Why do we love true crime?

Photo courtesy of Kat Wilcox, Wikimedia Commons

By Mariyah Ramirez

The number of true crime podcasts like “Serial,” television series like “Casefile,” documentaries like “Tiger King,” is definitely on the rise. But why do we love true crime so much? Is it because it is so surreal to think that it has actually happened in real life or is it something darker about our human nature?

True crime is a genre that explores real-lifes crimes such as murders and serial killings. However, true crime only reflects a small percentage of the worst crimes. Since there are some cases that are extremely gory and traumatizing; watching, listening, and reading about true crime is a safe way for the audience to feel and process negative emotions.

“People like true crime because it’s shocking and entertaining. The Media exploits crime for entertainment. People usually don’t truly understand that it’s a true crime, they see it as any other TV show,” sophomore Emilyanna Ramirez said.

True crime also has attractive storytelling elements such as interesting characters, suspense, and tension that is released when the mystery is solved at the end. The audience feels catharsis, the purging of emotions, when the mystery is solved.

Perhaps part of the reason we love true crime so much is that it offers us a cure for our own helplessness. If we can see into the minds of these criminals, perhaps we can avoid them. 

“Tuning in and following the specifics of a crime also creates a [false] sense being able to ‘see inside’ the mind of a criminal, thus creating a psychological protective barrier: ‘If I know how criminals operate, I can protect myself,’” psychotherapist Kathleen Check said in an interview with NBC.

True crime helps people process their own emotions by watching suspenseful crimes. Some people get a rush of adrenaline when they watch true crime, while others get stressed out. For some people, engaging in those emotions while watching true crime is their safe place.

“Humans find interest in true crime shows because we are absorbed into the feeling of evil and we manage to find comfort in being scared,” freshman Klaire Paulino said.

In a way, true crime allows viewers to think like a detective and step into their shoes to figure out unsolved cases. As viewers, we can become armchair detectives and FBI agents. 

True crime is certainly not for everyone. Some enjoy the rush that comes from discovering the storyline of interesting cases, and others find it too intense.

Overall, true crime lets us solve mysteries and unsolved cases alongside the FBI and anyone who knows about the case through the pages of a book or the screen.