Proposal Title

From Devour to Abhor: True Crime Television Viewers and Nonviewers

Start Date

June 2022

End Date

June 2022

Abstract

Over the last decade the number of true crime television programs has grown exponentially, from the broadcast networks, to dedicated cable channels and streaming sites. Social science researchers have crafted several theories to account for the high number of women drawn to true crime stories. Katia Kleyman suggest that women read and watch these stories in order to train themselves to recognize dangerous situations in real life, and to understand the deviant psychology of people who perpetrate criminal acts. Kleyman draws these conclusions from Vicary & Fraley’s 2010 study of true crime book readers, which sampled Amazon book reviews and asked participants to imagine possible crime-related book choices in an online-survey. While Vicary & Fraley’s research offer insights, this study did not ask participants the question posited in the study’s title, “why are women drawn to tales of rape, murder, and serial killers?”

Rather than speculate and draw conclusions based on these limited methods, this paper uses interviews and an online survey to study true crime viewers and nonviewers, asking questions such as: What do we know about true crime television viewers? Why do women make up a large percentage of this audience? What precisely draws these viewers to true crime programs, and what turns other television viewers away from them? Ultimately, this paper seeks to diversify our qualitative understanding of true crime television viewers and nonviewers by attending to the social, cultural, and personal nuances that inform and drive viewer choices.

Bio

Amanda Keeler is an Associate Professor of Digital Media in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University where she teaches courses in aesthetics, radio and television history, and scriptwriting. Her research examines many facets of storytelling and its reception, from true crime television programs and podcasts, to science fiction radio and television.

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Jun 24th, 10:00 AM Jun 24th, 11:30 AM

From Devour to Abhor: True Crime Television Viewers and Nonviewers

Over the last decade the number of true crime television programs has grown exponentially, from the broadcast networks, to dedicated cable channels and streaming sites. Social science researchers have crafted several theories to account for the high number of women drawn to true crime stories. Katia Kleyman suggest that women read and watch these stories in order to train themselves to recognize dangerous situations in real life, and to understand the deviant psychology of people who perpetrate criminal acts. Kleyman draws these conclusions from Vicary & Fraley’s 2010 study of true crime book readers, which sampled Amazon book reviews and asked participants to imagine possible crime-related book choices in an online-survey. While Vicary & Fraley’s research offer insights, this study did not ask participants the question posited in the study’s title, “why are women drawn to tales of rape, murder, and serial killers?”

Rather than speculate and draw conclusions based on these limited methods, this paper uses interviews and an online survey to study true crime viewers and nonviewers, asking questions such as: What do we know about true crime television viewers? Why do women make up a large percentage of this audience? What precisely draws these viewers to true crime programs, and what turns other television viewers away from them? Ultimately, this paper seeks to diversify our qualitative understanding of true crime television viewers and nonviewers by attending to the social, cultural, and personal nuances that inform and drive viewer choices.