In recent years true crime has been absolutely everywhere – wherever you turn there’s a low-lit doc and dramatic B-roll of blood splatters and dropped murder weapons. Such is the obsession, that articles have now started coming out questioning whether it’s morally correct to sensationalise gruesome, barbaric crimes?
This critically acclaimed fictional series features history’s most brutal killers – Ed Kemper, Charles Manson, Monte Rissell, Richard Speck – without glamorising their crimes. It does this by focusing less on the actual killing, and more on the inner workings of the criminals’ messed up minds.
Mindhunter begins in 1977 and follows the story of FBI hostage negotiator Holden Ford, who becomes concerned after seeing a growing number of murders take place where the perpetrator’s actions are random, spontaneous, and can’t be explained. He pals up with Bill Tench, a behavioural science specialist, and the two set off on what is essentially a tour of America’s most deplorable killers, interviewing convicts and cops to unpick the knotty psychologies of those driven to kill.
Directed by David Fincher, the series for the most part remains gore-free. And to be honest, it doesn’t need it. The accounts given by these killers are more than gruesome enough. But the shock factor isn’t the only source of entertainment – Holden and Tench are brilliantly complex characters. Tench is a tough and tortured family man, whilst Holden’s a by-the-book good guy, yet also unnervingly unpredictable. A bit like the killers he’s interviewing… And in later episodes they are joined by the psychologist Dr Wendy Carr, who is wonderfully played by Anna Torv. With these intricate characters and the deplorable criminals featured, the show soon becomes a frank and matter-of-fact exploration of the human mind.
We mentioned earlier that the show was critically acclaimed, and here’s the evidence. The Independent’s Christopher Hooton says, “the pleasure in the series is in its slow, systematic approach,” rather than “a major climax or twist,” whilst James Poniewozik of The New York Times says Fincher “gives Mindhunter that restrained sensibility: micro-eruptions of primal blood through a facade of clean meticulous order.”
The second season received equal praise, with Jack Seale in The Guardian calling it “TV’s classiest guilty pleasure.” However, we’re yet to see a third season, and we might never see it according to David Fincher. In an interview with Vulture in 2020, the director expressed that for how much the show cost to make, it didn’t get a large enough audience.
Maybe our Must readers can change that fate…
First shown October 2017. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.