Do you remember Serial? The podcast that told the story of Baltimore resident Adnan Syed? Adnan was accused and convicted of murdering Hae Min Lee when he was a teen, and has been serving out his sentence ever since. However, not everyone believes he was guilty. That’s why Sarah Koenig and her team decided to dive deep on this case from the 90s, examining whether it was investigated and tried fairly.
Serial show that pretty much single-handedly kicked off the True Crime trend back in 2014. The podcast was so addictive, it spawned approximately thirty thousand ripoffs, but no one could reproduce Serial’s winning formula of gripping interviews, mesmerizing theme music, and host Sarah Knoenig waxing philosophical with every voice-over.
Because Season One became a bona fide phenomenon, Season Two of Serial was perhaps the most hotly anticipated podcast of all time. Sadly, it was devoted to Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009, was captured by the Taliban for a period of time, and later became the subject of congressional investigations.
Serial’s sophomore season was so lackluster, because it lacked the “It Factor” of Season One. It missed the mystery, and the existential questions inspired by Season One. Bowe admitted to intentionally walking off his post, and his reasons for doing so were essentially that he wanted to protest how his commanding officer was running their camp. Bergdahl staged this protest, despite how it put the lives of fellow soldiers at risk. As a result, Bergdahl came off as arrogant, entitled, and entirely unsympathetic. Whereas Syed was a fascinating figure whose guilt was hotly debated by water coolers the world over, Berdgahl’s story felt like the tale of a an irresponsible whiner.
After the Season Two fiasco of 2015, Serial fans waited three long years for a follow up. We wondered, “Could Sarah Koenig return the legendary pod to its former glory? Could she make something as exquisitely listenable as her examination of Hae Min Lee’s murder and Adnan Syed’s trial? Could anyone? Would any podcast ever be as good? Or should we all cut off our ears and be done with it?
Well, rejoice! Because Season Three is actually good! In her third attempt, Koenig focuses on a year’s worth of stories from within Cleveland’s court system. And it’s so, so compelling! While Serial was a detailed look at the ins and outs of a single case, Season Three looks at the proverbial “Big Picture.” We meet judges (who are mostly white Irish and Italian men), we meet cops, we meet defendants. We get a full picture of the dysfunction that plagues America’s justice system, and how it routinely fails the accused. That all means it’s not just spellbinding, it’s also educational. What more could you ask of your auditory entertainment?
With Canadian Thanksgiving coming up, many of us have road trips in the near future. Don’t forget to download Serial Season Three. You’ll be glad you did!
Serial’s third season is now available wherever you listen to podcasts.