Serial: The Most Popular Podcast Ever


By now, unless you’ve been residing under a very large, soundproof rock, you’ll have heard of Serial, the gripping podcast from Sarah Koenig that has everybody talking. If you haven’t yet listened to it, you’re lucky; 12 hours of unadulterated escapism from the worries that plague your own head awaits you, while the rest of us eagerly anticipate the stories that continue to emerge, long after season 1 has wrapped. Whatever final thoughts you may have had by the time the credits rolled on episode 12 have likely been upended what with all the subsequent interviews that continue to muddy what we took for granted throughout the series. However challenging season 1 may have been, Koenig’s certainly got her work cut out for her in season 2.

But will we ever know what really happened?

Driving through the countryside, however, with the story of Adnan Syed’s conviction (following the killing of his ex girlfriend Hae Min Lee back in 1999) coming to life in your ears, as you grapple with the ‘did he, didn’t he’ conundrum that’s made Serial so popular, it’s easy to forget that what we’re listening to isn’t fiction. Sarah Koenig’s affable, soothing voice pieces together parts of the puzzle in such a brilliant (yet sometimes frustrating) way, you know it won’t be long before Hollywood honchos come looking for a film script. ‘Adnan Sayed: The alleged murderer you can’t help but like’ or other such titles come to mind. But there’s a lot more to the story of man hoping for an appeal whilst serving out his life sentence for a crime he claims he did not commit than our own sense of entertainment and escapism.


And it’s not just Adnan, withering away in prison (though it sounds as if he’s quite content, which further confuses us) whom Serial has hugely impacted. There’s Hae Min Lee’s family who continually face a sea of changing information and worldwide fascination at their daughter’s untimely death. There’s key prosecution witness Jay Wilds who has given in depth interviews, as have many other voices that punctuated the world’s most popular podcast.

According to various sources, Adnan had requested an appeal that would attempt to overturn the decision to deny him post-conviction relief, reexamining whether or not the judge in the previous case “properly followed the law and legal precedent.” Unfortunately for Adnan, this appeal has been denied. Addicts of the podcast, Adnan, and all those affected now wait for word on their forthcoming ruling.

What began for Sarah Koenig as an intriguing piece of investigative journalism on a case that, like many, seems to be replete with many niggling holes, soon grew beyond what Koenig admits she herself never expected. With 40 hours of recorded conversation with the man in question in her lap, Koenig tells US Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that the podcast’s growing popularity “was just a constant reminder of how careful we needed to be.”

From one episode to the next, lines would continually blur as layer upon layer of contradicting information messed with our pre-existing notions of how a murderer should sound. We tend to expect some sort of psychopath, right? But as a key psychologist on the series said to Koenig, the majority of murderers aren’t psychopaths and the majority of psychopaths don’t commit murder. You don’t have to be crazy to kill. But still, we just don’t know.

With so many questions still prompting discussions at watercooler corners and local pub tables, we suggest you get listening so as not to feel left out. It’s addictive listening and addictive reading. Eventually, truth will out. Won’t it?

Stay tuned!


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