I’ve gone through TV this pandemic like the stages of grief. The first stage was the prestige drama. “It’s the perfect time to finally watch The Wire,” I thought! Turns out, the intricacies of the drug trade in Baltimore were heavy and complicated. Who can handle that in a time like this? Next came the trashy reality TV stage. “Watching people get drunk, naked, and make bad decisions is exactly what I need to get me through this pandemic! Too Hot To Handle will heal me,” I reasoned. Turns out, watching people get closer than six feet apart made me jealous, angry, and a little bit panicky. On to the next! The third stage was comfort TV. “Time to settle in with all my old friends! A little Jess Day-Nick Miller time is what I need.” Turns out, New Girl just made me long for the simpler times when I first discovered it.
So I’ve finally made it to my final stage of TV. The true crime documentary. THIS is exactly what I need. Something that keeps me up at night out of fear that someone will break in and dismember me and not because I’ll never be able to buy a house! And the great thing about true crime is that there’s a little something for everyone. Murder? Good! Scams? Good! Cults? Good! It’s all here. And lately we’ve been blessed with an embarrassment of true crime riches. So which one should you watch? Oh don’t fret, I’ve got you covered and will be breaking it down for you by interest. Because when my therapist says, “maybe you should slow down on the crime so you don’t have to clutch a butter knife all night long” I like to double down instead of taking the suggestion. You’re welcome!
*Friendly warning: There might be some light spoilers in here, so tread carefully if you’re going to be mad that I mentioned something that happened 20 years ago was already splashed all over countless newspapers and magazines!*
If You’re A Late Night Reddit Fiend You Should Watch…
Unsolved Mysteries – Netflix
Me the next few days trying to solve all the crimes. #UnsolvedMysteries pic.twitter.com/fehQDM2WCC
— Cancelled♡ (@Thatsovirgo) July 2, 2020
Unsolved Mysteries dropped on Netflix in July, and it’s a revival of an old show that was on TV way back when The Bachelor was but a twinkle in Mike Fleiss’ eye. There are six new episodes detailing crimes or weird happenings (aliens are real y’all, change my mind) that have never been solved. So if you’re the kind of person that likes to spend all night theorizing to strangers as to why a man would sleep with the ashes of his murdered wife, or if you enjoy combing through letters that were left by a dead man and comparing them to the plot of a movie then this. is. your. show. And hey! If you solve one of these cases, all that time you spent maniacally whispering to yourself, “it wasn’t suicide”, neglecting showers, and subsisting only on Cheetos and then the left over Cheeto dust that collected on your shirt will just be called a “cute phase” instead of a “mental breakdown”.
Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich – Netflix
Speaking of it not being suicide, it’s obviously time to move on to Jeffrey Epstein. The theories abound about what actually happened to him in that prison cell, but this documentary actually focuses on the girls (now women) he abused and how his money, access, and power allowed it to happen without consequence for years. It’s terrifying. Netflix even calls it a “molestation pyramid scheme” and now I’m actually thankful that all the girls I went to high school with only got involved in makeup pyramid schemes. But in all seriousness, Jeffrey Epstein was very connected to some of the most powerful people in the world and it makes me suspicious that literally every man in charge of anything was involved. My mom always did tell me growing up that everyone’s a perv. This series made me believe it.
Outcry – Hulu
This one is for all of you out there that love Friday Night Lights, but wish it had involved more ruined lives, child molestation, and shoddy detective work. Greg Kelley was a high school football star in Texas when he was accused and convicted of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old that attended daycare in the house where he lived. I know, a tough pill to swallow. But this series follows Greg as he is in prison, and then eventually is exonerated for the crime. Throughout the documentary we see how poorly the case was handled, how important leads were not investigated, and how because of that, this child never got justice. I have my theory of who actually committed this crime but for legal reasons I’ll not publish it here, so maybe this time that anonymous person you see speculating on Reddit is ME.
