The Mysterious Allure of True Crime


Krysti Griego, Author

True crime is a genre that disgusts some people but can also be mesmerizing to some. Americans love to find out the inside details of notorious serial killers and their crimes. But why?

Physcologists say it’s because we are fascinated by our own dark sides. It is hard to understand why people do the things they do, and finding out what was going on in their heads can be fascinating. If there is a new killer in the news or other crimes being committed by someone with a temper, it’s most likely going to end up in a documentary or podcast. 

The true crime genre started to become popular when the book In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, came out in 1966. The genre became more popular with the 1988 documentary The Thin Blue Line, about the trial and conviction of Randall Dale Adams, by Errol Morris. Since then true crime documentaries have been made left and right, and people have been obsessing about them for years now. 

Though true crime is a popular genre, some of the information in those shows can’t be guaranteed as the truth. For many viewers, that’s what makes it fun. It lets the people watching play detective and try to guess what really did happen, which brings an adrenaline rush as well. 

These shows and podcasts also bring some people comfort. It allows people to explore the “behind” of it all “in a safe way from a safe distance,” said psychologist Dr. Megg Arroll in The Telegraph.

In most cases, women find true crime a lot more interesting than males, according to Discovery Magazine. The reason is that women like to see other women survive situations like that. Women are also more drawn to true crime because subconsciously they fear becoming victims themselves. 

Yes, men get killed just as frequently, but it’s not what we hear about. Most of the time the men are the killers. But some documentaires show that men are just as likely to get murdered as women. For example, serial killers Patrick Kearney, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Aileen Wuornos and others, killed men as frequently as they did women.  

True crime is a popular topic even at Santa Fe High, where many students enjoy the shows. Sofia Dennis, a sophomore, said, “I love it. I watch it all the time.” 

Isabel Padilla said, “I watch it to go to sleep.”

Some people wonder about serial killers out in the world, part of everyday life. “I wonder how many serial killers I’ve walked by,” student Maya Sanchez said.  

But true crime isn’t a topic that everyone loves. English teacher Mr. Finucan doesn’t think true crime should even be talked about. He can’t believe that it’s entertaining to people when it’s the worst part of other people’s lives. “People are actually dying,” he said. 

Mr. Finucan also doesn’t think true crime should be so popular: “I think overall we’ve saturated the market with serial killers — you’d think we have them on every street corner.”

Critics claim that viewers don’t seem to take into consideration that other people’s lives were really affected by these serial killers. The new series Dahmer, on Netflix, goes deep into Jeffrey Dahmer’s life and the victims as well. Fans are obsessing over the show, but there are also some negative comments. 

Some say that the show praises a serial killer. Ashley Wu wrote in the Washington Square News, “The outpouring of fetishization directed towards murderers on social media outlets is related to the way the media portrays them.”