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Mindhunter and our obsession with true crime

During the last few years (thanks to Netflix and the rise of podcasts) we have seen a notable increase in true crime content. Making a Murderer, The Confession Tapes, Casting JonBenet, Amanda Knox, are just a few of thousands of true crime productions that have managed to captivate audiences around the world. Mindhunter, from the producer and director David Fincher, is one of the most recent series of this genre. It came out on October 13th and easily gained a large audience. As of November 1st, the series has been approved for a second season. 

Playing detective

Mindhunter follows the story of the first FBI agents who took on a wide investigation about murderers such as Ed Kemper and Richard Speck in order to develop a psychological profile that would help understand and find similar criminals. The idea for the series came from a book with the same title that was written by one of the actual agents that came up with the term “serial killer”. 

Besides this series being praised for having a good story, good narrative and overall great character development, much of its attraction comes from it being a true crime show. In an interview for Times Magazine, David Fincher said that the success of true crime series and movies comes from the vision that we have of ourselves as detectives. We are deeply interested in this genre because we easily fall into a game of trying to decipher clues and then become addicted to the emotion of finding out what “really happened”.

Mindhunter: serial killers plus a great story = not so guilty pleasure

The certain thing is that Mindhunter makes a great job at reuniting all of America’s most famous serial killers and then focusing on the actual procedures behind their classifications, their investigations and so on. By taking a step back from the crimes themselves, we can see how culture starts to change as these types of crimes happen more and more often in the ’60s. Mindhunter does a great job at taking advantage of the true crime genre, while not leaving behind the importance of great storytelling. 

Of course, it is also our morbid fascination with obscure and sometimes disturbing topics that make us drawn to true crime. For many, learning about serial killers falls in the category of looking at videos of traffic accidents or natural disasters. We just can’t look away. Mindhunter and in general, all series of this genre are often “guilty pleasures”. We know that it is wrong to be entertained and excited about murderers that committed atrocities. After all, these are real tragedies that happened to real people. 

Edit 2019: 

Almost two years later, the second season of Mindhunter is about to be released on August 16. 

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