Serial Season Three Release Date, Plot Details Revealed

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<i>Serial</i> Season Three Release Date, Plot Details Revealed

The producers of true-crime podcast Serial have finally announced the highly anticipated third season of their hit investigative series, with a release date set for later this month.

The podcast’s Twitter account broke the news on Wednesday, sharing an official trailer for the forthcoming season.


“We spent a year inside the criminal courts in Cleveland,” one of the account’s posts reads. “You’ll see what we saw—from the inside,” promises another.

The first two episodes of the new season will debut Sept. 20, with future episodes to be released weekly on Thursdays.

It’s been over two years since Serial released the final episode of its second season, which centered around Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier captured by the Taliban and accused of desertion. The first season debuted in 2014 and investigated the complex case of Adnan Syed, convicted of murdering his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee. The show’s wildly popular debut season was met with high acclaim, and even received a Peabody Award—becoming the first podcast to win the award—for its innovative form and captivating narrative style.

Rather than follow a single offense throughout the course of the season, the latest run will tell multiple stories, with some reports spanning two or three episodes. Season three will take on, as its phrased in the Twitter post, “the whole criminal justice system” (or at least, a chunk of it) through more common cases in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I don’t think we can understand how the criminal justice system works by interrogating one extraordinary case,” original host Sarah Koenig said in the trailer. “Ordinary cases are where we need to look.”

The people behind Serial chose to focus on Cleveland because the team found uncommon levels of access and permission to record there—not only outside of the courthouse, but also inside courtrooms, judge chambers, hallways and law offices.

Throughout their year spent working on the project in Cleveland, Koenig and reporter Emmanuel Dzotsi—an Ohio native and former associate on This American Life—looked at everything from small criminal cases, such as marijuana possession and disorderly conduct, to more serious ones, including felonies. The team claims to have found numerous occasions of extreme disparities between the crimes committed and the punishments prescribed.

“Every case Emmanuel and I followed, there came a point where we thought: ‘No, this can’t be how it works,’” Koenig explained in a statement. “People who work in the system, or have been through the system, they know this. But millions more people do not.”

The podcast comes from Serial Productions, formed by the show’s original producers in 2017, and is partnered with This American Life, which is presented in collaboration with Chicago Public Media. The executive producer of Serial is Julie Snyder, who also worked on its spinoff podcast S-Town with Brian Reed, which was released last year.

The first two seasons of Serial triumphed in the realm of podcasts, with more than 340 million downloads since the show’s initial release four years ago. What will be interesting to see is if the series, which originally intended to focus on judicial wrongdoings, will maintain its popularity without its murder mystery co-plot. The third season’s emphases seem to break with the established true-crime genre, which although morbid at times, appeals to large audiences.

The third season of Serial is anticipated to be around 10 episodes, a number that is still subject to change. Listen to the trailer at serialpodcast.org.

Serial is available as a free download via Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, and will also be available on Pandora through an exclusive streaming partnership. After subscribing, listeners will automatically receive subsequent episodes when released.

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