Season 1 is comprised of ten episodes. You can also listen to the “holiday travel remix,” which is a special three hour mix (with some additional material) of the entire first season.
0. Prologue: Virginia Gaskell, an underappreciated 66-year-old cult writer forced into a rest home, contends with mysterious voices summoned from her typewriter and an obscure literary interviewer named Ed Champion. (April 4, 2017, 9 minutes)
1. Hello: A man wakes up in his apartment with a hazy memory of the night before. He’s greeted in bed by a mysterious woman who keeps saying, “Hello.” But she seems to know far more about his life than he ever could have told her in one night. And as the rats gnaw mercilessly from within the walls, she has a few bold and shocking answers as to why he’s so afraid. (April 18, 2017, 22 minutes, 2017 Parsec Award finalist)
1.5. Dissociation: Greg Sutton, a fidgety young man who is a little too fixated on selling himself, sees his psychiatrist for the first time in months, hoping to find answers about his lost childhood and how to get back the woman he loves. But his own quick fix solution to his problems is not quite what the psychiatrist had in mind. (May 2, 2017, 6 minutes)
2. Brand Awareness: Joanna loves Eclipse Ale. It’s the best beer in the world. She has boxes of Eclipse memorabilia. She regularly wears Eclipse baseball caps. But on one rainy night, Joanna discovers that this happy relationship (along with the relationship with her boyfriend) is not what it seems. Why can’t she remember what her boyfriend gave her on their second anniversary? And why doesn’t anybody know about Eclipse Ale? (May 16, 2017, 28 minutes)
3. Fuel to the Fire: An artisanal mustard retailer from Astoria finds herself in a strange realm with the ability to set things on fire. Meanwhile, Ed Champion continues his investigation into Miss Gaskell’s disappearance, meeting a woman in mourning who may hold the answer to his own strange curse. (June 6, 2017, 19 minutes)
4. Loopholes: As a thriving empire faces war with ferocious barbarians, a mischievous scholar named Minerva hopes to bring law and civilization to a great realm populated by talking birds, giant rats, gregarious knights, elemental gods, and menacing malasanders. An unanticipated dispute among the knights gives Minerva an opportunity to uphold the doctrine of moral principles, but Minerva finds herself testing her loyalty to her aide-de-camp while helping others to learn what honor, empathy, and identity really mean. (July 3, 2017, 32 minutes, 2018 Parsec Award finalist)
4.5. The Waiting Room: Virginia Gaskell finds herself on the other side of the portal that lured her in, greeted by an extremely exuberant (and strangely familiar) receptionist, some squawking avians that aren’t quite okay with her love of chicken fajitas, and further mysteries about how the universes rupture into each other. (July 18, 2017, 7 minutes)
5. Compassion Fatigue: Emma is a top-notch psychiatrist who can change the lives of the most difficult patients imaginable. But there’s a great personal cost to her formidable talents that she’s not telling anyone about, an internal torment eating away at her inner life that she’s hiding from her patients and her professional peers and that a quiet survivor of an abusive relationship may just have the answer for. (August 1, 2017, 25 minutes)
5.5. Hatch: Four men stand at the beginning of an important interdimensional journey. But while their personalities are different and the portals seem attracted to their identities, their voices are the same. What is their connection? And why is the journey so important? (September 5, 2017, 4 minutes)
6. Buddies for Hire: In our season finale, a once celebrated and now fading actor Jack Penderton desperately needs a job. His agent, Jill Swanson, lands him a strange gig involving a lonely scrapbook-loving eccentric, an unusual approach to free trade, a sinister salesman who moves uncommonly fast, America’s Next Top Model, and an odd scam that causes Jack to reconsider his long abandoned principles about friendship, loyalty, and connection. (October 3, 2017, 25 minutes, 2018 Parsec Award winner)
The First Season (Holiday Travel Remix): We’ve released a nearly three hour remix of the first season that contains the entire ten episodes, including some new material, new cues, new sound design, and a few other modest bells and whistles. Consider this the “movie” version of the first season designed for listeners who may be stuck in an airport or those who haven’t yet taken the full plunge. Happy holidays! (November 20, 2017, 2 hours, 40 minutes)
Season 2 is now in postproduction. Phase I recording carried on from June 2018 through October 2018. Phase II of production, which also included work on a standalone adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” began months later and was concluded in July 2019. We began release on April 11, 2020. The new season is four times the length of the first season and will contain many close connections to Season 1.
