Netflix’s new docuseries Murder Among the Mormons details a very bizarre investigation into three bombings that shocked Salt Lake City in the 1980s. Forged documents threatening to collapse the Mormon faith didn’t initially sound sinister enough for my taste, but they got me at “salamander.” I like to think that I can handle myself after a true crime doc, but after Crime Scene: The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel, I couldn’t drink tap water for a week. Happily, Murder Among the Mormons left a different taste in my mouth. After three episodes of gothic cathedrals, fall foliage, and serene mountain vistas, I couldn’t help but wonder… should I… become Mormon? And scarier, would they even want me? Could I sacrifice my integrity for a 1950s husband that actually encourages me to stay home? And is relocating to Utah the exact answer to escalating housing prices and smog-filled hikes I’ve been looking for? (lol at pretending I hike). There were more than a few fun twists throughout the series—like encountering the sultry, soft whisper of who can only be described as the real-life Mr. Peanut Man. However, considering moving to Pleasantville and tossing away every feminist T-shirt in my dresser was not the outcome I expected. Netflix’s Dream Home Makeover certainly makes finding a mansion for $15 feel feasible. I could get used to an entire house of white built-ins, right? After all, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City makes Mormonism feel more like a Girl Scout Badge than an actual belief system. Dare I say….it might be worth it?
That said, considering joining the Mormons wasn’t the only unexpected takeaway. Never before have I watched a crime doc in which every single man frighteningly looks like they just got cut from the Santa Claus mall auditions. (White hair. Very white skin. And a puffiness that only milk and cookies can bring.) I finished the doc dreaming of sugarplum fairies. Murder Among the Mormons clearly offers a lot in terms of entertainment and thought-provoking meditation. So, let’s dive into some other subjects the Mormons might have you considering, second to a career in forgery.
Hear me out—evolution is real and great. However, several moments throughout the series they ask you to picture a childhood where dinosaur books are banned. My answer to that: please! The trauma of watching The Land Before Time cannot be underscored enough. The startling death of Little Foot’s parents will haunt my generation for years to come. Can we all agree dinosaurs are to blame for millennials feeling like there’s no use in saving for a future? It’s not not true.
Bring Back The Pussy Bow
If Blanche Devereaux taught me anything, it’s that anyone can pull off a shoulder pad with the right amount of swagger. There is a plethora of mod sweater vests, oversized Princess Diana-esque sweatshirts, and matching plaid suits decorating the series. Yet, nothing shines brighter than the women of Salt Lake City fully rocking the lost art of the pussy bow blouse. Maybe I’ve been in sweatpants too long…but the large, floppy silk bow ties look chic as hell. Full stan!
It’s Time to Buy A Drill
Mark Hofmann is not your typical murder show bad guy. This is a man who told his wife he wanted to go into “the document business,” which I’m pretty sure was my improvised answer when the college counselor asked for my future plans. Still, he was able to construct a pipe bomb before the days of Google. I have to say, unless Amazon starts to ship dynamite, I can’t imagine most millennials being able to do this. Which got me thinking… it’s time to learn how to work a drill. I’ve Allen wrenched enough IKEA bookshelves to furnish the entirety of the LDS Church. Yet, I have no actual construction skills. It’s 2021, damnit. It’s high time I stop relying on ex-Mormon friends (they exist!) to hang my shelves. Going to a hardware store tomorrow!
The Importance of Your Quarantine Lewk
Midway through the series, they begin to describe the suspect as the man “in a green letterman jacket.” They repeat this so many times I start sweating thinking of how I might be described once the LAPD starts taking parking tickets seriously. Horrifying descriptions like: “the girl in the ripped pajamas,” “the girl wearing 2008 Ugg boots,” and worst of all, “the girl in the Twilight hoodie,” have mortified me into entirely rethinking what I’m sporting to walk my dog at midnight. You just never know.
The No-Global-Warming Aesthetic
Growing up in the heat of Texas, I never fathomed it was possible to sprout real-life evergreens in the front yard. And yet, so many LDS houses are tucked into cocoons of magical forest and the lushest green grass you’ve ever seen. There are clearly no water restrictions in Salt Lake. Turns out living in a small town where climate change isn’t real means Douglas Firs can grow in place of house plants and sad succulents. Is Utah maybe the North Pole, but like, with a few dead bodies here and there? It’s worth a visit.
Don’t Cheap Out
If you’re gonna pay someone to do something sketchy for you, make sure you pay in full. After the FBI hits a dead end, the case springs back open when a man working at the printing press finally names the culprit. His reason for snitching? Mark was “a couple of bucks short.” Enough said. Keep your friends close and pay the people that matter most—like your neighborhood hitmen and Postmates drivers!
We’re All Lazy, Even The FBI
I have to say, the most inspiring realization watching Murder Among The Mormons is that anyone can have a bad day at work and choose to give up. The FBI, as in the very official United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, did such a rush job authenticating the forged documents that it clearly must have been Monday night and everyone in D.C. needed to get home to watch The Bachelor. It’s comforting to know that even the FBI decides to phone it in every once in a while. So basically, give yourself another sick day! You’re only human!
All assassinations considered, Murder Among The Mormons is as comforting as true crime can get. It’s not going to get your heart racing, but 80s fashion, cute wraparound wooden decks, and 10 minutes discussing the minutiae of cracked ink will leave you feeling wistful. I’m reminded of the days of Mary-Kate and Ashley using invisible ink to send important messages to each other like: can you read this? In a world of cults, pedophilia, and serial killers, something as simple as forgery is a nice palate cleanser. Somehow, after watching three bombs detonate a city, I feel oddly…motivated. Do I truly want to sign up for a religion that celebrates racism and misogyny? No. Do I actually want to live in a land of MAGA hats and blonde extensions? Hells no. But being able to fall asleep dreaming of affordable housing after the high of binging a murder show feels pretty damn good to me. Cue the SNL song—this is as good as it gets.
Imags: Courtesy of Netflix © 2021 (2); Netflix