AV Club Podmass: Closer Than They Appear—the debut program from Jetty, Al Jazeera’s brand-new podcast network—is a show of profound questions.

Closer Than They Appear—the debut program from Jetty, Al Jazeera’s brand-new podcast network—is a show of profound questions.

Hosted by the nimbly brilliant writer Carvell Wallace, the program is a publicly introspective forum for hashing out a means toward an equitable future for all Americans, but it is so much more than its mission statement. Produced in a spare and honest manner, the show feels like a bespoke creation carved in Wallace’s own image. The debut is bold, artful, and insightful, but never without some humor. Midway through the episode, Wallace diagnoses what he believes is plaguing the nation’s discourse: The rules of engagement have grown opaque. Perhaps, Wallace believes, everyone is avoiding something that they fear, and his podcast can be a tool to help people ford their phobic flowage. To that end, Wallace talks with Oscar-winning actor (and 2017’s trueSexiest Man Alive) Mahershala Ali to discuss how they themselves work at moving past their fears to embrace others. Their personal and spiritual conversation is a hell of a way to kick off a series, and it signals great things for the show’s future. [Ben Cannon]

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pressMeradith Hoddinott