Smitten: Serial


serial podcast

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 LifeCSI (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?


  • smbrink

    I love the This American Life podcast, but was late to the party on Serial, too! After finally listening to all of the episodes, it’s safe to say that I’m hooked and am seriously looking forward to whatever they come up with for season 2.

    I still can’t make up my mind over whether Adnan is guilty or not, but there’s no way I could have convicted him had I been on that jury. There’s just not enough evidence to prove his involvement without reasonable doubt, in my opinion. Enjoy finishing up the podcasts!

    • Foreign Geek

      Well said about Adnan.

  • Foreign Geek

    I was a little late to the party too (is it offensive to call it a party?) Anyways I think Adnan deserves a re-trial free of prejudice and if they can’t come up with good enough evidence they should let him free. Like the saying innocent until PROVEN guilty. #FreeAdnan

    • I suppose it is very far from a “party”, but whatever it was, I was late to it regardless, haha. Sara above said it best about Adnan. I’ve seen the innocent until *proven* guilty fall both ways, but it’s really struck me here as to just what that means.

  • Kay

    I haven’t listened to Serial yet either, despite everyone I know telling me I have to! I find it hard to put on while I work on art as I totally get distracted and stop working (which is why I normally opt for non-lyric music while working haha!). But I’ll get to it eventually!

    • Serial is one of those things that I find you have to actively pay attention to. If I tried to listen to it while working on editing photos or something even, I’d not be able to soak it all in. There’s a lot to think about and churn over!

  • Sonya

    I definitely took a while to get on the Serial wagon, too. I kept hearing good things about it, but for whatever reason I just didn’t listen to it right away. I guess I just needed to get to it in my own time, and either way, I’m glad I did. I devoured the series over my little Christmas break from work (mostly while taking baths or before bed), and I’m so antsy for a second season now. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for the next one.

    Also, fun fact, I didn’t realize when I went into it that it was a true story simply because nothing I had heard had actually mentioned that, so about five minutes into listening I googled it to check.

    (And I see you installed Disqus! Good choice, good choice.)

    • I’m really excited for season 2 and can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store!

      (I did! It didn’t take long to realize how much better it was xD)

  • OH MY GOD! I got my mom and a bunch of people I work with hooked on it! It’s a fascinating story with so many holes and it’s crazy that you don’t know who to believe or trust!

    • Yes! I’m so on the fence!

  • Mia Moore

    I JUST started Serial today! I’m only a few episodes in, so I have no opinion on Adnan yet – eep!

    • I was very hesitant about forming an opinion, and cautious about making sure I was really listening and taking all of the information in. It’s strange, you start seriously weighing the evidence while trying to keep your gut feeling at bay, and it really makes you wonder about the feeling side of it all.

  • I think that Jay was involved in the murder, but didn’t do it himself. I think Adnan is innocent. He just seems to tired of everything – but I wish that he’d try to phone her when he knew she was gone…

    • I think I’m with you when it comes to Jay. Something just doesn’t seem right there, with the constantly changing story, but I don’t think he did it himself. Adnan, I don’t know; I can’t prove he didn’t do it, but I can’t prove that he did. Just some of his responses to certain questions don’t strike me as how someone who was indeed guilty would answer; just little things, like verb tenses that he uses when referring to her, ways he phrases stuff…