July 17, 2019

"At the most basic level, true crime satisfies that little-kid desire to see beneath the surface of everything."

"As a child, I was often ashamed of my curiosity, which always seemed to go in socially unacceptable directions. I’d reach for a stick to explore a dead fish at the edge of a pond. I yearned to learn taxidermy. Grown-ups smiled when I said I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up, but I knew better than to tell them my main motivation: I wanted to see everyone naked. As a teenager, I liked nothing better than testing my ability to withstand upsetting things. If at that time I felt isolated because of my true-crime fixation, as an adult I know I’m not alone. My fascination springs from the same sources that have always drawn people to the genre: straightforward curiosity, vicarious thrills and a kind of magical thinking that maybe if you consume crime as art you’ll never confront it in real life."

Writes Kate Tuttle in "Why Do Women Love True Crime?"

Why is "curiosity" — once experienced as shameful — now deemed "straightforward"?

This feels like another version of an old phenomenon: It's about women, so it must be perceived as good. Women love the true-crime genre — they're something like 70% if the audience — so it can't be that there's something perverse or creepy or disordered about the fascination.

99 comments:

Big Mike said...

so it can't be that that there's something perverse or creepy or disordered about the fascination.

Can’t be, yet it is!

Michael K said...

My wife and I, plus my sister in another city, watch "The Murder Channel," which is what we all call Discovery ID. It's about the only TV I watch except football.

Leland said...

I think this woman has been raised with perverse views. It shouldn't be shameful to observe something, like a dead fish, and wonder about its death. That's the essence of scientific thought. The same goes with seeing people naked. But she had been taught to hide those thoughts, and now has found it acceptable to have them by perusing true crime victims. Sad that she didn't explore her curiosity and become a doctor, so she could see all the true crimes one can endure. Maybe she could have then learned to help rather than gawk.

CJinPA said...

There's no "Althouse Rule" tag? I cite that rule!

rehajm said...

Did she torture the fish before she killed it? Did she want to see people naked or dream of taxidermy in order to wear the skin of her victims? If not I'd say good no call on the foul.

MayBee said...

I'm surprised its 70% women. Everybody loves true crime in some form.

hombre said...

NYT normalizing pathology among one of the victim classes. Better to love true crime than to commit it - the pathology of another victim class.

CJinPA said...

The '70% women' stat explains why ID Channel promos for shows about women who kill men are presented with a comic flair. Doesn't justify it, but does explain it.

mockturtle said...

I'll admit having enjoyed Forensic Files. It's the solving of the crime that interests me, not the crime, itself. Seeing a perp brought to justice is always very satisfying. Plea deals, OTOH, are not.

Ann Althouse said...

"There's no "Althouse Rule" tag? I cite that rule!"

Yeah, that should have a tag. You can find them all with the tag "gender difference" (along with other stuff). I've spent years resisting tag proliferation. It's hard to retrospectively tag, but I do it sometimes. Very hard if there isn't a unique word (such as a person's name).

Ann Althouse said...

And it hasn't seemed like calling something the "Althouse Rule" is for me to do. Instapundit does it. I do like getting credit for it, but I don't think I've ever called it the "Althouse rule."

Anonymous said...

Leland: Sad that she didn't explore her curiosity and become a doctor, so she could see all the true crimes one can endure. Maybe she could have then learned to help rather than gawk.

Interesting take. I was an enthusiast of true crime/forensic med stories when I was young. I lost the taste for them with age and experience. Actually "seeing everyone [and everything] naked" is not at all like reading or imagining it. Real crime and real criminals are mostly some combination of sad and stupid, disgusting, terrifying, enraging. And boring. Not interesting and titillating.

It's a characteristic of immaturity to believe that the seamy side of life is more "real" than ordinary, decent life. It isn't. It's just more seamy.

Some Seppo said...

It can't be that that there's something perverse or creepy or disordered about the fascination with engaging in B&D fantasies with billionaires.

J. Farmer said...

My wife and I, plus my sister in another city, watch "The Murder Channel," which is what we all call Discovery ID.

