Fans are still waiting for a third season of Serial, a podcast from the creators of This American Life. In the meantime, there’s a new, conceptually similar podcast alternative: S-Town, which will be released in full on March 28th.
S-Town is the first project from Serial Productions, which was set up earlier this year by some of the talents behind This American Life and Serial. This new series started three years ago after a man reached out to This American Life producer Brian Reed, claiming that the son of a wealthy family had been bragging about getting away with murder in their rural Alabama hometown. Reed will host S-Town.
When Serial debuted in 2014, it was an immediate hit. It examined the 1999 murder of a high-school student, Hae Min Lee, and the investigation that led to the arrest of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Over the course of 12 edpisodes, This American Life producer Sarah Koenig reexamined the case week by week, interviewing people involved and raising questions about Syed’s incarceration. The program earned a Peabody Award, and last year, and Syed was granted a new trial, in part because of the podcast. A second season of Serial followed in December 2015, examining the story of US Army Sergeant Bowe Berhdahl, who left his post in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. In a preview for S-Town, Koenig noted they’re still working on Serial’s third season, saying simply, “it’s coming.”
Like Serial, S-Town focuses on a true crime story: an alleged murder in an Alabama town, which apparently involves small-town feuds and hidden treasure. However, unlike with its predecessor, all seven episodes will be released at once. This could address some of the complaints listeners had with Serial: its ongoing nature allowed it to lose focus or shift into irrelevant rumors, and it ultimately landed with an uneasy conclusion because the story really wasn’t over. While the second season helped fix some of these issues, a longer story with a distinct ending could be what listeners hoped for. We’ll find out on March 28th, and in months to come. Serial Productions currently has two other podcasts in development.