I was like a lot of podcast enthusiasts, setting up my subscription to Serial before the first episode dropped a few months ago, ready for a fresh take on the podcast medium.I’m not sure we were ready for what came into our feeds. From the first episode, Sarah Koening used deft storytelling in an engrossing mix of theories, facts, and anecdotal information to draw us into a world that oftentimes felt like fantasy. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the series and looking forward to each episode and then feeling something afterwards that I can’t quite define but was something worse than enjoyment. Serial took listeners through a roller coaster of emotion. And I’m not sure that I should be referring to that ride in the past tense. Even now, with some time after listening to the final episode and a few other shows talking about it, I’m not sure that my feelings lie in their final resting place.
Serial wasn’t just a great podcast experience, although it was that, it became a cultural phenomenon. A lot of people who’d never payed attention before now knew what a podcast was. People were introduced to podcasting and probably listened to other shows because of it. Those of us who have listened for a while saw a new form of storytelling. There has been a lot of complaining about the way the information was shared, the ending of the first season, and the lack of anything concrete being resolved. The fact that people have been as passionate about the experience as they have been really shows how impactful the whole thing really was. The first season raises the bar on what it means to be a high quality podcast. It was really that good. Most problems people have with execution are ignoring the fact that the show came out swinging, drawing out criticism because something so well done deserved to handled well. It made you feel something, and invited us to be personally invested, so we didn’t want something we cared about to be less than great.
As far as the actual case goes, I think it’s interesting to see how many theories there are out there. Shout out to reddit for a lot of those. I didn’t spend a lot of time there, but there is a lot in addition to the info the show gave. I personally have doubts about whether Adnan did it. I think I identify with Sarah believing she could talk to him enough to know whether he was capable of committing such a terrible act. But even with his charming personality, I can’t get past the idea that Jay knew where Hae’s car was. Even with his often shoddy testimony, and possible police coaching, Jay likely knew where it was. And his motive doesn’t seem to add up. Adnan’s seems weak, but love lost can be pretty painful. I’m definitely looking forward to see how the Innocence Project case to try and examine for DNA in search of another suspect goes. But that seems like a long shot. Jay lead the police to the car. I just can’t get past that. Were I a juror on the trail, I’d like to think I wouldn’t have been able to convict Adnan though. The details don’t seem to prove anything past a shadow of a doubt.
In the end, the season took us places, even if it didn’t leave us anywhere. Yeah, the final episode didn’t come hard at us with an admission of guilt from Jay or Adnan. It didn’t levy hard for us to see the case from one angle or another. It surely had a bit of shading from Sarah’s perspective but mostly left us to wrestle with the ideas of justice and what it means to really know someone. And I think, if that’s what Serial was trying to do, then it did so masterfully.
Season two is coming in 2015. That we know, even if we’ve yet to find out what the next season will attempt to cover. Will listeners who weren’t podcast people come back for more? Will we have something more definitive? Next time, on Serial..
There have been a lot of pieces out there about Serial. Here are a couple interesting ones that I found interesting. An SNL video and a dude busting out some rap skills (I too think it would be cool to rap over that track.)