That's the same moniker I use, and my mother (an ER physician) watches it almost exclusively, to the point where it's become a running joke in our family. When I was younger, I too had a somewhat morbid fascination with true crime and particularly wanting to know all the sordid details of a case. I have since spent more than a decade reading child protection investigator reports, which are about as horrific a compendium of human depravity one is likely to encounter. "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."

Kevin said...

I've always thought the Law and Order:SVU series was a textbook case of a show pretending to be sternly disapproving of something while not-so-secretly vicariously getting off on it. And all the fans I knew of that show were female.

buwaya said...

Crime is an ancient fascination.
Criminals usually carry a hint of the romantic.

Examples abound, across all cultures, even China.

Perhaps the most famous Spanish zarzuela is “El Gato Montes”, the wildcat, about a bandit.
Who is redeemed by a woman of course.
A very recognizable piece from this is the pasodoble of the same name.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

boring

We watch Forensic Files in the background sometimes when we're working on our computers in the evening and are tired of classical music. It is definitely repetitive. It's always thallium poisoning, and it's always for life insurance.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

And people also always think they will get away with it, and they won't. No, your wife did not come home and decide one sunny day to commit suicide with a gun that magically left no gunpowder residue on her temple and she definitely did not do this by amazing coincidence while you are having an affair and took out a large life insurance policy on her a month prior.

Criminals are rarely A-B-C thinkers, but we all knew that.

Michael K said...

The show that I like most is the one about the CCTV cameras. The gruesome details are too much like my work was.

gspencer said...

"but I knew better than to tell them my main motivation: I wanted to see everyone naked"

Even WalMart shoppers?

Better be careful.

Nonapod said...

My guess is that the reasons behind women being so attracted to "True Crime" stories have to do with basic survival. From an evolutionary standpoint it makes sense that females need to know the signs dangerous, violent males that may be present in any group. In order to do so, they need information in the form of stories. Gossip among both sexes, exists for similar reasons.

mockturtle said...

It's always thallium poisoning

No, sometimes it's succinylcholine. ;-)

J. Farmer said...

No, sometimes it's succinylcholine.

Or cyanide, detected by one of the minority of people who can smell the almond-like odor

mockturtle said...

The show that I like most is the one about the CCTV cameras.

If ever I had mixed feelings about a technology, those are it. Big Brother always watching=BAD. Perps being caught=GOOD.

J. Farmer said...

@Nonapod:

My guess is that the reasons behind women being so attracted to "True Crime" stories have to do with basic survival.

I think this is basically true. Women are at a much greater risk for being victimized than men. Why I've always been a strong proponent of women arming themselves. It was also the basic point Camille Paglia was trying to make during the date rape arguments in the mid-1990s. Too women do not appreciate how outrageously dangerous it is to go to a man's room alone.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

I used to watch forensic files.
Same reason Mockturtle mentions above-- for the fascination and satisfaction solving the crime. I used to watch British who-done-it crime shows.
I no longer watch any crime stuff anymore. Real or fake, I'm sick of all of it.
It's not entertaining, or enlightening. It's wrecks the soul. It's also..... boring and repetitive.

As Farmer notes - there's enough real depravity in this world.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

I love true crime! I'm in the 30%.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Too women do not appreciate how outrageously dangerous it is to go to a man's room alone.

It's completely appalling to my sense of reality that Tinder is a thing. Who in her right mind would do this with a stranger?

Michael K said...

Women are at a much greater risk for being victimized than men. Why I've always been a strong proponent of women arming themselves

All three of my daughters own guns and have learned to use them.

There was a talk radio guy in LA years ago named Michael Jackson. He was a lefty and one time he had the LA Chief of Police on. The Chief was also a lefty and I think is now a city council member. Their discussion was people carrying concealed guns illegally. They were both sternly disapproving but every caller that day (a Saturday) was a woman who carried a gun in her purse. The uniform reason was "I refuse to be a victim." They would warn her, then the next caller would be exactly the same, a woman who carried a gun. I was laughing so hard I almost drove off the road. That was 25 years ago.

bleh said...

Most true crime involves real life husband-wife drama, so it’s relatable to some extent. My dad likes to joke that there are two stories: (1) the husband, the bastard, murders his wife or (2) the courageous wife gets free by killing the husband, the bastard. An oversimplification, sure.

Anyway not all true crime is equal. I loved the Staircase and the Jinx. I loved the Thin Blue Line. The multipart HBO one about the West Memphis 3 was great. I did not care for Serial — the procedural aspects bores me to tears and I was pretty sure early on that Syed was guilty. I don’t find these cases interesting as a viewer unless there’s some reason to doubt the guilt of the accused, and if there’s government negligence or misconduct, all the better. The Jinx is a bit of an outlier because it’s about establishing the guilt of a very rich and weird man who could be a serial killer. The interviews are damn fascinating because Durst thinks he’s in the clear, basically.

gilbar said...

Women love the BDSM series "50 shades of Grey" — they're something like 70% if the audience — so it can't be that there's something perverse or creepy or disordered about the fascination.

Anonymous said...

J.Farmer: I have since spent more than a decade reading child protection investigator reports, which are about as horrific a compendium of human depravity one is likely to encounter.

I'm glad that somebody can do that necessary job. I sure couldn't.

stlcdr said...

Two things:

There's always a guilty fascination with things that are not generally talked about in polite company.

Women are fascinated by different things than men.

Both generalizations, of course, but that's the way it is.

stlcdr said...

Blogger mockturtle said...
The show that I like most is the one about the CCTV cameras.

If ever I had mixed feelings about a technology, those are it. Big Brother always watching=BAD. Perps being caught=GOOD.

7/17/19, 10:06 AM


Britain has a lot of local laws or public dress requirements where baseball caps and hoodies are banned - specifically because the CCTV cameras (or those looking through them) can't identify you.

Christy said...

Count me among the women who do not enjoy true crime. I love mysteries; I do not want graphic details. In fact 70% strikes me as too high. Cosy mysteries are a huge market.

Athletes performing naked would be a good thing for purely aesthetic reasons. Imagine the young Tiger Woods, muscles rippling, through that swing.

0_0 said...

The 30% of the audience comprised of men is perverse or creepy or disordered if they enjoy those shows.

But it's good for women, even those who profess to wanting to see everyone naked.

Ralph L said...

This does explain why the majority of ads for fictional cop shows are directed toward women--and why they always degenerate into soap opera about the cast.

I used to watch true crime shows, but the excessive padding and repetition due to lack of video and data became tiresome. "Cops" isn't on broadcast 'round here anymore.

0_0 said...

If I watch Forensic Files too much I start wondering about everyone I know.

mockturtle said...

Christy suggests: Athletes performing naked would be a good thing for purely aesthetic reasons. Imagine the young Tiger Woods, muscles rippling, through that swing.

But, at the same time, think of John Daly...

Anonymous said...

stlcdr: There's always a guilty fascination with things that are not generally talked about in polite company.

I've always been skeptical about this particular theory of why people do whatever. "I developed this obsession with creepy stuff/my bizarre-o fetish because people won't talk about it in polite society." Not persuaded. (Btw, where is this polite society where people don't talk about the stuff that's blaring out of every media outlet 24/7, and how can I join it?)

I admit that I may be an outlier here, though. Never went in for this "guilty fascination" stuff, even as a child. If I was curious about something I'd ask about it, or bloody well go pull a book (medical text, whatever) off the shelf in the library and learn about "forbidden" topics to my heart's content. Always detested the whisperers and titterers and gigglers surreptitiously passing around the lame-o smut and other "forbidden" material that one could really very easily get hold of.

It seemed to me that my peers weren't so much fascinated because something was forbidden, but that they had a need for "forbidden" things to titter about.

dreams said...

I use to enjoy reading true crime books but not after a close family member was the victim of a horrible crime.

J. Farmer said...

@I Have Misplaced My Pants:

It's completely appalling to my sense of reality that Tinder is a thing. Who in her right mind would do this with a stranger?

