Mortified Nation: Adults Reminisce Their Awkward Phases

MAYRA MARADIAGA, Featured Writer

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When some people were younger, they kept some sort of diary or journal that documented their everyday lives during their adolescence. Going back and reading it may be embarrassing and downright painful to most, but imagine doing so on a stage in front of a crowd full of people. Mortified Nation shows what happens when adults recall their teenage years for the public.

The documentary presents adults sharing excerpts of their most private and embarrassing childhood writings during a series of stage shows, as the audience in attendance shares in their humiliation with laughs and a good time. This film follows the stories of these participants, showing their performance footage as well as how and why they decided to share their innermost written thoughts for an audience.

The concept of the show came from David Nadelberg after he found an unsent love letter from his teenage years. Thinking that something could come from his horribly written love letter, he rented out a tiny room, intending for Mortified to be a one-night show. But, as Nadelberg states in the documentary, “fans started becoming performers, and performers started becoming producers in other cities.”

In the film, audience members, after attending, express how they want to dig out their own journals in order to “share the shame,” which is the motto of the Mortified movement.

This part documentary/part comedy show is not only humorous, but also very relatable and surprisingly moving.

The readings can be light and playful, like when a young man is convincing himself he is not gay even having a sexual encounter with another man, as well as inspirational, such when a woman recounts her adolescence with an abusive mother, yet still manages to hold a humorous side.

The stories told by these ordinary, everyday people have happened to many others all over the world. It is real in the deepest sense of the word. The film may even have viewers thinking of attending a show, or even performing in one, as long as they don’t mind having to “share the shame.”

Mortified Nation is available for streaming on Netflix.

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