“Murder show, murder show, I’m gonna watch a murder show.”
I don’t know about you, but this little ditty was stuck in my head for weeks after Nick Jonas hosted Saturday Night Live on February 27th.
In case you missed it, female members of the SNL cast took some time on the episode to make fun of the growing popularity of true crime documentaries, especially with women. Although there is a comedic spin in just about everything SNL puts out there, do you know the dark reason behind women’s love for true crime and murder documentaries?
I’ll tell you, but first I would like to post a trigger warning. This blog post contains information about sensitive topics; nothing in-depth or detailed will be shared, but I want to give you all a warning that you are to proceed reading at your own risk.
The truth is, the reason most women find true crime and murder documentaries so interesting is due to their own personal past experiences, specifically with situations of abuse.
Sara Burton writes about this in her article Ted Bundy, True Crime, and Why Women Obsess Over Serial Killers. In the article, Burton discusses a book written by Sheila Isenberg titled Women Who Love Men Who Kill. The book itself is a nonfiction piece about the women who fall in love with convicted killers. In the book, Isenberg states that many of these women had lives, jobs, and families, but they would willingly throw it all away to be in a relationship with a convicted killer. There was almost nothing in common between these women, except for the fact that they had all been abused in their past.
And, dare I say it, the psychology behind the attraction these women had towards convicted killers actually makes a lot of sense.
According to Isenberg, the reason these women begin and maintain relationships with these convicts is because it finally allows them to be in control of the relationship. Being stuck in prison meant that these men had to be reliant on the women in their lives and therefore they could not take advantage of them. It’s a reclaiming of power in the relationship for these women, and it’s probably the first time many of them have felt this way.
Lack of power is also nothing new for women as we have been outspoken and taken advantage of since the beginning of recorded history. Statistics show that one in four women in the United States has been a victim of some form of abuse from their partner. I want to note, that’s just partners: not strangers, not family members, and not people of authority. If we take into account all aspects of abuse, there is no woman on Earth who can say they’ve been unaffected by this nightmare.
And so enters true crime into mass media: Documentaries, podcasts, interviews, live-streamed court rulings, and even movies loosely based on the real-life murders of some of these people literally flood mainstream media.
“Netflix, Showtime, HBO and Daylight….
YouTube, Hulu, that’s my favorite thing to do.”
It doesn’t take much for one to realize that the popularity of this genre is growing as a result of the horrible societal trend of women being abused. However, manipulating the problems of society for entertainment value is actually a very common trend for mainstream media. Comedy is usually where we find it, but I guess murder shows work as well.
So the next time a women in your life wants to talk to you about the true crime documentary they are listening to, or about the murder documentary that was just released on Netflix, try to remember that this outlet may be a good thing for these women as analyzing these situations it gives them a sense of control in their life. Just don’t let them go too far down the rabbit hole…
“And as soon as I’m done I listen to a podcast about the same guy as the show I just watched because now I’m fully down the rabbit hole.”