Well, as a way of meeting another single person it makes sense: chat for a while, make plans to meet in a public place (e.g. restaurant), and see if there's any potential for dating. But Tinder was obviously modeled after the gay app Grindr, and it has taken on the connotations of a "hook up" app. Back in the mid-1990s, when I first got interested in Camille Paglia, I was fully on board with her whole "sex-positive" feminist message. I was mesmerized by her long essay "No Law in the Arena" published in Vamps & Tramps. But later I came to see that as a profoundly misguided message. Men and women have profoundly divergent interests with regards to sex. If one were truly a misogynist and wanted to trick women into giving up sex while getting nothing in return but a walk of shame, they could hardly do better than promoting "hook up" culture as some kind of empowering thing.

Anonymous said...

Christy: Athletes performing naked would be a good thing for purely aesthetic reasons.

The problem with allowing public nudity for the people we'd like to see naked is that there are a whole lot of people we don't want to see naked who think the rest of us wouldn't mind seeing them naked.

Same concept applies to yoga pants/tank tops/skimpy clothes in general. Imagine the "but I'm just more comfortable like this" argument now applied to slobbery, extended to nudity. Shudder.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Most crimes are either boring or sordid, not interesting.
A few nights ago I watched A Kiss Before Dying(1956) on TCM. I thought it would be a noir, but it was more like a fictionalized true crime story. Cad knocks up sweet, pretty girl, which threatens his future. Cad tries to poison her, and when that doesn't work, kills her by pushing her off a roof top. For a cover-up, cad kills an old boy friend of the girl he murdered, and pins her murder on him. Then he gets engaged to the sister of the girl he murdered. When the sister figures it all out, the cad tires to kill her. See what I mean? Sordid.

Gahrie said...

Now explain Harlequin romances and Fifty Shades of Gray.

Lewis Wetzel said...

The grand-daddy of True Crime is The Newgate Calendar. It is a great glimpse into crime and punishment in the 1700s. There weren't too many crimes of passion back then, most crimes, even murder, were over small sums of money.
Maybe the True Crime thrill comes from entering a space where, once the first crime is committed, there is no law. IIRC, most crimes are followed up with more crimes (or lies, at least) intended to allow the perpetrator escape punishment. Isn't the criminal always caught at the end of a True Crime story, and his/her punishment described to the reader?

Yancey Ward said...

This is definitely Althouse Rule material. Had it been 70%+ men consuming this genre, it would have been portrayed as evidence of men having greater socio/psychopathy tendencies.

mikee said...

My wife, a practicing physician for 30+ years, watches the shows to see real examples of behavior such as lying, covering up, resisting interrogation and so on. She says it helps her talk with teen patients and their parents alike about behavioral issues, sex, and even regular illness diagnosis.

Me, I never even think of lying to her. She's seen all those murder shows!

Michael K said...

If one were truly a misogynist and wanted to trick women into giving up sex while getting nothing in return but a walk of shame, they could hardly do better than promoting "hook up" culture as some kind of empowering thing.

This was the first step in creating the toxic culture on college campuses. My youngest daughter was the one who told me what "the walk of shame" is. The girl is walking back to her dorm in the morning wearing the clothes she wore on the date last night. First time I had heard of it.

Next came the "All men are rapists."

Michael K said...

She says it helps her talk with teen patients and their parents alike about behavioral issues, sex, and even regular illness diagnosis.

In the program that we used to teach interviewing skills to first year students, that was a workshop.

jg said...

violent felons have plenty of takers
the more civilized female's interest in true crime is a more civilized expression of the same interest

J. Farmer said...

Now explain Harlequin romances and Fifty Shades of Gray.

Softcore porn for board housewives. I was always surprised by the Fifty Shades... phenomenon. It is not as if BDSM lite has not been the subject of countless erotic novels. Ann Rice wrote some pretty good ones back in the early to mid-80s. But what distinguished Fifty Shades was its incredibly juvenile writing style. The author got her start writing erotic Twilight fanfiction. I have always found middle-aged women with the taste of tweens (e.g. boy bands, Disney World) to be very odd.

