Have You Listened to the “Living Room” Episode of Radiolab?

Recently I was talking about podcasts with a friend, and she recommended a specific episode of Radiolab called “The Living Room.” I was intrigued that a specific episode had made such an impression, so I gave it a try.

It’s a short episode, and it has some twists to it, so I’ll just share the basic concept: A woman in a New York apartment notices one day that she and her husband can clearly see into the apartment across from hers. In that apartment is a young, lusty couple. She ends up casually observing that couple over the next few years, watching how their relationships evolves over time.

I’m about 4 years late to talk about this episode; apparently there was a significant amount of chatter about it when it first released. From what I’ve seen, some people condemned the podcaster for infringing on the privacy of the couple. The podcaster seemed to anticipate this criticism in the podcast, as she mentioned how close the buildings were and that the couple made no attempt to cover the window. Either it was intentional or they were so caught up in each other that they were blissfully unaware that they were visible.

Her observations didn’t bother me. It’s one thing if she was looking through crack in the blinds through a telescope; it’s another (in my opinion) if the shade-less window is 10 feet across from hers and she happens to glance at it from time to time.

I found the story to be sexy, sweet, and a heartbreaking, and I would strongly recommend it the next time you’re looking for a 20-minute podcast. Let me know your thoughts if you listen to it. And I’m curious about whether or not the podcaster was wrong to observe the young couple and talk about them on a podcast.

6 thoughts on “Have You Listened to the “Living Room” Episode of Radiolab?”

  1. I heard the story when it originally aired, so some of the finer details may allude me, but like you say, she just observed what was going on around her, and didn’t go snooping to eavesdrop. Radiolab do very good work. Some other unsolicited recommendations … 🙂

    Do you like The West Wing? Do you like like a podcast that posts a new episode every week? Then I recommend “The West Wing Weekly”. They are up to Season 6 right now, so plenty of episodes to binge if you know the show well. Otherwise, I would recommend watching an episode, and then listening to the podcast episode. Incredible number of cast and crew guest on the podcast, as well as real life political pundits. Enormously entertaining.

    Produced by Radiotopia, who have a bunch of other great shows. “Song Exploder” is a great exploration into compositiong, and “99% Invisible” tells great stories of design.

    “Reply All”, which focuses on stories internet related. Some truly great episodes amongst them, including that time one of the hosts was approached by a scammer, so he tracked down who and where the guy was, and flew half way around the world to talk to him in person.

    Produced by Gimlet Media, who also have a bunch of great shows. Including “StartUp”, their very first show, whose first season chronicles the story of Alex Goldman, as he goes out on his own to start his own Podcast company, Gimlet Media. Zack Braff starred in a show about it, Alex Inc. Anyway, “StartUp” is very much a behind the scenes telling of Alex starting this company. Very real and raw, and I think any business owner, such as yourself, would find it compelling.

    “NPR Politics” podcast, if you are interested in unbiased stories about the U.S. government.

    And “Blue Peg Pink Peg” is my favourite Board Game podcast. Four friends who play a lot of games, and share the experience.

    I listen to quite a few more, but those 4 are the ones I never miss, and the companies that produce the majority of my podcast. I have the advantage of being able to listen to podcasts at work. You probably don’t have as much listening time available? 🙂

    • Thank you for all of these recommendations! I listen to a lot of board-game related podcasts, but not many outside of that realm. I like 99% Invisible, and I’m a fan of Revisionist History and Masters of Scale. I haven’t seen West Wing, so I don’t think that one would make much sense to me. 🙂

  2. I came to this podcast after looking for it. I saw the movie version on YouTube first and I recognized the story right away. I really thought I read this story years ago. So I looked for credits and found the original podcast mentioned. But I do not think I first heard this story in a podcast. My first impression was the I read the story. I could be mistaken. But I understand there has been some controversy over the veracity of the story. So I am curious as to whether this story was published before the first Love and Radio version or whether it might have a different source.
    The movie version is charming and I like its ending even if it has a moral.

    • I’m not sure about the timing, Lucy. I wasn’t aware of those ancillary materials. What is the movie?

  3. I wrote a reply then it disappeared, hope this is not duplicate.
    The movie is “The Neighbors’ Window” and it says it won awards.


    Maybe this link will work?

    I would like to see the responses to the Radiolab podcast. I am not a podcast person, just listen to public radio, but when I was watching the movie I associated it with reading a story. But maybe I am forgetting.


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