Growing up is hard. Navigating social norms, cooties, bad hairdos, abiding by or raging against social mores, awkward post-pubescent sexual interactions, poor fashion choices. These experiences are universally uncomfortable, and stories about them can be incredibly entertaining.
Dave Nadelberg knows this. That’s why he created Mortified.
Along with co-producer Neil Katcher, Nadelberg formally launched Mortified in 2002. It’s basically a platform for the excavation of adolescence. Willing individuals sift through “otherwise forgotten notebooks, photos, and envelopes in an effort to crack the lid off our cultural shoebox and expose our inner geek,” as well as draw the attention of Mortified‘s casting directors. Chosen participants present their findings to a (live or online) audience in a way that’s equal parts curiosity, self-deprecation, and catharsis. As the website goes, “There are a million stories buried in the pages of people’s lives. Mortified‘s mission is to simply help people find them. Share the shame.”
Most recently, the shame was shared by two notable celebrities. First Felicia Day and then Alanis Morissette joined Nadelberg on camera for installments of The Shoebox Sessions. The web series is a redux of Mortified‘s popular Shoebox Show, but instead of individuals telling stories about childhood experiences with accompanying archival evidence, Nadelberg sits shotgun with influential personalities as they explore artifacts from an embarrassing age.
Check out Day display the Glamour Shots she used to prove to teenage gamers she was a girl and see how Morissette used to rock her mom jeans. The episodes are fun to watch, but it’s also a comfort to have validation from a source other than a Us Magazine that stars are susceptible to inelegant upbringings. They really are just like us.