I think there’s an important distinction between media like Mindhunter, which examines serial killers externally, grappling with the neurodivergences and philosophies that drive them to kill, and media like Maniac, or Killer on the Road, or Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, which follow serial killers more intimately with little to no presence of a critical eye, or a mystery to unravel at the core of which is the serial killer’s identity/location/next victim.
I see a lot of people validating their interests in crime, and I don’t think that we need to do that. Everyone finds crime fascinating for a variety of obvious reasons. But, serial killers specifically exemplify something more sinister and base than the motivations that drive virtually any other crime. To that end, I think it’s valuable to allow for that distinction. Danielle speaks to an interest in crime that, to one degree or another, we all basically share, and I think she might be a little too hard on herself about it. American Crime Story and Mindhunter have a lot to offer beyond the serial killers they involve, and fascination with crime is as old as the written word.
As for True Crime shit: the biggest problem I have with it is its existence alongside endlessly compelling Fictional Crime. Most purveyors of true crime seem to have learned their storytelling from fictional crime, which employs predictable (but effective) techniques in pacing and the use of tropes that sometimes don’t conveniently exist in real-life. It’s possible to edit true crime stories and highlight their elements in ways that mimic fictional crime so as to make the audience’s experience more exciting, but sometimes this sensationalism can feel gross.
S-Town comes to mind. It’s positioned as a mystery, but it really isn’t. The denouement acknowledges this, like it’s some lesson to learn, but it feels like a lesson the storytellers learned in trying to tell this story in a way that compares to Fictional Crime, not something we all need to be taught about True Crime. In this way, True Crime is often self-indulgent. Seeking enjoyment out of history is different than finding history fascinating. Though there’s a balance there that can be found in moments across time, sometimes history is just dry and unpleasant, and mischaracterizing it as anything else can be a disservice to those who participated in it.