J. Farmer said...

@Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard:

The problem with allowing public nudity for the people we'd like to see naked is that there are a whole lot of people we don't want to see naked who think the rest of us wouldn't mind seeing them naked.

Ha. As I like to say, nudism always attracts people you never want to see nude.

Unknown said...

I (full disclosure--male) went through a phase years ago where I read a lot of crime nonfiction. I gave it up because I started to feel it was unhealthy and unseemly. I worried that I was encouraging something negative within myself.

CJinPA said...

It's not entertaining, or enlightening. It's wrecks the soul.

My wife and tell ourselves it’s for the intrigue of seeing the crime solved. So far we’re buying that excuse.

Leland said...

When I read the quote, I think of the 18th and 19th Century advance in the study of anatomy. Doctors learn(ed) by dissecting dead bodies. Often they used recently executed murderers. It led to some unseemly events and laws, but it also led to medical advances we enjoy today. If you want more women in STEM, you shouldn't discourage this behavior in young girls, unless and until they start seeking to create cadavers to study.

Women should be discouraged from making devices designed to irritate the opposite sex. That will just start a tit for tat game that will spiral out of control.

Christy said...

@Mockturtle, Ouch! What a cruel rebuttal!

Rory said...

"From an evolutionary standpoint it makes sense that females need to know the signs dangerous, violent males that may be present in any group."

Yeah, men don't have any purpose for knowing this stuff.

Fen said...

I've always thought the Law and Order:SVU series was a textbook case of a show pretending to be sternly disapproving of something while not-so-secretly vicariously getting off on it. And all the fans I knew of that show were female.

We had the same experience. We enjoyed the normal Law and Order and gave the SVU variant a look one night, and the scenes were set up in such a vicarious way that it was just sick.
Pervy sick.

As for True Crime (is that the name of a series or a genre?) I would like to see a venn diagram of the women who watch it and the women who send love letters to famous serial killers.

mockturtle said...

As for True Crime (is that the name of a series or a genre?) I would like to see a venn diagram of the women who watch it and the women who send love letters to famous serial killers.

I doubt, Fen, that you would see a high correlation. The satisfaction derived from this genre is usually from seeing the perp caught and punished, not romanticized.

Ralph L said...

Someone should calculate what percentage of the 13 seasons of Criminal Minds ends with a damsel in distress rescued at the last minute. 90%? A lot of the crimes are incredibly nasty and painful, which is why the feminine ads freak me out. I'm not sure if I'm desensitized or they're effectively sanitized. I've stopped frissoning when someone hits the pavement hard on FailArmy.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Fen : As for True Crime (is that the name of a series or a genre?)

I think it is a genre. I resent the implication that by default of being a woman that I would like such things.

Every once in a while, looking in vain for something interesting on the "Teevee" I have run across one of those shows. Joe Benda, who reminds me of a friend who is a retired Highway Patrol officer, is the host of one that I had looked at.

Mostly those shows remind me of how really stupid most people are. If any of them used a lick of common sense, as my Grandmother said, there wouldn't be show in the first place.

I'd rather watch a murder/mystery movie/series where there are clues, cool period clothing, scenery and interior decor. Bonus if the characters are interesting and there is a plot development that makes sense.

Now then....my Highway Patrol friend has some veeeeery interesting stories about his days in LA . Would make a great series but could never be made because it is extremely politically incorrect and would send most liberals screaming into their closets. They should make the show :-D

Fen said...

I'd rather watch a murder/mystery movie/series where there are clues, cool period clothing, scenery and interior decor. Bonus if the characters are interesting and there is a plot development that makes sense.

Yah. We enjoy Poirot and Miss Marple. Unfortunately we've run through them all.

Any ideas?

bagoh20 said...

My lady sure is obsessed with it. She now knows dozens of ways to kill me. She says she loves me, but that provides little confidence.

We were just discussing the other day that Gatorade should make an anti-freeze-colored drink and call it "Widow Maker". I think it's an awesome idea. That shit would sell.

bagoh20 said...

