What 'Serial' Was Really About

As most-popular-podcast-of-all-time "Serial" finally comes to a conclusion, there've been a lot of pieces written to try and figure out what did this all mean? Many were disappointed with the show for a variety of reasons - this is natural, as any show that is so insanely popular is going to experience intense scrutiny.

One of my favorite writers, Jay Caspain Kang, wrote what was, to me, a fairly unconvincing piece about the show's "White reporter privilege." Justine Elias chided the show for being "slack and meandering."

But what I really appreciated was Sarah Larson's piece for The New Yorker on this topic:

Episode twelve conclusively proved that what we’ve been listening to is not a murder mystery: it’s a deep exploration of the concept of reasonable doubt, and therefore an expos√©, if unwittingly so, of the terrible flaws in our justice system. Those among us who deign to be jurors, and don’t try to wriggle out of jury duty, too often don’t understand reasonable doubt, or can’t convince fellow-jurors about what it truly means. We convict people who haven’t been proved guilty because we feel that they are guilty. We feel that they’re guilty in part because they’re sitting in a courtroom having been accused of a terrible crime. In cases like this, the burden often ends up on proving the accused’s innocence—not innocent until proven guilty. And Adnan Syed is just the tip of the iceberg.

Even if the show doesn't accomplish anything in the legal case of Adnan Syed, and even despite its other potential flaws, "Serial" has highlighted some of the systemic flaws in our justice system to an audience of millions of people. For that reason alone, it deserves our praise.

2 comments :: What 'Serial' Was Really About

  1. Now I want to Rewatch 12 angry men.

  2. Glad to hear you've been following the Serial podcast. I learned about it after the last episode but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've been a fan of your podcasting work, first about Game of Thrones with Joanna Robinson (never just Joanna, always Joanna Robinson). This pointed me to your Breaking Bad podcasts where I enjoyed the series and your commentary.

    For me Serial represents the coming of age of the podcast medium. This show was entertainment, a documentary, an expose of the American Criminal justice system and an exploration of our perceptions of our justice system and the nature of guilty and innocent. It was a superbly crafted series that had me enthralled.

    Oh yes, I hope you don't mind that I occasionally listen to you and Joanna Robinson on Stitcher. Keep up the good work!

Post a Comment