Serial, Post-Hype

serialA few months ago, my pop-culture savvy friend Bryce asked me if I had been listening to the Serial podcast. Nope, I said. Never heard of it.

Bryce couldn’t believe it. Apparently I was missing out on the most downloaded podcast ever, a cultural phenomenon. Over a 12-week period, Serial was downloaded by millions of people. It dominated the Top 10 list on iTunes, accompanied only by other podcasts about Serial. Yeah, you read that correctly. There were podcasts made about a podcast, and people listened to them.

I’m kind of a post-hype kind of guy. I started reading Harry Potter after the third book. I opted to see Ed over The Matrix on opening weekend (admittedly, one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made). I didn’t even listen to The Beatles until after they broke up.

So I didn’t join in the Serial craze until it was over (though the first episode is still on the Top 10 list today–podcasts are never really “over”). Which is unfortunate, because like certain pop culture phenomena, part of the fun is being there while it’s happening.

Instead, on my drive back to Virginia for Christmas, I listened the the entire Serial podcast in one sitting. It was then that I learned exactly what the series is about. I had assumed it was about a serial killer, as the title suggests. But no, it was just an investigation of a single murder involving a senior in high school in 1999, the same year that I also happened to be a senior in high school. So I was immediately hooked by the time period.

I won’t go into the details, but basically, a high school girl was murdered, and her ex-boyfriend was put in jail for life despite the only evidence against him being a friend’s testimony. Cut to the modern day when a reporter, Sarah Koenig, takes interest in the case and decides to dig deeper.

Serial is the ultimate whodunit. Before listening to it, I couldn’t figure out why it took off the way it did. I mean, it fits into the “true crime” genre–there’s plenty of true crime out there.

But I realized after listening to it that I really, really wanted to talk about it. I think that’s why Bryce brought it up in the first place–he was really enjoying theorizing with people week to week, as every episode ended with a question and a hook. It was damn good storytelling.

Did you listen to Serial? If so, how did it capture your attention? Do you think he did it?

15 thoughts on “Serial, Post-Hype”

    • Me too. Hopefully she’ll follow up at some point. I’m curious to see what she does with the next season (which will follow a completely different case/subject).

  1. It was a good podcast. I was a little late to the party, too, so didn’t get in on the hype. I very much enjoyed it. Yet…

    I wish the final episode… I don’t want to spoil. I wish the final episode had been different. I was a little deflated by the ending.

    • Cory: I’m kind of hoping that’s not the last episode! 🙂 Officially it is, but there’s nothing stopping her from recording another. I’m sure Mailchimp would be on board.

  2. Finally, somebody whose blog I follow actually goes into detail about what exactly Serial is. I thought it was a Lifetime movie (which I found odd because…who even recommends Lifetime movies?). Definitely going to check it out now. And apparently, there’ll be a season 2 with a different case. So if I like the first season, that’s something else to look forward to this year.

    Thank you, Jamey.

    • Teddy: Indeed, it’s a big mystery right now as to what season 2 will be about. Let me know what you think if you give the first season a try!

  3. I loved Serial, and just finished listening to the first season yesterday (I’ve found that listening to podcasts works well with tasks such as cooking or baking). It was nice finding out about it after the initial hype, as that meant I could download all of the podcasts at once instead of suffering through the waiting period each week to find out what would be revealed next. I’m looking forward to whatever season 2 will bring.

  4. So I’ve listened to the entire season. The podcast is incredibly well produced and gripping from beginning to end.

    I have thoughts and mixed feeling about the show but I don’t want to spoil anything.


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