mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Thoughts on Serial


After hearing about this podcast that was blowing up the charts, I finally checked out Serial. Serial follows the 1999 Baltimore murder of a high school girl, Hae Min Lee. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was charged and found guilty of the murder and is serving a life sentence for the crime. While there was scant physical evidence incriminating Anand, the prosecution had a star witness: Adnan's friend Jay, who said he helped bury the body of Lee after Adnan murdered her.

Directed and narrated by Sarah Koenig, each week we walk alongside Koenig as she explores every facet of this story.

I started listening on Monday. On Tuesday, I had blown thrown 10 episodes – that’s 7 hours of content in two days! It’s good. It gets you hooked. They did a pretty stand-up job producing this show. While I eagerly wait for my next fix of Serial (delivered on Thursdays), I put some of my thoughts about the show on paper.

  • Regarding who I think committed the murder: I don’t know. There just isn’t enough hard evidence to point in any direction. It could be Adnan. It could be Jay. It could be someone we have no idea about.
  • The influence of race is too understated. America is far from post-racial today and it wasn’t any better in 1999. Here we have a Pakistani guy being accused by a black man of killing a Korean girl, in a courtroom with a predominantly black jury. Koenig touches on this only briefly. I can see why she doesn’t want her show to blandly conclude “just blame it on race,” but race could explain a lot of why things went down the way they did.
  • How good must it feel to be that marketing person at MailChimp that set up the sponsorship of Serial? #MailKimp
  • Adnan is going before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to argue that his lawyer did not effectively represent him during the trial. The judiciary should be objective, but I wonder if the clout of Serial will have any sway – even if minimal – on their thought process and decision.
  • Will Serial inspire clones where people investigate crimes of supposed false imprisonment? What effect will this have on people who claim they are falsely imprisoned, and will these people start being more vocal about their story in the hopes that someone picks it up?
  • Will Redditors (the majority of who think Adnan is innocent) riot if Adnan doesn’t win his appeal in January?
  • The criminal justice system is total crap. It sounds like if Adnan admitted to the murder and showed remorse, he might’ve gotten a lighter sentence. So if he actually didn’t do it, he could admit he did to try to get a reduced sentence. He stuck to his guns hoping the jury would not decide he was guilty, and now he’ll spend the rest of his life in jail.
  • If I was falsely imprisoned I’d be super pissed and I’d let people know it, especially if someone came to me and asked me to spill my guts out. But I don’t know what fifteen years in prison would do to someone. Adnan might’ve resigned himself long ago to the fact that he will probably never leave the prison system.
  • There are only two episodes left in season one. Serial got funding for another season, but it’ll be a while before that comes out. What will I do without Serial!?
  • If NPR held Serial hostage during its pledge drives, could they be massively shortened!? Just imagine: “if we can reach a trillion dollars in donations in one week, we’ll release Serial twice a week year-round!”

Haven’t checked out Serial yet? Set some time aside and do it now!