Like many podcast fans out there, when I first stepped into the world of Serial in Season One, I was riveted. It was masterful storytelling that reeled millions of listeners in, and as such, hopes were really high when Season Two began. Unfortunately, I've been listening along the whole way, trying to convince myself that I'm wrong in thinking that Season Two of Serial is a letdown. But it is, unfortunately.
There. I said it. Serial is experiencing the Sophomore Slump.
I think there were a lot of elements about Season One that made it uniquely compelling. Adnan Syed was (and continues to be, if the popularity of the updates on his new hearing are any indication) a charismatic character who seemed to really have a connection with host Sarah Koenig. Their phone conversations were a pivotal part of the story, and employed the "show, don't tell" technique that is used in virtually every genre of storytelling.
Season Two had an interesting seed of an idea to begin with, but without Koenig's interaction with Bowe Bergdahl, we're left listening to her describe so much of what's going on that it's easy to tune out. Filmmaker Mark Boal often takes the place of Koenig in phone conversations with Bergdahl, but there isn't that ease of interaction that we heard with Syed in Season One.
It's tough, though. I don't dislike Season Two, exactly. I mean, I'm still downloading and listening to each podcast as it becomes available. But it's not the leave-your-kids-watching-Netflix-while-you-go-in-the-other-room-to-listen-to-the-newest-episode season that we all hoped it would be. And the thing is, we all so wanted it to be. Which means that admitting that this season of Serial isn't exactly...gripping us the way we'd hoped is bringing with it a pretty definitely landslide of emotions. Here's how:
Stage One: Excitement That Season Two Is Finally Coming Out!!
Before: YOU GUYS YOU GUYS!! This is going to be the best thing ever!
Stage Two: Trying To Download The First Episode
The site is down? Why is the site down? This is not OK. I am not OK.
Stage Three: Listening To The First Episode & Discovering The Subject
Really? Afghanistan, the army, a rogue soldier?
Stage Four: Giving It A Shot
OK, maybe Season Two just needs to get warmed up, right? I trust you, Koenig. Let's do it.
Stage Five: I Just Don't Know
I was pining for new episodes — dreaming about them — back during Season One. But so far with Season Two...meh? I find myself weirdly not waking up on Thursday mornings like it's Christmas.
Stage Six: OK, It *Is* Interesting
No, this is pretty cool. I mean, I had no idea about most of these things in the army or the situation in Afghanistan, so I'm learning stuff, and that's awesome.
Stage Seven: UPDATE ON ADNAN SYED!!
More of this, MORE OF THIS!
Stage Eight: Back To Season Two
It's just not the same.
Stage Nine: Seeing It Through
Oh well, I'm in it for the long haul. It's not a perfect season the way the first was, but it's not bad by any stretch. I'll keep listening, and hope that next season finds its groove again. You're still my girl, Sarah.