Curated by Michelle Nickolaisen, creator of Unplaced
Michelle Nickolaisen is a freelance writer and the creator of Unplaced, an audio drama about an invisible woman who is slowly being forgotten. Michelle presents a collection of other fictional podcasts that feature solo characters, isolation, and/or questionable realities.
When you’re always looking for inspiration for your next project, you get ideas in the strangest of places. In my case, I had recently moved to a new town, halfway across the country from my previous home, where I didn’t know anyone. For a lot of reasons, it was an extremely tough time personally, and as I wandered the streets of this unfamiliar place, feeling lost and alone, I remember thinking, “Hey, this could be a story idea.”
That’s where Unplaced came from — but it’s not the only audio drama exploring themes of isolation; not by a long shot. In fact, audio as a medium seems almost uniquely suited to exploring these themes: putting in headphones cuts you off from the rest of the world and puts you right in the shoes of the narrator, which becomes your new internal dialogue. Here are a few other amazing podcasts with similar themes.
Unplaced tells the story of a woman who wakes up one day to find that no one can see her or hear her, and that everyone she knows is slowly forgetting about her. That would be weird enough, but as her journey to figure out why she’s invisible progresses, she finds that she’s not the only thing others can’t see. Season one is complete and we’re doing an Indiegogo to fund season two right now.
The Far Meridian
Eli Barraza (creator/writer)
The Far Meridian tells the sometimes creepy, sometimes funny, always charming and thoughtful story of a woman with agoraphobia, who wakes up to find her home in a new place every day. As her lighthouse takes her to stranger and stranger places, she peels back the layers of her personal past and her missing brother, while meeting people (and maybe even making some friends) along the way.
Sunny Moraine (creator/writer)
Gone is an interesting reversal of the premise of Unplaced: everyone else has disappeared, and our protagonist finds themselves alone in the world. Season one follows them as they search for answers in this new, empty landscape.
Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services
Lisette Alvarez (creator/writer)
Kalila Stormfire is just your everyday witch, offering services ranging from divination to soul retrieval to mediumship. It seems to be unusual for witches to go solo in this world — but Kalila is determined to go her own way and do it right, and the podcast is an interesting take on modern-day magic.
Jesse Schuschu (writer/director) / Ayla Taylor (producer/director)
Tides follows Dr. Winifred Eurus, who’s found herself alone and fighting for survival on an alien planet, after her submarine is destroyed in an accident. When she’s not fighting for survival — and sometimes while she is — she finds and observes the strange life around her in an entertaining audio log (that makes for a great podcast).
Vin Ernst (writer/director)
Aftershocks flips a few very common horror tropes on its head, by creating a story following a teenager with schizophrenia who finds herself institutionalized after a psychotic episode. Once settling into her new residence — Amber Ridge — she starts seeing things that she’s encouraged to dismiss as hallucinations and delusions… but her and her fellow residents are convinced there’s more to the story.
Chad Ellis (creator/writer)
Station Blue follows Matthew, a melancholy twentysomething burnout who accepts a handyman job for a mysterious Defense Contractor corporation and finds himself shipped off to Station Blue, a remote research station in the Antarctic. The podcast follows him as he deals with mysteries like a door that isn’t on the blueprints, severe winter storms, and the ghosts of his past, while trying to survive alone in the icy tundra.
Regan Adler (creator/writer)
Part podcast, part interactive alternate reality game, OAKPODCAST follows the story of technology specialist and U.S. Marine Mara “Holly” Ellison, who wakes up alone in suburban Alabama with no idea how she got there. She sends distress calls to her team, but they can’t help her, so she’s left with no other choice but to start digging into the mystery herself…which is where listeners come in, with the ability to send Holly advice, funds, and podcast recommendations to help her on her way.
B. James Marler (creator/writer)
Heretic is one of the weirder options on this list — the basic summary is that it follows a young man, attempting to face the cult that disabled and excommunicated him to discover the truth about the deaths and disasters happening around him. The listener is often forced to question their faith in the narrator while internalizing his feelings of being isolated from society, despite rejoining it.
Want to create your own collection of shows that dovetails with your area of interest? Add shows to your Smart Folder on RadioPublic, then inform the Podcast Librarian of your collection: firstname.lastname@example.org.