Serial Season 2: You Should Listen to It (and write an essay about it)

This review is a bit late-- but I loved Serial Season 2, and while I recognize that Serial Season 1 was incredibly compelling because of the solve-it-yourself-mystery and the constant interaction between Sarah Koenig and Adnan, Season 2 is more in my wheelhouse-- Middle Eastern politics, military strategy, assessment of government bureaucracy and hierarchy, the conflict of vision between liberals and conservative, and-- most significantly-- a guy who was indignant because he couldn't wear shorts when it was really hot (same deal where I work, no AC and no relaxation of the dress code when it's 93 degrees in the classroom . . . don't get me started) and, ultimately, a main character who appears one way on the surface: a selfish deserter who-- according to Donald Trump-- deserves to be shot, but when you dig deeper into the story, systemic problems and existential questions reveal themselves . . . anyway, my students wrote synthesis essays about Serial Season 2, Hamlet and Inside Out and they were excellent-- all three works revolve around the question "Who's there?" and they all feature introverted main characters navigating the world without a solid social framework of friends and family . . . and all three characters decide to run away in order to solve their problems; just in case you want to write the essay for your own personal erudition, I've included the prompt AND a sample paragraph I wrote . . . at the very least this will give you an idea of how much high school has changed in the past decade . . . I wish when I went to school that I had the chance to connect a Shakespeare play to a popular podcast and a Pixar film: these damned kids don't know how good they have it.

Who's there?
Use Hamlet, Inside Out, and Serial Season 2 to frame an argument about one or more of the following topics: character, motivation, consciousness, art, aesthetic purpose, ethics, grief, perspective, layers in art, running away, introversion, morals, human nature, action, inaction, family, friendship, political intentions or anything else that applies to these works. These are dense pieces of art that connect to many themes-- so you should be choosing something YOU want to write about.
Use evidence from these works of art to bolster your argument. Do NOT simply summarize and compare/contrast the works, use them to help make your own point. This will require minimal amounts of summary, some logical analysis, transitions and connections, and-- most importantly-- a clear thesis as to what YOU are saying and clear topic sentences that connect to YOUR argument. Your introduction should get across this idea that you are going to explore, explain, and support.
Use at least two quotations from Hamlet, two quotations from Serial, and one quotation from Inside Out. You may mention one of more of the works in the introduction if they connect to your main idea-- but you do not have to mention all the sources in the introduction, you could just blend them into the body paragraphs. Be sure to properly cite all your quotations.

Topic sentence 1: The world does not always conform to idealized rules, and if a person does not learn how to adapt to this concept, he may suffer tragic consequences.
 Hamlet believes that his mother and father's marriage was ideal; he cannot endure his mother's betrayal, so much so that he wishes his flesh would "melt" so he that he won't have to deal with the "unweeded garden" (I. ii. 133-139) that his world has become. It takes him too long to accept that his world is messy and ugly, and that he will have to adjust his morals, actions, and attitude to this new normal. Because of this, his life ends tragically. While he finally comes to the conclusion that "the readiness is all" (V. ii. 238) and accepts his fate as an angry and vengeful son, he realizes this too late. Bowe Bergdahl suffers a similar fate. Like Hamlet, he keeps his romanticized ideals intact into his young adulthood. This philosophy does not mesh well with life in the military.  In Episode 1 of Serial (DUSTWUN) Bowe likens himself to "Jason Bourne." His interviewer, Mark Boal, describes Bergdahl's aspirations to be a super-soldier. The reality of Bergdahl's military experience is far different than what he imagined. OP MEST was a godforsaken shithole (literally) and the army mission there was ambiguous at best. Bergdahl could not reconcile what he thought the military should be with his actual experience, and this led him to make a rash decision.
Topic Sentence 2: People who learn how to cope with with the instability of the world when they are young are much more likely to be mentally resilient. 




8 comments:

Lecky said...

you wrote "shithole" on your assignment sheet. May I remind you you're not in North Brunswick anymore, behave a little better out East please

Dave said...

high school kids need a little levity to make it through the day . . . . and bowe bergdahl literally had to stir the shithole at OP Mest!

Lecky said...

I am through episode 6 on Season 2 - I think it's great, not as dramatic as season 1 but equally as topical and interesting. Do you capitalize YOU and YOUR to get students to write in their voice as opposed to the voice they think you want to hear for an "A"? That seemed obvious

Dave said...

synthesis is the new thing-- so you have to remind them to have their own argument, and not just write a giant compare/contrast essay

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