*Cue Beyoncé* If You’re Into Girl Power You Should Watch…
Love Fraud – Hulu
Friends, Love Fraud brought me so much joy. I mean, not the part where we hear from multiple women that they were conned out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. That brought me rage. I mean the part where these women connect with each other, hire themselves a badass female bounty hunter, and attempt to find this life-sized maggot dressed in a suit and masquerading as a man on their own. I mean, the part where one of the women, Sabrina, says right to the camera, “Scott, you lying sack of sh*t, you f*cked me. And I’m coming after you.” Sabrina is my raison d’être. I mean the part where they’re out for revenge. Ladies, if you’re like me and you need a little joy in your life, it’s time to cue up Love Fraud.
Our bounty hunter, ladies and gentlemen.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – HBO
I can’t say enough good things about this documentary. It started as a book about the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara that transcended the true crime genre. The documentary details the case and features survivors, while also including Michelle’s writing process, her dogged efforts to solve the case, and her tragic death before completing the book. It’s different from any documentary you’ve ever seen (much like the book was) and the best part? They actually caught the son of a b*tch that did it using a genealogical website! And less than two weeks ago, they rolled that old murdering prick who thought for so long that he got away with it into court and sentenced him to life in prison without parole. How often does that happen?! It’s hard to watch and beautiful to watch, and I highly recommend it. And it also teaches you to maybe warn your family members before you spit in a tube and send it off to 23 and Me, because you might find out you aren’t as Italian as your mom said you were, but they might get arrested for murder.
If You Think Everything Is A Scam You Should Watch…
(Un)well – Netflix
This one’s for you, Goopers. Believe it or not (believe it) shoving a jade egg up your vagina is not a good idea. And if you’ve done that, it’s time you check out this series. (Un)well examines the wellness industry and how it takes advantage of unsuspecting folks like you and me to make billions of dollars. Each episode examines a different wellness trend like essential oils or breast milk and shows us both sides of the issue. It might not sound your typical true crime series, but I promise you when you hear a grown man talk about his “mother’s milk smoothie” you’ll certainly be ready to commit murder yourself.
The Vow – HBO
And finally we’ve made it to The Vow, the new HBO series detailing the NXIVM cult. I’ve only watched the first episode so far (the new episodes are still dropping) but I’m obsessed. We haven’t gotten to the part where anything bad happens yet so I’m full-steam ahead invested in this organization. Yes I DO want to find my higher purpose! Yes, they DID cure Tourette’s! Yes, I DO need one of those sashes! Needless to say, I can see how people got roped in. I’ve got to see where this goes quick, before I start writing to Keith Raniere in prison. Help.
I think there’s something for everyone on this list, so I hope you all get everything your true crime seeking heart desires. Did I miss anything? If you know about a crime doc I forgot please hit me up in the comments, lord knows I need more fuel for my constant nightmares.
Images: Netflix; thatsovirgo/Twitter; memetides, grkelley2, pattonoswalt, hbo/Instagram; Giphy (1)
In the past 48 hours, I watched the entirety of Leaving Neverland, director Dan Reed’s two-part, four-hour documentary about two men who claim to have suffered sexual abuse as children, and how they grapple with that trauma to this day. To say I have an emotional hangover would be an understatement—I am sad in ways I didn’t know I could be. While sob-emoji texting my friends, though, I noticed a pattern. When someone hadn’t heard of Leaving Neverland, I clarified: I was watching “the Michael Jackson documentary.” And it’s true—the man accused of sexual abuse in this doc is Michael Jackson, and “Neverland” in the title refers to Jackson’s 2,800-acre ranch, where he allegedly abused an unknown number of prepubescent boys in the ‘90s and 2000s. But having seen the film, I bristle at the idea that this is a Michael Jackson documentary. This is a documentary about child sexual abuse.
