‘Making a Murderer’: Why Do People Get Hooked on True Crime Shows So Easily?

It’s known as one of Netflix’s most popular series of all time, and even though it originally aired almost four years ago, Making a Murderer remains a top pick on the streaming platform.

It’s not just Making a Murderer – people seem to have a fascination with true crime in general, with new documentaries and series released almost monthly. Although it might seem like a morbid interest, there are legitimate reasons why viewers love true crime stories so much. 

What are the most popular true crime shows on Netflix?

Making a Murderer premiered on Netflix in December 2015, and was an instant success. The show detailed the story of Steven Avery, who was released from prison after serving nearly two decades for a crime that he didn’t commit.

However, Avery’s story developed many twists and turns along the way, and he soon finds himself dealing with yet another murder charge. The show was so wildly popular that it spawned a second season in 2018, and was widely credited with kickstarting the true crime obsession.

Although Making a Murderer is the original, there have been a number of other true crime specials released on Netflix in the past several years.

The Keepers has proven to be another big hit. The show covers the decades-old case of a murdered nun and a possible church cover-up. The Staircase is also a big hit with true crime fans, a documentary-style series that tells the tale of a well-known author who is accused of killing his wife when she turns up dead from mysterious circumstances.

There seems to be a true crime story for every taste, from the most realistic and jarring to lighter-hearted but still intriguing fare. 

People love the adrenaline rush

It seems as though people’s fascination with true crime isn’t anything especially unusual. An interview with well-known criminology professor Scott Bonn helped shed some light on why people are drawn to tales of true crime, even though they might be disturbing.

Bonn writes that when watching stories of terrible crimes, people experience a heady rush of adrenaline. The adrenaline rush is addictive and causes an effect in the human brain similar to the one that children and teenagers get when they ride amusement park rides like roller-coasters. 

Bonn goes on to write that watching true crime stories can trigger fear in adults, which in turn leads to a sense of guilt for enjoying a story about other human beings experiencing misfortune. In spite of the fact that these type of shows might be a guilty pleasure, there’s no sign of true crime tales ceasing production anytime soon. If anything, the public fascination seems to be ramping up.

The storytelling is usually intriguing 

Another article that dove deep into the mechanics of why people love true crime states that it all comes back to the story. It is a fundamental tradition of human nature to enjoy good stories, and true crime documentaries usually feature a good narrator and an exciting setting.

Furthermore, experts claim that many true crime stories follow a format that people are familiar with – including a bad guy, good guys, and a location that could easily feel familiar to viewers. This sense of familiarity can offer an odd feeling of comfort to viewers, which could be why, for many people, scary movies and documentaries feel as homey as mom’s apple pie. 

There is a multitude of reasons why people continue to enjoy true crime shows. Regardless of everyone’s personal reasons, the true crime wave will no doubt continue to build over the next few years, especially now that Netflix is releasing original films and series with A-list celebrities.