By now, most of us have watched at least one true crime docuseries on Netflix or listened to at least one true crime podcast, right? Whether it’s Serial or Making a Murderer or The Staircase or Dirty John, over the last few years, true crime has gone from niche to mainstream and there are now ongoing debates about the ethics of it all – these stories are about real people and their families who have experienced unimaginable violence and pain, and their lives and tragedies have become entertainment.
A large majority of these stories are from the past though. But it was inevitable that we would come to this point: true crime in real time. I’m talking about the Murdaugh Murders in South Carolina. Every media outlet has been following this. PEOPLE.com has been posting about it nearly every day. So it’s not like it’s been avoidable, at least not in my feed. The details are increasingly bizarre, seemingly fictional but too f-cking real twists and turns are irresistible. A wealthy, powerful family, corruption and secrets, grudges and greed, and a string of unexplainable, suspicious deaths? I admit, I have two group chats going about this situation, I have a google alert set up for it, so I’m one of those assholes feeding this circus. Am I too weak to look away? Are you too weak to look away?
And yet, as some have argued, without this attention, given the influence of the Murdaugh family in South Carolina, there may have been even more coverups, more sloppy investigation, more betrayal of justice – and the family members of Stephen Smith, Gloria Satterfield, and Mallory Beach would not have hope of finding answers about the loss of the loved ones if not for all this heat.
But then again, is that just convenient rationalisation for public fascination?
It’s a complicated thing to unpack, and I’m not sure we can answer that today. What’s not in doubt, however, is the great work of Mandy Matney, the journalist who’s been leading the way on this case, breaking stories ahead of national news outlets, protecting her sources, focusing on the facts of the case and pressing for answers. Mandy’s podcast Murdaugh Murders and her reporting at FITSNews has been the standard for the latest on the situation. If you haven’t already, follow her and start listening to and reading her work.
Yours in gossip,