Just like everyone else in the world, I’ve jumped onto the Serial bandwagon and I am very into it.
Don’t read this if you haven’t listened to the first two episodes of Serial.
There are spoilers ahead!
This is a description of Serial taken from serialpodcast.com:
On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.
Sarah Koenig, who hosts Serial, first learned about this case more than a year ago. In the months since, she’s been sorting through box after box (after box) of legal documents and investigators’ notes, listening to trial testimony and police interrogations, and talking to everyone she can find who remembers what happened between Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee fifteen years ago. What she realized is that the trial covered up a far more complicated story, which neither the jury nor the public got to hear. The high school scene, the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence – all of it leads back to the most basic questions: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of? In Season One of Serial, she looks for answers.
Episode 1: The Alibi
I don’t really listen to podcasts very often so I may not be the best person to talk about these because I don’t know what is standard “podcast practice” and what is unique for this particular one. But either way, just based on reputation alone, I was instantly hooked on Serial. Episode 1 introduces many of the key players in this story: Hae, the victim, a top student at a high school in Maryland who had everything going for her; Adnan, the man who has spent 15 years in prison after being convicted of killing Hae; and various others who either believe Adnan has been rightfully punished or that they must continue to fight to prove his innocence. So far, the biggest evidence against Adnan is a story coming from Jay, an acquaintance of Adnan’s (and his drug dealer), who tells the police that Adnan is behind Hae’s murder. Because nobody can necessarily pin down Adnan’s whereabouts for certain during the time of Hae’s murder, there is very little reason for people to not believe Jay’s story. The only saving grace for Adnan comes in the form of a former high school classmate named Asia who claims that she saw and spoke with Adnan in a library during the time of the murder. Unfortunately, as time has passed and stories have changed, Asia’s story has done virtually nothing to help Adnan in the long run.
From episode 1, only one thing is made clear about Serial: this story promises no ending. Host Sarah Koenig ensures her listeners that she also does not know how this will end and cannot necessarily ensure some sort of resolution. Listeners know immediately that this is about storytelling more than about the story itself.
Episode 2: The Breakup
Episode 2 delves into the relationship that once existed between Hae and Adnan. Based on entries in Hae’s diary, the listeners learn that their romance was very typically high school in many ways, but also very…not. Adnan’s parents were not approving of the relationship, a fact that eventually played a role in their breakup. This is where things get fishy: almost nobody seems to remember Adnan being particularly bitter about the breakup, sad but not vengeful. Above all, he certainly does not seem as though he plans to murder her. On the other hand, again, Jay seems to insist that Adnan was upset and had motive to kill Hae.
This is about the time I’ve started to form my own opinions about what may have happened. Something is weird about Jay. I’m not sure what motive he would have to lie about all of this but it just seems rather weird. But I also feel weirdly towards Adnan…I’m not sure if 15 years of wrongful imprisonment makes you more passive, but he just seems weirdly passive each time Sarah speaks with him about the case. Again, I don’t think I know enough to know who is lying but someone certainly is…but why? It is getting hard for me to accept that we may not find out the answers to these questions.