Town podcast from Serial creators is out now

Peter Castro
March 30, 2017

Shit Town, the latest "true crime" podcast from the creators of Serial and This American Life, couldn't have known when its story began three years ago that it would come to fruition with ideal timing.

Discussing S-Town without giving away what it's really about - a revelation elegantly dispensed through a sublime left turn in the closing moments of the second episode - is a tricky proposition, and in hindsight, it's more understandable why the Serial team kept public details at a minimum and inadvertently allowed true-crime speculation to germinate. As written on the S-Town website: "John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. But when someone else ends up dead, the search for the truth leads to a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man's life".

Reporting for the roughly seven-hour show started out as the main character, a talkative guy called John B. McLemore, emailed host Brian Reed to investigate an alleged murder in his Woodstock, Alabama "S***t town". And the maze of McLemore's life, which Reed attempts to navigate, is echoed by a literal maze the reclusive man has built in his yard.

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S-Town is a podcast released just today by the producers of Serial. On Tuesday, all seven episodes of the podcast became available for download. Like we said, we're one episode in and absolutely hooked. Some people think the notoriety is good for the town. Instead of asking "whodunit?" around office water coolers, listeners are more likely to ask themselves more existential questions, about friendship, violence, poverty, and isolation. These are the best memes and reactions so far to the podcast. Its prominence will undoubtedly recall the complexity of the Sarah Koenig-Adnan Syed relationship at the heart of Serial's first season (with some key differences), but the dynamic seems more naturally integrated into the perspective and texture of the show this go-around.

However, despite its blatant positioning as the heir to the Serial throne, S-Town is not quite the true crime podcast you might be expecting.

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