i listen to a lot of story podcasts... also known as audio dramas. here are some of my all time favorites.
welcome to one of my favorite audio dramas ever! our therapist Dr. Bright treats patients with superpowers, basically. we meet characters like Sam the time traveler, Caleb the empath, Chloe the mind reader, and my personal favorite Damien. i'll let you listen to find out his Ability. it's a fun take on superpowers, they're all set up as.. links to real mental illnesses and struggles (like, Sam's time travel, at first, only triggers when she has anxiety attacks). as the story develops, we learn about a Big Bad organization, kidnappings, illegal human experimentation, and more! it's not super heavy, but they do give warnings for the more Intense episodes. there's also two sequels, The AM Archives (set after the main story) and The College Tapes (Caleb and Adam navigate their relationship and superpowers and college all at once!) which are just as lovely. also there's loads of queer characters. i should have led with that, perhaps.
you've been warned. i figured i'd also just word vomit some of my thoughts i have about this show besides the synopsis. i have listened to this series like, four times all the way through. sometimes i'll pick out my favorite episodes to re-listen to again (and thank God spotify doesn't track your podcast listening stats, because episode 406 - Damien would track the most listens...)
damien gorham is my favorite character of the series, and i also wish i could save him from his own series. no disrespect to the writer, Lauren gave me my favorite podcast ever, but i think she fumbled damien terribly. i just find it quite ironic that the show is about being accepted for who you are and loved for all the things about you that you can't control. given the whole Abilities thing. damien's ability is probably the only one that can't be managed the same way everyone else's can, which is what made him an interesting character. there's simply no way to control, manage, or tone down a Want. it's literally not his fault his Wants rub off on everybody. the story gives him no way to Manage his ability, and he's punished for it. which i think goes against the whole point of the story and left a bad taste in my mouth.
the moment that Solidified my feelings about this particular criticism was when we're introduced to Rose. who also has a unique experience with the AM, her perspective on the world makes her interesting. she could have been so good for damien. i really loved where their friendship was going, and i honestly think so much healing and growth could have happened for both of them if they were allowed to pursue their friendship. the main gang (dr. bright and sam, mostly) were actually, in my opinion, so shitty to damien. this is why i sort of think dr. bright is a bad therapist. she made the fact that she couldn't 'fix' damien his problem, and then shut him out and isolated him when all he needed— all he's been begging for this entire time was a friend who could understand him. i was not a big fan of the whole 'turning rose against damien' bit, especially because the way it was done was so... Unproductive. i understand why they did that, because those characters demonize him, but i just thought it was really unfair. i don't know how they expect damien to heal or be better if they take away any chance of him doing so.
my favorite part of damien's story arc was his relationship with mark. marky, marky, mark. he was what i wanted the rest of the characters to understand about damien. and obviously damien's Ability has a lot of influence on mark's wants, but it's not permanent. and mark knows that. i think the way dr. bright and sam babied him (again, an understandable reaction after the trauma they've endured, but still harmful nonetheless) made mark even more unsure about his own feelings. like, convincing him of his lack of autonomy actually resulted in a lack of autonomy. if that makes sense. mark was one of the only people who could have understood damien, and while i think they never could have been healthy together after the damage damien has done, i do think they could have ended their story on a better note if it wasn't for those meddling kids (dr. bright and sam)! anyways, all this to say, damien deserved better. he deserved rose as a friend. he deserved friends! i just feel like the writer just hated him and took out her frustrations on him...
also this is a way less developed thought, but i do think there's something to be said about damien's ability enabling him to live freely and completely outside of our capitalist structure, and how Coincidentally, he is the most hated character in the series...