The end of November is not entirely the best time to start a new series, seeing as exams are right around the corner. However, Netflix is living its best life right now, releasing phenomenal content. One show in particular that I have started watching is called Mindhunter. Starring Jonathan Groff and partially directed by David Fincher, this crime drama loosely follows the story of the two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who introduced psychology into the hunt for serial killers. As a lover of many of Fincher’s films (i.e. Alien, Zodiac, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.) and a fan of plenty of crime dramas, Mindhunter is a fascinating show that is worthy of the end-of-the semester studying procrastination.
Mindhunter the show is based off of the true crime novel Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. The show is set in 1977 and follows Groff’s FBI Agent Holden Ford and Bill Tench, played by Holt McCallany. Both Ford and Tench are based off of two real-life FBI agents (Douglas and Robert K. Ressler, respectively), who worked with real life psychologists and interviewed serial killers in order to understand what makes someone become what they called at the time a “sequence killer.”
In the show, Ford and Tench dive into the psyches of some of America’s most notorious killers in the twentieth century. They visit: Ed Kemper, the Co-Ed Killer, played by Cameron Britton; Monte Rissell, played by Sam Strike; Jerry Brudos, the Shoe Fetish Slayer, played by Happy Anderson; Richard Speck, played by Jack Erdie; and Dennis Rader, the BTK Strangler, played by Sonny Valicenti. These are some of the most notorious and heinous men in American crime history, and we get to see a bit behind the curtain of these men’s crime through this show.
One thing I especially like about this show is that, though we do explore the work that was done to understand why people commit crimes like this, the show in no way glorified these men. Rather, the show focused on the environmental factors that caused these people to commit these crimes without saying that these men were a product of their environment. Of course, early childhood treatment plays a role in how people behave as adults (whether that be good or bad), but this show goes to lengths to show that it is more than just the nature versus nurture argument. This show explains how the world, specifically the crime-related world that our police forces exist within, came to see crime as more than just pent of issues from the past or from being born pure evil. Psychology is key to understanding human behavior and to catching criminals like this before they can harm more individuals.
As someone who is both fascinated and terrified by stories like this, I was intrigued by this show especially after the recent death of Charles Manson. There are plenty of videos online showing Manson’s interviews with the press, but this show puts a new and darker perspective on why serial murders are committed. Mindhunter has now received the green light for a second season and I cannot wait to see how they top themselves. I also cannot wait to get my hands on the book by which this show is based upon.