The Best Pop Culture Moments 'Serial' Inspired: A Look Back Its Lovely Months in the Spotlight

The day has come. The dawn has dawned. This Thursday, December 18, 2014 in the year of our Lord, the Serial podcast has come to an end. Episode 12 "What We Know" appeared like a gift on our phones and computers, the end of a long journey we all took with Sarah Koenig to illuminate the mystery of the 1999 murder of Maryland teenager Hae Min Lee, for which Adnan Syed was convicted. If you're a true devoted fan, you're probably splitting your time right now between your day job and frantically grabbing moments to listen and re-listen to Episode 12, perhaps sequestered in an office bathroom. To you: I salute you, I join you. 

As always at the end of an era, we have to step back and reflect wistfully at what's left us. No worries, though— this post won't reveal any spoilers (if you want spoilers, though, we have a host of other options for you, including questions about everything we learned in today's episode, and more reflections on Serial in actual cereal). Here's a look back at the niche, more-than-cult following that Serial garnered; all the best moments and parodies that came from Sarah Koenig's excellent first season of Serial. 

A Serial Freestyle 

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YouTube rapper Zach Sherwin delivered this impressively rhymed and provocative comedic rap about being a fan of the Serial podcast and, over time, reconsidering what that fandom means. He brings up a lot of key points of contention and conflict, like the fact that no matter how much you love or trust Sarah Koenig, you have to admit she IS manipulating the facts. Also, the racial element that seems to be conspiciously absent from the podcast. As one of Sherwin's friends puts it, the podcast has a "White girl who went to a liberal arts school but only has white friends NPR-ish vibe." I agree that listening to Serial is "a complicated thing to engage with." 

"This is Sarah Koenig from the Serial Murder Podcast..."

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The parodies! The parodies abound!! A lot of great jokes came out of the podcast, perhaps most notoriously the "MailKimp" riff that is hilarious to Serial listeners and weird as hell to non-fans. One of the best parodies was one of the first, a series fake Serial episodes with comedian Will Stephen imitating Koenig (his speech pattern and questioning are on point). I literally shrieked in delight when he makes cold calls and introduces himself with "This is Sarah Koenig from the Serial murder podcast." My favorite is the one where he tries to solve the mystery of the pay phone at Best Buy. 

Koenig Can't Take the Pressure 

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Speaking of parodies, this fantastic one from Funny or Die dropped yesterday imagining how Sarah Koenig's last day recording Serial might go. A nervous Sarah Koenig can't take the pressure or the expectations, and she snaps when the executives of MailChimp (Mail...Krimp?) stop by and tell her just how excited they are for her to reveal the end of the mystery. 

The Serial Swag

Ah, of course, the swag. With any cultural phenomenon, there's always swag. Shout out to MailChimp for being so good-natured and making this MailKimp collegiate sweatshirt, but I take back that shout out immediately because they aren't actually selling it. But here's a ton of other stuff you can with your Serial mad money. 

The Colbert Report 

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Stephen Colbert has a huge crush on Sarah Koenig. Just watch the interview, they are a match made in heaven. 

Visual Aids 

Who doesn't relish a good graphic chart? Besides all the visual aids that the Serial podcast provided themselves on their site, these charts from The Bold Italic will resonate with any fan. BONUS: there's also Julie Alvin's helpful Venn diagram comparing Serial fans to serial monogamists. 

Reddit Theories You Never Knew You Needed 


The Serial Reddit thread became almost as mined and pored over as the podcast itself. Like anything on Reddit, posters who had way too much time on their hands theorized, conspired, and questioned every detail of Sarah Koenig's investigation of Hae Min Lee's murder, and all the rest of us (who also have a lot of time on our hands) read it with gusto. Lots of great, thought-provoking information came out of the Reddit, but also some quality comedic threads, like this one, about the mystery of the shrimp sale at the Crab Crib."Maybe different kinds of shrimp are on sale at different times?" 

Sigh. Goodbye Serial, we hardly knew ye. Thanks for ruining our lives in 2014. We'll see you for Season 2. 

Images: serialpodcast.org, MailChimp/Instagram, Reddit

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