A Fascination with Macabre TeeVee

A recent Jezebel article (link at the bottom of this post) posed the question, “Why Are Women Obsessed With Investigation Discovery’s Grisly TV Shows?

My spouse once asked me why I like this kind of TV programming so much – I think he was worried that I was either a) totally macabre or b) plotting his demise …and it’s not just the ID channel, I will soak up this programming on a multitude of channels. The truth is that I love seeing the perpetrators get their comeuppance. I love seeing these a++holes (usually men) who thought they could kill, rape or abuse someone (often women) and get away with it, having it all come crashing down – especially those that think they are smarter than anyone else or are above the law – those are especially satisfying.

Stephen King also once said (I’m paraphrasing) that he writes about terrible things because in a way it’s like exorcising the demons so that it never happens to your family. So I guess there’s that factor as well – it’s like looking the monster in the eyes and seeing head on the most awful horrible things that can happen to a person so that you take the power of the fear away just a little bit.

I’ll be honest, I think about what I would do if I were kidnapped, held against my will, trapped in my house with a madman. Maybe it makes me think about and anticipate problems that I hope will never happen. Maybe it has made me think about my own safety more overtly. I take precautions. I’m a safety girl, always locking the car when I get in it, never alone at home with the doors unlocked, I have 3 dogs (criminals don’t need to know that the dogs are hopeless cases), head on a swivel and walk briskly when I’m alone at night or on a quiet street, always with my keys in my hand poised between my fingers like a weapon, alert on the train to what’s going on around me (even if it looks like I’m just engrossed in my phone); in a movie theater I always know where the nearest exit is. I don’t jog alone (which is easy because I don’t jog) and I NEVER park next to a panel van. These shows can be a good reminder to not get complacent, and to exercise eternal vigilance.

And I have to acknowledge that it’s not just men who perpetrate crimes against others. One of my favorite shows is Snapped (Oyxgen channel), which focuses on female criminals (and sometimes couples, but always with a woman involved, or two women) who do insane things (Jodi Arias, anyone?) – I still enjoy the satisfaction of seeing them get caught and get what they deserve, but there is also the bonus of the added salacious details, maybe as the Jezebel article references, since women are viewed as nurturers and caregivers, it seems extra outrageous that they can hurt others, in particular their own family members and those closest to them, as is most often the case. As a woman, it seems even more outlandish that someone like me that I should be able to relate to, has gone so completely off the rails. In the profound words of Chris Rock, “I told you that bitch was crazy.”

If I think about it, maybe there’s also this going on: you also like to know that there have been people in these horrific situations before that have made it through. They’ve survived. That as humans we are incredibly resilient and strong, stronger than we even know until we’re put in a situation that tests our strength. Of course we hope that we or anyone we know will never be tested in this way, there but for the grace go I.

Well, if you ever want to watch a marathon of Forensic Files, let me know. I’ll meet you in a public place, and someone will know where I’m going, who I’m meeting, and what to do if you haven’t heard from me by a certain time. I’ll be the one with my keys in my hand.



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