Serial: A New Platform Not a New Idea


I first listened to Serial in the early fall when it was the only thing anyone was talking about. I went into the first episode with the highest of expectations, anticipating the most intriguing and exciting story telling of all time.

It was good, but it didn’t leave me wanting more. I could have just given up after the first episode without ever finding out who had killed Hae Min Lee. I should have just given up after the first episode, because no one ever found out who killed Hae Min Lee.

But I made it to the sixth episode before finally calling it quits.

To be honest, I actually thought that the victims name was “Haley” for the first two episodes before I realized they were calling her Hae, for Hae Min. Maybe that’s a sound issue, a fault in Sarah Koenig’s speaking voice– who is the show’s producer and host—or maybe it was just a shortcoming of my brain for not regularly listening to podcasts.

When I looked up the case online, Hae Min is not at all what I pictured her to look like, which is always an imagination letdown.

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

I think what bothered me most about Serial was that it was just like any other murder investigation. I’ve watched CBS’s 48 hours many times with my mom. Serial was that minus the video footage—it was nothing new or different, just the latest fad.

Koenig’s speaking voice was pretty soothing to listen to, I think. But after I saw on Instagram a friend’s post about how she never swallowed, and had built up saliva that was audible, that’s all I could think about.

Questioning the ­accuracy of every bit of information she is given … Sarah Koenig
Sarah Koenig

I think that Serial was definitely well produced as just an audio story. I was able to create most images in my mind, like when Koenig takes you to the crime scene after one of the suspects finds Hae’s body in the woods after urinating. I saw him creepily in the woods with a bottle of jack, urinating on a body, which he may or may not have just murdered.

I also was able to visualize the fights Adnan and Hae had, and his overwhelming presence in always wanting to spend time with her. I could feel the tension as they were describing it.

In a few episodes, Koenig reads from Hae’s journal. This was definitely chilling and I think any visual of this would have greatly taken away from the power of Hae’s own words—especially given that Hae is dead.

Hae’s love for Adnan but also her fears about him were both very real and transparent in her diary.

I think the influence of Hae’s diary would have been greatly diminished with an actress portraying Hae visually, or with someone else reading them on screen.

I stopped after the many call logs and back and forths of Koenig trying to find friends from Hae and Adnan’s past. I have no desire to re-listen to finish the series.


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