Murder As a Literary Theme

My brain is all over the place today because this is the first time I’ve had full-caffeine coffee in three weeks so please bear with me as this post is about to be an Honest-To-God Disaster.


Two media things I have been absolutely tearing my way through:

1. My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Okay so let me preface all this by saying that Crysta and I have gone back and forth about whether or not true crime podcasts count for this project. Lots of them (Criminal, MFM, In the Dark, etc.) are created and hosted by inspiring, badass women, but most of them feature men because most murderers are men because ~toxic masculinity~ and ~society~ and stuff. We eventually decided that women who are telling these stories are adding their perspective to the genre, and because they’re true stories it’s not fair to completely exclude true crime from this project, but there are definitely arguments both ways and we’d love to hear input.

Anyway. MFM. Unbelievable. Terrifying. Hilarious. I’ve always been a fan of true crime–the Boston Strangler killed someone two apartments above mine, which is quite literally my favorite fun fact of all time.

Things the show does not do well: Not much. They’re a little flip at times, particularly around mental health and sexual assault (which come up a LOT in MFM, so if that’s triggering for you please avoid this show). That said, they don’t treat anyone with kid gloves, so I wouldn’t really expect them to make an exception.

Things the show does well: Georgia and Karen are awesome and definitely hashtag friendship goals (and also hashtag anxiety goals? Idk, I relate to them a lot). They do a great job of talking about victims and survivors in an awestruck and respectful way, and when they talk about perpetrators they are compassionate but never forgiving, which I really love and respect. Overall, they tell stories in an evenhanded and non-exploitative way–as one survivor said when she wrote in to them, they tell stories of death and survival in a way that doesn’t make you fearful, but makes you appreciate life. There is something powerful and feminist in their narratives. I love this show.

2. The CW’s Jane the Virgin (some spoilers ahead, but honestly you won’t understand them so you should just read it anyway)

Okay so full disclosure I’ve already watched this all the way through (new episode January 23 I’m so excited I’m nearly in tears), but I restarted it with my dad–I was honestly so shocked and grateful that he sat through two episodes with me (little does he know that this afternoon I’m gonna make him sit through two more). The first time I watched it, the whole series took me two weeks. TWO WEEKS. And I wasn’t on vacation or anything, I was still living my life full-time. I am a menace to society.

Things the show does NOT do well: Everyone in this show looks like they stepped out of a fucking Banana Republic catalog. I’m not kidding you. Which is fine–it is a telenovela on a major network and I like Banana Republic–but I would love to see a few more characters who live outside of traditional gender presentation. I don’t think it’s that much to ask to have a non-binary or gender-non-conforming person. JUST ONE. Or just like someone with a facial piercing or a dude with long hair or a woman who wears pants. Maybe Mateo will grow up to use “they/them” pronouns. Probably not, but a girl can dream.

Things the show does well: Everything else. Positive and diverse representations of Latinx people? YES. Normalization of lesbians? YES. Strong female lead? YES. Murder? YES. This show is so fucking funny and overdramatic (never in my life did I think I would be so excited about a surprise identical twin or drug lord plastic surgery), but the best part is that it makes you rethink normal. In the first episode, Rafael tells Luisa to “go home to your wife”–and I got nervous, because I immediately assumed that they were going to make her sexuality some big thing. But they didn’t. They made her being in love with a drug lord the big plot point. And then I felt silly for having even been worried.

The other thing I love about this show is the reversal of traditional masculinity. Rogelio is technically the patriarch, but he’s such a silly little narcissist–from day one Alba is clearly the head of the family. Rafael and Michael are totally at Jane’s beck and call, and she perpetually puts herself, her family, and Mateo first. The men in JTV ultimately orbit around a series of powerful Latina characters who, in every plot line except the accidental insemination, dictate their own destiny. It’s dope and everyone should watch this show, I’m not kidding.


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