How To Sound Like You've Listened to Serial When You Haven't

How To Sound Like You've Listened to Serial Podcast, This American Life


Serial, the spin-off This American Life podcast that is sweeping the brains of all your friends, has been broadcasting weekly episodes for more than two months. If somehow you haven’t heard, it’s a true-crime radio-style series about the 1999 murder of 18-year-old Baltimore high school kid Hae Min Lee. Her boyfriend, Adnan Musud Syed, is currently serving a life sentence after being found guilty despite professing his innocence. He was pretty much done in by his high school friend, Jay, who testified that Adnan had previously confessed to him and showed him Lee’s body.

With holiday party season firmly upon us and the show’s insanely anticipated final episode going live today, it will be absolutely essential that you be prepared to talk about Serial. Basically, everyone you think is even remotely cool has listened to Serial and will want to pick it apart ad nauseam at every function you attend.

If you can’t keep up, you’re looking at being a social invalid for at least the next six months. Nobody wants that. So here’s how to pretend you’ve listened to Serial when you really haven’t:

Continuously repeat the phrase, “Someone’s lying!” Serial and the case it covers are both based on witness testimony. There are a lot of conflicting stories and testimonies flying around, so you can never go wrong with saying, “Someone’s lying!” because someone must be! To spice it up, vary the words you emphasize each time you say it.

Serial Fan: So, Serial. What about that potential library alibi flaking out? How frustrating! She said she saw Adnan at the exact time of the murder!

You: Someone’s lying!

Serial Fan: Do you think she got scared and didn’t want to be involved in the case? Or was her alibi claim just a teenage mistake?

You: SOMEONE’S lying!

Serial Fan: Adnan’s story seems really convincing from jail.

You: Someone’s LYING!

Serial Fan: Then again, Jay said they dug the grave together!


Serial Fan: You’re absolutely right.

Completely agree with your friend’s theory on what happened. Serial listeners really just want to pummel you with their detailed thoughts on what they think actually happened. If you continually agree with every opinion they have, they will feel completely validated and have no need to question you on your own theories.

Serial Fan: Why would Jay lie? There’s nothing in it for him.

You: I agree.

Serial Fan: I think he sounds convincing. He told the truth. He knew so many details about the crime.

You: I agree.

Serial Fan: Thank you! My wife thinks I’m crazy, but I know I’m right.

You: I totally understand and agree with you.

Reference a This American Life story from the mid-1990s. This American Life started on November 17, 1995 under its original title Your Radio Playhouse. On the first episode, host Ira Glass called his parents Shirley and Barry Glass to ask them for advice about his new radio show. Since Ira Glass is the patron saint of Serial, this information should impress your friends enough to change the subject.

Serial Fan: I think Rabia may have rose-colored glasses on about Adnan.

You: Serial is definitely great. But to me, nothing is better than when Ira called his parents on the first ever episode of This American Life. Isn’t it unbelievable to think that the show is almost 20 years old?

Serial Fan: Really? When did it first air?

You: November 17, 1995.

Serial Fan: I’m going to listen to it as soon as I get home.

You: Be sure to search for Your Radio Playhouse.

Serial Fan: It wasn’t even called This American Life at the start? Fascinating. Wait, what were we just talking about?

You: I can’t remember either.

Bring up Serial’s score. Former NPR producer and sound mixer Mark Henry Phillips, along with Nick Thorburn, the front man for many indie bands including The Unicorns, composed Serial’s haunting score. By referencing this information, you’re sending the message that you have not only listened to Serial, but you have truly listened to Serial.

Serial Fan: Adnan sounds like such a typical teenager. It’s hard to believe he would do that to his ex-girlfriend.

You: I have to admit I sometimes get distracted from the story because of the mesmerizing compositions of the score!

Serial fan: That’s a great point!

Choose either Jay or Adnan and run with it. With all of the evidence and testimony, it really boils down to whether you think Jay or Adnan is telling the truth. There are strong arguments either way, so picking one and confidently going with it can be a perfect path to fake your knowledge of Serial.

Serial Fan: I think Adnan may have killed her and convinced himself he didn’t. He had a sketchy past.

You: I think Jay is telling the truth.

Serial Fan: Really? After all the interviews with Adnan from jail?

You: I think Jay is telling the truth.

Serial Fan: What about the lack of payphones at Best Buy?

You: I think Jay is telling the truth.

Serial Fan: All right, I see how you could think that. Let’s agree to disagree and get another drink.


Story By: Kerry O’Brien