Serial: Season 1
Updated: Nov 23, 2022
(available on Spotify and https://serialpodcast.org/season-one)
FTC Rating: 5 out of 5
The high school experience is complex; students undergo highs, lows, enormous social pressures, and out of control hormones. Decisions made during these formative years may have a lasting impact on the rest of a person’s life. This is especially true for Adnan Masud Syed, the high school student convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.
When reporter Sarah Koenig is approached by a friend of the Syed family to re-examine the case against Adnan, she is amazed to find the evidence is largely circumstantial. Curious but skeptical, Sarah decides to take on the assignment and is quickly immersed into a world of teenage crushes, dances, afterschool activities, and murder.
- Examines the foundation of the prosecution’s case
- Multiple jailhouse phone calls between Sarah and Adnan
- The case was picked apart piece by piece without anticipation of a particular outcome
- Entire episode is dedicated to the court proceedings
- The relationships and personalities of the key players are presented and supported/contradicted by various sources, for example friends, teachers, counsellors
- Throughout the podcast, Koenig provides summaries of her observations and feelings but clearly states these are her opinions
- The information is successfully triaged to give listeners an understanding of the issues without being overly technical
- Dry humor and often sarcastic
- Does not include interviews with lead detectives on the case
- Although there is speculation about Jay and Stephanie’s motivations for testifying against Adnan, their absence from the podcast is unsatisfying
- As a visual person, it was difficult to follow the confession timeline in episode 4 “Inconsistencies”. Perhaps the details could have been organized better because later episodes are much clearer.
- Serial is the gold standard of True Crime Podcasts. It successfully walks the line between entertainment and investigative journalism.
-At various times throughout the podcast, I found myself thinking of Judge Judy and her favorite quote “How do you know when teenagers are lying? Their lips are moving!”. Jokes aside, Sarah correctly notes that “someone is lying”. The glaring question remains, is that person Jay or Adnan?
Picture source: Stitcher.com