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Leaving Neverland premieres tomorrow night, 8pm on HBO. The two-part documentary explores the separate but parallel experiences of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who were befriended by Michael Jackson when they were just 10 and 7 years old, respectively. We are glad to be among the network of organizations (@1in6org, @rainn, @childhood.usa, @d2lorg, MOSAC, @safehorizon, @itsonus, @worldchildhoodfoundation) who contributed to the viewing support guide, produced by @HBO. Before watching, please consider reading the guide (the link is in our bio) and creating a personal care plan. Regardless of where you stand, this is an important topic that deserves our attention. We need to talk about men as survivors of sexual abuse. We need to talk about child sexual abuse, grooming, and trauma. We need to show up for each other. #disruptsexualviolence #endsexualabuse #believesurvivors #leavingneverland
Wade Robson and James Safechuck are the two men who tell their stories in Leaving Neverland. Both are indisputably connected to Jackson: Safechuck appeared in a Pepsi commercial with him at the age of 8, and Robson met him at age 5 in Australia, after winning a dance competition. Jackson took a special liking to Safechuck and Robson, and both boys’ relationships with the singer went down similar paths. Jackson would invite the boys’ families on trips, paying for their transportation and lodging, and opening up a world of fame and money they’d never seen before. He told the boys’ mothers that their children were special, that he loved them, and he wanted to help their careers. He said he saw himself in them—and these mothers, dazzled with the vision of raising the next Michael Jackson, struggled to deny Jackson anything.
What Jackson wanted was extended, unsupervised time with their young children. While Robson and Safechuck’s mothers were brought along for many visits to Neverland, they slept in a separate house, and allowed their children to share a bed with Jackson. Safechuck accompanied Jackson on tour; Robson was left alone at Neverland for days at a time. In a 2005 trial for Jackson’s alleged assault of a different 13-year-old boy, it came to light that Jackson would call Robson’s mother at 1am, saying he needed to see Wade right away. Joy Robson (Wade’s mother) would drive him there promptly, and send him straight to Jackson’s bedroom. At the time, the boys insisted that they loved Michael, and he loved them. It wasn’t until they had children of their own that they were able to see the sexual experiences they describe with Jackson—and they describe many—as abuse.
It takes days to recover from this documentary. Five minutes in you will think to yourself “oh my God, every word they are saying is true.” https://t.co/JMoA6Y0dEo
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) March 2, 2019
In this moment, it feels surreal to report on these men’s stories of sexual abuse and name the abuser as Michael Jackson. Beyond the shock of hearing these accusations about any beloved celebrity, it feels surreal to name him now because the film focuses so little on the figure of Michael Jackson himself. When you hear “Michael Jackson documentary,” even knowing it’s about allegations of sexual abuse, you expect the film to take on Jackson’s legacy. You expect Jackson to be presented first as an icon: to hear Jackson’s music, or accounts of his persona and cultural impact. Maybe a narrator hyping up how adored he was, before smashing down the hammer of these accusations. But Leaving Neverland does nothing of the sort.
Instead, Leaving Neverland addresses Jackson’s celebrity only in the context of the effect it had on Robson, Safechuck, and their families. It’s important to these stories of sexual abuse to know that Jackson was famous and powerful, because that status informed the parents’ decisions to give him that access to their sons. Similarly, it’s important to hear about how Robson and Safechuck personally admired him: his impact on them as a performer, before they ever met, informed how ecstatic they were when he showed an interest in them; how predisposed they were to admire him and want him in their lives.
As a former child actress, I can’t help but watch this documentary and think about how wrong it is for children to be put in the position of performing for the soul purpose of pleasing adults. It’s such a slippery, dangerous, often abusive slope. #LeavingNeverland
— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) March 4, 2019
Even clips of Jackson’s performances, or screaming fans, are limited to instances that highlight the trauma it caused to these men. The swarming fans attending Jackson’s tour compounded Safechuck’s sense of being overwhelmed and alone. The line of protesters attending Jackson’s trial played on Robson’s sense of obligation to protect his friend. Leaving Neverland never gives us those images solely to show us that Jackson was beloved, and thus entirely avoids the expected structure for a documentary accused of being “posthumous character assassination.” If Reed’s intention had been (primarily) to shatter the world’s impression of Michael Jackson, I would have expected to first be shown what that impression is—then see it darkly juxtaposed with these men’s stories. Neverland doesn’t feel like the dismantling of a celebrity’s reputation. It feels like two deeply personal accounts of childhood trauma in which their abuser happened to be famous.
