I listened to the final episode of Serial last night, on a plane back home from a vacation. When it was over, my boyfriend, who was also listening to the episode, asked me what I’d thought about it.
“It was…OK,” I said. “To be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve learned anything new about the case.”
“What about that there was another serial killer targeting Asian women in the Baltimore area?” he asked. “That seems pretty huge.”
“Saw that on Reddit,” I said.
“What about Adnan’s alibi from his mosque youth leader, that he was at the mosque the night of the murder?” he said.
We went on like this for some time, until a lady a few rows ahead of us came to our seats. “Are you guys talking about Serial?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “I was just saying I’d heard about this serial killer guy a few weeks ago on Reddit.”
“Oh, I didn’t see it on Reddit,” she said. “But I did hear about him on Slate.”
This woman and myself were both Serial devotees, the types of hardcore fans you’ve tried to avoid at parties for fear of getting roped into a discussion about the Nisha Call, or forced to listen to an impression of the Italian “Use-a MailChimp” guy. But for us hardcore Serial fans, who’ve spent hours blearily scrolling through r/Serialpodcast and listening to podcasts about the podcast and getting into GChat arguments with work colleagues about the Innocence Project lady, the Serial finale was hugely disappointing. Not because it failed to reach any resolution about the case, as many fans featured, because even worse, it was just boring. Thanks to Reddit, it was all old news.
A lot of Serial purists who’ve avoided spoilers and late-night “Jen Pusateri” Google searches like the plague would say this is our own fault—that our endless quest for more knowledge about the case, rather than relying solely on Sarah Koenig’s reporting, ultimately ruined the Serial listening experience. But I disagree. I don’t think learning more about Serial from the vantage point of sources other than Serial itself reflects poorly on the patience of Serial fans. I think it reflects poorly on Serial, and on the current state of journalism in general.