Reihan: Under the El

A Phildelphia friend, a very reliable source, just sent me a link to David Kessler's ongoing documentary project, Shadow World, which tracks the life of a small corner of Philadelphia. I wanted to say "blighted" corner, yet that sounds very wrong somehow. After watching a few episodes, I found the stories compelling, and at times a little familiar. Like most of us, I've known people just a bad decision or two away from their straitened circumstances. I feel a lot of hesitation about what you might call "poverty pornography," which tends to be manipulative in the extreme. And yet I think Kessler's work is better than that: the stories are confessional, and the women and men are clear-eyed about their circumstances.

I should warn you: the material can be dark and disturbing, and there is plenty of foul language.