Serial’s first season -- the season that made the This American Life offshoot an instant viral hit and cemented it in the podcast zeitgeist forever -- attempted to determine whether Adnan Syed was actually guilty of the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.
But when host Sarah Koenig announced a second -- and third! -- season, she said it would be “very different...but no less interesting.” Now, the case may have been revealed.
There’s no murder this time around. And unlike with Syed, Koenig won't be tasked with clearing someone's name who has already been declared guilty. This trial is happening right now.
First, to set the mood:
According to Maxim, Serial's second season will center on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The Army sergeant, 28, was captured by Taliban allies in 2009 after leaving his base in Afghanistan. After being held captive for five years, he was eventually freed last year in exchange for five detainees from Guantánamo Bay.
So what’s the case? Why, exactly, Bergdahl left base in the first place.
Bergdahl’s reasons for leaving base have been widely disputed -- making the controversial decision to release Taliban operatives for his safe return even more controversial -- and he was charged with desertion and misbehaving before the enemy. If found guilty in a military trial, he could face a lifetime prison sentence.
Maxim reports Koenig and another Serial producer were spotted at Bergdahl's’s preliminary hearing in San Antonio, Texas last week. (Mark Boal, the screenwriter of Zero Dark Thirty, was also in attendance, as he’s working on writing another movie for Kathryn Bigelow to direct and is reportedly also assisting with Serial’s production.)
The publication also spoke with a soldier who apparently served with Bergdahl and who said he had already been interviewed for the podcast. “Serial is trying to make a nifty diorama for hipsters to marvel at," he told them, dismissively. "I think it's the height of crassness for them to do this when it could potentially affect the legal proceedings. I assume it will be a great way to paint us as kooks and sore losers."
Meanwhile, Serial production manager Emily Condon told Maxim, “We'd very much appreciate if fellow journalists would give us some room and not feel the need to attempt to dig into and try to figure out what you think we might be doing, especially since we're actively reporting stories, and having a bunch of wild speculation out there makes our job reporting harder. Doesn't feel very menschy.”
She went on to claim the Serial staff is “currently working on several things simultaneously” and would not confirm whether the Bergdahl case would be the focus on this fall’s second season.
In other legal news, find out why Sean Penn is suing Empire’s Lee Daniels: