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Serial was great, but was it worth it?
When you’re dusting off a real crime, with real people who are still alive, should you not finish the reporting before the telling?
How will it end?
For the last few nights, before drifting to sleep, this is the question that’s spray-painted across my fevered brain in big block letters: HOW WILL IT END? Preceding this question, of course, are so many others: Is Adnan Syed innocent? Or did he murder his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, a crime for which he was found guilty in 2000 and sentenced to life in prison?
This is what Serial, the most successful podcast in history, has done to millions of listeners around the world. It has infiltrated our offline thoughts. It has unleashed our inner detectives. It has poured kerosene over our faith in truth and justice and, for 11 mesmerizing episodes, hinted there’s a flame-thrower waiting.
Whether everything is set ablaze on Thursday morning, when the 12th and final episode is released, is anyone’s guess. But whatever closure is to be had, this much is certain:Serial was a pop cultural masterpiece, a triumph of pure storytelling.
At this point, I could attempt to toss out some quote-unquote deep thoughts on what it all means, on why we got hooked on what was basically episodic audio in the tradition of postwar radio. We could hop in a time machine and make zeitgeist comparisons to Dickens, detail the stylistic and structural nods to Truman Capote and Norman Mailer. We could analyze documentaries such as The Staircase and explore the socio-cultural impact of the true crime genre in the ’60s and ’70s.
But I’m too muddled for that.
This is the real reason Serial is as addictive as crack cocaine: it is bewildering.
Serial's $2,500 Phone Bill and the Prison-Calling Racket
This is how Serial will end, according to Funny or Die
SEASON ONE: EPISODE 11 RUMORS
Almost everyone describes the 17-year-old Adnan the same way: good kid, helpful at the mosque, respectful to his elders. But a couple of months ago, Sarah started getting phone calls from people who knew Adnan back then, and told her stories of a different kind of boy.
Serial is a podcast designed to be listened to in order.If you're just landing here please go back and start with Episode 1.