Being late to the party is a skill that I’m embarrassed to say I’ve perfected. It’s not a matter of being kept in the dark (though the 6+ hours I spent working to 100% in Lego Harry Potter last weekend would probably steer you to that conclusion), but rather the fact that I let things I want to check out pile up until tackling said things appears overwhelming. When I listened to friends discuss Serial over dinner, I decided to remedy the situation immediately instead of waiting, and promptly downloaded the episodes I had missed. Boy, am I glad I did.
Serial is an investigative journalist spinoff of NPR’s This American Life podcast and is both created and hosted by Sarah Koenig. It chronicles the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee, supposedly at the hands of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed. There’s quite a lot of controversy surrounding the trial and the evidence (or lack thereof) used to convict Syed, leaving you unsure of his sentence. Koenig explores Syed’s story and the events as a whole over the course of the first season of Serial, and the mystery and drama lead to a mesmerizing feat of storytelling, reporting, and thought.
I went into the series relatively blindly, but it didn’t take long for me to get totally immersed in the investigation — not to mention the stories of those involved. The story itself highlights a few things, one being the validity of the American justice system and just what constitutes “beyond a reasonable doubt”. What evidence and your gut tell you may not end up being the same thing. It’s hard to not get pulled into the personal lives that this case has touched, from the victim’s affected friends and family, to the convicted Syed’s personal version of events. It’s only natural to want to “solve” the case, to find out just what the real story is, but don’t expect any ironclad answers.
I’m still not through all twelve episodes (I did manage to sneak 3 into my commute yesterday morning, which made my 100+ minute snow storm-commute slightly more bearable), but I’m already lamenting the loss of an intriguing podcast to keep me company; seriously, I need to fill the void with some equally captivating podcast! I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve been involved in over the past few weeks involving Serial; it seems that everyone has gotten sucked into it, and rightfully so!
If you’re a fan of This American Life, CSI (though, don’t expect a perfectly packaged and solved mystery at the end of the day), or are looking to dip your toes into the water that is the world of podcasts, Serial would be right up your alley.
Have you been following along with Serial? Do you think Syed is guilty or not?