The Experience of Listening to the SERIAL Podcast

SERIAL, the podcast is quite addictive. I came to it late in January 2016.

I’m trying to avoid, “The Making of a Murderer” because, well I would feel manipulated and that’s an investment of time where I can’t do much else but watch. By reading around, I also largely agree that the police screwed up a lot and likely enhanced the evidence. Beyond that, not idea but I can’t quite get into it, yet.

But Serial – I can listen while cleaning, while washing the dishes and doing other things. So, I plugged into Season 2, I think on Jan. 19 after the first four episodes were out: 01 – DUSTWUN; 02 – The Golden Chicken; 03 – Escaping; 04 – The Captors. I quickly buzzed through those 204 minutes / 3.3 hours and I really wanted to check in on the next installment. This is how old radio worked; oh wait, this is how current TV works, still. I’m not saying that’s a good or bad thing, it just takes a lot to get used to.

As evidence, of the point ending the last paragraph, I point to the X Files, the Resurrection or whatever it’s called. We watched the first, Carrie and I since it was after a football game – score 12 for marketing and scheduling. We then didn’t watch the one the next day and didn’t watch the next one. Even though I REALLY wanted to; I did remember the second episode but was too busy and completely forgot the third one on February 1.

Listening to Season Two
I paid attention to Soldier Bowe Bergdahl only a little last year when he was part of a prisoner trade with the Taliban. That didn’t seem like a great idea for a soldier who might have gone AWOL – and President Obama got a raft of shit for it. Usually my instinct when that happens is to push the raft away so it floats away. Beyond that I had no recollection or curiosity about the details.
Here’s part of the intro on the website page:

“In May 2014, a U.S. Special Operations team in a Black Hawk helicopter landed in the hills of Afghanistan. Waiting for them were more than a dozen Taliban fighters and a tall American, who looked pale and out of sorts: Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier, had been a prisoner of the Taliban for nearly five years, and now he was going home.

President Obama announced Bergdahl’s return in the Rose Garden, with the soldier’s parents at his side. Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, planned a big celebration to welcome him back. But then, within days—within hours of his rescue, in fact—public reaction to his return flipped. People started saying Bergdahl shouldn’t be celebrated. Some of the soldiers from his unit called him a deserter, a traitor. They said he had deliberately walked off their small outpost in eastern Afghanistan and into hostile territory.

Hailey canceled its celebration. The army launched an investigation….”

Sarah Koenig is narrating the series – both of them. And she’s doing a lot (most) of the digging into the details and what happened. The reporting. She quickly gives the impression of wanting to believe Bergdahl and, in the first season, Adnan Syed. That’s perhaps because I know these stretch out to many episodes; however I haven’t hit the end of either series, yet.

But Koenig asks good question and she has doubts, which she airs, often. There’s a true narrative and true story being displayed for the listeners to think on to; it’s not all handed to us, the listeners with conclusions and resolution.

I listened to Season 2, Episode 05 and now it’s going to be every two weeks because they are being inundated with a lot more information and details and context. I really want to find other programs like this. RadioLab is similar but a little all over the place; there is not one overall story arc.

Right now I’m listening to Season1, Episode 08 of Serial, titled “The Deal with Jay.” Jay has actually been a suspicion for me since the first episode and it really sounds like he’s a storyteller himself who was jealous of Adnan’s close friendship with his girlfriend; Jay sounds like he saw an opportunity and calculated this, pushing people’s doubts in the right direction. This is the story of a murder out of a high school in Baltimore. A girl was murdered. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, haw been convicted. He’s been in prison over 10 years already.

I didn’t think I’d be as interested as this story started; it’s more routine and covers smaller issues than a soldier leaving a post in Afghanistan and being a POW for 5 years. But this 1st season involves a lot of regular people trying to figure out this tragedy among them.

Until I just went to the Serial Podcast website I didn’t know proper spellings of people’s names or seen any visuals – such as a picture of Adnan.

“Rather than trying to get to the truth, you’re trying to build your case” it’s said at one point in Season 1. I think that’s the crux of so much of what goes on in the world. That’s inconsistent and hurts my confirmation bias.

The next episode comes out in two days, Thursday Feb. 4. Life is a continuum.