It’s no secret that I adore This American Life, so you can image my elation when they launched a second podcast this fall. I had extremely high expectations for Serial and it is off to a strong start. STRONG. Season one follows the real-life story of a murder that took place fifteen years ago in Baltimore County, MD. After high school senior Hae Min Lee’s body was discovered in a public park, her 17 year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was sentenced to life in prison for strangling her. As the Serial website puts it, “the case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.” Sarah Koenig, the host, is on a quest for the truth. She is coming at this from all angles, digging deep in the details, leaving no stone unturned. Again, from the website: “What she realized is that the trial covered up a far more complicated story, which neither the jury nor the public got to hear. The high school scene, the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence – all of it leads back to the most basic questions: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of? In Season One of Serial, she looks for answers.”
Serial is the baby of solid journalistic reporting and fine storytelling. You will definitely want to start from the beginning — true to the show’s name, the episodes build on each other, giving listeners access to key pieces of new information each week. I’m already looking forward to the next installment which is coming out tomorrow.