Forensic Files was hugely successful. One channel ran little else, then the copies started, and now we have "Investigation Discovery" - a network devoted to nothing but that genre. I think Forensic Files is still the best done one.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Endeavour the precursor to Inspector Morse is pretty good. Not so much a period piece since it is in the early 60's. Inspector Morse too is worthwhile, but having trouble finding it for "free" anymore.

This is really silly plot-wise, but a fun thing to watch if you like the 1920--30 genre. Miss Fisher. Australian show. Doctor Blake. Also Australian is entertaining. Set right after WWII.

The Bletchley Circle, set in cold war England, we really liked it. Here You might find it without fees elsewhere :-) There is a reprise of this show set in San Francisco. I haven't watch it!! so no opinion. It has completely new cast.

AND for something completely different...... which we found entertaining and impossible to explain to people why we watched and enjoyed.....The Detectorists. Not to everyone's taste :-)

RLB_IV said...

"Wives With Knives" was a big hit in this house.

Mike Sylwester said...

Michael K at 9:59 AM
The show that I like most is the one about the CCTV cameras.

See No Evil is my favorite too.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stlcdr said...

Blogger Dust Bunny Queen said...
...

I think it is a genre. I resent the implication that by default of being a woman that I would like such things.
...


I think that's the problem with these left leaning articles. Someone makes a thing (true crime/reality shows); an numerable and identifiable segment of the population likes said thing; reverse this chicken/egg situation; make is sexist/racist, etc. and pigeonhole those that like it vs. those that don't.

Anonymous said...

Fen: Yah. We enjoy Poirot and Miss Marple. Unfortunately we've run through them all.

Any ideas?


Not a period piece, but we liked the "Inspector Lewis" series. Preferred it to both its precursor "Inspector Morse", and the latter's prequel, "Endeavour".

Should hardly be anybody left alive in Oxford after these three series got through with it.

Nichevo said...

Fen said...
I'd rather watch a murder/mystery movie/series where there are clues, cool period clothing, scenery and interior decor. Bonus if the characters are interesting and there is a plot development that makes sense.

Yah. We enjoy Poirot and Miss Marple. Unfortunately we've run through them all.

Any ideas?

7/17/19, 1:55 PM

A Nero Wolfe Mystery, on A&E, had two seasons, alas. Somebody needs to invade Canada and make them make the show again. Although Maury Chaykin would be hard to replace.

Nonapod said...

Fen said...Yah. We enjoy Poirot and Miss Marple. Unfortunately we've run through them all.


Foyle's War is not bad. I hear Endeavour's OK too.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Midsomer Murders is pretty good also. Got a bit formula later on. We are on series 16 out of 19.

The thing that makes us laugh is that there is always a "festival" or some sort of other event happening. There seems to be NO LACK of cutesy festivities or parties going on.

Like Angle Dyne said. There should be almost no one left alive. Plus if there IS a festival and I lived there, I would probably think twice about going.....you never can tell...YOU could be next.

Fun shows

I forgot about Nero Wolfe. Agreed. We need to invade Canada!!

Beasts of England said...

There's a Forensic Files episode about a local doctor (Jack Wilson) who was killed by a handyman hired by his second wife and her sister. I went to school with his sons and had visited their house on a regular basis. The episode showed the murder scene - and his body - in complete and uncensored detail. It's one thing to hear about the murder of a really fine man, but it's a whole 'nother thing to see it in color.

Rory said...

"....what percentage of the 13 seasons of Criminal Minds ends with a damsel in distress rescued at the last minute. 90%? A lot of the crimes are incredibly nasty and painful, which is why the feminine ads freak me out."

The show has an inherent flaw: the reason why the characters can profile the criminals is that their behavior fits into just a few categories that endlessly repeat. There's really nowhere to go with the plot except to grow ever more grisly.

Dramatic shows used to do occasional comic turns that focused on trifles (or tribbles). I think Criminal Minds would have benefitted from an episode where one of the President's dogs is peeing on the Great Seal, and they've been ordered to figure out which one (hint: it's all of them).

