In the morning, I wake up and immediately check Apple News. I’m served a buffet of stories about missing women and horrific crimes (usually involving missing women). On my commute to work, I’ll take in a podcast. When I’m feeling murdery, I’ll see if My Favorite Murder has released a new (non-live show) episode. If not, I’ll play one of the serialized shows I’ve been juggling—Somebody Knows Something, Over My Dead Body, Teacher’s Pet. Today, I settled for an episode of The Daily as it happened to be quite murdery, relaying the story of a rogue Russian assassin. (I’m not usually into organized crime, but this will do.)
At the office, we compare notes on recent clean beauty acquisitions and whether or not I should get new glasses (I should), and then we’ll quickly turn to shows.
“Did you finish Adnan?”
“But have you watched The Act?”
“You HAVE to watch the Madeleine McCann one.”
Yes, I am one of the hordes of women whose ideal beach read is a page-turning grisly true crime. A night in with a glass of red, poring over Reddit for conspiracies—and perhaps even some inspiration for my next murder—is what I would call the ideal night in.
Or, well, it was.
Six months ago, I could devour true crime, or honestly any murder content, in one sitting. I remember feeling SEEN when Mindy Kaling told Marc Maron on WTF about her true crime obsession—it’s how I first learned of The Staircase. (If you don’t know what “The Owl Theory” is, you’re a rookie.)
Before Serial, true crime was more of a private, taboo endeavor. “Yeah, I’m a quirky girl who likes murder…aren’t I interesting?”
Today, it’s all encompassing. Murder is water-cooler talk. What used to be distasteful is the norm, “You haven’t watched the Ted Bundy Tapes?” With the influx of well-produced true crime shows and podcasts, my private diversion has become a public preoccupation, and it’s too much.
It seems like I’m waxing nostalgic about murder. I’m not. And to be clear, it’s not like I enjoy murder. But it does captivate me…wholly…completely…almost to the opposite extent of enjoying something: Brutal crime terrorizes my brain, and therefore, like many women, I’m obsessed with it. I want to know every corner of it. It’s a grotesque curiosity, and maybe if I know enough about it, it can’t happen to me. Consuming true crime casts light on a shadow. Maybe I will learn to avoid men who burn cats alive or men wearing fake casts in need of assistance. So, for a while, I’d spelunk into a dark cave with a flashlight, attempting to understand the beast.
But now, I’m starting feel differently. What seemed like a personal pursuit is now a cultural phenomenon. The dark cave is now smothered in light. It’s like your mom opening the blinds and drowning you in sunshine right in the middle of REM. It’s the worst sensation in the world—well, probably a couple notches below actually being murdered, but I digress.
And yet, no matter how much light you shed on the terror, it’s still there. No matter how much you talk about the crimes and your theories with your co-workers, it’s still there. No matter how much you try to figure out what happened to Madeleine McCann, she’s still missing. It’s a black hole, and the only way out is by turning your back to it entirely.
I’m sure I’ll get back on the murder mystery train (that sounds like something I would 100 percent pay to go on) again, but my subconscious is exhausted, and it’s begging me to relent. I’m suffering from murder fatigue, and I need to take a breather, relax and get well because if I’ve learned anything about human depravity, it is the one thing in this world that does not rest.
*Goes home and binges Schitt’s Creek*