Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
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The Peabody Award-winning Serial was bonafide podcasting phenomenon in its first season, which, by investigating Adnan Syed’s involvement in the 2000 murder of his high school girlfriend, helped usher in the true crime boom in which we currently find ourselves. Now, as HBO gears up for its own docuseries on Syed, the podcast has announced the September premiere of its third season. It won’t be focusing on a single case—or, as in its underwhelming second season, a high-profile, morally complex look at American duty—but, rather, “the whole criminal justice system.”

For the season, host Sarah Koenig spent a year inside the criminal courts of Cleveland, where she was given permission to record inside its courtrooms, judge’s chambers, back hallways, and prisons. Along with reporter Emmanuel Dzotsi, another voice you may recognize from This American Life, Koenig will chronicle numerous cases that exemplify just what justice looks like in today’s courtrooms.


Serial has shared a seven-minute trailer for the season on its website. In it, Koenig discusses the aggravated robbery case of Greg Rucker, which, by itself, serves up no shortage of shocking revelations about the ways in which the system operates. “Every case we looked into, there came a time where I said, ‘Wait, this can’t be happening.’ And then it did,” Koenig says in the trailer.

She also speaks to why she and the show’s producers decided to structure the third season this way. “The case of Adnan Syed wasn’t typical in any way,” she says. “A defendant with no criminal record. A private defense attorney. Rarest of all, a six-week trial. The vast majority of cases don’t even go to trial. Ordinary cases are where we need to look.”

Serial’s third season will hit your podcast feed on September 20, though it will also be streaming for free via Pandora. Shortly after, you’ll also likely see a new episode of our own The Serial Serial, so be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already.

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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