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The Problem With “Serial” And The Model Minority Myth

11/16/2014, Buzzfeed Ideas

At the outset of Serial, the popular new podcast from This American Life, host Sarah Koenig describes the tale of Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed as a “Shakespearean mash-up.” The true story of the 1999 murder of 18-year-old Hae, Koenig says, combines the “young lovers from different worlds thwarting their families” of Romeo and Juliet with the “final act of murderous revenge” of Othello. Koenig’s description is both an explanation of her year-long fascination with the case and a promise to listeners that we won’t be disappointed by the slow unfolding of the story. The metaphor strains to accommodate Adnan, Hae’s Pakistani-American ex-boyfriend who was convicted of her murder, but Koenig runs with it anyway: Adnan is “not a Moor exactly, but a Muslim all the same.”