March 28, 2023

Netflix released its latest addition to the growing genre of true crime documentaries, which are rising in popularity. “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez,” released Jan. 15, takes a look at the infamous case of a football star-turnedconvict, which happened back in 2011.

As soon as this documentary reached users of the streaming service, many flocked to binge-watch the new Netflix mini-series. This is not the first documentary of this genre to be wildly popular with audiences across the world.

It seems that Netflix has struck gold with this genre of crime documentaries and thrillers, which has only recently gained popularity through the ability to binge-watch, which Netflix provides viewer.

Dr. Chase Porter, assistant professor of political science at California Baptist University, said this fascination with stories about crime and murder is one that has always existed within American culture. However, he said that the popularity of streaming services has aided in turning this fascination into a popular genre recently.

“The biggest advantage of streaming services is the on-demand nature of the services. Viewers can watch on their own schedule and at their own pace,” Porter said. “There is no missing an episode and hoping for a re-run—as long as the documentary remains on the service, viewers can still watch it.”

Porter also explained that there are a variety of reasons that people are so intrigued by stories of crime.

“In some sense, the human psyche is naturally attracted to stories of tragedy, fear and suffering,” Porter said. “In a positive sense, however, this natural attraction is also fueled by a sense of justice. We watch these documentaries out of hope that we will get to see justice done and things made right.”

Many students enjoy watching these kinds of programs on Netflix and other platforms because of how easy it is to access episode after episode. Miguel Iniesta, senior film production and theology double major, said he watches some of the crime series that are available on Netflix.

“I think it’s intriguing to see the criminal mind and the thought process. We can’t really relate to it, so it’s a mystery and it’s like, ‘why would someone do that?’ There’s something enthralling about that,” Iniesta said.

Gabrielle Flores, junior film production major, said she thinks having these types of series available on streaming services helps with their popularity.

“We don’t have to go through the trouble of recording it or forgetting to record it,” Flores said.

Flores also added that these stories are so fascinating to viewers for a wide variety of reasons.

“I watch them because I think the psychology aspect of it is interesting. I’m fascinated by the way people think and wonder why these people do what they do,” Flores said.

With the many factors that have aided in the recent success of true crime shows such as the Aaron Hernandez documentary, “Making a Murderer” (2015-) and “Evil Genius” (2018), it is apparent that this is a genre that will continue to grow in popularity on Netflix and other streaming platforms in the future.

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