Crime dramas hold an unsaid fetish with the viewers. On one hand we want the law enforcement to get down and dirty to solve the crime but a part of us is also intrigued by the psychology of the prodigal murderer. Netflix’s exponentially increasing repertoire of originals and screen adaptations has given us some of the most influential crime dramas and documentaries in recent times. From the emotionally brutal documentary Making a Murderer to the classic Hitchcock adaptation Bates Motel, crime drama has evolved as a genre that has moved forward from gory sensationalism to psychological realism. Other honorable mentions in this category include some of my favorites – The Fall (Drama series) and The Keepers (Documentary series).
David Fincher has been a legend in his own right, giving us one of the biggest cult hits ever in Fight Club. The anticipation is palpable when the Se7en and Zodiac director crafts a crime drama for the Digital Streamers, allowing his story to breathe and flesh out. Mindhunter begins with a hostage situation with a young FBI agent named Holden Ford, played by Jonathan Groff, is assigned to get the perp to surrender. Even though Ford is a highly skilled negotiator, he understands that nothing can prepare him for the next one. It’s the 70s and crime in the United States is making some unexpected infractions from known patterns. Psych profiles are not yet evolved as they are now and agents like Holden have only their intuition as an instrument to understanding a criminal’s mind.
Mindhunter sets forth with a deliciously slow pace establishing Holden Ford’s bug-eyed character who is fascinated with this new wave of crime that defies any kind of motive. This chaotic upheaval has been portrayed to mirror the transformation that the American society was going through itself – a rising skepticism towards government institutions thanks to the widely publicized Watergate scandal and a society going through sexual liberation as a way to rebel against established societal norms. Having said that, the episode rolls out with an underdog story – the story of Holden Ford and his journey towards understanding the psychology of criminal minds through newer, more relevant methods, almost reminiscent of Jake Gyllenhaal’s persona from Zodiac. The premise is promising and can become one of those coming of age stories where an idealist falls into a murky world, only to understand the flaw in the human condition.
Season 1 streaming on Netflix right now.
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