Would you be surprised to know that my surefire method of beating off anxiety is listening to a podcast about murder?
Well, it’s true. A few months ago, my best friend Marie got me into “My Favorite Murder”, a true crime podcast hosted by best friends Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. And despite the scandalous, gory stories Karen and Georgia tell, there’s something incredibly comforting about sitting down and listening to them excitedly discuss every facet of the world of true crime.
Each week, Karen and Georgia share one story of their favorite murder of the week. In addition, they release shorter “minisodes” where they read “hometown murders” submitted by fans. Despite the serious subject matter, it’s a comedy podcast. Maybe that’s a little weird to comprehend, but it’s amazing how well of a balance the podcast strikes between light humor and serious discussions of real-world issues.
I’m not fully caught up with it yet, but I’ve been making solid progress. It’s basically what I listen to all the time – on the way to and from class, while doing homework, before bed, wandering around the dorm… I’d say a solid chunk of my day is spent with Karen and Georgia. But what is it about these gruesome murders that keeps me coming back for hours and hours at a time?
Honestly, it’s gotta be the hosts themselves. Even as they tell the most frightening real stories, they’re relatable. Between discussions of serial rapists and murderers, they discuss their therapy sessions, their enthusiasm for new TV shows, and all manner of daily observations that make it feel less like I’m listening to a radio show and more like I’m having a conversation with two close friends. It’s dramatic enough of a difference that it makes even the most frightening of stories feel comforting and wholesome.
But it’s also worth it to mention that the hosts themselves talk about how discussing true crime helps to ease their own personal anxieties. In a way, it kind of makes sense. By talking through the absolute worst-case scenarios, you feel prepared for them, in a strange way. There’s a good chance I’ll never run into a real serial killer, but if I ever do, I’m prepared… more or less.
Still, putting all that anxiety stuff aside, is the subject matter too serious for the comedic tone of the podcast? It’s an issue that has been brought up by the podcast’s… well, anti-fans several times throughout the history of the podcast. And I suppose on the surface it might seem to be taking advantage of or making light of others’ tragedies. But that’s not at all what happens.
In reality, I think Karen and Georgia have the most sympathy of all for the victims. Unlike the stories you might get in the news, “My Favorite Murder” takes the time to tell every part of the story. You not only get background information on the victims, but also on the perpetrators. Often, tragic tales of serial murderers start with tragic tales of abused and neglected children who grow up to become these horrible criminals. It definitely doesn’t excuse the actions of these people, but rather explains why they would stoop to such a terrible depth as to take innocent lives.
I admire “My Favorite Murder” for how complete every story is. While it does, in some cases, languish in the gory details, there’s a definite respect for the personhood of everyone involved in each story. And sure, they’ve made mistakes. But Karen and Georgia are both incredibly open to constructive criticism, and have, on many occasions, changed their language or way of speaking about certain topics based on critiques they’ve received from fans. Above all, it’s clear that “My Favorite Murder” is a place for learning, not only for the fans, but also for the hosts. It’s a friendly place, a fun place.
I’m incredibly thankful to have this podcast to come into my life at this time. College is, quite frankly, a weird, wonderful, terrifying experience, so it’s nice to have two best friends who are always there for me, anytime, anywhere, with tons of exciting stories to tell.
So this week’s recommendation? Listen to “My Favorite Murder”, stay sexy, and don’t get murdered.