Welcome To Night Vale - Review
“A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep.
Welcome to Night Vale.”
These are the iconic opening lines of the pilot episode of Welcome To Night Vale, the wildly successful podcast about a small town in the middle of the American desert where every conspiracy theory is true. Join the narrator and main character Cecil Palmer , aka “The Voice of Night Vale” (voiced by Cecil Baldwin), as he tells us the daily events. Starting in 2012 and released twice a month, the podcast now has over 200 episodes and constantly ranks in the top 20 fiction/science fiction podcasts. With a huge fan base, primarily attracted through word of mouth and platforms such as Tumblr, this podcast has definitely made its mark on modern media.
Although the town of Night Vale has a need for an honest government and safety (like most places), one thing it isn’t lacking is diversity. The show features characters from a variety of different cultures, religions and sexualities. Main character Cecil is one of them, being Jewish and having a Latino boyfriend named Carlos, and their relationship is one of the main subplots of the podcast. Characters have diverse names like Michelle Nguyen, Basimah Bishara, Nilanjana Sikdar, Ramona Encarnación, Frank Chen and Camila Cortez. Another way the show is diversified is by including characters of differing abilities, including a character with cerebral palsy and a character with spina bifida. Everyone is accepted in Night Vale no matter what (unless one claims to be an Angel of course... Please do not speak or acknowledge any angels that you may come across. They only tell lies and do not exist. Report all angel sightings to the City Council).
One of the reasons why I love this podcast so much is because of the wonderful atmosphere, which is perhaps the most distinctive feature of the podcast. A cross between Twilight Zone and Lemony Snicket, Welcome to Night Vale is known for its unique blend of eeriness, witty humour and profound insight about life. This is also largely created by the soothing cadence of Cecil’s voice, which lends a certain otherworldly feel to the podcast. It can go from being light and love-struck when Cecil gushes about his crush on Carlos one second, to sinister and dark when warning us about our imminent doom as an invading masked army approaches.
Each episode consists of a small subplot that is usually resolved by the end of the episode, but links up to a larger plot arc. Life threatening situations are a daily norm in the town of Night Vale. There are also some recurring parts of each episode, including the community calendar, traffic, public service announcements, a word from their sponsors, children's fun fact science corners, and, of course, who could forget the daily weather segment, in which music from up and coming bands is featured. It's easy to finish an episode as you can do it while doing your daily chores, like doing the laundry, spring cleaning or doing a hobby such as drawing or painting - each episode is only 20-30 minutes long. I myself enjoy sketching whilst listening to Welcome to Night Vale as I enjoy having it as a calming background noise and it helps inspire me in my drawing.
By being a listener of this podcast, you become part of a community - a community of people who disbelieve in the existence of mountains, deny the presence of angelic beings and fear the eldritch beings known as Librarians. People who are banned from eating wheat and wheat byproducts, who bow down in the presence of the hypnotic Glow Cloud (ALL HAIL), and who gush over Carlos’s perfect hair. I love Welcome to Night Vale because it is a safe space where you can be who you truly are. Add that to the amazing diversity and lovely ambiance, it’s no wonder that their fan base is so huge. I think it’s safe to say that Welcome To Night Vale is here to stay, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for it.