Serial Is Finally Back (Kind Of)


Courtesy of Andrea Morales Serial obsessives and casual listeners alike, GET HYPE, the team behind Sarah Koenig’s hit podcast Serial just announced it will be returning with a new spinoff series called S-Town. This might be just as exciting as a shrimp sale at the Crab Crib.

Hosted by producer Brian Reed, the show follows an Alabama man who claimed to have gotten away with murder. Midway through the investigation, another character dies off shortly after S-Town’s reporters started investigating. The press release calls it a story about “about a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure and the mysteries of one man’s life.”

The series, itself a spinoff of This American Life, kicked off the now ubiquitous podcast trend. It breathed new life into the aging format and became an overnight sensation that had people around the country speculating about who might have killed Baltimore teenager Hae Min Lee. Serial captured the zeitgeist almost overnight, spawning a tour of Woodlawn, a Notorious B.I.G. remix, and an all-timer SNL sketch through its winding 12-episode run.

Its second season, though, failed to reach the same audience, and while its coverage of Bowe Bergdahl was compelling, it was harder to break into and overanalyze. The Bergdahl case was political, and maybe a little too recent for listeners to care about in the same way they did Adnan Syed. And, frankly, a crime show without a body is boring.

In the first season, we never did find out who was behind Lee’s murder (and the series might have ended up just being a meditation on the nature of truth), but we got something better: The golden age of podcasting. Much like our current era of Peak TV, the work of Sarah Koenig and Ira Glass broke through to a wide audience, giving us everything from 2 Dope Queens to Song Exploder to The Read.

S-Town looks to be a confident first step beyond the sophomore season’s flop, made even more enticing by the fact that all episodes will be released on the same day in March.

Will this be the next Making a Murderer? Will it be even better than the original Serial? It has all the right ingredients: a tiny southern town, a mysterious murder, a rich asshole, and hidden treasure. You can’t ask for much more, and coming from the creators of This American Life you know it will be good

Under the supervision of Koenig and Reed, S-Town is guaranteed to be a richly produced, immaculately researched show with a killer theme song, even if it isn’t the best thing we’ve ever heard. In the end, that’s all we really need.

And at least we’ll get another MailChimp ad.


CultureJake SmithComment