The Comfort of Mystery

It all began with the television program Unsolved Mysteries. My mom watched it religiously when I was a child. I didn’t like the show at the time. Truthfully, the scary theme music and Robert Stack’s ominous voice made me cringe. Over the years, I found myself beginning to enjoy these types of “docucrimemystery” shows. Next came City Confidential. By then, I was actively watching these types of shows in all their varieties.

I have my favorites. My DVR is usually full of episodes of Dateline on OWN, Dateline, Disappeared, 48 Hours on ID, 48 Hours, and 20/20. The ID Channel has a plethora these types of shows, but I avoid the lot of them. They can be overdramatized like over blown telenovelas. I prefer a mix of documentary with pictures of the real people peppered by commentary by the surrounding community.

Given the gruesome contents, I often wonder why I became drawn to these shows. What do I like about them?

There’s the build up…

During this time, all is right and normal with the world. The impending victim is going about their normal routine. I am pulled in by the storytelling of this section. The music in the show is pleasant and peaceful.

Then comes the act…

Someone disappears. Someone is killed. This is the act without which the story would not be on this episode. It’s the climax. Interestingly, this is not the most important part of the narrative to me.

Next comes the uncovering…

The victim’s loved ones along with law enforcement work to find the perpetrators, known or unknown and piece together the events of the crime.

Lastly, there is the resolution… 

The search for justice for the victim is the key to this section. There are arrests, convictions, and courtroom drama.

Each one with little variation follows this framework. I continue to watch.

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