Let’s talk about this new serial killer genre

By Savannah Cooper | Reporter

Dark, romantic and provocative are all key search words in Netflix’s details page describing “The Ted Bundy Tapes,” “You” and “The Santa Clarita Diet” — all Netflix original series that revolve around a new genre that’s rising in popularity. Serial killer themed shows are oddly attractive to viewers because of their irresistible nature, but at the expense of entertainment. I fear there’s a great risk in breeding copycats due to the behind-the-scenes, in-depth plot lines of these types of shows.

In “You,” viewers are taken through the ultimate rollercoaster ride of emotions with plot twists and death at every turn. The Netflix Original follows the life of a male bookstore manager, Joe Goldberg, who meets an aspiring female writer, Guinevere Beck, and through the internet, primarily social media, he strives to dismantle any and all barriers that might hinder their love affair.

I streamed “You” to see what all the hype was about, and to be objectively honest, it was intriguing … until I woke up the next morning. Sitting up in bed and taking time to really process what I watched and how it settled in my spirit, I became super paranoid and concerned about everyone around me.

Granted, I’m always aware. As a woman, I have to be, but my hesitation was spiked because this was scripted, meaning that a table of writers pitched a myriad of ideas that made such a show a reality.

With little left to the imagination — actually quite the opposite due to Joe’s omnipresent narration justifying his acts — I was nervous about this actually being a reality. Since these thoughts were curated and surely inspired by real events, as a young female viewer pursuing city life after college, I am anxious about copycats.

The age-old debate of whether life imitates art or art imitates life plays a vital role in this new genre of digital content. By providing both copious amounts of detailed images and extensive dialogue, someone watching can potentially follow suit and justify their acts by watching Netflix.

A prime example of this is in June 2017 when Dylann Roof attended Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church prayer service in Charleston, S.C. then murdered nine people. Five months later, in November 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley killed 27 people and injured 20 others in First Baptist Church in Sutherland Spring. It isn’t too far fetched to say there’s a connection between the two.

Now, I can see the “need” for shows like “The Ted Bundy Tapes” and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” since they’re both true stories that were pioneering in nature due to rarity and national spotlight. But, again, since they are actually true stories, viewers can be influenced by their acts and also want to “make” the history books or remain relevant in popular culture by being the focal point of a docuseries.

Rather than praising the behavior of serial killers, and inadvertently memorializing them with an eerie legacy, we need to talk about the victims and how horrific a crime it was.