Crime shows benefit beyond entertainment By Emily Wilson

What if I told you that your TV show was teaching you ideas so important that it might save your life one day? But not just any TV show, your true-crime TV show, that tells the story of a real crime and its resolution. Crime-based television shows can educate you on ways to avoid becoming the victim of a violent crime, they can set you up for your future profession as a detective or criminologist and can make you feel like you have more control in your life, too. 

Women are much more likely to watch crime shows than men and this might be because they are more likely to identify with the victims of crime. Julia Davis, editor of Crime Monthly magazine, agrees. “Women are fascinated by true crime because it’s a facing your fears thing. It’s knowledge is power. Your worst possible fear – understanding it, confronting it, knowing everything you can about it. That’s a major thing I hear again and again from women.” By watching TV crime shows, women might just be learning about the criminal mindset and motivations and ways to defend against an attack. 

When asked if she believes that crime shows could help you avoid danger, BEHS English teacher Brenda Nelson said, “I think it’s absolutely true! It’s hard to get perspective because you see so many of these shows so you start to assume that there is more danger out there than there is. And in reality so many of these crimes are because they are people we know, so the likelihood of some random stranger coming and attacking you, is pretty slim. But, I think it’s good to teach people how to be a little bit more vigilant about protecting themselves.” 

Watching TV crime shows could also develop your criminology skills.  Pete Davies, Director of Product Marketing of Southern New Hampshire University said, “For some, crime television is a pastime, a low-stakes and high-adrenaline way to play armchair investigator. For others, these shows can light a spark that turns into an enriching career.” 

Bellevue East student Aniya McCullough agreed. “People can get ideas off of crime shows to make them wanna pursue that dream. I want to be a lawyer because I watch a lot of law and order and I like how they help people and defend them. Or maybe I’ll be a detective and give family that closure and be there for them while solving the crime” said McCullough.

Crime shows might also be good for our sense of well-being and control. Christie Tcharkhoutian, LMFT, a counselor who works with patients who have experienced trauma shared that when you watch crime showswhile you’re safe and sound in your cozy living room, it can be, in a weird way, sort of comforting.” Watching true crime shows that show a solution to a mystery can help bring closure or acceptance to tragedies in our own lives which can help us feel more in control.

But not everyone is enthusiastic about our national addiction to crime shows. There are plenty of studies that say crime TV shows can be unhealthy. “If you’ve ever spent an entire day marathoning a season (or two) of a true crime show, or listened to a few too many episodes of Serial before bed, you’ve probably found yourself lying awake at night, replaying those thought-provoking, and often terrifying scenes over and over in your mind,” said Annakeara Stinson of Elite Daily. If you find yourself distracted, losing sleep or anxious after binging crime shows, it’s time to take a break. 

Most of us won’t experience negative effects by watching crime shows. Instead, we’ll learn the latest crime technologies and approaches to help keep us safe, we might be inspired to pursue careers in criminology and we gain a sense of comfort and control seeing so many cases solved. Who’s up for streaming the 22 seasons of Law and Order: SVU?