Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
On TV: What makes serial killers so darn entertaining?

Television » Big characters, escapism fuel proliferation of shows about multiple murderers.



< Previous Page


Writers on television series are always asking: "What is the dramatic backdrop? What is it going to take to create higher stakes in the story?," said "Bates Motel" executive producer Carlton Cuse ("Lost").

Cuse also added that unpredictable characters are fascinating for storytellers.

Photos

At a glance

TV’s killer shows

“Bates Motel” » Debuts Monday, March 18, on A&E.

“The Cult” » Debuts on Tuesday, Feb. 19, on The CW/Channel 30.

“Dexter” » Begins a new season on Sunday, June 30, on Showtime.

“The Following” » Airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox/Channel 13

“Hannibal” » Debuts sometime later this year on NBC/Channel 5.

“The Mentalist” » Airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBS/Channel 2.

“Ripper Street” » Airs Saturdays at 7 and 10 p.m. on BBC America.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

It’s nothing new » It’s not as if serial killer shows created a new genre. Police shows have been around since the early days of television.

And the fascination with serial killers dates back to the 19th century, if not before. Jack the Ripper committed his crimes beginning in 1888 — and 125 years later, "Ripper Street" focuses on crimes in the same part of London where his crimes took place.

"I’m not interested in serial killers per se," said executive producer Will Gould, who postulated that perhaps the Jack the Ripper legend lives on because he was never caught. That’s a crucial element to his appeal, said Jerome Flynn, who plays a police sergeant in "Ripper Street."

"I think it’s why he became the myth that he did," Flynn said. "He’s still reverberating in society. It’s a mystery, which is kind of ongoing."

As is the fascination with crime, on screen and in print. "If you look at the crime section in the bookstore, it’s one of the most popular sections," said "Criminal Minds" executive producer Deborah Spera. "People are fascinated by crime — how it works, who does them and how they are solved."

Give ’em what they want » It’s easy to place the blame for the proliferation of serial killers on producers and network executives, but the fact is that if viewers didn’t tune in, the shows would go away. Quickly.


story continues below
story continues below

For the current TV season to date, seven of the top 20 shows — including No. 1 "NCIS" — are crime dramas. "Our job is to give viewers what they want," said CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler. "Clearly, they love crime dramas."

Which is why CBS, America’s most-watched network, currently has 11 of them on its schedule.

ABC’s schedule has far fewer crime dramas, but ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee has no quarrel with Tassler’s way of thinking.

"We’re in the business of being in people’s homes every week," he said. "And if you don’t fall in love with those characters, if we don’t nail the core relationships at the heart of it, we’ve failed."

Even if those characters are serial killers.

spierce@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.