This volume examines the significant increase in representations of serial killers as central characters in popular television over the last two decades. Via critical analyses of the philosophical and existential themes presented to viewers and their place in the cultural landscape of contemporary America, the authors ask: What is it about serial killers that incited such a boom in these types of narratives in popular television post-9/11?
Looking past the serial format of television programming as uniquely suited for the presentation of the serial killer’s actions, the chapters delve into deeper reasons as to why TV has proven to be such a fertile ground for serial killer narratives in contemporary popular culture. An international team of authors question: What is it about serial killers that makes these characters deeply enlightening representations of the human condition that, although horrifically deviant, reflect complex elements of the human psyche? Why are serial killers intellectually fascinating to audiences? How do these characters so deeply affect us?
Shedding new light on a contemporary phenomenon, this book will be a fascinating read for all those at the intersection of television studies, film studies, psychology, popular culture, media studies, philosophy, genre studies, and horror studies.
From the Shadows to Our Living Rooms: Serial Killers on Popular TV After 9/11
Brett A.B. Robinson
A Dark Empathy: Identification with Killer Characters
1. When the Monsters are Real (and They Understand Us): The Horror of Hannibal
Andrew M. Winters
2. Born in Blood: 9/11, Trauma, Selfhood, and Dexter
Brett A.B. Robinson
3. ‘Too Much History, Too Much Remembering’: National Trauma and Individual Trauma in The Fall
Philip L. Simpson
4. From Villains to Clowns: Adapting Serial Killers to Internet Memes
Death and Sex: Gendered Bodies in Serial Killer Narratives
5. ‘He is a Murderer’: You, Fandom, and the Romanticized Male Killer
6. The Killing Characters of Penny Dreadful
7. The Subversive Powers of Killing Eve
8. Better the Devil You Know: Nostalgia for the Captured Killer in Netflix’s Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
Unknown Killers: The Ambiguity of Post-9/11 Culture
9. Dropping the Mask of Sanity: How Mindhunter Deconstructs the Profiling Procedural
Ashley R. Smith
10. True Detective and the Post-Serial Killer Text
11. Unthinkable Crimes: Representation, Knowledge, Mindhunter