Killers: Be­hind The Myth

Sea­son 2 C&I (*170) 20:00 True crime

TV Plus (South Africa) - - 5 MARCH -

Killers are king on telly, whether it’s true-life doc­cies like Killers: Be­hind The Myth (2013-2015) or fic­tional char­ac­ters on The Fol­low­ing (2013-2015, see p 57) and Dex­ter (2006-2013). “So­ci­ety has a macabre fas­ci­na­tion with these un­re­morse­ful preda­tors,” ex­plains crim­i­nol­ogy pro­fes­sor and for­mer NBC Tele­vi­sion Net­work vice pres­i­dent Dr Scott A Bonn. But the slash­ers on our screens are very dif­fer­ent to the real world…

“We look at se­rial killers and how they’re ar­rested. It’s of­ten sim­ple blun­ders,” ex­plains Be­hind The Myth exec pro­ducer Bill Thomas. “It’s or­di­nary peo­ple com­mit­ting these crimes.” On TV, it’s of­ten the op­po­site, with killers as in­tel­li­gent as they are vi­cious. Joe Car­roll (James Pure­foy) in The Fol­low­ing is a univer­sity pro­fes­sor, while Dr Han­ni­bal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) in Han­ni­bal (2013-2015) is a sur­geon-turned-psy­chi­a­trist. “You can’t have a dumb killer who gets the best of the world’s top law en­force­ment,” says The Fol­low­ing cre­ator Kevin Wil­liamson. “That said, when we did our re­search, there were sto­ries from the mur­der­ers we looked at that were sim­ply too ridicu­lous for TV.”

Some­thing that real-life killers and their fic­tional coun­ter­parts do share is that they’re charm­ing. “Joe has this gen­tle­manly de­meanour,” says James Pure­foy. “You can see how his vic­tims would be drawn to him.” Mean­while Nor­man Bates (Fred­die High­more) in Bates Mo­tel (2013 -cur­rent) shares the same shy­ness as the killer he’s based on, Ed Gein, which Ed claims helped his vic­tims feel at ease around him. The most glar­ing dif­fer­ence how­ever is on the out­side – TV killers are good-look­ing, while ac­tual se­rial killers look like Joe Sh­moe, some­one you’d walk past with­out tak­ing no­tice.

TV se­rial killers Joe Car­roll (left) and Dr Han­ni­bal Lecter.

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