Serial

Podcast Trailer

Publisher:
Serial Productions, This American Life

Serial

4.7/5

Critic Rating

Serial returns with a history of Guantánamo told by people who lived through key moments in Guantánamo’s evolution, who know things the rest of us don’t about what it’s like to be caught inside an improvised justice system. Serial Productions makes narrative podcasts whose quality and innovation transformed the medium. “Serial” began in 2014 as a spinoff of the public radio show “This American Life.” In 2020, we joined the New York Times Company. Our shows have reached many millions of listeners and have won nearly every major journalism award for audio, including the first-ever Peabody Award given to a podca...


Critic Reviews

Score: 4.8

The Crime Writers Squad • Crime Writers On May 2, 2024

"(Season: Guantanamo) Lara was enthralled by the various characters profiled, from brutal interrogators to prisoners (and US soldiers) caught in its Kafkaesque justice system. This look at Gitmo may not be legendary, but it was better than the previous two installments in the series."

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Score: 5

Lauren Passell • Podcast The Newsletter Apr 8, 2024

"(Season 4) I’m enjoying it. I’ve never heard Guantánamo talked about with such light treatment (I think Sarah and Dana buy Disney/Guantánamo souvenirs?) and I’ve never heard Guantanamo sound like so much fun (guards like to party,) and while it gets into more serious corners of the prison, it’s done with a certain casualness that I enjoy."

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Score: 5

PR Staff • PodcastReview.org Apr 5, 2024

"(Season 4) ...signature storytelling and hands-on research. We’ve come a long way since season one — but fans of Blowback, and investigative journalism, will be excited we’ve landed here. …"

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Score: 5

Stephen O. • Podcast Delivery Apr 1, 2024

"(Season 4) Through interviews and accounts that can be difficult to take in at times, we’re asked to shake up our preconceptions about something that’s about as American as apple pie – a prison engulfed in questionable practices and the inhumane treatment of its detainees. The familiar criminal justice feeling will take over as soon as you hear the soundtrack kick in. …"

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Score: 5

Patricia Nicol • The Times UK Mar 31, 2024

"(Season 4) What consistently works so far is the cool tone, with occasional stiletto liberal observations. That familiar propulsive theme tune, Koenig’s avid, questioning tone. It seems highly unlikely that Serial 4 could have the impact of the first season, but it feels good that it has its ambition back. …"

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Score: 5

Fiona Sturges • Financial Times Mar 31, 2024

"(Season 4) While this is new material for Serial, everything else about it is reassuringly familiar: the squeaky-clean production, the gently tinkling soundtrack, the thoughtful observational tone, the methodical reporting. Serial may have inadvertently spawned a true-crime monster with its first, blockbuster series, but this latest project is a welcome reminder of why it took off. It’s good to have it back. …"

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Score: 4.5

Miranda Sawyer • The Guardian Mar 30, 2024

"(Season 4) It’s not an immediately appealing subject, but if anyone can tell a nonfiction story and make it gripping, it’s Koenig and Chivvis. The problem with all of this is not the storytelling, which is superb, but the lack of surprise. The reporting and presentation of Serial are as wonderful as ever, so I will keep listening, but I hope for something more unexpected in the episodes to come."

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Score: 4

Sarah D. Bunting • Reality Blurred Mar 27, 2024

"(Season 4) The weirdly arch writing; the fact that some of the most affecting material in Episode 2 comes from a different podcast entirely, because that’s who key sources would speak to…it’s tempting to say that Serial’s lost its touch and that Season 4 is a miss. In the two episodes I’ve heard, it still manages to do what Serial has always done: get impressive access, and use it to build an immersive audio world."

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Score: 5

James Marriot • The Times UK Sep 30, 2022

"(Episode: Adnan Is Out) That all this turned out to be so gripping was down to the fact we heard Syed’s voice so often. He spoke regularly to Koenig over the phone from prison and sounded warm and witty, if drained. Koenig says wryly that the prosecutors found that their case “just kind of crumbled when they took a hard look”. An ironic pause. “I know.” If you haven’t listened to Serial before, this new episode will send you back to one of the defining entertainments of the 2010s even if you are entitled to feel somewhat queasy that all this drama, internet trash-talking and breathless news coverage has been inspired by the death of an 18-year-old. Really it’s all just horribly sad."

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Score: 5

Miranda Sawyer • The Guardian Sep 25, 2022

"(Episode: Adnan Is Out) And Serial released a follow-up episode, with Koenig explaining, clearly and without bias, in less than 20 minutes, what has happened. She is such a good broadcaster, her script and delivery miles above everyone else’s. Plus, you get to hear that eerie theme tune again."