(Season 2 subscribers will be able to access all episodes — as they are finished — immediately before release, along with our bonus behind-the-scenes podcast, Inside the Gray Area, and copies of all the scripts. You can buy a Season 2 pass here. We will be releasing episodes to the premium channel ahead of the free feed in three phases, as documented below. You can subscribe at any time and your flat fee subscription for $20 will always be good throughout all phases of the season (i.e., the entire run of Season 2).)
Below is a list of forthcoming episode titles and their present status.
PHASE I (RELEASED TO PREMIUM: APRIL 10, 2020)
7. Living Creatures: In a Wyoming chicken diner, two mysterious strangers make trouble with the locals over a philosophical matter. But their professed tolerance is put to the test by a remarkable failure in judgment that involves animal rights, bicoastal elitism, and a great deal of swagger. (April 11, 2020, 22 minutes)
8. Dearer than Earsight: While investigating the Gaskell matter, journalist Ed Champion meets an enigmatic woman on a spiritual journey who may contain the answers for his own shaky relationship to love, dreams, and New York City. The two dodge belligerent subway preachers and unanticipated demons while ruminating upon daily wonders that are taken for granted. (April 21, 2020, 41 minutes)
8.5. Our American Cousin: Months after the events of “Brand Awareness,” Greg reckons with the hurt he caused Joanna. But his role in the universe and the true nature of his past is much larger than he could have possibly imagined. (May 5, 2020, 17 minutes)
9. The Demon Hunters: It’s the future. The cities are flooded. Certain words are forbidden. The doomed Earth has become united under a global totalitarian regime. But two eccentric outliers who refuse to follow the rules may be the Tellestian Empire’s only chance for a hopeful future. (May 19, 2020, 37 minutes)
9.5. The Head Doctor: In this sequel to “Compassion Fatigue,” Emma has returned to practicing psychiatry again. But a highly unusual (and strangely familiar) patient arrives in her office with an odd proposition. (June 1, 2020, 18 minutes)
PHASE II (RELEASED TO PREMIUM: JULY 28, 2020)
10.1. Paths Not Taken: Where Are the Lads in the Village Tonight? Chelsea Needham was once among the foremost leaders in tech. But something happened involving a fire and a death. And it got in the papers. Rumor reared its ugly head and Chelsea lost everything she had, with only a few friends left. While recovering from alcoholism, self-destruction, and losing the love of her life, Chelsea meets an enigmatic gentleman from England and a strange fortune teller who may have the answers to how she can reclaim her identity. (July 30, 2020, 54 minutes)
10.2. Paths Not Taken: The First Illusion: It’s January 11, 2011. The world is similar, but it is also quite different. Chelsea reconnects with her best friend Alicia and takes the opportunity to correct her past mistakes, including rebuilding her relationship with Maya. But the shadow of her abusive mother and the presence of an eccentric man who is quite keen on hot dogs and the benefits of being obsequious may uproot this hard-won battle to claim a better life. (August 11, 2020, 52 minutes)
10.3. Paths Not Taken: Same Age Inside: While on the run from a wild interdimensional beast named Chester, Chelsea learns of electromatter, the surprising ubiquity of Tony Danza, and the multiverse. But the alarming differences she discovers about the universe she’s become part of threaten to topple her efforts to reconnect with Maya and Alicia. (August 25, 2020, 26 minutes)
10.4. Paths Not Taken: Unfound Door: Confronted with surprise revelations and the need to reconcile two parallel universes, Chelsea faces the hard truths about what sustaining a relationship really means while cleaning up a cosmic disturbance that no human being could have ever predicted. Meanwhile, a Melissa Etheridge T-shirt proves to be an invaluable remedy as our heroes contend with a giant heart that beats to the rhythm of time. (September 8, 2020, 31 minutes.)
10.5. Paths Not Taken: Canny Valley: In this “screwball cyberpunk” episode, it’s 2023. Labor camps, a sinister government, and significant civil unrest rollick the world outside. But within the secret chambers of the multibillion tech company Apotheosis, an optimistic entrepreneur named Jill Swanson, who names her engineers after 1930s comedy film directors, sits on a secret that may just save the world. (September 22, 2020, 72 minutes.)
