why we watch true crime

CSI, American Crime Story, Unsolved Mysteries, Buzzfeed Unsolved and hundreds more. What do they have in common? They are all extremely popular television shows that depict the thoughts and motives behind gruesome acts of crime and murder.

My true crime drug of choice for the past few months has been ‘Forensic Files’. Almost every night, like clockwork, my mom and I sit down with snacks and coffee; and try to figure out why that person was murdered. Tip- it’s always for the insurance payout. We watch a forensic team pick apart a crime scene, and we place our bets on who we think the murderer is. Tip- it’s always the ex-wife.

The question is- why are we so obsessed with true crime television shows? In theory, we should be completely repulsed by the idea of watching re-enacted representations of such ghastly, horrifying murders. So why do we find ourselves binge-watching these types of shows? Why do we get lost in wikipedia rabbit holes revolving around serial-killers?

All of us have probably asked ourselves at some point or another- do I need a psychological evaluation? Why do I find this so addictive!?

I did the research. I’ll tell you why.


Wait, am I okay?

No matter what sort of terrible thoughts or impulses we have sometimes, we almost never act on them.

No matter how different we are from each other, there is one thing that we all know is universally wrong. Murder.

However, although most of us are fundamentally good (at least I’d like to think so), human beings are fascinated by evil simply by psychological nature.

Watching these types of shows allows us to explore that dark side of ourselves, from a safe distance.

That’s why we only love gossip when it doesn’t involve us; because we get insight into a narrative that we don’t belong in. Similarly, we enjoy insight into the way a murderer thinks, simply because we would never actually commit that murder. We aren’t “studying” or “getting ideas” like how some news channels would like to report. We are simply fascinated by the twisted, darkest journeys that we would never take.

Although we are always told that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, we still like seeing the dead grass (pun intended) on the other side first.

Preparing for the worst

I guess to a certain degree it helps us feel…safer? I feel like I’ve learnt more about forensic crime scene investigation and toxic chemicals from ‘Forensic Files’, than I ever did in those countless years of Chemistry lessons.

For example: Now I know that if someone tries to murder me by handing me a glass of neon green ethylene glycol from the trunk of their car, I should probably avoid them! I hope at least one of you gets that reference!

No but seriously, studies have shown that the same way we learn from observing others’ behaviour as kids; we also watch true crime because to a certain extent, we feel like we should pay attention and be wary of the things that could potentially harm us.

To some degree we are learning from those stories.

Adult Puzzle pieces

More than any sort of deep, philosophical explanation, I guess we’re all just giant puzzle loving babies!

It’s fun being given all the clues and having to put the pieces together. Figuring out which clue goes where, and who did what is just really great entertainment.

Once again, me and my mom place bets on what we think happened in each episode, and when we’re able to guess correctly, we give ourselves a pat on the back; which leads to an extremely long conversation about why we should have become criminal forensic detectives.

So more than anything, I think that we just like seeing how things turn out…


Thank you for reading! With this post, and my last post; it seems that we have a sort of unintentional “scary” theme going on for the month of October. Although it was completely accidental until this point, I’m going to keep going with it. Every post for this month will have something to do with something scary. Now, don’t get scared- the only thing that is truly scary about my blog posts is my lack of a regular posting schedule and those terrible puns.

You can check out my last few posts here:

Until Next Time.

3 thoughts on “why we watch true crime

  1. I love watching true crime with my mum too! We watch hours and hours of ID every night. But I’ve become even more obsessed. I watch videos and listen to podcasts, I read stories, etc…it’s a little too much at times but it’s something I’ve always been interested in. I definitely agree though – we sometimes watch objectively to learn things or just as a way to satisfy our inner “darkness”.

    Liked by 1 person

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