe, and Director Wadsworth and Agent Green of The AM. As we progress through the episodes, we learn about Chloe’s abilities and her eventual friendship with Frank, the development of Caleb and Adam, Sam’s journeys through time, and more about what exactly Damien wants.

A lot of what The Bright Sessions does best is hinged on their characters and the layers they have written into each of them. It makes it hard for me to not reveal too much in lauding them — I’ve already given some things away — but this is also one of the few podcasts I actively wait to listen to every two weeks. Having won seven Audio Verse awards in acting, writing, engineering, and production this year, it has also been featured as one of iTunes’ best podcasts of 2016 (if you stalk their featured section like I do, you’re already keen to this podcast.) Additionally, it has been highlighted by the likes of Wired Magazine, IndieWire, and Popular Science. With the finale of season three under their belts, they’re on hiatus for the summer, planning to return in the fall, and it’s the perfect time for you to check this series out. 

With the finale of season three under their belts, they’re on hiatus for the summer, planning to return in the fall, and it’s the perfect time for you to check this series out. You’ll be binging the series in no time.

Spodlights (Spoilers!!)

That season three finale? Some of the best acting I’ve heard on an audio drama in a long time. Had me at the edge of my seat only to end on a cliffhanger? Damn, Lauren.

I am so damn torn on my feelings for Damien that I’ve got to give a shout out to Charlie Ian. The way Ian plays Damien makes a character that is hard to love also hard to hate.

Can we also talk about Caleb and Adam? That relationship had me waist deep in #feels on day one. It’s only gotten better and better, with each twist and turn I’m even more invested in their relationship.

Since I love all of these characters so much, I really can’t just give special attention to Charlie Ian. The whole cast is not only spot on in their acting, but they even physically look like their characters. Hey, Netflix, can we order couple seasons of this show please? 

The amount of sheer bonus content that fleshes out the characters even more than they have been in the podcast, including a whole scanned secret notebook of conversations between Joan and Mark!!!, is a blessing. Getting to delve deeper into the world of The Bright Sessions and getting my questions answered directly from the creators, that’s an awesome experience.   

Adam’s parents. I need to know about them. I need to know everything about them. Just please, feed my curiosity. 

I am so confused about my feelings and my shipping for anyone else that isn’t Caleb and Adam, but my god literally everyone could be a ship on this podcast. If that’s not your thing, it’s totally fine because it doesn’t play at center stage (except Caleb and Adam).

Representation. You might think diversity isn’t a huge factor when it comes to a podcast, but it matters and they do it well.

Okay, another shout out. Julia Morizawa is not only the perfect voice for the enigmatic Dr. Bright, but hearing her emotional scenes with Andrew Nowak, who plays her brother Mark, is enough to make me want to give them all the awards.

Oh, screw it. Shout out to Briggon Snow and Alex Gallner too. Especially that last episode. You guys blew me away.

And god, Anna Lore and, of course, the fantastic Lauren Shippen. You guys bring such great soul to your characters. I have so much empathy for Sam and her struggles, but also with how well she’s done since working with Dr. Bright and meeting Mark. And Chloe, who has to deal with so many voices in her head, but somehow manages to always stay optimistic and does everything she can for her friends. I’m getting choked up just thinking about this podcast.

Alex Marshall-Brown, I love you. But you know, screw Wadsworth. 

I need more new characters, I need to know more about The AM and the military experiments and Frank’s past, I need to know about Agent Green and Joan. I need this show to come out every week and not be on hiatus, honestly.

Listen on: Website | iTunes