Best Buy found itself in hot water Thursday after posting an ill-conceived tweet relating to the popular true crime podcast "Serial," which investigates the real-life murder of a Baltimore teenager in 1999.
"We have everything you need. Unless you need a payphone. #Serial," the tweet read, a reference to the murder investigation featured in the show, in which prosecutors alleged that the crime took place at a Best Buy parking lot, and that a call was placed from a pay phone near the store afterward.
The podcast devotes some time to investigating whether or not a pay phone existed at the Best Buy in question in 1999. To some "Serial" listeners, the tweet felt like an inside joke that only other listeners would understand. To many others, however, it felt insensitive in light of the fact that the story isn’t fictional -- it discusses a real crime that affected real people's lives.
After receiving a swift outpouring of criticism from Twitter users, Best Buy deleted the tweet and posted an apology. "We deeply apologize for our earlier tweet about Serial. It lacked good judgment and doesn’t reflect the values of our company. We are sorry," the company's account said.
"Serial," which is hosted by Sarah Koenig, a producer on the popular radio show "This American Life," is a podcast that follows a single story over multiple episodes. The podcast has become a cultural phenomenon, quickly surpassing more than 5 million iTunes downloads to become the most popular podcast in the history of the medium.
The podcast follows the story of the 1999 murder of Baltimore teenager Hae Min Lee, a high school senior. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, of her murder, was convicted of the crime, and he has been in prison ever since. Syed has maintained his innocence throughout, and family friends reached out to Koenig to ask her to investigate the case, leading to the creation of the podcast.
"Serial" has already released 11 episodes, and the 12th and final episode will be released Thursday, Dec. 18. The buzz around the show has been growing steadily over the previous weeks and has reached a fever pitch as the conclusion nears, with Koenig even getting grilled by Stephen Colbert earlier this week.
However, fans hoping for a perfect crime-novel ending would be wise to not get their hopes up: Koenig told The New York Times, “I do want a solid ending that is based in my reporting. But I don’t feel a responsibility to make it the kind of entertainment that you would get on some TV drama.” This has upset some devoted fans who are anxious for a clear resolution to the supposed mystery.
Koenig has already announced that there will be a second season of the show, and that it will tackle an entirely different story. She has given no clues as to what the new story will be or when the season will start.