As the entire world goes through a collective crisis, people young and old are battling the emotions that come with living through a pandemic. What we thought was “normal” suddenly had to be readjusted and although many are still suffering from the actual health impacts of COVID-19, many are at home, healthy, but fearfully watching and waiting for what is to happen next. Quarantine is an uncertain time for everyone, but we aren’t alone. Must B Nice’s podcast “Day by Day” was just what I needed during quarantine because it relayed the stories of many young people across the world with very different lives, reminding me that we are all going through the same thing. It helped make me feel less alone and maybe it’ll do the same for someone else.
“Day by Day” features fictional stories that depict the lives of people going through this “new normal.” Each episode is no longer than 25 minutes each (which definitely makes them binge-able) and they can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Stitcher and Overcast. Created and produced by Adam Faze and Jamie Dolan, the stories are inspired by people that they’ve encountered and are acted out by celebrities like Lucy Hale, Josephine Langford, Camilla Mendez, Hero Fiennes and Lucas Hedges.
Faze and Dolan started it so that they could help people feel less alone during these unprecedented times, and I think they truly accomplished their goal. Episodes like “Unspoken Truth” talk about body anxiety post-quarantine and the sense of loss felt by the class of 2020 who missed out on their graduation and prom — all while the podcast also tackles the social tensions in America in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement and the difficulties of staying connected with friends with social distancing in place. At the end of each episode, they have a specific fundraiser that you can either donate to or get involved in that relates to the episode’s theme.
In their episode “Class of 2020: Prom,” they highlight the Black Visions Collective, a Black, trans and queer-led nonprofit organization based in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, whose mission is to organize powerful, connected Black communities and dismantle systems of violence. At the end is a link to donate and get involved (https://www.blackvisionsmn.org/) — fitting after speaking about the Black Lives Matter movement from the perspective of a Black gay man moving to New York from a small town.
Thus, “Day by Day” not only provides their listeners with stories to listen to, but encourages them to actively engage in the real-life stories represented in those narratives and make change happen in real life. In this way, the podcast unites its audience, seeks to understand the voices they’re representing and hopes to create positive and productive change in the world by being one link to a bigger movement.
Hearing these stories with live-action sound truly helps the listener feel like they’re in the room with the actors as they slam doors and open cabinets — but it also helps the audience to identify with the emotions that are being voiced aloud. It’s kind of like an audiobook or a narrator-driven movie as you listen to the main character’s inner thoughts. I felt like I was in those stories — maybe because it was my story to a certain extent. It definitely helps to have actors that you know to help visualize the stories you’re listening to as well.
I like the quote they have on their “Day-By-Day” Instagram: “We started a podcast to help people with anxiety by telling positive stories inspired by COVID-19.” And for someone who suddenly felt disconnected from the world, it was relieving to hear that maybe someone else out there had the same feelings of fear, uncertainty and anxiety.
“Day by Day” and the New Digital Age
Must B Nice put out their first episode of “Day by Day” on April 17, which marked the day Trump revealed his first plan to open up America by May 1. As we all know now, that plan didn’t actually become a reality until August. During that time, “Day by Day” put out content every week with new stories and new celebrities to read through. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a new episode since August 7. Even though I admire the way they’ve diversified their narratives (their last podcast episode was about a 10-year-old girl starring a few child actors finally making a movie after spending quarantine playing with Barbies all summer), it makes me wonder, where are they now? Where will they go from here? And what happens to the stories that the audience lives through day by day? Are they no longer being told?
The goal of the Must B Nice production company is to “emphasize feature films and television [as they] take bets on storytellers who have yet to be believed in,” as stated in Deadline magazine. The name itself is actually a sardonic way of reflecting on a time when the creators were outside the industry when they so desperately wanted to do more. This company now has the chance to do just that and explore all-new mediums involved in the storytelling process. They don’t speak much about their podcast in the Deadline article, but I can only assume that this was their first step to trying this new storytelling medium.
Faze claimed that the lines between technology and entertainment are blurring and he and Jamie want to be a part of how this new generation of stories is told and distributed. In light of the pandemic, we must realize that as much as the entertainment industry relies on in-person experience (such as going to the movies or seeing a concert live), it must now depend more on presentation, creativity and overall interest.
Must B Nice does a great job of keeping their audience engaged but their social media falls a little short. The traction they’re getting online isn’t enough to push what they’re doing into the headlines. That’s fine for now but I truly hope they come out with more episodes soon. The stories they tell are important and there are so many other perspectives to portray. We already miss out on so much of what we used to know and I think the “Day by Day” audience is eager to find new ways of reconnecting with those feelings in any way they can. America is always climbing the figurative ladder, jumping onto the next trend, looking for the next big thing while also trying to be patient. But when we consider the importance the arts have had on our social climate and mental health, we need consistency more than ever and with “Day by Day,” Must B Nice created something reflective of the times.
However, that’s not to say that Must B Nice and “Day by Day” are gone forever. The independent production company started two weeks before America went on lockdown and they hadn’t fully formed their team or finances yet. And as artists, they definitely struggled from having public spaces closed down, so the fact that Must B Nice saw any sort of success in such a short period of time, during a pandemic, is a huge deal, and I don’t mean to take away from that. The stories that they’ve presented to their listeners so far is a testament to the evolution of technology and entertainment Faze talked about; moreover, the organizations that they’ve promoted in each episode already hold so much influence, and they’ve helped listeners engage with the arts that they’ve been missing. The “Day-By-Day” podcast fills a void and creates an emotional connection, a way to escape and a means for us to engage in both our personal lives as well as the reality of the world in a way that’s tasteful and fun.