SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS! If you haven’t listened and don’t want it spoiled, stop reading.
I almost bailed on this season several times. I’m glad I stayed with it. In the end, I found S-Town a complex look at a complex person. Which is to say a complex look at a person, something you don’t often see in the media.
While this story is set in the deep South, in a small town, I think you could find such a story anywhere–rural upstate New York, in the Midwest, on the moon someday. All humans are complicated and contradictory. We don’t all make mazes in the middle of the woods though. Maybe that was John B. McLemore’s unique gift to the world.
As for the podcast itself, I was often frustrated with it. Being from the South, John felt familiar to me. That smart, overtalkative know-it-all who everyone rolls their eyes at. His suicide is shocking, however, and how it happens even more shocking. John kills himself while on the phone with someone. What a horrible thing to do to someone! I wish the reporter had delved into this. The reporter also does not delve too deeply into John’s racism or the fact the he never made a will, despite having been suicidal before and leaving behind an elderly mother and a pack of dogs.
I thought the podcast could have been two episodes shorter and had a tighter focus.. I would have liked to have learned more about John and less about the bickering over his estate and supposed gold. John was a smart, compassionate and complicated person with a lot demons, some very dark demons. Unwinding and examining those complications was the best part of Shittown.
What did you think? Have you ever met anyone like John B. McLemore?