#LeavingNeverland isn't about the spider or the fly. It is about the web.
Listen to survivors. Learn about grooming. Understand that victims have complex feelings. Share 800-4-A-CHILD or 800.656.HOPE! Promote help. pic.twitter.com/2JOxWlDI3y
— Jenn (@8675309Carson) March 4, 2019
Of course, the fact that Leaving Neverland doesn’t explicitly state “here’s proof that Michael Jackson was a child molester” won’t do much to change people’s reactions to the film. Those determined to believe in Jackson’s innocence will do so anyway (though I struggle to understand how, if they take the time to watch the film). And those who believe the stories of Robson and Safechuck will effectively have any lingering fond doubts extinguished. Nonetheless, I think it’s an important and correct choice that Reed focused the film so tightly on these two men and their stories.
Painful as it is for Robson and Safechuck to continue seeing Michael Jackson celebrated, they didn’t strike me as crusaders for his worldwide vilification. They struck me as two men still actively, painfully grappling with the trauma they suffered as children, talking through both what happened and how they behaved in the wake of it. What Leaving Neverland does best, in my opinion, is provide a road map for how this type of abuse can affect people through adulthood, and shed some light on why it’s so difficult for child victims to come forward. And frankly, that’s a much more important story than whether or not a late pop star is deserving of our love.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual abuse, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE
Images: HBO; metoomvt / Instagram; juddapatow, ambertamblyn, 8675309Carson / Twitter
Last month, a new Michael Jackson documentary aired at Sundance, called Leaving Neverland. The documentary is specifically about the allegations of child sexual abuse against Michael Jackson, featuring detailed accounts from two of his accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck. The documentary will air in two parts on HBO: one two-hour segment is coming out Sunday, March 3, and the other Monday, March 4. Those who have seen the film describe it as “powerful and convincing,” a “bombshell,” and “more disturbing than you could imagine,” all of which makes me want to go to sleep right now and not wake up until I can watch it for myself. Somewhere in a Chicago jail cell, R. Kelly is reading these reviews and breathing a sigh of relief. Michael Jackson’s family, however, is neither thrilled nor convinced by what this documentary brings to light—and they’re making their feelings known.
Earlier this week, four members of Michael Jackson’s family—brothers Tito, Marlon, and Jackie, plus Michael’s nephew Taj—went on CBS This Morning to decry the documentary and defend Michael Jackson against its claims. While none of them have seen the film, they’re certain that what’s described by Jackson’s alleged victims is nothing more than a series of lies. “He’s my little brother,” says Jackie Johnson. “He’s not like that.” Oof.
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Jackie Jackson explains why he won't be seeing "Leaving Neverland" – Watch the full interview on CBS This Morning today, 27 February. #leavingneverland #truth #liesrunsprintsbutthetruthrunsmarathons #tajjackson #jackiejackson #titojackson #marlonjackson #fightback #defend #michaeljackson #thejacksons #JacksonsLegacy
Most of the family’s defense of Jackson centers on that point: the man they knew couldn’t have done these things; the media has always misunderstood him. Jackie describes him as “a kid at heart,” while nephew Taj laments “naiveté” as Michael Jackson’s “downfall.” While admitting that stories of Michael’s sleepovers with children could sound odd “to the outside world,” Taj insists it was innocent—and that Michael simply “didn’t have that bone in his body to look at it the other way.”
To be clear, the Jackson family does not view the alleged victims featured in Leaving Neverland as benevolent third parties who got confused, or otherwise misunderstood things, but rather, money- and fame-hungry liars. On the day of the documentary’s debut, Taj Jackson tweeted the following.
