May 19, 2019

Serial Season 3: Nonfiction Podcast Takes on a New Story

posted on: Thursday September 27, 2018

by: Julia Vaccarella ’20 A&E Staff

The first season of the unsurprisingly popular investigative podcast, Serial, was released back in 2014. Serial’s debut provided listeners with an introspective look into the 1999 homicide of high school student, Hae Min Lee, and the case of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was ultimately convicted of her murder. The show has since then become one of America’s top podcasts, and even prompted the movement for an additional investigation into Syed’s case. 

Many people were drawn to listen to Serial because of its systematic and detailed approach to storytelling. The extreme attention to detail that may have been overlooked in criminal cases is appealing to many and deviates from the typical true crime entertainment that is highlighted in the media today. 

Producer Host Serial Podcast

PHOTO COURTESY OF SANDY HONIG

A Huffington Post writer discussing Season One said, “the story has many of the classic features of a mystery: It’s a whodunit that combines the pleasures of a police and courtroom procedural. The twist is that the crime supposedly has been solved and we get those events retold.” 

Appeal for Serial is also heavily based in the episodic nature of the show that has become a precedent in the first two seasons and will continue in Season Three. 

Past episodes ran for an average span of 50 minutes. This left many viewers eager to hear the next part of the story when the following episode aired. There was an undeniable element of uncertainty in whether the speakers were telling the truth throughout the podcast. 

The podcast remained on the top of the iTunes podcast charts for months after the first episode and has been successful not only in the United States, but in England and Australia as well. 

The show is also the first podcast to be awarded a Peabody award, which it received in 2015. The podcast’s success can also be attributed to its ties with  the creators of This American Life, a popular radio show that has aired over 600 episodes to date. 

Although the creators of the podcast and host Sarah Koenig will be starting anew, there is still much promise for the behind-the-scenes auditory journalism that has drawn so many to Serial in the past four years. Season 3, which aired its first episode on Sept. 20, is based in Cleveland, Ohio and focuses on the American justice system. 

According to Serial’s podcast website, this particular city was selected because creators were able to, “record everywhere—courtrooms, back hallways, judges’ chambers, prosecutors’ offices” and “outside the building, into neighborhoods, into people’s houses, and into prison.” 

One of the central differences of the new season  is that Koenig will be incorporating the stories of multiple individuals rather than focusing on one overarching case. While this is an alternative move for the podcast, it will provide listeners with an unusual perspective on the country’s justice system. 

Another premise is that these are “ordinary” cases; however, the way in which Serial operates alludes to the fact that there are bigger issues at hand with each respective story. Listeners can find all  seasons of Serial on the website, serialpodcast.org.

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