Rory said...

Inspector Lynley is pretty good.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Father Brown is a bit silly (as though there are remotely that many Catholics in an English village in the 50s, alive or dead) but very watchable. My thirteen year old daughter and I enjoy it together.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

would a "True Crime DC" version be popular,

or just too much like the daily news?

Bill Peschel said...

Yah. We enjoy Poirot and Miss Marple. Unfortunately we've run through them all.

Any ideas?

"Phryne Fisher Mysteries." Set in Australia in the 1920s. Lovely job recreating the period, and Phryne's a hoot. Ran three seasons, and a couple years later, they're making (thanks to Kickstarter) "Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears" movie. Phryne's non-relationship with the detective was pretty hot in their restraint.

Canada also makes the Murdoch Mysteries, set in Victorian Toronto.

The Brits also have the "Agatha Raisin" series, about a high-powered London publicist who retires to a country town and runs into murders. The conceit of the series is that she's a PIA around everyone.

As for True Crime, I was always pretty selective about the cases I read about. A few political assassinations like Lincoln and JFK. I recently hear The RFK Files podcast which was not only riveting, but the podcaster -- to his distress -- confirmed that Sirhan killed RFK, which led to a break between him and his partner (who believed in a conspiracy despite the evidence). Joe McGinnies' book on Jeffrey Macdonald was astonishingly thorough, and despite some problems with the story, there's no doubt he killed his pregnant wife and two daughters.

It's not really the crime itself that interested me, but the circumstances and the small bits of history that surrounded them. A murder is frozen in time. Police have to record what happened, what led up to it, and preserves everything about that brief period from commission to conviction (or abandonment).

There was another book, "Evidence of Love," I think, about a triangle that resulted in the two women facing off in one of the homes, and the wife killing her husband's lover. What was fascinating to me, apart from the murder, was the course of the affair, and how the lover would get to the hotel room first and lay everything out for a romantic evening, and how over time she came to resent this role she created, because the husband was getting the better part of the deal and she was tiring of it. Then she gets killed. Talk about bad luck.

Ralph L said...

Father Brown is a desecration if you've read the great Edwardian--20's stories. Before I quit, I saw one episode with a plot similar to one of Chesterton's. The housekeeper needs to be killed.

Murdoch Mysteries on Acorn is enjoyable and only 45 minutes per. Good detection and a light touch. Lots of them. Set in 1890's-early 1900's Toronto. Guest appearances by Edison and Conan Doyle.

Midsomer tries to find bizarre ways of killing people.

mikeski said...

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...
It's completely appalling to my sense of reality that Tinder is a thing. Who in her right mind would do this with a stranger?


1970s: Do not get into a stranger's car!

1990s: Do not meet up with strangers from the Internet!

2010s: Here's an app so you can summon strangers from the Internet to catch a ride.

Time marches on...

Narr said...

Not into the true crime genre as such, but I can enjoy one if it's set in a place or field I know something about, or people I know something about. I don't know who produced it, but there was a good one about the murder of O'Hair and her son and granddaughter (which event also ended up as an L&O/SVU episode I think). My own hometown is the site of a famous assassination and some pretty interesting murders and shootouts, which interest me as history on my doorstep.

As for the fictional dicks, we've been watching Morse, which I like for period setting and acting, but FFS does EVERY critical, case-breaking clue have to come because Morse somehow zeroes in on THE one piece of paper in an entire cluttered home that unlocks it? It makes me wonder if there wasn't some psychic element in the original stories?!

A friend who has been a counselor at both male and female prisons says that the male prisoners are mostly just dumbasses with poor impulse control (but perhaps slightly smarter than the guards); a higher percentage of the women are calculatedly evil in his opinion.

Narr
Brett as Holmes (BBC?1990s?) was superb




I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Before I quit, I saw one episode with a plot similar to one of Chesterton's

They are adapted from Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries, of course.

Ralph L said...

They are adapted from Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries, of course.

