We all binge-watch, but who ever considered binge-listening? Sure, some people listen to audio books or public radio or music in their free time, but Serial, the new podcast produced by WBEZ Chicago and hosted by Sarah Koenig of This American Life, brings podcast listening to the mainstream. Here are a few reasons you should sit out that episode of Suits or Law & Order and binge-listen to Serial instead:
1. It’s real.
The podcast explores the story behind a 1999 case that led to the conviction and imprisonment of a real man, Adnan Syed, for murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Lee. Since Serial’s protagonist is a Pakistani-American man and the victim is an Asian-American woman, the show addresses not only the role of race in the American criminal justice system, but also issues of identity, high school relationships, immigrant family dynamics, and the meaning of “innocent until proven guilty.” It brings real issues to light and forces us to empathize with a variety of characters, theories, causes and ultimately, ideologies. The fact that Adnan Syed may be spending time in prison for a crime he did not commit also keeps listeners hooked and hopeful.
2. You can listen to it in the car or… anytime.
You don’t have to make an event out of it or stop doing other things. You can listen to it on your morning commute, on a run, or while you idle around. You can also go back and listen to it multiple times and cross-reference with maps and photos available on the podcast website.
3. The episodes are only 30 minutes.
Some people complain about devoting more than half an hour of their time to binge-watching TV shows — which makes no sense if you think about it — so Serial gives those with less time an opportunity to listen regularly. The show is only in its first season and seven episodes deep, so there’s plenty of time to catch up.
4. There is nothing more hipster than listening to a podcast.
As everyone tries desperately to out-hipster his or her neighbor, making Serial your pastime of choice wins you the contest. I mean, how many people host parties to listen to a podcast together? No one. Except for you… and maybe all of the people who pushed Serial up to the number one podcast on iTunes and created a subreddit discussing possible theories about who did it.
5. Because it’s a high school murder mystery.
We’ve been following mysteries even before the likes of Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes. Serial takes a different twist on the already popular murder mystery, while allowing listeners the comfort, excitement and frustration of an all too familiar setting: high school.