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Score: 5

Patricia Nicol • The Times UK Sep 25, 2022

"...after listening to Serial’s bonus 13th episode, I returned to the first one. Immediately, I was pulled back in by Koenig’s precise, spare delivery, the drip-feed of its reveals and the sly way that earworm soundtrack marshals the narrative. It is a consummate, confident piece of audio storytelling."

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Score: 2.5

Sarah Weinman • BuzzFeed Sep 21, 2022

"[Episode: Adnan Is Out) Listening to that episode was a deeply strange experience. It felt quaint, like a time capsule in which we were still stuck in fall 2014. True crime has evolved as a genre, for good and for ill. But you wouldn’t know it from Serial’s latest episode. Koenig’s first-person narration, meant to present herself as approachable and fallible, instead revealed the inherent naivete of her perspective as a white woman reporter. By failing to fully delve into the ethnic backgrounds of both Hae-Min Lee and Adnan Syed, Serial missed an opportunity to explore the ramifications of Lee’s murder and Syed’s conviction on the Korean American and Pakistani communities in Baltimore and beyond. …"

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Score: 5

Robin & Kristin • The Clink Oct 1, 2020

"Serial is a riveting account of the fallibility of the justice system. A must listen."

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Score: 4.7

Elyssa Lieu • Amador Valley Today Apr 18, 2020

"From the first day of Serial’s release, it stood out. Like, really stood out. Serial is at its best with the way it explains, summarizes, and most importantly, adds all these people’s stories into one another. In the end, Serial covers some hard, harsh topics. But that’s precisely why it’s so important to listen to it. The experiences Koenig covers are things that the majority of people reading this will never experience."

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Score: 4.5

Erin Bury • Quill Inc. Nov 16, 2019

"(Season 1) No narrative podcast has ever captured the flow, storytelling, compelling twists and turns, and absolute NEED to listen to the next episode quite like Serial. I often listen to that opening episode over and over..."

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Score: 4.9

Rebecca Lavoie • Vulture Oct 1, 2019

"The show also kicked off a shift of the public’s interest from crime stories with clear-cut “bad guys” and “good guys” to deeper narratives about flawed investigations and potential miscarriages of justice. And while Koenig’s singular style inspired a half-decade of haters and imitators, no honest podcaster can deny her unparalleled influence."

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Score: 5

Andrew Liptak • The Verge Sep 23, 2018

"[Season 3] The third season of Serial starts off with host Sarah Koenig introducing the place where the podcast listener will reside for the duration of its run. It’s a stunning, almost cinematic monologue. Serial demonstrated that this type of ongoing, narrative storytelling had legs, and in the years since, there have been thousands of followers using the same format and style, in ways that work and don’t. Serial demonstrated that this type of ongoing, narrative storytelling had legs, and in the years since, there have been thousands of followers using the same format and style, in ways that work and don’t. Serial’s third season is a return to form."

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Score: 4.6

Steve Greene • IndieWire Sep 21, 2018

"(Season 3) ...the show has retained a skill that it demonstrated in the Adnan Syed case and carried through its examination of Bowe Bergdahl’s capture...the contributions from reporter Emmanuel Dzotsi offer a valuable perspective...When condensing months (and in some cases, years) of reporting down into a single sentence to make terms or practices digestible for lay people, it’s done with an incredible efficiency and economy of words. Season 3 has already demonstrated a meticulous ability to separate out individuals within an organizational structure while still considering the institution as a whole. "

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Score: 5

Nicholas Quah • Vulture Sep 20, 2018

"(Season 3) Ambitious, Addictive, and Completely Different. At its peak, the first episode of this season fuses together two kinds of highs: the dopamine hit of a really good journalistic study, and the warm pitter-patter of a workplace drama. Between the richness of the script and the scale of its scope and the crispness of its execution — did I mention that the revamped theme song is just delicious this season? "

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Score: 5

Miranda Sawyer • The Guardian Nov 8, 2014

"(Season 1) ...the greatest murder mystery you will ever hear...Sarah Koenig’s weekly podcast examining an old Baltimore homicide is long-form journalism at its most riveting. I’m obsessed. What is really intriguing about Serial – what drags you in and keeps you listening – is that it isn’t a straightforward case. It’s a remarkable piece of long-form journalism because of this: we believe that we are walking alongside her as she works, but some of the programme was made a few months back. There’s a structure to this slow-drip storytelling."

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