This week I have been binging on the ‘Serial’ podcast that has been making headlines again recently. I am late to the game as it originally aired back in October 2014 and is already on it’s second season. The Serial podcast is from the guys over at This American Life and is hosted by Sarah Koenig.
Serial delves into the case of the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a 17 year old high school student, and the subsequent prosecution and trial of suspect, Adnan Syed, 17, her ex boyfriend.
As I have explained it to my friends; ‘it’s like Netflix’s Making a Murderer, but in podcast form!’ We had all spoken at length about that show over Facebook and Whatsapp so I knew that it would be something that they would enjoy listening to.
Hae Min Lee was found dead, having been strangled, in Leakin Park in 1999 six weeks after having gone missing, her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was charged and convicted of the crime. He received a life sentence plus 30 years, despite protesting his innocence, which he still maintains to this day.
Sarah Koenig was contacted 15 years later by Adnan’s friend, Rabia, in order to look into the case against him after Rabia had read an article that Koenig written about Adnan’s lawyer for the case that had since been disbarred. She sets off on a journey in order to discover what really happened in a 21-minute window of someone’s life, 15 years prior.
Serial really needs to be listened to in order, start with episode 1 because you wouldn’t start watching a film or reading a book halfway through and expect to understand every
aspect of the story. You can’t really dip in and out of this podcast (once you start, you won’t want to!).
I got totally sucked into this podcast about halfway through the first episode. Sarah Koenig does an excellent job of making the podcast almost seem like a conversation you are having with her. Like a friend pouring their heart out over a cup of tea whilst you sit and listen. I personally find Sarah’s voice quite soothing, there are lifts and falls to it, as you listen to interviews you hear her reactions and they are honest reactions. You follow the story with her because she asks the questions that you are thinking of as you listen to the evidence.
You cannot say that the Serial team have not done their homework on this topic. They re-interview (those that agree to it) all of the witnesses, friends, family and even jurors about what their experience of that time was. They bring in independent experts about what the evidence collected suggests. Some of the conclusions are surprising, some are not, but mostly it is just a gripping story. It is almost easy to forget that this is/was real, these are real people, their lives were really affected by this.
All the paperwork and homemade timelines of the day are uploaded on their website in order for you to listen and learn along with them, not all the information can be fit into a small podcast window. The in-depth interviews with Adnan Syed are an interesting
listen as well, Koenig is not afraid to ask him the tough questions. She will ask him; ‘well wouldn’t you remember this thing because of this reason? Do you realise how that looks?’
There is one strong theme throughout the series and that is that Koenig is never sure of his guilt or his innocence. She stays as unbiased as possible, she is not afraid to admit that she doesn’t know how she feels or how she ‘flip-flops’ between the two. In some ways, I agree with her, Adnan really does not help himself with his answers and version of events. However, by the same token neither does the Prosecution with their timeline of the events of that day.
I will not go into any spoilers as I really think people first impressions will be tested throughout and I do not want to spoil that first time listening experience for anyone. Serial is almost like listening to an audiobook, you get caught up in the characters, the episodic nature of the show makes it seem more like chapters and it is done well, excellent in fact.
I loved this season and will definitely be listening to the next one, especially as I have some long drives this weekend where I can binge listen to quite a few episodes at once, I am actually a little bit excited by this..
Have you listened to it? What did you think?