Serial: A Murder Mystery Podcast Truly Worth Obsessing Over
In January 1999, Baltimore teenager Hae Min Lee was murdered. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted a few months later and has been in prison ever since. But did he actually do it? Or did his defense bungle the case? And what does it mean to find yourself liking someone but still not know whether or not he's a murderer? Those are the questions at the center of Serial podcast, the addictive new spinoff from This American Life. Serial has been going on for a handful of weeks now, but it's certainly not too late to jump in (just carve out a couple hours; you're not going to be able to stop at one).
And if you're in it, you're no doubt looking to devour any and all information about the backstory, the individuals involved, and the producer Sarah Koenig. Serial is more than an investigation; it's an exploration of storytelling, and that is where Sarah is the master. Even she doesn't know what's going to happen next on Serial, but for those of you trying to solve the case as it goes, here's everything you need to be reading, watching, and listening to right now:
- First stop, the Serial Podcast website. Sarah and team post updates every week with documents to accompany each episode — maps, cell phone records, letters, photos, missives from Adnan in prison. Start to feel like a real investigative reporter as you pore over the evidence while listening to each podcast.
- If the ensuing endless conversations with your friends about Serial aren't enough, Slate started doing a discussion podcast about each episode after it airs. They break down the biggest burning questions in a conversational way — this is a good, easy way to keep the weekly adrenaline rush going even if you don't want to go too deep into the Serial universe just yet . . . but you'll get there.
- Of course, it's important to figure out just how much Sarah knows and what she has up her sleeve. Don't be too disappointed, but she's really only one step ahead. Read this interview with the Serial creator about how she's still deep in figuring this out but really thinks we should trust that she's going to give us a satisfying ending.
- If you're looking for more information right from the characters in the story — we've got you covered. Rabia Chaudry, the lawyer who knew Adnan growing up and originally brought the story to Sarah, is actually writing her own blog to accompany the episodes. She discusses her own take on the events, reveals her motivations in keeping the conversation going, and gives firsthand insight into the Adnan she knew as her brother's close friend.
- Rabia has also been participating in a series of live discussions, which you can watch Mondays on Google Hangout and catch up with on YouTube.
- BuzzFeed also spoke to Sarah Koenig about the greater questions Serial brings up: "We all think we're a pretty good judge of character. We all have these tools, and you move through life that way — that's how we operate. You're constantly, throughout your day, making judgments and decisions about how you're going to think of other people. To me, that's the huge conundrum of the whole thing. If these people did these things, then what does it mean about our ability to judge people? How can you tell what someone's capable of?"
- So you're in deep. Real deep. You want it all. Where do you go? Reddit, of course. There's a general theories and discussions board, which can consume as much time as you'll possibly give it.
- Adnan's best friend Saad also did an AMA on Reddit, in which he talks about their friendship, his experience during the 1999 investigation, and his own theories about Adnan's innocence.
- As for that theme music that plays through your head as you read all this? Check out an interview with composer Nick Thorburn of Unicorns and Islands about getting involved with the podcast and the reception so far.
- In the end, perhaps we'll get an answer to the greatest mystery of all . . .