Review: Serial Podcast

What if I told you that this year’s most intriguing mystery story didn’t come from a movie, television show or book, but from a podcast? Former producer for “This American Life” Sarah Koenig hosts a gripping new podcast that puts listeners in the middle of the 1999 murder case of high school senior Hae Min Lee. The first episode of this brand-new series begins with a prepaid call from Hae’s ex-boyfriend, Adnan, fifteen years after she went missing. Adnan is set to spend the rest of his life in prison for her murder.

The mystery is not as simple as it seems. Thanks to some investigation and deep digging, Koenig and her team find enough evidence and stories to give the case another look, and they bring listeners along for the ride while they uncover new discoveries little by little in each week’s episode.

What makes “Serial” stand out is Sarah Koenig’s approach to the topic at hand. She does not work for a police force, nor does she have a background in criminal justice, yet she commits to uncovering this mystery from a storytelling basis. The idea is that if a show like “True Detective” or “Breaking Bad” can draw audiences in, then why not a podcast? With no fancy visuals or actors to sell to the audience, the story has to be top-notch with episode after episode of surprises, which “Serial” delivers on.

Adnan was arrested and found guilty of murder in 1999 after a six-week trial, which gave him a life sentence, despite his pleading innocent. What looked like an open and shut case now seems more complicated than ever imagined, with stories of friends and witnesses not adding up, cell phone records being inaccurate and would-be suspects remaining silent.

“Serial” is beginning to show the power of the podcast and how influential it can be. Adnan’s attorney, C. Justin Brown, told the Associated Press that an appeal hearing has been scheduled for this January to see if Adnan can qualify for post-conviction relief — largely due to the coverage of his case.

“Serial” makes you feel as though you a part of the investigation. The listeners discover new clues with Koenig, rather than her telling the story already knowing the answer. If anything, this is further proof that while visuals and acting are key components to drawing in audience to your work, it’s the story that really triumphs.

“Serial” has been the number one podcast on iTunes for several weeks and is free for your listening pleasure. Tune in, and let’s get invested in this mystery together.