The True Crime Show Epidemic – Why are we so obsessed?
It’s safe to say that there is not a streaming service, podcast, or cable TV channel in today’s modern world that does not offer some form of a true crime story. There are even TV channels solely dedicated to straight 24-hour coverage of true crime, such as the widely iconic Investigation Discovery channel. The fascination that started out from board games like Clue, to what is now an endless stream of true crime TV, why are we as a society so obsessed with playing the role of detective?
Known for quickly becoming one of the most compelling TV genres that completely immerses the viewer, as opposed to something you put on in the background while multitasking, true crime is an entire psychologically intoxicating experience. The excitement caused from watching something with such thrilling effects actually causes our brains to secrete higher levels of dopamine, essentially meaning we are somewhat chemically programmed to fall into the true crime TV addiction epidemic, whether we like it or not. But still, the question is, why are we primarily turning towards a dark and heavily violence based crime stories in order to catch our adrenaline fix, rather than something more positively intoxicating? That all comes from the way that our brains interpret this often disturbing information, and what our minds hope to gain in return of viewing true crime.
True Crime Stories and the Media:
For some reason, almost all of us can accurately name at least one well known serial killer, which has allowed true crime to become a widely incorporated aspect within our society’s idea of what is pop-culture, and this all has to do with the way the media influences our minds to actively think about certain topics. Crime is something unavoidable within the media, whether it can be seen on your local news station, or even in a children’s superhero movie. True crime shows can also impact the ways that people think about crime, or how crime is handled, by creating false perceptions by leading people to believe that what they see on TV, directly correlates to the real world crime climate. True crime stories, although they are a reality, are often some of the most extreme cases, in order to make the show or story more appealing to the audience. But at the same time, true crime also gives storytellers an outlet to draw attention to the harsh realities that are violence and crime, and it creates a platform to spread awareness. No one can stop talking about these shows either, which has allowed true crime to become a bonding tool or an easy discussion starter in today’s society.
Reasons We Love True Crime:
The Detective Work:
Let’s start with the widely expressed idea that we as humans have the natural tendency to dislike the unknown, and a deep desire to want to discover the unknown. True crime is a poster child for that inner detective desire we all have, as the viewer is able to easily play along with the crime story in order to reach the end level of truth or justice. Justice is also a key word here when discussing why we are addicted to true crime stories. Now “feel good” is certainly not something that one would normally associate with that of a true crime story, however, there is a sense of positivity that is felt when going into watching a true crime show and knowing that in the end everything is going to turn out alright, or just knowing that eventually justice will be served. Along with this, we have the urge to understand why things or people are the way they are. People may tune into true crime stories in an attempt to wrap their brains around just how and why someone may experience the urge to execute the volatile crimes that they do.
An Escapism Tool:
Besides discovering the unknown, another aspect that makes true crime so compelling is, escapism. Maybe these harsh, often violent and hard to talk about subjects, will make you, as a viewer, reflect on what you think may be troubling times, only to realize that things can indeed be much worse for you. Since true crime shows often feature such complex and inquisitive story lines, even the slightest turn of the head away from the TV could lead you to miss out on a vital piece of information needed to solve the puzzle. Since true crime requires the full attention of the audience in order to properly watch and follow along, it has become one of the best escapism tools from any of life’s constant pressing distractions.
It has been reported that women actually tune into true crime based media more than men do, and if you have ever tuned into a true crime show, podcast, or even just read the description of a true crime story line, more often than not the killer is a male, who is often targeting a single female, or multiple females. Are people, specifically women, using true crime stories as an outlet to prevent something horrible from happening to them in the future? Perhaps true crime can actually become beneficial in these cases. Especially in a woman’s case, women could potentially learn some tips and tricks on what to do if they find themselves caught in a similar situation as to what is being featured on the show, and this could easily explain the gender viewership gap within true crime media.
True Crime and the Brain:
True crime creates a unique sense of brain stimulation that is hard to recreate with other media genres. The stimulation caused by the compelling stories, actually allows our brain to play an active role, while we think we are just using these shows for entertainment purposes. True crime shows can actually exercise elements of our brains strengths and skill sets like, our memory, and overall sharpness. This comes from the deductive reasoning and attention that is required to think ahead in order to determine an outcome on the show, decode new clues, or recall past important facts and information from the previous episodes that become vital tools in following along with a true crime story.
As individuals, we may have different reasons for our true crime obsession. But it’s important to know that there is, in fact, a reason and that we are exercising and actively using our brains while indulging in these shows. True crime doesn’t seem like a genre that is ever going to disappear, but more likely, it is going to grow. At least we can all take comfort in knowing that our obsession is not unusual, nor unhealthy.