'Serial' Update: Soldier Imprisoned by Taliban is Subject of Upcoming Season

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Fans of the This American Life-spinoff podcast Serial, get ready to get political. Earlier today, the Hollywood Reporter confirmed that the show will be focusing on the 2009 disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan -- and subsequent imprisonment by the Taliban -- for an upcoming season.

If you've forgotten the tale of Sgt. Bergdahl, here's a little refresher: while stationed in Afghanistan in 2009, Bergdahl left his base in the middle of the night and disappeared. At some point he was captured by the Taliban, who held him for five years. After being lobbied by his family back home, the U.S. negotiated for Bergdahl's release, which they got in exchange for freeing five Guantanamo Bay detainees in May of last year. But after Bergdahl was returned to the Army, his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan complained that he had actually abandoned his post, which led to him being charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He now faces life in prison.

Bergdahl is currently in Texas awaiting trial and, a month ago, Maxim reported that Serial producer Sarah Koening was spotted in the courtroom during a preliminary hearing for his case. (Also in the audience was Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal, who is reportedly adapting Bergdahl's story for a film project being directed by Kathryn Bigelow, as well as helping the Serial team.)

UNDATED - In this undated image provided by the U.S. Army, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl poses in front of an American flag.
UNDATED - In this undated image provided by the U.S. Army, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl poses in front of an American flag. (Photo by U.S. Army via Getty Images)

When asked by Maxim if Serial was going to cover Bergdahl, representatives from This American Life released this statement:

We'd very much appreciate if fellow journalists would give us some room and not feel the need to attempt to dig into and try to figure out what you think we might be doing, especially since we're actively reporting stories, and having a bunch of wild speculation out there makes our job reporting harder. Doesn't feel very menschy. In any case, here's what I can tell you: The Serial staff is currently working on several things simultaneously: Season 2, Season 3, and some other podcast projects. For now we're not talking publicly about anything that we're working on.

Regardless, the Hollywood Reporter is reporting that some season, maybe not the second, will be about Bergdahl.


The first season of Serial was a phenomenon in podcasting, drawing an average 3.4 million listeners per episode. Koening's examination of Hae Min Lee's murder in 1999 and the subsequent conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed led to the discovery of a new witness that provides an alibi for Syed, which, among other discoveries, got him an appeal hearing.

If Koening and her team take on the Bergdahl case, expect to ride a roller coaster of emotions while they examine every aspect of his story. Also expect to hear Koening literally describe how she contemplates a question each episode. (If you listened to the first season, you know what I'm talking about.)