What is it ?
A 12 podcast series produced by ‘This American Life’ a syndicated American radio program and WBEZ Chicago, a community radio station.
What’s it about?
Part story telling, part investigative journalism, part amateur sleuthing in the style of Scooby Doo (as one reviewer put it), Serial tells the story of the 1999 murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee and the conviction, after two trials, of her former boyfriend Adnan Syed, who was given a life sentence. In each episode, journalist and broadcaster Sarah Koenig attempt to unravel a different element of the case to answer the question: Did Adnan do it?
If you only know one thing…
It’s the most downloaded podcast of all time with more than 5 million downloads as of January this year.
Is it any good?
Yes. If you love a good detective story or a riveting documentary, you will love Serial. The show’s executive producer, Ira Glass said of it: “We want to give you the same experience you get from a great HBO or Netflix series, where you get caught up with the characters and the thing unfolds week after week, but with a true story and no pictures. Like House of Cards, but you can enjoy it while you’re driving.”
What I liked most about it?
The chatty, personal style that exploits the audio-only medium and draws you in. How much you learn about criminal investigation and procedure. The setting, Baltimore, one of America’s most interesting cities. The interweaving of narrative, interviews, opinion and evidence that gives Serial its power.
What I disliked?
Trying to remember all the details and keep track of the various plotlines. At times confusing. The ending may disappoint some.
How much time do you have to invest?
Eight and a half hours of listening time, plus many more hours on the Serial website, doing your own research and reading analysis and comments about the show. It’s addictive.
How do I listen to it?
It’s free. Download it from iTunes or from serialpodcast.org
Can you recommend something similar, in another medium?
The Oscar-nominated documentary: “Capturing the Friedmans” about dark secrets in a upper middle-class Jewish family in New Jersey. And watch The Wire, a television series set in Baltimore about criminals and the police that pursue them. Arguably the greatest television show ever made.