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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: ‘Undisclosed’ curbs ‘Serial’ fans’ appetite with different flavor

    Undisclosed Podcast

    Undisclosed Podcast

    Last October, the podcast world exploded when “Serial” debuted as the story of a journalist’s search for truth in a 15-year-old murder case.

    Chalk it up to the incredibly engaging story, the mysterious air about it or Sarah Koenig’s perfect radio voice, but the podcast became popular in a way that had never been seen before via its medium.

    People who hadn’t known what a podcast was were avid listeners of the new program, tuning in every week for a new episode. “Serial” was a sensation, as it had every right to be. It was truly an original, quality production in the world of audio narratives.

    Once the story of Adnan Syed came to an end, however, fans were already demanding more. Koenig has said the series will return for a second season focusing on a different case, but it won’t make its grand re-entrance into the podcast scene until it can find a good subject.

    For “Serial” fans still looking for a podcast fix until then, or for those who still want to know exactly what happened after school the day Hae Min Lee was murdered, there is “Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed.”

    When the show first begins, the cast of “Undisclosed” wants to make one thing very clear: “Undisclosed” is not “Serial.” The two podcasts aren’t affiliated in any way other than the creator of the second being Rabia Chaudry, who originally contacted Koenig to tell her about Syed’s story.

    As the episode progresses, Chaudry and her team are proven correct. She and her co-hosts — lawyer and blogger Susan Simpson, and USC School of Law professor and blogger Colin Miller — have a distinctly different approach to the Syed case compared to Koenig’s.

    For starters, the lawyers of “Undisclosed” are much more focused on looking into the legal details and trial proceedings of the case, rather than telling an interesting story. From the very beginning, Chaudry establishes that, saying, “This is not going to be a beautifully crafted narrative like ‘Serial,’ but it will be a run down many rabbit holes in the case.” 

    Chaudry’s introduction is accurate: The show has a much drier format than Koenig’s did, although it does still incorporate some of the trademark haunting music. To say that it is less narrative is not to say that it isn’t as good, however.

    Don’t take that the wrong way. Listening to “Undisclosed” can almost be as enjoyable as listening to “Serial” for the first time. For fans of learning the facts, facts are exactly what the new podcast provides.

    Where “Serial” was content with leaving fans with the question of Syed’s guilt unanswered, “Undisclosed” is determined to get to the bottom of the case. There are no anecdotes, no discussions of conflicting emotions, no tapes from interviews with Syed through the prison phone system, because this isn’t the same show.

    When people hear that “Undisclosed” is picking up the Syed case where “Serial” left off, they’re being given a false promise. To truly appreciate “Undisclosed,” it should be thought of as a completely separate entity from “Serial.” The story is similar, but that is all that should be considered; the two can’t be compared. It would be like juxtaposing the live court proceedings of a trial to a scripted film made about the case after the fact.

    “Undisclosed” is definitely something to put on a “must listen” list. It’s interesting to hear about all the intricate details and proceedings that evoke a strange sense of nostalgia for the story and characters. It’s like resuming a conversation with old friends coming back from a long trip away; there’s something different about it now — but that’s neither good nor bad.

    It’s simply different, and sometimes, different is just what you’re looking for.


    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter.

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