Is Serial Driving You Slowly Insane? Come Sit By Me.


If you like closure, don’t listen to Serial. The addictive podcast investigates the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a Maryland high schooler and Adnan Syed, who was convicted of her murder. Host Sarah Koenig is thoroughly engaging but she might not be able to find the real murderer—since it seems like Adnan is innocent—and it’s driving some people nuts. Nuts!

Like watching HBO’s True Detective and guessing at whodunnit and how that crazy murder-devil-worship-sacrifice story was drawn from a real incident, Serial has all of life’s murky details. But since I’ve been getting yelled at for spoilers this week, I won’t go into too much detail. Still (SPOILER ALERT!), from Adnan’s friend Jay’s story to how calm a man supposedly wrongly convicted of murder seems despite spending about 15 years in prison, Koenig’s week-by-week search for the truth is a test in patience. And after a projected 12 hours of talk radio in 2014 (!) and with only a few episodes remaining, it’s still unclear where her digging will lead. And that is just too much for some folks. From New York magazine:

Surprisingly, someone’s stance on “Serial”‘s ambiguity may actually tell you a lot about who he or she is as a person. It likely reflects a deep-seated, extremely important psychological characteristic called need for cognitive closure, or need for closure (NFC) for short. NFC refers to your general orientation toward uncertainty: Does it matter to you whether or not things are clear-cut? How do you handle ambiguity, whether in real life or fiction?

If your NFC is high, you really need Serial to end definitely on either side of Adnan did or did not kill Hae. I want that clarity, too, but deciding where the truth lies too early takes the fun out of listening to Koenig poke around on tape. Besides, real life rarely delivers the closure of a Law & Order episode.

Image via Serial/Facebook.

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