During its 20-year run, Ira Glass' This American Life has earned many broadcasting awards, boosted countless careers, and spawned at least one hit podcast (Serial). The weekly program is entirely worth your time -- but with nearly 600 episodes produced to date, where to start? Sample the 13 standouts in our guide to the very best of TAL's very best and you'll see why we're convinced that the program's signature cadence has permeated just about everything worth a damn in modern storytelling.
Original air date: 7/27/2000
The gist: A brilliant and unexpected look at American expat life in France's capital city.
Why it's great: The episode kicks off with Glass checking in on one of TAL's favorite guests, David Sedaris, who flips the script on what it means to live abroad. Sedaris haunts places you won't find on anyone's bucket list, including taxidermist studios and hardware shops. The final act introduces the writer Janet McDonald, who, like Richard Wright and James Baldwin, fell in love with Paris while contemplating what it means to be African-American. As McDonald explains it, being black and being American are often two different things. In Paris, a person can just be.