Award-winning podcast “Things Fell Apart” is set to make a triumphant return as a box set on BBC Sounds on Tuesday, 9 January. In this eagerly anticipated second season, acclaimed writer and broadcaster Jon Ronson delves into eight compelling stories that shed light on the unexpected and deeply human facets of the culture wars that presently divide us.
In the first season, Ronson unearthed the origins of the culture wars through astonishing historical stories. Now, in Season 2, he explores new battle lines that emerged, intriguingly, within days of each other in May 2020, six weeks into the Covid lockdown. This period, marked by millions confined to their homes, led to a psychological shift as people grappled with job losses, political directives, and an invisible enemy, resulting in the breakdown of both individuals and institutions.
Ronson’s latest season promises to unravel eight jaw-dropping, thought-provoking, and occasionally darkly humorous stories that encapsulate the contemporary culture wars. Topics range from Covid conspiracies and Antifa hysteria to racial and gender identity politics, free speech, and protests against lockdown that spiraled out of control.
While each episode captivates listeners with gripping narratives, the series serves as a poignant reflection on one of the most tumultuous periods in recent history. Timely, given its release during a US election year and against the backdrop of the UK’s politically charged climate defined by culture war issues, “Things Fell Apart” emerges as a crucial primer on the evolving battlefronts of a phenomenon demanding our understanding.
Jon Ronson says: “A connection between these stories is untruths and their consequences. In every episode, someone says something that isn’t true and the ripples are extraordinary and devastating. Recent months have shown that we’re living in post truth times where all sorts of lies are allowed to flourish for all sorts of reasons, and many people are guilty of that from across the political spectrum. It feels impossible for anyone to believe anything when it’s been spun, memed and propagandised, and we’ve had to use our brains in totally different ways to try and figure out what’s true and what’s not true.
“What the podcast is about in the end is that we have to hold on to truth like driftwood or else we’ll drown. The new season of Things Fell Apart is really an homage to factual truth because look what happens when we allow that to slip through our fingers.”
Daniel Clarke, BBC Radio 4 Factual Commissioning Editor says: “Whilst to start with it felt like the pandemic might bring us together, it was to become dangerously fertile ground for conspiratorial thinking, and for new frontlines in the culture wars. Each spellbinding story in this series takes us into a different aspect of how this bizarre period rewired our brains – and shows how any of us can be blown into extraordinary, unexpected situations by the winds that sweep through our lives. And whilst every episode is an utterly gripping story about a group of individuals, in Jon’s hands, there are always universal takeaways, and profound truths about human nature, as well as thought-provoking insights into how we live now.”
The stories in Season 2 include:
- The mysterious deaths of 32 black sex workers in 1980s Miami, linked to a spurious mental health diagnosis and a high-profile killing during lockdown.
- A chance encounter in a yacht club leading to the creation of the first major Covid conspiracy theory.
- The impact of media polarization over Antifa on an innocent family during a lockdown camping trip.
- A young man, enraged by lockdown laws, joining a club and finding himself arrested for a shocking crime.
- An argument between a mother and daughter during lockdown leading to far-reaching laws in Florida.
- A former actor and model, burned by Hollywood, becoming a culture warrior in the stories Ronson tells.
Season 2 of “Things Fell Apart” is available as a box set on BBC Sounds from 9 January and will be broadcast weekly on BBC Radio 4 at 9 am from the same date. The podcast, written and presented by Jon Ronson, is a BBC Audio production for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds.