The "Serial" podcast, hosted by "This American Life" producer Sarah Koenig, is all that the media-obsessed can think about right now. For those who haven't listened, it's a story told in weekly podcast format about whether Adnan Syed killed his high school ex-girlfriend in 1999 — and it's the number 1 podcast on iTunes.
This week, that discussion has reached a fevered pitch online, including a series of spot-on parodies starting to make the rounds, and podcast advertising company Podtrac tells the Wall Street Journal that each "Serial" episode has 1 million listeners. Some minor spoilers — as much as you can spoil a podcast about a true crime story — below.
Comedians Will Stephen, Zach Cherry and Paul Laudeiro created a parody that delicately pulls apart the style of the show. Their targets include everything from Koenig's meandering curiosity to the MailChimp sponsorship that opens each show, along with the absurdity of the intense questioning about a case from 15 years ago.
They're in good company — "This American Life" host Ira Glass tweeted his own sponsorship reference:
The "Serial" obsession is getting its own parody from Cartwright Comedy, who produced this video depicting obsessive conversations about "Serial":
"Serial" fandom has continued to spread. Comedian and frequent "This American Life" contributor Mike Birbiglia has been a vocal fan of the show, tweeting about his own addiction.
Its fans also include Patton Oswalt...
And even a guy who knows a little something about complex stories: U.S. "House of Cards" creator Beau Willimon, who's such a fan that he went full Redditor and wrote a two-part essay about the show.
He posted it in the Serial Podcast subreddit, where hardcore fans have taken to analyzing every piece of the case for themselves while also pulling apart the podcast itself. It's relatively active, with almost 7,000 members and numerous posts — and has prompted concerns from both inside and outside about Internet sleuths delving into real people's personal details. The staff over at "Slate" has produced a number of regular articles about "Serial," as well as doing their own weekly podcast about the podcast on "Spoiler Special."
Why does everyone care so much about "Serial"? Koenig takes her readers on the journey with her, refusing to state too definitively that her mind is made up about Adnan's guild one way or the other. Vulture looked at five reasons for the obsession, including the high school setting and the idea that this sort of serialized storytelling is a bold new step forward for podcasting, as opposed to the usual approach of one episode for a topic. Vox theorized that it's because of the combination low brow appeal with NPR class.
What's next for Adnan and the rest of those involved in "Serial" World? You'll have to tune in to find out. If your interest is piqued, you can dive in and listen to the first episode right here: