The hugely popular first season of the true crime podcast Serial had everyone hooked. But when season 2 switched focus to Bowe Bergdahl, some fans were left disappointed. So was Serial season 2 really boring, or did it just pale in comparison to its gripping predecessor?
If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: While not as immediately compelling as season 1, Serial season 2 was a worthy exploration of a complex story with no easy answers. It may have seemed boring to some, but had plenty of nuance and room for debate.
It Had a Less Captivating Central Mystery
One of the reasons why some listeners found Serial Season 2 to be less engaging than its predecessor was the central mystery. Season 1 of Serial revolved around a murder investigation, which captivated audiences with its twists and turns.
The question of whether Adnan Syed was guilty or innocent kept listeners on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting each new episode.
Season 1 revolved around a murder investigation full of twists and turns
Season 1 of Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig, took the true crime podcasting world by storm. The gripping story of the murder of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent trial of Adnan Syed had listeners hooked from the very beginning.
Koenig’s investigative journalism skills and her ability to present the evidence in a compelling way made for a truly captivating listening experience.
The central mystery of Season 1 – whether Adnan Syed was guilty or innocent – was filled with twists and turns. Koenig brought to light new evidence, interviewed witnesses, and examined the flaws in the prosecution’s case.
This ‘whodunnit’ aspect of the story kept listeners guessing and speculating, creating a sense of anticipation and excitement with each new episode.
Bergdahl’s story lacked that ‘whodunnit’ intrigue
In contrast, Season 2 of Serial focused on the story of Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and held captive for five years. While Bergdahl’s story was certainly intriguing and had its own complexities, it lacked the same ‘whodunnit’ intrigue that Season 1 had.
The central mystery of Season 2 was not about who was responsible for Bergdahl’s capture, but rather about understanding his motivations and the circumstances surrounding his decision to leave his post.
While this was undoubtedly an important and thought-provoking story, it didn’t have the same level of suspense and excitement that a murder investigation brings.
Furthermore, the lack of a clear resolution in Bergdahl’s story may have left some listeners feeling unsatisfied. Unlike the definitive conclusion of Season 1, where Adnan Syed’s fate was determined by the court, Season 2 left more questions unanswered.
This ambiguity may have contributed to the perception that Season 2 was less captivating.
However, it’s important to note that different people have different preferences when it comes to true crime stories. While some may have found Season 2 of Serial to be less captivating, others may have appreciated the exploration of Bergdahl’s story and the examination of broader issues surrounding war and captivity.
The Story Structure Was More Diffuse
One of the main criticisms of Serial Season 2 was its more diffuse story structure. Unlike the first season, which followed a linear narrative, Season 2 introduced multiple timelines and perspectives, making it more complex for listeners to follow along.
This departure from the tight serialized focus of the first season was a deliberate choice by the creators, aiming to shed light on the intricacies of the Bowe Bergdahl case and the broader context of the war in Afghanistan.
Multiple timelines and perspectives made S2 more complex
In Season 2 of Serial, the story unfolded through multiple timelines and perspectives. This approach allowed the podcast to explore different angles of the Bowe Bergdahl case, including his capture by the Taliban, his time in captivity, and the events leading up to his release.
While this multi-dimensional storytelling added depth to the narrative, it also made it more challenging for some listeners to keep track of the various threads.
However, this diffuse structure was intentional, as it aimed to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities surrounding Bergdahl’s actions and the military operations in Afghanistan.
By presenting different perspectives, Serial Season 2 encouraged listeners to critically analyze the events and consider the ethical and moral dilemmas involved.
It didn’t have the tight serialized focus of S1
One of the reasons why some fans found Serial Season 2 less engaging was its departure from the tight serialized focus of the first season. In Season 1, the podcast followed the investigation into the murder of Hae Min Lee week by week, building suspense and keeping listeners eagerly awaiting each new episode.
This structure created a sense of urgency and kept the audience hooked.
Season 2, on the other hand, took a broader approach, delving into the complexities of the Bergdahl case and the broader context of the war in Afghanistan. While this allowed for a deeper exploration of the subject matter, it may have lacked the same level of suspense and intrigue that made Season 1 so captivating.
It’s important to note that the diffuse story structure of Serial Season 2 was a deliberate creative choice, aiming to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the events and their implications. While it may not have had the same tight serialized focus as Season 1, it offered a unique perspective on a complex story.
It Dealt With More Ambiguous Moral Issues
While Serial Season 1 focused on the murder case of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent trial of Adnan Syed, Season 2 took a different approach by delving into the complex and ambiguous moral issues surrounding the case of Bowe Bergdahl.
Unlike the first season, which portrayed a clearer victim/perpetrator dichotomy, Season 2 presented a more morally ambiguous situation that left listeners pondering the complexities of duty, honor, loyalty, and the fog of war.
S1 portrayed a clearer victim/perpetrator dichotomy
In the first season of Serial, the narrative revolved around the murder of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent trial of Adnan Syed. The story was presented in a way that clearly portrayed Adnan as the potential perpetrator and Hae as the victim.
This clear-cut portrayal allowed listeners to follow a more traditional true crime narrative, where the focus was on uncovering the truth and seeking justice for the victim.
Bergdahl’s case raised complex questions of duty, honor, loyalty
In contrast, Season 2 of Serial explored the case of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. Army soldier who was captured by the Taliban after walking off his base in Afghanistan. This case raised complex questions about duty, honor, and loyalty in the context of war.
Listeners were presented with differing perspectives on Bergdahl’s actions, with some seeing him as a deserter and others as a troubled soldier seeking to expose problems within the military.
Serial Season 2 forced listeners to confront the moral gray areas that arise in situations of war and conflict. It challenged traditional notions of heroism and instead prompted discussions about the complexities of human behavior in extreme circumstances.
By diving into the nuances of Bergdahl’s case, Serial Season 2 brought to light the challenges faced by soldiers on the ground and the difficult decisions they sometimes have to make. It highlighted the tension between personal morality and duty to one’s country, leaving listeners with a deeper understanding of the complex moral dilemmas that arise in times of war.
The Reporting Felt Less Hard-Hitting
Serial Season 2, hosted by Sarah Koenig, took a different approach compared to its highly successful first season. Instead of focusing on a single murder case, Koenig explored the controversial story of Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who deserted his post in Afghanistan.
While this change in narrative was intriguing to some, others felt that the reporting in Season 2 felt less hard-hitting.
Koenig took a more philosophical, meditative approach
In Season 2, Koenig delved deep into the complexities and moral dilemmas surrounding Bergdahl’s case. She explored his motivations and the larger issues of the war in Afghanistan. Some listeners appreciated this more philosophical and meditative approach, as it offered a unique perspective on the story.
It allowed them to reflect on the broader implications of Bergdahl’s actions and the consequences of war.
However, for those who were expecting a gripping and suspenseful true crime narrative like in Season 1, the more contemplative style of reporting may have felt less engaging. The absence of a clear-cut murder mystery and the lack of bombshell revelations made it harder for some listeners to stay hooked to the narrative.
Some wanted more bombshell revelations and ‘gotcha’ moments
One of the reasons why Serial Season 1 was a massive hit was because it had numerous shocking twists and turns that kept audiences on the edge of their seats. Listeners were captivated by the pursuit of truth and the unexpected revelations that were uncovered during the investigation.
However, in Season 2, some fans were disappointed by the absence of similar bombshell moments. They were looking for more “gotcha” moments and shocking reveals that would make them question everything they thought they knew.
Without these dramatic elements, the reporting may have felt less impactful to some listeners.
It’s important to note that the change in reporting style was a deliberate choice by the Serial team. They wanted to explore a different type of story and challenge themselves as journalists. While it may not have resonated with everyone, it’s commendable that they took a risk and tried something new.
Ultimately, whether or not Serial Season 2 was “boring” is subjective and depends on individual preferences. Some found the more philosophical approach refreshing, while others craved the adrenaline rush of bombshell revelations.
Regardless, Serial Season 2 sparked conversations and further cemented the podcast’s place in the cultural zeitgeist.
It Didn’t Tap Into Crime Drama Tropes
When Serial Season 1 hit the podcast airwaves, it captivated audiences with its gripping narrative and the thrilling sensation of trying to solve a real-life murder mystery. The first season played out like a riveting whodunit, with each episode leaving listeners on the edge of their seats, eagerly anticipating the next twist or revelation.
However, Season 2 failed to tap into the same crime drama tropes that made the first season so successful.
S1 played like a riveting whodunit
From the very first episode of Serial Season 1, it was clear that this was not going to be your typical true crime podcast. Host Sarah Koenig masterfully crafted a narrative that unfolded like a gripping mystery novel, keeping listeners hooked with each new piece of evidence and testimonial.
The suspense and tension were palpable, making it nearly impossible to resist binging the entire season in one sitting.
One of the key elements that made Season 1 so compelling was the constant feeling of uncertainty and the sense that anyone could be the culprit. Koenig skillfully introduced a wide range of potential suspects, each with their own motives and alibis.
This created a thrilling and immersive experience for listeners, who found themselves playing amateur detectives and passionately debating the case.
S2 lacked that familiar, comfortable genre framing
While Season 1 of Serial was able to capitalize on the familiar and comfortable genre framing of a crime drama, Season 2 took a different approach. Instead of focusing on a murder case, the second season delved into the controversial story of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. Army soldier who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and subsequently charged with desertion.
This shift in focus from a murder mystery to a military and political drama left some listeners feeling disconnected and uninterested. The absence of a clear whodunit storyline and the lack of a central crime to unravel made Season 2 feel less engaging and compelling.
Without the gripping suspense and constant twists and turns, it failed to captivate audiences in the same way as its predecessor.
It’s important to note that while Season 2 may not have tapped into the crime drama tropes that made Season 1 so successful, it still offered a thought-provoking exploration of complex issues surrounding the military, war, and the psychology of soldiers.
However, for those who were expecting another thrilling true crime experience, Season 2 fell short of their expectations.
While not as immediately gripping as its predecessor, Serial season 2 brought nuance and depth to a complicated real-world saga. It may have disappointed some fans, but rewarded patient listeners with a thoughtful look at murky moral questions.
In the end, S2 was an ambitious and worthy, if more slow-burn, entry in Serial’s groundbreaking run.