After years of coaching and studying for these roles, I’m sure Wade (self proclaimed “Master of Deception”) and Jimmy both gave Oscar winning performances today. Media, please do a 10 minute google search before you condemn an innocent man who is no longer here to defend himself.
— Taj Jackson (@tajjackson3) January 25, 2019
Doubling down on his claims that this is a long con for personal gain (even though the filmmakers insist the Robson and Safechuck were not paid for the documentary), Taj affirmed on CBS This Morning that “it’s always been about money,” and that people see his uncle as “a blank check.” He’s since set up a GoFundMe page to produce a documentary of his own—one he hopes will “destroy decades of salacious myths” about his uncle. (The stated goal is $777,000, which seems oddly specific. Almost $64,000 has been raised so far.) While Jackson’s other family members are less vocal online, they add in the interview that there’s “not one piece of evidence” corroborating the alleged victims’ stories. As Deadline points out, they don’t offer up “what, exactly, such evidence might be.”
Finally, the Jackson family is emphasizing the fact that both alleged victims featured in this documentary—Robson and Safechuck—testified to Jackson’s innocence during his first criminal trial, and swore he’d never behaved inappropriately toward them. This is, of course, addressed in the film—but I’ll let you watch that for yourselves. When Robson was asked if he had anything to say to Jackson’s fans, and those who believe the documentary is a lie, he offered the following quote:
I understand that it is really hard for them to believe…Even though it happened to me, I still couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t believe that what Michael did was a bad thing, so I understand.
Wow. I’ve been less understanding about a mixed-up coffee order. Please note, I have not yet seen the documentary myself and would like to withhold full judgment until after the fact. Enjoy that objectivity while you can, because I am expecting my forthcoming review of the film to be…opinionated, put lightly. Whether you’re a Jackson fan, or someone who’s believed the allegations for a long time and has been waiting for something like this, suffice it to say this documentary will capture your attention. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have start practicing my voice for when I call in sick on Monday.
Images: Instagram; Twitter
The title of this article is actually kind of a joke because if you don’t know who Ted Bundy is, you need to fix yourself. What? Do you, like, have a life or something? Do you not spend your nights deep-diving serial killers on Wikipedia and then waking up every hour to check all the closets in your 400-square-foot apartment “just in case?” Are you actually well-adjusted? FINE. If you are one of these “normal” humans and you don’t know who Ted Bundy is, 2019 is your year because Netflix just dropped Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and sh*ts about to get real…sadistic.
Since so many of you freaks can’t tear yourselves away from watching yet another episode about the Dundies, I’m here to tell you who Ted Bundy is and why you should care. But tread carefully friends, this article will mark the official end of your innocence.
He Murdered At Least 30 Women
Ted Bundy is one of the most prolific serial killers of all time. Before he was executed in 1989, he finally confessed to 30 murders, which you can hear him briefly whisper about in the new Netflix documentary, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. But dude, you don’t need to whisper, we already know. Even though Ted confessed to 30 murders, many more have been attributed to him and at one point he said the number of women he killed was “three digits,” leading experts to speculate that he meant over 100, and leading me to reconsider watching this before bed.
Many of the women Ted killed were in their teens and early 20’s and had brown hair, like Diane, the woman who broke his heart. Word of advice ladies, if you’re going to date a psychopath and sexual sadist, be gentle with his snowflake heart or he might kill 100 women that look like you. Or you could just be like me and never date anyone. It’s a good way to not get murdered and a good way to fit in all 14 seasons of Criminal Minds in 6 weeks.
Ted was eventually convicted of kidnapping Carol DaRonch in 1974. She’s featured in the documentary and is a complete badass who narrowly escaped being one of his murder victims. Ted was also eventually sentenced to death for the murders of Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy at the FSU Chi Omega house, and Kimberly Leach, his final victim, who was only 12 years old. F*ck this guy.