None of the others I can remember were, but I stopped watching several years ago. I've read all the stories at least twice, the early ones (which are better) several more. I'd mislaid my copy for over 20 years.

Ralph L said...

which event also ended up as an L&O/SVU episode I think

L&O Criminal Intent. A good series until it became about the detective Bobby Goren, though Jeff Goldblum improved it.

By Morse, I assume you mean "Endeavor." Morse was a pompous old jerk in the original Inspector Morse series. Half the suspects had to die before he solved those.

J. Farmer said...

@mikeski:

1970s: Do not get into a stranger's car!

1990s: Do not meet up with strangers from the Internet!

2010s: Here's an app so you can summon strangers from the Internet to catch a ride.

Time marches on...


Not exactly a fair comparison. As far as I know, "don't get into a stranger's car" did not apply to taxicabs.

Narr said...

Yes. "Endeavor." I watch that and Inspector Lewis mostly because my wife does.

I've never been tempted to make the jump from the shows to the books.

Narr
Haven't seen any L&O in the last 15 years (or much else of primetime)

Ty said...

For my fellow true crime fans, check out "The Murder of Laci Peterson" on Hulu. It was done by A&E, only six episodes. Absolutely fascinating.

Also be sure to catch Manhunt: Unabomber on Netflix, if you haven't already.

Q said...

J.Farmer said - " Women are at a much greater risk for being victimized than men."

No, they are not. Men are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime.

Jamie said...

Maybe a fair statement would be that women possess an innate sense of our own physical vulnerability, which may make us want to (a) identify the ways in which our vulnerability can be exploited by the physically more powerful, and (b) want to psychically inoculate ourselves against the Bad Thing happening.

I know that's why I used to go to horror movies and had a fascination with the stories of serial killers (still do, I admit, for the latter): I wanted to see why these particular people (often women) became victims so I could NOT do whatever they did that made them both targets and vulnerable, and I wanted clues about how to spot a psychopath. The fact that these stories are also sort of titillating is one of those things like the female orgasm that I tend to think of as God's little evolutionary gift: make the necessary pleasurable and it will encourage us to do it.

(Whether it's "necessary" to be able to spot a psychopath, I acknowledge, is an open question. And having encountered only one so far that everybody who knew her agreed was a psychopath, and STILL having repeatedly questioned my own judgment, I don't know how effective my course of study has been.)

Ken B said...

Farmer: “I have since spent more than a decade reading child protection investigator reports”

Everyone needs a hobby.

Ken B said...

Speaking of thallium poisoning, there is a very funny book, The Wimbledon Poisoner by Nigel Williams.

Ken B said...

That this is a case of the Althouse Rule is clear when you compare it to how RPGs are portrayed.

Narr said...

Rocket Propelled Grenades?

Narr
Still sleepy

CJ said...

I don’t mind women watching true crime television because exposure to reality is good. As for the 70-30 split, aren’t most TV watchers female? How far out of line is 70-30 compared to other shows?

The problem with crime fiction today is that all the villains are prosperous white men. The creator of the Law and Order franchise, Dick Wolf, was asked about that at a publicity event. He made no attempt to disagree; he answered that early in the first series ey had tried some other villains, but audiences didn’t like it.

My wife watches a lot of crime fiction, and has gone through most of the programs other posters have mentioned - Morse, Lewis, Poiot, Father Brown, Wallander, etc. Recently she discovered a French series called Les Petits Meurtres d’Agatha Christie which is more of a comedy than most detective shows and is actually pretty good. An English version is called Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games in the US.j

Inside Guy said...

J. Farmer “Women are at a much greater risk for being victimized than men.” Actually, men are more than twice as likely to be murdered. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/vio.2017.0016?journalCode=vio

Sean E said...

“And people also always think they will get away with it, and they won't.“

A lot of selection bias there, though. Not that many episodes about apparent suicides everyone agrees were probably suicides. Or crimes where the cops didn’t get anywhere. You’re pretty much just watching the cherry-picked crimes where the perps were stupid, the police did a terrific job or some combination of both. You watch enough of these shows, I expect you come away with an inflated view of police success rates.