Investigation Discovery

Jodi Arias: An American Murder Mystery And 1980s: The Deadliest Decade

Kevin Smokler and Sarah D. Bunting on what some true-crime shows need women -- and murder victims -- to 'be.'

As we approach the tenth anniversary of Travis Alexander's murder, Jodi Arias is back on our teevees in ID's Jodi Arias: An American Murder Mystery. It isn't really a mystery, and neither is the pervasive misogyny and black-and-white narrative manipulation that turned a confused and off-putting young girl into a scheming black widow, but returning guest Kevin Smokler and I found it very watchable, in the workmanlike way of this series.

Later, we go back almost thirty years to the murder of Rebecca Schaeffer, an already unimaginable crime that seems even more remote to us today, as it led to anti-stalking legislation and protections -- but The Deadliest Decade's take on Schaeffer is no more progressive than you'd expect. Why do TV newsmags have to underline the saintliness of the victims? What illusion of control might these nuance-free characterizations give to viewers? And can we stop misusing the term "Brat Pack"? All this plus some reading and pod recs in The Blotter Presents.

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