Why ‘Serial’ Halloween Costumes Aren't Actually OK Or Respectful

I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween, mostly because it’s a few days after my birthday and tends to steal my thunder in a major way. But, I also am not a huge fan because, without fail, it’s the time of year when even the smartest people do the stupidest things. Anything involving Halloween costumes and people trying to be clever is apparently a huge recipe for disaster, because somebody is inevitably going to make a choice that is just a little bit racist, sexist, or a whole lot of insensitive, and then all of the fun is ruined. Unfortunately, there are about a thousand examples of Halloween costumes from years past that were in poor taste — and I'm sure that this year, there are bound to be a ton more. The one costume I am dreading the most this year, though? Costumes based on the podcast Serial. Because, regardless of how fun people think it might be to show their fandom, wearing a Serial costume this Halloween is not OK.

On Halloween, I know there is so much pressure to come up with a costume that is equal parts creative and delightful. And, what delights an audience more than spins on pop culture phenomena? Not much. Still, Serial is not a phenomena that should inspire your outfit this year.

The risk you run when wearing a costume that is based on Serial — whether it’s something literal, like dressing up like Adnan Syed, or something more obscure, like dressing up as a cereal box plastered with the podcast logo — is that you look like more than just a clever pop culture maven. The risk you run is looking like an insensitive jerk.

Before you get mad at me for saying that, let’s remember what Serial really is here, guys. It’s a podcast about a murder that took place over 15 years ago — the story literally follows the case of a high school girl who was senselessly murdered. It’s a podcast about a girl whose family and friends survived her, and who likely still feel her loss every single day. Dressing up like Syed, the man who has been convicted of murdering her, like Jay, the prosecution's key witness, or — even more horrific — like Hae Min Lee, the murder victim herself, is 100 percent not OK. There isn’t a way to spin a costume based on Serial into something abstract enough to make it work, because the podcast is about a real, devastating tragedy. Dressing up like Serial only trivializes something incredibly tragic and heartbreaking.

So, just don’t do it guys, OK? It’s not worth the few laughs you get from people in the know. Dress as Radiolab or Death, Sex, and Money , or some other podcast that doesn't follow the real-life story of a young girl's murder. Choose something that wasn’t at the center of grief and suffering.

Image: NPR; Serialpodcast.org