It’s not a doughnut, shoes or a TV show, or rather it is a show of some kind.
A podcast where we unfold one non-fiction story, week by week, over the course of a season. Narrated by Sarah Koenig, a journalist, she focuses on the 1999 murder of Balitmore High School student, Hae Min Lee.
Lee’s ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of her murder and has been in prison since.
Koenig was contacted by a family friend of Syed’s, Rabia Choudry, to look into the case after she found some articles Koenig had written in the Baltimore Sun about a defense attorney who had been disbarred for mishandling client money. That attorney was the same person who defended Adnan, and it was her last major trial.
Choudry emplored Koenig to look at the case because she believed the defense attorney botched the case. Koenig looks into the case because she doesn’t get these type of requests often.
Here’s what Koenig says about what she found when she looked into the specifics of the case in episode one of Serial;
“On paper, the case was like a Shakespearean mashup– young lovers from different worlds thwarting their families, secret assignations, jealousy, suspicion, and honor besmirched, the villain not a Moor exactly, but a Muslim all the same, and a final act of murderous revenge. And the main stage? A regular old high school across the street from a 7-Eleven.”
Syed is depicted as a good Pakistani Muslim boy, leading prayers at the mosque on occasion, he’s on the football and track teams, he’s a paid EMT volunteer and in a mostly black high school was voted junior prom prince.
“So you get the picture. He was an incredibly likeable and well-liked kid,” Koenig says in episode one ‘The Alibi’.
When the case comes to trial, the state’s case against Syed presents inconsistencies. There’s no physical or DNA evidence to link Syed the crime, other than Jay’s testimony and Adnan’s cell phone records which don’t necessarily match Jay’s timeline. Syed’s attorney fails to investigate a witness who could provide an alibi for him. There’s things that Koenig thinks are not quite right or they just simply don’t add up.
So for the past year Koenig has been obsessed about where a teenage boy was after school one day.
“For the last year, I’ve spent every working day trying to figure out where a high school kid was for an hour after school one day in 1999– or if you want to get technical about it, and apparently I do, where a high school kid was for 21 minutes after school one day in 1999. This search sometimes feels undignified on my part. I’ve had to ask about teenagers’ sex lives, where, how often, with whom, about notes they passed in class, about their drug habits, their relationships with their parents.
“And I’m not a detective or a private investigator. I’ve not even a crime reporter. But, yes, every day this year, I’ve tried to figure out the alibi of a 17-year-old boy,” Koenig says.
It’s worth noting that Serial is currently the no.1 podcast in Australia, US, Britain and Canada. It’s been the fastest podcast to reach five million downloads. This true-life crime doco has capitvated thousands on social media platforms such as Reddit and Twitter.
To be honest I’ve listend to all current 11 episodes twice now. The 12th and final episode airs tomorrow and we’re all holding our breath for the final conclusion.
My advice? Start from the beginning. Don’t skip an episode, pause or get distracted. Listen to each episode and make your own assumptions.
Is Adnan guilty or not-guilty? I have no freakin’ idea. But I do hope that Koenig presents some final conclusion, some finality to this Shakespearean-esque tale.