• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Sweet Sue on Does anyone believe…
    ipotter on Does anyone believe…
    ipotter on Does anyone believe…
    ipotter on Does anyone believe…
    ipotter on Does anyone believe…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Does anyone believe…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Does anyone believe…
    catscatscats on Does anyone believe…
    ipotter on Does anyone believe…
    blizzardofozzz on Does anyone believe…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Does anyone believe…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Does anyone believe…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Does anyone believe…
    riverdaughter on Does anyone believe…
    blizzardofozzz on Does anyone believe…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    October 2014
    S M T W T F S
    « Sep   Nov »
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • Top Posts

Serial spinoff from This American Life is Gripping

Back in the 19th century, famous authors Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy would serialize their novels for the papers.  Readers could check in with Bleak House or Jude the Obscure on a weekly basis.  Even though soap operas have serialized fictional lives for decades, it has only been recently that series like Fargo, Homeland and True Detective have presented complete plots in a serialized format instead of an episodic one.  This new kind of series season consists of one plot line, one story.  There is a beginning and an end.  The series could end after a single season, like a book without a sequel.

That kind of story telling has come to podcasting with the new This American Life spinoff, Serial.  Serial presents one single story, in this case told over twelve episodes.  TAL alum Sarah Koenig breaks down the elements of the story and constructs a gripping narrative that will leave you on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next.

Her first serial is a whodunit based on a real life crime and mystery.  Who killed Hae Min Lee, a pretty and smart high school student from Baltimore?  We know at the outset that her well-liked, equally smart boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of the crime based on the testimony of his friend Jay, who confessed to helping dispose of the body.  But there was no physical evidence linking Adnan to the crime and, in the end, what gets Adnan locked away for life is that he can’t account for about thirty minutes of his life on the cold January day in 1999 when Hae disappeared.  Was he at the library like he said, and some of his friends back up?  Or was he riding around in Hae’s car, looking for an opportunity to strangle her?

What is really fascinating about this series is Koenig herself flips back and forth on Adnan’s culpability as she peels back the layers of the onion of this story.  The series is twelve episodes long and Koenig is still in the midst of recording.  We will know what conclusion she comes to just about the time that she comes to one, though she says she has about as much information as the prosecutors and the detectives have on the case.  She’s just missing one or two bits to put the whole thing together- or have her theory blown apart.

She has already discarded the prosecutors’ theory for what motivated Adnan to do it, if he did.  I was likewise convinced that the motive was an improbable stretch but the fact that the jury didn’t think so is more interesting to me.  What we find out in this serial is that there’s more going on here than just a murder.  There are a lot of assumptions that every character caught up in the investigation and trial is making.  It seems like a specific motive and suspect was zeroed in on like a tractor beam from the very beginning and cultural influences may have lead to confirmation bias. That confirmation bias may explain why some people were dismissed as suspects or witnesses earlier and why some people were believed too soon.

In any case, I have no idea how this serial is going to end but I’m fascinated by the great storytelling.  If you have a house to clean, subscribe to the podcast for the first three episodes of binge listening.  Start from the beginning so you don’t miss a thing.

Five sponges.  Highly recommended.

2 Responses

  1. That sounds fun!! I’ll do it with my morning knitting. Thanks!!!

  2. what gets Adnan locked away for life is that he can’t account for about thirty minutes of his life on the cold January day in 1999 when Hae disappeared

    That’s a pretty scary prospect: being shut away for the rest of your life (or, in some states, being killed) because you can’t prove what you were doing in a 30 minute window 15 years ago.

    So much for the presumption of innocence.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: