I will try to describe Serial as though it were not the most famous podcast of the last year. Serial is a narrative show, similar to (and created by the makers of) This American Life, the main differences being that the story Serial follows spans the whole season, and Serial maintains one narrator throughout—Sarah Koenig. If you’ve somehow avoided the show since it aired in October, the story it tells is that of Adnan Syed, a Baltimore resident who is in prison for allegedly murdering his ex-girlfriend when they were in high school. Koenig, the host, is a definite personality, though unlike in shows like Strangers or The Longest Shortest Time, we learn more about her opinions on the story than we do about her life. This is a key part of the show—nobody knows what’s going to happen, not even Koenig. It isn’t (necessarily) my favorite podcast, but it does cover all of the interest bases: it’s narrative in the way of a radio drama, investigative in the way of a crime novel, and includes the real voices of those involved. It also has aspects of found sound when we hear recordings from the original hearings. This is only Serial‘s first season, and I’m eager to see what the producers come up with next and if it manages to hold the attention of their impressive following.
Style: Narrative, Investigative, Interview
If You Like: This American Life, Criminal
Favorite Episode: Episode 3, “Leakin Park”