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“Mindhunter”: Netflix’s Addictive Glimpse Into Deviance

By Lindsey DeRoche; A&E Editor
On November 11, 2017

In a society where shows like “Criminal Minds,” “Dexter” and “The Following” amass legions of followers, it is clear that there are notable demographics of television viewers that find the psychology of serial killers interesting.

Let’s be honest, it definitely can be interesting. The rest of us, who are not serial killers or deviants, cannot even imagine beginning to contemplate, let alone commit, the heinous acts that these people are infamous for.

This failure to understand evokes a definite level of intrigue, as audiences find the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer or Ed Gein darkly interesting, as long as their sort of behavior remains removed from our personal life. Human nature is often fascinated by darkness and abhorrence, we just want to be able to probe it from far away, from the comfort of our living room couch.

Netflix’s new show, “Mindhunter,” which premiered on October 13, does just this kind of psychological probing for us. The show, which is set in the late 1970s, chronicles the conception of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit. Before this time period, the FBI had been more focused on dealing with the aftermath of horrific crimes, not delving into the dark psychology that drives much of it in the first place.

Special Agents Holden Ford (played by Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (played by Holt McCallany) spearhead the new division of the FBI, which is originally confined to the basement of one of the government buildings (due to lack of funding and an attempt to keep much of the research “hush-hush”).

Ford and Tench interview high-profile, incarcerated “sequence killers” (the original term used before “serial killers” was coined) to try to gather data, which may help the FBI on a preemptive level, and create documented terms and patterns to use when solving future crimes.

While Tench and Ford work in the field, interviewing the worst of the worst, they enlist the help of a highly-intelligent professor in psychology from Boston, Dr. Wendy Carr (played by Anna Torv), to help their team with the psychology that they unpack from their nauseating interviews.

While trying to understand the motives behind unspeakable behavior, attempting to aid local law enforcement agencies in serial-esque crimes and attempting to evade the leash of their “old school” superiors, Tench, Ford and Carr work tirelessly to set FBI precedents. As Tench says at one point early in the season, “How can you stay ahead of crazy, unless you understand crazy?”

With that said, understanding “crazy” is a notable portion of the show. Personally, I found the series fascinating. However, it is not fast-paced, by any means. A fan of “Mindhunter” has to find psychology, particularly deviant psychology, interesting.

In addition, viewers might want to go into the season with an already-piqued interest regarding how the FBI began profiling serial killers, and how the Behavioral Science Unit first started out.

“Mindhunter” is completely adult-themed. If you are someone easily offended by violence, sexual violence, overall disturbing premises, or graphic sex scenes between characters, this show is not for you.

There is no doubt that the series is disturbing; the countless interviews where seemingly-remorseless murderers and sexual assailants discuss their crimes with the same level of emotion as recounting what they had for breakfast is enough to make anyone’s stomach churn.

However, if your intrigue in psychology, even that of the darkest crevices of the mind, can trump your discomfort, I guarantee that you will find this show utterly binge-worthy. Each episode of “Mindhunter” is the continual portrait of a fascinating disaster.

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