The podcast Serial could be called a cult success, but that'd be massively underselling it. For one, it's topped the iTunes downloads list since it debuted on October 3. For another, it's helmed by the folks behind This American Life—still the high-watermark (along with Radiolab) for the expanding possibilities of radio journalism. Maybe "full-blown phenomenon" would be a more accurate term.
Serial's core concept is that it tells one ongoing story week after week until, well, until the producers decide the story is done telling. The first "season," as they're calling them, is a true-crime investigation of the murder of a young woman killed in Baltimore in 1999. The hook: maybe the murderer is innocent. Week after week, host Sarah Koenig has gone into exhaustive detail looking at the facts behind the crime, the trial, and—most riveting of all—interviewed Adnan Syed, the supremely charming convicted murderer who still maintains his innocence.
With each new episode, Koenig provides listeners with more details surrounding the case: Did Adnan have an alibi? Was the investigation botched? Did the defense attorney purposefully throw the case? As we learn new facts, the momentum behind the show has only grown. Eight episodes in, it's reached such a fever pitch that not only has their been predictable Internet backlash, but backlash against the backlash. Basically, people are talking about this thing. A lot. In keeping with this week's installment, here are eight reasons to binge-listen to Serial right now.
Nathan Reese is a News Editor at Complex. Share your Serial theories with him on Twitter.