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Celebrating Five Years Of 'Invisibilia'

<em>Invisibilia</em> team in 2018. (Eric Lee)
Invisibilia team in 2018. (Eric Lee)

Today, Invisibilia is back for its fifth (!) season and we're celebrating this milestone with hosts Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel. We put our burning questions about the podcast's evolution to the hostesses with the mostesses, and they answered. You can hear the first episode in their new 'emotional survival guide' on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Invisibilia is hosted, run and made entirely by women, which sets it apart from a lot of other podcasts – how do you think that informs the shape of the show... the content you create or the way you operate?

Hanna Rosin: I like to think of it as made not just by women but by women who are friends with each other, in the mold of Broad City or Girls or Pen15 (and that includes not just me and Alix but the entire staff). We have a ride or die loyalty to each other's intellectual obsessions, personal successes, goofball excesses, darkness and joy, all of which gets reflected in the show that listeners hear.

Alix Spiegel: To build out the image that Hanna is talking about here just a tad more... I (Alix) will say that after every season finishes we literally have a party where we light a fire and stand around it burning things like a bunch of witches. Last year – just to make sure we were in full self-parody – we actually had a group howl. You know.. like normal "professionals" do. Also, one of us got so drunk she passed out in my daughters bed. But I'm not going to say who.

Five years in, Invisibilia is still tremendously popular – how have you maintained such a following in the ever-changing podcast space?

Hanna Rosin: We do it by understanding exactly what our unique role is in that space – which is rich narratives married to the science of human behavior which lands at – and this is the part I believe keeps people coming back – insights that can actually help you in your actual life. Also, we don't settle into a formula, and the show is constantly bringing in new voices and checking itself and changing form, which makes it feel different every season.

Alix Spiegel: This season in particular I would say we really have made a leap, about mid-way through the season we just magically evolved into something else. Which is very, very fun.

Invisibilia team, 2016. (John W. Poole/John W. Poole)

Is there one episode in particular that has stuck with you? Changed the way you think or act?

Hanna Rosin: So many of them pop up every week for me. At this particular moment it's the tornado episode from this coming season, which helps you understand how to live through tremendous uncertainty without jumping to a conclusion or a decision before it's the right time.

Alix Spiegel: Ditto – they all inform the way I think on a weekly basis, it's kinda weird actually.

Where should someone new to Invisibilia start?

Hanna Rosin: Season 1, maybe the Batman episode. Or season 3, Emotions.

Alix Spiegel: I think to see the evolution just start with Season 1 – but if you don't have time – maybe start at season 2? Or, alternatively, MAKE TIME!!! Cause each word is like a rare pearl of KNOWLEDGE. (jk)

Where do you imagine taking Invisibilia in the future?

Hanna Rosin: We have such BIG PLANS. This season we managed a real breakthrough by experimenting with the form of our stories. One unfolds like a sci fi short story, although it's 100 percent true. One is a very offensive rom com that folds in on itself. One is a conceptual story that takes on a central premise of Invisibilia. So we are experimenting and trying out new forms which we will showcase more of in the future.

Alix Spiegel: We do have BIG PLANS. To remake both ourselves and the non-fiction podcast form. Stay tuned.

Stay tuned, indeed. You can always hear Invisibilia on NPR One, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

Copyright NPR 2022.





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