The Constant Podcast Gets It Right About History Getting Things Wrong

After the gun violence at Parkland, a group of teenagers took the nation by surprise when they had the audacity, the tenacity, and the presence to speak out against the shootings and the circumstances in our nation which led to them.

If you find yourself wondering what the connection could possibly be between this event and an episode of a podcast primarily set in 1867 and centered around ship regulation and insurance, well, I don’t blame you. But Mark Chrisler, the host and creator of the podcast The Constant, seamlessly creates the allegory before you’ve even connected the dots. I won’t spoil the journey for you.  I couldn’t do it justice if I wanted to.

The Constant declares itself a podcast about ‘The History of Getting Things Wrong’, but gets very little wrong in its own execution. Unabashedly curious and persistent, and with a unique blend of charm and humor, the playwright Chrisler brings to life tales lost and forgotten by blending research and narrative, fact and… not fiction precisely, but let’s say hypothetical scenarios brought captivatingly to life. 

© Regan Hall

© Regan Hall

In this episode as in others, he outlines a scenario laden with a mystery: Why was a ship and its crew sent out to sea to drown if the circumstances surrounding it were entirely preventable? He then takes our hand and guides us through our own sea, one of new tidbits of fact. All the while, he reassures us that he has asked the same questions we now ask ourselves. Reminds us when the story winds around to a coffee shop and newspapers, and shifts to insurance and - make no mistake – murder-for-profit,  that he is there right along on this journey with us. Convinces us that he knows where he is going and that there is a point to this story. 

© Regan Hall

© Regan Hall

And boy, is he right about that.  Just wait until you hit the last two minutes.

This is an unusual episode for The Constant, as much as there is a usual episode. By design, each episode in a season is intended to be in a different category than the rest, resulting in a show with both pinpointed focus and broad reach. Still, “Shipwreckless” took a lot more research, a lot more deep-delving into original sources, a lot more work than some of the series’ other, already well-researched episodes. As Chrisler himself admits, he has no desire to become a political commentator and his intent is to showcase and bring to light the foibles of history, to show us that when we aim and stumble we are in good company. Perhaps that makes it an unusual entry point to the series. Certainly other episodes draw similarly compelling narratives, utilize sound effect and music with a light touch, and showcase the show’s unique perspective: a blend of serious reverence for fact and knowledge and a light-hearted and level-headed approach to understanding it and gleaning its lessons. But the compassion and raw emotion with which Chrisler makes his final points is what leads me to recommend this episode wholeheartedly.  Once you are drawn into the story, there is no going back. And so it is with Chrisler. No matter the outcome, he is in this journey for the long haul.

Runtime: 27.30

Aired: February 27th, 2018

Episodes: about 10

Episode Drops: Thursdays every two weeks

Link to Show Episode and Show Notes:

-- By Jessica Curtis