Once a staple of late-night TV, true crime has evolved into critically acclaimed long-form programming—perhaps because these mysteries often leave us with more questions than answers.
The podcast boom is coming at a time of great social activism—certain shows have even changed the direction of a case or prompted courts to revisit an old convictions.
Just in time for Halloween season or, as others call it, "autumn."
"When it comes to movies, Crimando says, film producers have far more control over the viewer's comprehension of a story, but with audio-only tales, listeners create an even scarier version of what goes on. The images they conjure up in their minds are based on all of their deepest individual fears that fill in the blanks, and Baran adds that, with podcasts, listeners have to "do some work" in imagining what the host, sources and subjects all look like."
The "My Favorite Murder" podcast has ended up doubling as a sort of mental-health support group.
Abstract The true crime genre, which consists of nonfiction books based on gruesome topics such as rape and murder, has amassed an extensive audience. Many people might assume that men, being the more aggressive sex, would be most likely to find such gory topics interesting. But a perusal of published reader reviews suggests that women enjoy these kinds of books more so than do men. The purpose of this research was to shed light on this apparent paradox. In Studies 1 and 2, the authors conducted a study of reader reviews and a study of book choices that demonstrated that, in fact, women are more drawn to true crime stories whereas men are more attracted to other violent genres. In Studies 3 to 5, the authors manipulated various characteristics of true crime stories to determine which features women find appealing. The authors discuss the findings in light of contemporary evolutionary perspectives on aggression and murder.
“My Favorite Murder”’s implicit thesis is that by being smart and fierce, women can protect ourselves from random attacks from rapists and murderers. The hosts have recounted the story of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, who would lure his female victims by pretending to have a broken arm and needing help carrying his bags. Essentially, he attracted his female victims by playing into our conditioning to be polite. Accordingly, “Fuck politeness” is emblazoned on podcast merch.
True crime has been considered a guilty pleasure at least since the ’90s rise of documentary programs like “Forensic Files” and “Dateline.” Audiences for these shows, and for true-crime podcasts and books, tend to be overwhelmingly female. True crime has been stigmatized as a Thing Women Like, the way bodice-ripping novels and soap operas used to be. But that has changed recently. “Serial,” the original true-crime podcast phenomenon, helped legitimize the genre with its first season. Documentaries like “The Jinx” and “Making a Murderer” became hits and with “Serial” losing momentum in its second season, there was something of a perfect environment for Hardstark and Kilgariff to launch their show.
"Hosts Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff will be the first to tell you that My Favorite Murder is filed under the "comedy" section for a reason. They don't care too much about facts, but they do tell a great story." -- Handy reference for other true crime podcasts --
'My Favorite Murder' started as a way for Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark to work through their fears. Now it's a worldwide community.
...While the podcast and Facebook group proved safe spaces for some of the MFM community, others were faced with navigating familiar territory: straight, cis, white women maintaining the same systems of oppression they casually discuss that render murder victims of color and of the queer and trans community invisible.