“Serial” – My Review & Thoughts

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Sarah Koenig on the phone

Serial is a podcast that is about a murder case, which is told by Sarah Koenig. In the first episode, we, the viewers, are introduced into what happened and the characters involved. Adnan Syed, was a seventeen year old Muslim kid that supposedly strangled his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. Her body was found about a month later, and Adnan was immediately charged with first degree murder, with 30+ years in jail. Sarah decided to investigate this case for herself, and thus, made a whole podcast about it, called Serial.

I personally liked this podcast surprisingly, as this was one of the rare times I’ve even listened to podcasts in general. Although the first episode was 53 minutes, I think the fact that I like mysteries helped too. Sarah talks a lot (obviously, she’s the narrator & executive producer of the podcast) but her voice was not a burden to listen to, as it is quite soothing, rather than annoying. The choice of music that they put on the podcast is really good too, I more than often find myself either tapping my foot to the beat. Aside from the music, the other most important thing in the podcast, is the audio quality. I would have expected that when she calls a suspect/person that’s related to the case, that the voice would be of low quality, as their speaking through a phone and probably over a great amount of distance. Fortunately, they managed to get decent recordings of the phone calls, and I did not have to turn up my volume to understand what the person was saying. This enhanced my overall experience on the podcast, and I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys interesting and mysterious investigation(s).

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A picture of the alleged murder, Adnan Syed, when he was back in high school

The podcast has blown up ever since it’s release, however, we don’t hear much of Lee’s family and their opinion on how they feel about this situation as a whole. Now most people would not think much of the family, as they probably don’t care, but I on the other hand, think the complete opposite. Since we do not hear much from the family, this presumably makes me think that the family may not like the media attention, and are just flat out frustrated. Although they were notified about the podcast being made, as they had to get their permission, I don’t think they knew that it would be this big.

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Hae Min Lee’s family, brother (left) and mother (right)

The few statements we do hear from the family, however, are grief-full – as sadly expected. Wills Robinson, a journalist for dailymotion.com (his content gets posted on Dailymail, respectively), restated what the Lee family had to say, “We believe justice was done when Adnan was convicted in 2000, and we look forward to bringing this chapter to an end so we can celebrate the memory of Hae instead of celebrating the man who killed her” (Robinson). I genuinely have sympathy for the family, as all they’re trying to do, is to move on from this unfortunate case. The statement is partially true though, as more people listen to “Serial”, more people choose sides, and it just happened to be that a lot of people are on Syed’s side. I think this clearly made the family angry, as Baynard Woods, a writer in Baltimore, grasped a statement that the family made, regarding the fans of the popular podcast, “Unlike those who learn about this case on the internet, we sat and watched every day of both trials – so many witnesses, so much evidence” (Lee). As you can see, there is a difference from learning “this case on the internet” versus physically being at every trial, listening to the many witnesses and evidence – like the family has.

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The art cover by Radia Caudry’s book, Adnan’s Story

To add on to what the family had said about learning about the case through the internet, I wonder how’d they feel if the producers of “Serial” made a book about the case. Although there is already a book made by the prosecutors called, Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry, it’d still be intriguing to hear from the perspective of the victims side. My guess is that the family will be even more enraged, as they just want to move on. Either way, I think I’d rather listen to the podcasts, rather than reading for specific reasons. Firstly, I think Sarah has made her voice a staple for the series, as everyone is used to her already. Plus, when you listen to people talking, you can hear how their voice sounds and that may change your interpretation of certain characters. That benefit alone, has the possibility of increasing my understanding of the case, and that’s why I’d rather listen, than read.

This podcast was a joy to listen to, mainly because of Sarah and her style of presenting her investigative journalism to us. She is a big reason of why the podcast is so successful, and as a result, has earned many fans, including myself. Her delivery of the whole case in general, is superb and considering the content of episode one, I can accurately predict that the rest of episodes in season 1 are just as good, if not better. You may even happen to find me listening to the long-waited premiere of season 3 in the future.

Works Cited

Dailymail.com, Wills Robinson For. “Family of ‘Serial’ Victim Hae Min Lee Say Her Convicted Killer Adnan Syed ‘destroyed Our Family’ in Emotional Letter That Slams the Podcast’s Fans for Running to Defend Him.” Daily Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 08 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

Woods, Baynard. “Serial Case: Victim’s Family Offers Rare Statement before Hearing Resumes.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 07 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

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