10.6. Paths Not Taken: Too Hard a Knot: Back in the original universe, Scarlett and Alicia contend with another version of Chelsea and conjure up a plan to get the two Chelseas back in their respective universes as they face the danger of a seemingly innocent benefactor gone rogue. (October 6, 2020, 24 minutes.)
10.7. Paths Not Taken: Shadows Have Offended: In the final part of the “Paths” saga, Chelsea and Maya struggle in their forties to keep their relationship alive as they initiate a fateful but necessary Thanksgiving meeting with Maya’s grandfather — a stubborn and “old-fashioned” World War I historian. Meanwhile, the disastrous political trajectory of the parallel universe encroaches upon deeply personal and deeply fatal territory. (October 20, 2020, 85 minutes.)
Standalone: The Yellow Wallpaper: During the Season 2 sessions, we recorded this bold adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s famous short story with many of our Gray Area regulars. This radio play honors the text, but is set in the present day, addressing #metoo and the oppressive demands upon women. (November 3, 2020. 32 minutes)
PHASE III (PROJECTED PREMIUM RELEASE: JUNE 2021)
[On June 12, 2021, we released the first two episodes of Phase III on the premium channel.]
11. West with the Light Genius writer Virginia Gaskell fends off boredom (and the Receptionist’s peppy interventions) while trapped in the waiting room, but a number of unexpected new visitors provide vital new clues to her purpose and journey. (June 22, 2021, 22 minutes)
12. Marching Orders In 1911, a young British gentleman dukes it out against the austere whims of his Edwardian-minded father. But two travelers reveal that his role in the universe is much bigger than he could have ever imagined. (July 6, 2021, 15 minutes)
13.1. Pattern Language: The Tainted Grimace Pat Goras and Lucy Didas are a happy couple living in a fantastical suburban realm preparing for a delightful dragon brisket barbeque with their neighbors. But when a strange portal opens in their backyard, their lives and roles become permanently altered within the very Gray Area itself! (July 20, 2021, 21 minutes)
13.2. Pattern Language: Not a Frown Further Months after the events of “Paths Not Taken,” Chelsea is working hard to turn a corner and improve her life. But when Emily McCorkle, the smear merchant journalist who severely damaged her reputation, returns to write a followup piece, Chelsea is thrown into a jarring maelstrom that involves demons, people from her past, and the possibility of redemption. (August 3, 2021, 32 minutes)
13.3. Pattern Language: An Iris for Emily Emily McCorkle has landed the media appearance of a lifetime: a guest spot on the most respected talk show in America. But why is the host so concerned with her private details? And why are so many skeletons from her past making guest appearances? And who is the strange man with the hot dogs? (August 17, 2021, 38 minutes)
13.4. Pattern Language: Mirrors of the Soul Our intrepid heroes visit the New York Public Library to meet up with visiting literary scholar Merrill Malone, an eccentric and the foremost expert on Virginia Gaskell’s life and work, to get, once and for all, all the answers about the portals. What they don’t realize is that shocking personal revelations and the very ground beneath their feet will alter forever within the library’s seemingly pristine walls. (August 31, 2021, 56 minutes)
Season 2.5: The Live Show
In July 2021, we were tremendously honored to receive an NYFA grant to put on a live show of The Gray Area. We will have more information on this in the coming weeks, but the live show will take place in New York, sometime in the early fall, and feature a series of stories somewhere between Seasons 2 and 3. The live show is approximately 100 minutes, mostly composed of new material, and will be free to the public. It will take place at the Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street, on October 16, 2021 at 7:00 PM. In addition to staged versions of “The Head Doctor” and some of “West with the Light,” we will feature new material, with numerous members of our cast performing on stage. You can listen to a trailer here.
As of June 2021, Season 3 is in pre-production. The planned season will involve several time periods during the 20th century, ranging from World War I, the Great Depression, an alternative universe during the 1950s, a 1977 epic that will chronicle disco vs. punk, as well as stories set in 1980, the present day (within the prime universe that the show occupies, where Hillary Clinton was elected President rather than Trump), and a few stories set in the future. Our showrunner is presently researching and writing the Season 3 scripts. As of June 2021, he has read 75 books to ensure factual accuracy and authenticity.