Serial is coming back, and this time Koenig is investigating much more than just one case.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock without a wifi, we’re going to guess you’ve heard of Serial. The true-crime podcast set up by journalist Sarah Koenig was the first to ever reach five million downloads and its inaugural series has gripped audiences since its inception in 2014.
Although its most famous story, that of Adnan Syed and Hae Min-Lee hasn’t been reported on the podcast for several years, Koenig is back with a brand new instalment and this time she’s taking on a completely new format.
Previously the journalist, writer and producer has picked one single case and investigated and discussed it throughout a chain of podcast episodes. But this time she’s spending a whole year looking at the Cleveland, Ohio criminal court system, reporting on a different case each time.
“If you’ve listened to Serial before, you probably know that our first season was about a murder case in Baltimore. Ever since that story aired, people have asked me and the people I work with, ‘What does that case tell us about the criminal justice system?’” says Koenig, in the trailer for the new season.
“And the answer is: The case of Adnan Syed wasn’t typical in any way — defendant with no criminal record, private defense attorney. Rarest of all: a six-week trial. The vast majority of cases don’t even go to trial.
“I don’t think we can understand how the criminal justice system works by interrogating one extraordinary case. Ordinary cases are where we need to look. This season of Serial we do just that.’
Koenig continues: “We take a look at the entire criminal justice system. A year inside the criminal courts in Cleveland, Ohio. We chose Cleveland because they let us record everywhere: courtrooms, back hallways, judges’ chambers, the prosecutor’s office. And then we followed those cases outside the building: into neighborhoods, into people’s houses and into prison.”
She ends the trailer with a seductive promise: “You’ll see what we saw, from the inside.”
Koenig’s new mission is to pick apart the shortcomings of the criminal justice system, of which she also gives us a taste of the trailer.
Describing a courthouse scene she paints a picture of a bullying judge, pressuring a 20-year-old male defendant charged with armed robbery to skip his trial, despite him insisting he’s innocent.
Even in the four minutes that Koenig spends depicting the dozing jurors, the wholesome witnesses, the precarious evidence, she already has us hooked, desperate to know if the defendant was charged.
We’re not sure if anything can top series one, but this new series has serious potential. Although series three isn’t out until 20 September, you can listen to the trailer for yourself here and get a taster of what’s to come.
Images: Serial / Getty