Dr. Thema Bryant recently explained on a podcast with Mel Robbins that treating true crime shows as a way to relax before bed could mean that the trauma portrayed in the show is “familiar” to the observer and could be a sign that they need counselling. Given these assertions, some are wondering why experiencing trauma through crime shows could provide comfort.
However, I am unaware of any evidence that watching true crime shows before bed indicates that the trauma on the shows is familiar from real life and that viewers are therefore in need of therapy.
Violence and traumatic situations have always existed in popular culture and entertainment going back to ghost stories around the camp fire, Shakespeare’s plays, the Bible and beyond.
After all, a sector of the population has always been titillated by this sort of content and they probably always will be. If people are able to relax better from watching such forms of entertainment then it is more likely providing them with a way to turn off the real stressors in their own lives and escape to another world – hence the word ‘escapism.’
And some experts also explain that what factors into true crime relaxing us is the subsequent security we experience just seconds after watching, based on our personal safety at that moment.