As soon as the This American Life podcast Serial became a zeitgeist-capturing phenomenon, folks began counting down the minutes before Hollywood came calling to turn this highly engrossing story into a narrative of some form. Well the time has finally come…and it’s kind of great news. Per THR, immensely talented writers/directors/producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller have optioned the rights to the Serial podcast and will be developing a TV series adaptation with Fox 21 Television Studios. However, in a reassuring twist, the Serial TV series won’t follow the Adnan Syed case that host Sarah Koenig chronicled in the podcast’s first season.
Plot details are being kept firmly under wraps, but THR notes that the plan is “to create a cable series based on the experience of making the hugely successful podcast.” Lord and Miller apparently flew out to New York to pitch their take on a Serial cable series to Koenig and the producers at This American Life, who immediately sparked to their passion and unique idea. The team will soon begin pitching to networks once a writer or team of writers is in place.
As a huge fan of Serial, this comes as excellent news—especially since the heartbreaking true story of Adnan Syed isn’t being mined for dramatic interpretation. Not only is it touchy subject matter given that Syed’s case is ongoing, but Koenig already told his story brilliantly on the podcast. How could one hope to top that kind of storytelling in narrative form?
While Lord and Miller are no doubt busy readying their next directorial effort, an untitled Han Solo Star Wars film at Lucasfilm and Disney, it’s clear that the duo remain creatively curious—and that’s refreshing. Whereas some filmmakers seemingly forsake challenging or engaging storytelling once they hit the blockbuster realm, Lord and Miller—who are on the cusp of making the biggest movie of their careers—are flying to New York to pitch a TV series based on Serial. Though this kind of ambition is to be expected from the guys who turned a 21 Jump Street movie, a sequel, and a LEGO movie into gold.
Lord and Miller are no strangers to television either. They got their start by co-creating the short-lived but delightful animated comedy Clone High, then worked as writers on How I Met Your Mother for a short while. They currently serve as executive producers on Fox’s The Last Man on Earth, whose second season recently kicked off in glorious fashion.
The news of the Serial TV series comes on the heels of word that the second season of the podcast may be focusing on Bowe Bergdahl, the Army soldier who went missing while serving in Afghanistan and was subsequently captured and held prisoner by the Taliban. Koenig and This American Life aren’t confirming or denying just yet, but we do know that the team is simultaneously working on two new seasons of Serial. Here’s hoping one (or both) are ready for release soon.