Murder Documentaries: Why Do We Watch Them?


Frederick, Colorado-  On August 13, 2018, Christopher Lee Watts was interviewed by police and he admitted to killing his pregnant wife Shanann Cathryn Watts by strangulation. There is a documentary on Netflix about this murder story called, “American Murder: The Family Next Door”. With over 52 million viewers, this documentary is the most watched murder documentary on Netflix. But the question is, why are so many people interested in something so sickening? 

We asked one of the staff members at Jerome High School, Mr. Jay what he thought of so many people being interested into murder stories. He said, “ Do you ever see a car wreck happen, well it’s the same as a murder documentary. Like, you don’t want to look at it because you’ll feel bad but you can’t help yourself. I think people have a hard time with these stories because they know that it actually happened in real life and it’s just shocking”. 

According to Dr. Michael Mantell, a former chief psychologist says “People love crime because it gives us an adrenaline hit and it means that we’re normal and we’re healthy. I think our interest in crime serves a number of different healthy physiological purposes.” Many studies also show that people like to watch and learn so much about crime to be aware and prepared in case something comes up. But if someone is super obsessed with it and that is all they talk about, then that may be concerning. 

So, maybe some of the reasons as to why the most watched documentary on Netflix is “American Murder: The Family Next Door” because of all of the crime and sickening events that happen in it. It could be a mixture of everything, like the adrenaline rush or being prepared in case something ever happens. There are also many crime documentaries and people are into those too. People watch crime documentaries to be mostly prepared and we often find out crazy stuff about people no one ever thought would do anything of the sort. The biggest crime documentary on Netflix is called “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich”. With over 65 million views on this crime documentary, it is the number one documentary of all documentaries on Netflix.

People found this documentary interesting because of the crazy person Jeffrey Epstein was. Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on July 6, 2019, for the sex trafficking of minors in the states Florida and New York. While in prison, on August 10, 2019, Epstein commited suicide. He was supposed to have life in prison. There were 17 known victims. 

Dr. Scott Bonn told “Whether it is a dramatic documentary or a popular podcast, true crime gets audiences hooked with a heart- pumping formula.” He was talking about how it is the humans primal instinct to have the “fear” emotion triggered with true, bloodcurdling stories. Also just like the murder documenteries,crime documentaries make our adrenaline rush and it makes viewers addicted to the thrill and truth of the crime and murder stories. Some people watch them to be safe and others are just complete physcopaths.