Confession: The past week I have not been holiday shopping, running, sleeping, or socializing. Instead, I have been listening to “Serial” from start to end in 4 days time. Some of you may know what I am talking about — the story line, the who, the what, the details. Others, may think I am referring to “cereal” and not understanding my mish-mash-grammar (not the first time). So what is it, for those of you not on the band wagon? Serial is a podcast from WBEZ Chicago. It is a spin off from “This American Life” about a real true story murder mystery of a reporter piecing back together a murder and trial in Baltimore, Maryland from 1999. I first read about it on many different blogs, then the NYTimes, and then I wanted to fit in, so I did it. I downloaded the podcast and I just sat and listened. To say I was hooked is a lie — I was engrossed and obsessed. I started on a Friday and finished on a Tuesday — all 10 episodes that were available then (they come out each Thursday). And LORD, is it GOOD!!!!
First thing I did was call my brother to tell him to start listening, so then he started and listened to 4 episodes, and all I have been doing is calling and texting him to see what he thinks / who did it / who is lying / am I a good detective? (Of course, those hundreds of phone calls and texts were unanswered. So goes the story of my life with my uncommunicative brother….) I am not going to say too much because I have ruined TV endings (sorry Kim and Joe!) and movie plots (sorry Amers!) and World Cup wins (sorry Katie!!!), so instead, I will just tell you: DO IT. Get on your computer / phone / ipad and download “Serial.” It will take away a lot of hours of your life, but it is riveting, engaging, entertaining, and smart. And it makes you just sit and listen — completely meditative and relaxing. Instead of multitasking (impossible to do so with this show), you simply sit. And listen. And think. And laugh. And wonder.
The brief summary of the series (as described from the website) is:
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.
So whatever you are doing this weekend should include listening to Serial. My entertainment obsessions in the past have included Friday Night Lights, The Wire, Dexter, and Parenthood. This is up there with all of them. Download it now and thank me later.
And if you’re already listening, do you think Adnan did it? Happy weekend!