Remember how the first season of Serial took everyone by storm? (Well, by "everyone" I mean the kind of everyone who downloads podcasts and reads blogs like this and probably talks about going to New York a lot.) Remember when all we could talk about was the Nisha call and Mail Kimp? Heady days. Even Adnan got in on the action and got himself a new hearing! Man, if Season 1 was so good, imagine how good Season 2 was gonna be!
WRONG. Season 2 flopped. It was the story of Bowe Bergdahl, a US Army soldier who left his base in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban and then exchanged for some Guantanamo guys and that made everyone so mad. Seems like an interesting story, right? How come it was a big fail when Season 1 was such a hit? I have some ideas.
Season 1 was basically a true crime show, and everybody loves Dateline. There's a murder, and then you think you have it figured out, and then there's a twist, and then there's a payphone at Best Buy or maybe there's not, and now maybe the wrong guy is in jail. OR IS HE.
In Season 2, on the other hand, a guy walks off a base and gets captured by the Taliban and grievously abused for years and then freed. It's a compelling story, but there's no mystery. One of the Taliban doesn't whip off his mask at the end and OH MY GOD IT'S JEFF THAT GUY HE BULLIED IN HIGH SCHOOL!!!! There are still questions about why Bowe did what he did but it's just fundamentally not as interesting. We want to know if Colonel Mustard used the lead pipe in the conservatory, not whether Colonel Mustard was internally conflicted about killing Mr. Boddy .
2. Format too unpredictable
Season 1 was released one episode at a time, once a week. It was nice and predictable, like TV shows or happy hour. Season 2 started off the same - one episode, roughly the same time every week. Then suddenly one week here's Sarah Koenig telling us "Oh, whoops, never mind, it's only going to be every other week." Then one week, "Surprise! Here's two episodes." Then none the next week. Or something. It killed whatever momentum the show had. Remember when "Lost" would disappear for a few weeks, then come back for one episode, then vanish for a month, then three more episodes? Not a model you want to emulate.
3. Too far removed from general experience
Season 1 was relatable because basically everyone's been to high school and everyone's had a high school love and everyone knew some weirdos in high school who might could kill someone. But in Todays' America, and ESPECIALLY amongst the target demo of Serial, almost no one has been in the Army or been to Afghanistan. So it's much harder to put yourself in the main character's shoes.
Hopefully they bounce back and get their footing back next season because it can be pretty good when it's done right.