True Crime Shows Fascinate Students

Anna Farrar, News Editor

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From 1930s bank robbers to Wild West gunslingers, society has always been engrossed with inner workings of outlaws, outcasts and murderers. Largely-fictionalized films, 13 seasons of “Criminal Minds” and critically-acclaimed TV shows all fuel society’s morbid curiosity. From “Making a Murderer” to podcast “Serial,” there’s something for every true crime buff.

The true crime genre has had a resurgence. Streaming services, podcasts and television shows are delivering in-depth looks into famous serial killers and their evil actions.

“The public is drawn to true crime because it triggers the most basic and powerful emotion in all of us—fear,” said Scott Bonn, a criminology professor at Drew University. “As a source of popular culture entertainment, it allows us to experience fear and horror in a controlled environment where the threat is exciting but not real.”

Senior Isabella Brown has binged everything from “Mindhunter” to “Evil Genius.”

“Evil Genius has been my favorite so far. The way the series explores the story little by little paints the picture so vividly, it’s almost like I’m the one investigating,” Brown said. “The case got weirder and weirder as it went along and I was always shocked in some way.”

The Netflix Original dives into the mystery of a pizza delivery man tragically killed while strapped to a bomb around his neck. Originally thought to be an attempted bank robbery, there’s speculation that Brian Wells, the victim, was coerced to rob a bank and subsequently murdered. Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, the “evil genius,” was arrested and sentenced to life in prison.

“I also like how (“Evil Genius”) explores the mindset the criminals were in,” Brown said. “It’s admittedly a bit of a creepy thing to be obsessed with but it’s all so interesting.”

In addition to the endless selection of documentaries and miniseries, Brown also obsesses over “Buzzfeed Unsolved,” a witty and enthralling web series, according to Brown.

“I know Buzzfeed is typically an unreliable place, but they have a series that explores unsolved true crime cases in 20 to 30 minutes,” Brown said. “(It’s) cool to look at on the surface and give me a jumping point for doing my own research if a case interests me.”

Senior Maggie Heinrich utilizes podcasts to satisfy her own curiosity.

“(My favorite is) called ‘Dirty John’ and I originally listened to the podcast of it which was then adapted into a tv show,” Heinrich said. “It shows you that even someone who seems like the perfect person, can also have their dark secrets; that no one is perfect in a sense.”

As “Mindhunter” taught us, serial killers often have no motive or tangible reason for their crimes. More and more documentaries have tried to accurately portray the mindset of these murderers. Both Brown and Heinrich are eager to obsess over the upcoming “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” which creates a portrait of the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy.

“‘Conversations with a Killer’ is coming on Netflix!” Brown said. “It’ll try to explore the mind of Ted Bundy, and trying to understand what went on in his head should be fantastic.”

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