Welcome to Night Vale is an ongoing podcast from the mind of Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, a bimonthly podcast in a radio show format. The “voice of Night Vale” is Cecil Baldwin, a radio host who gives Night Vale‘s fans the details of the unusual happenings in the desert town. As this show has recently had its second birthday, and the fan base is only growing, I thought I would make a list, in no particular order, of great things about this show and why you should love it.
1. Prominent and active female characters
Although the main character is Cecil, there are a lot of really compelling female presences on the show, including the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, Intern (now Mayor) Dana, Intern Maureen, Tamika Flynn, and Old Woman Josie. These women take action, have positions of power, and have gripping narratives. They are all voiced by interesting and talented actresses.
2. Celos or Carcil? (Carlos/Cecil)
The Carlos/Cecil ship is too amazing to sink. It also was the plot catalyst for one of the best episodes, “First Date” (episode 27.) Cecil and Carlos have an adorable and mutually supportive relationship that is seen in multiple episodes to be just the cutest thing. Also, they are a great representation of a biracial relationship in popular media.
3. Racial Diversity
While people like to ignore the white-washed TV shows that are still very prominent, Night Vale takes this problem on by creating compelling characters of multiple races. Tamika Flynn is an interesting, driven and intelligent African-American woman, played by an African-American woman. Carlos is a bright latino scientist played by a latino actor. While race isn’t a huge factor in the show’s plot, it’s still really important to have a diverse and representative cast.
While shows like Glee have more than a few characters that have huge plot points revolving around their sexuality, Night Vale is far more casual. Cecil Palmer, the main character, is a gay man. He works in a professional environment, has a steady relationship and is a productive member of society. The show doesn’t march out with confetti cannons about it, but it makes it very clear that Cecil’s sexuality is part of who he is. AND THAT’S DAMN BEAUTIFUL.
5. The Weather
A creative excuse to play interesting and usually unusual musical selections. What’s not to love? Also, it makes the live shows more interesting. The weather is never anything you would hear on the radio, and is one of the most popular segments of the show.
A lot of shows just do merchandising to make money, but Night Vale subsists mostly on money donated by listeners and money from the numerous tours. The merchandise is awesome, from rotating shirt sales to a Night Vale flask.
7. Live Shows
I personally have attended one of Night Vale‘s live shows with a close friend, and the atmosphere was amazing. Everyone was incredibly friendly, the sheer amount of cosplayers was unbelievable, and the show was pure genius. While listening to the show is great anywhere, there is nothing like the joy of being surrounded by a crowd laughing just as hard as you are. It was totally worth it, and I highly recommend going to a show if there is one in your area.
8. The Fans
Initially, as the show is free on iTunes, Night Vale was completely supported by its listeners and creators. Now that its popularity has skyrocketed, the show is more financially secure, and the community made up by people who love it has only become stronger. Fans cosplay, make Tumblr pages and write great fanfiction. Building an organic community like this one is an unusual and special phenomenon, and just one of the reasons why Night Vale is so awesome.
9. Supernatural phenomena
One of the most compelling facets of the show is the tenuous balance between fiction and reality. The coolness of five-headed dragon running for mayor cannot be quantified. The Glow Cloud (ALL HAIL) is hilarious. The mixture of scientists and random supernatural events is one of the best and most interesting parts of the show.
There are a bunch of tour dates in the near future, so if you haven’t seen them live yet, you should definitely see if they’re playing in your area. http://commonplacebooks.com/live-events