The Case Against Adnan Syed is a new HBO documentary series. It’s based on a True Crime case that gained interest thanks to the podcast Serial. The first episode just aired on HBO and as fans of true crime documentaries, we watched it immediately. Here’s our review of episode 1.

The Case Against Adnan Syed is a 4 episode true crime documentary series airing on HBO. The reason this documentary mini-series was ever made is the immense popularity of the podcast Serial. The Serial podcast focuses on this case and tries to look at all the facts.

From the very beginning, it’s stated that the podcast did not manage to solve the crime in any way. In other words, Serial did not prove that Adnan Syed was innocent. Instead, it looked at how strong the case against him was.

Episode 1 focuses a lot on the basic facts of the case. At the heart of the case is the 1999 murder of High School student, Hae Min Lee. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, is currently serving a life sentence. However, everyone who knew both Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed finds it very difficult to believe that he could have committed this terrible crime.

Forbidden love between teenagers

The relationship between Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed was always kept secret from their respective families. At their High School, everyone knew they were together and it seemed like a non-issue. Both were good students and very well liked.

However, Adnan Syed is from a Pakistani Muslim background and Hae Min Lee is the daughter of Korean immigrants. Both families want their children to focus on school, so any romantic relationship was strictly forbidden.

We do also hear elements of Hae Min Lee having been abused as a child. This is something she told both close friends and Adnan Syed. For the record, her closest friends never visited her at home either. It seems clear that her family life and personal social life are kept very seperate.

The pressure from their families becomes too much for Hae Min Lee, who ends up breaking off the relationship. A few times, in fact. Before she’s murdered, she’s seeing someone new. He’s a 22-year-old colleague (white male) from her after-school job.

The Case Against Adnan Syed - Review - HBO True Crime

Episode 1 of The Case Against Adnan Syed is just the beginning

We don’t really get much information on why Adnan Syed is currently serving a life sentence for murder. It seems that they were becoming friends rather than being in a romantic relationship. Many of their High School friends are part of this HBO documentary and seem to confirm this.

Also, they all do a very important job of reminding us that this is a story about teenagers. Everything was very dramatic and “Romeo and Juliet” like and people fell in and out of love all the time. The common denominator does seem to be that everyone really likes both Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed.

Of course, no one can blame the family for being happy when a suspect is arrested. And since they had no relationship with Adnan Syed, he’s as good a suspect as anyone. Maybe even better since he had been in a relationship with her. However, this is only the first episode of The Case Against Adnan Syed and there is clearly a lot of weird elements of this story already.

Watch The Case Against Adnan Syed on HBO now!

The Case Against Adnan Syed is already a fascinating watch because we have so many of their High School friends to talk about them. Also, we have family members of both Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed as part of this documentary. It all lends a quality and depth to the True Crime element that we have those involved with the case and/or people telling this story.

One thing that struck me was the fact that Adnan Syed’s family seemed to have become more religious. While being very “American” in appearance in pictures from before the murder in 1999, they now wear more traditional Muslim garments. I can’t say I blame them in any way if they feel betrayed by the US justice system and have turned more to their religion.

They also interview Adnan Syed on the phone and while I still have no idea of whether he’s guilty or not, he sounds very believable. He felt very safe when he was first arrested and simply worried how this would look on his college application. Because, of course, he figured he would be released again very soon. After all, he didn’t do it.

Based on episode 1, I cannot imagine why he would have done it. But then I remind myself that apparently, the Serial podcast wasn’t able to definitively say he didn’t either. So now I’m actually looking forward to the next three episodes. Especially to find out why you could think he would have done this.

Episode 1 of The Case Against Adnan Syed aired on HBO on March 10, 2019.

The remaining three episodes of this 4-episode mini-series will air the following Sundays on HBO.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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