He Escaped Prison Twice
YES! You heard me. A man that had already been convicted of kidnapping and was on trial for MURDER managed to escape from prison twice!
Fool me once, Ted, shame on you. Fool me twice, everyone running that f*cking prison should get fired. Here’s how it happened. The first time, Ted was allowed in the courthouse law library by himself, unshackled. Damn, they’ll just let men do whatever they want, won’t they? So he jumped out the window and ran. Easy as that. He was able to evade capture for six days and lost 25 pounds. And yes, I am seriously considering this for my next diet.
Six short months later, Ted had managed to cut a hole in the ceiling of his cell, climb through it, and eventually walk right out the front door. The FRONT DOOR. From that front door, he made it all the way to Florida where he became a law-abiding citizen, renting out beach chairs and umbrellas to people on the beach. I’m kidding. He f*cking murdered people.
Women Are THIRSTY For Him
Despite the fact that Ted Bundy liked to rape, murder, and return to the dead bodies to have sex with the corpses of his victims (I know, I’m sorry), this did not deter women from fawning all over him. The documentary shows these women enamored by him and batting their eyelashes because he was “attractive.” To say it’s unsettling is an understatement.
Not only did Ted have his lady fans, but he even secured himself a wife during his murder trial. While he was questioning girlfriend Carol Ann Boone on the stand, he asked her to marry him, and it was legally binding. She went on to visit him in prison and they even had a daughter together. Huh. So I guess he could get it up without having to murder someone.
He Blames Pornography For His Crimes
To quote the immortal words of Miss Marcia Brady, “Sure, Jan.”
Zac Efron Is Playing Him In A Movie
And finally we’ve reached the “why you should care” portion of the article, and that reason is Zac Efron. The reason to watch anything is really Zac Efron, I certainly wouldn’t have entertained the idea of basketball players auditioning for a high school musical otherwise. Zac will be starring in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, the movie based on Ted’s life that’s premiering at Sundance right now. I’m ready for you Z, chill me to the bone.
People are also talking about Ted Bundy so much because Netflix just released its true crime documentary about him. It’s supposed to present never-before-told information about Ted Bundy, but anyone who has read one Ted Bundy biography would already know everything presented in the documentary. Can’t wait for Hulu to release their competing documentary with nonsensical clips of Family Guy spliced throughout.
So that’s your basic rundown of Ted’s life! If you’re really interested, I suggest you watch the documentary on Netflix, or read The Stranger Beside Me which is the OG of true crime books. And always remember, if a guy wearing a sling asks you to help him carry something to his car, call the police.
And if you can’t get enough of serial killers, may we suggest starting your journey down the rabbit hole by listening to Not Another True Crime Podcast?
Images: Giphy (3)
It’s been almost a decade since one of the hottest actors to ever grace the silver screen’s life was sadly cut short due to drug abuse, which is apparently only cute in the movies. I’m talking, of course, about Heath Ledger, the aussie heartthrob who burst into our lives by singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” to Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You. Heath managed to do something most men can never dream of doing, aka “keep our attention,” through a long career or very good movies like A Knight’s Tale, Brokeback Mountain, and your college ex’s favorite, The Dark Knight. It’s not often that a man can play both Jake Gyllenhaal’s gay cowboy lover and The Joker and still be our #1 Hollywood crush, but Ledger managed to do it. And we’ll forgive him for both being in a movie with Anne Hathaway, and for spawning the “Why So Serious?” meme that still tortures us all to this day.
Sadly, in 2008 Heath’s
hottness talent was cut short, and we were all left wondering when we’d ever get a taste of his incredible body acting abilities ever again. However, thanks to a new documentary on Spike TV, we will all be able to bask in Heath’s incredible Australian Accent/Good Bone Structure combo once again with their upcoming documentary I Am Heath Ledger. The trailer is out now, but I suggest you grab a few tissues and a comfort animal before diving in. The mere sight of Heath’s freckles is enough to make any self respecting straight human with even a casual interest in sex with men totally lose their shit.
We warned you.