The hit true crime podcast “Serial” will return for a third season this month.
A new trailer for the addictive investigative series dropped on Wednesday, along with a premiere date: Sept. 20. While past seasons focused on telling “one story — a true story — over the course of a season,” this time around “Serial” will offer listeners an inside look at numerous cases host Sarah Koenig and her team encountered while spending more than a year investigating the Cleveland criminal court system.
The team chose to zero in on Cleveland after being granted unmatched access to record in “courtrooms, back hallways, judges’ chambers, prosecutors’ offices” – and then, Koenig explained, they followed those cases from the courts and into “neighborhoods,” “people’s houses,” and “prison.”
The first season of “Serial” was an immense hit, and became the first podcast ever to be streamed more than 5 million times on iTunes. That 12-episode season focused on the case of Adnan Syed, who was convicted in 2000 of murdering his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Amid ever-increasing popularity of the show, courts granted Syed a new trial earlier this year, but despite the podcast’s undeniable impact, the team behind it decided to change the formula for their long-awaited third season.
“I don’t think we can understand how the criminal justice system works by interrogating one extraordinary case. Ordinary cases are where we’d need to look,” Koenig explained in the trailer. “This season of ‘Serial,’ we do just that. We take a look at the entire criminal justice system.”
Despite the change in format, however, the podcast’s third season will continue to shed light on some of the horrifying realities of the criminal justice system.
“Every case we looked into, there came a time where I said, ‘Wait, this can’t be happening.’ And then it did,” Koenig said.
“Serial” has been awarded a bevy of broadcasting awards since its 2014 premiere and, in 2015, became the first podcast to ever be awarded a Peabody.
[Photo: Sarah Koenig, producer and host of the podcast “Serial” speaks at Boston University’s “Power of Narrative” conference in Boston Massachusetts March 29, 2015. By Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images]
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