Rising in popularity, and being a top 10 regular on the iTunes comedy podcast charts, “My Favorite Murder” is a true crime story podcast, created in January of 2016. Hosted by T.V. writer and comedian Karen Kilgariff and Cooking Channel host and writer Georgia Hardstark, the podcast covers murder cases, while adding comedic twists to these chilling tales. The podcast has a growing fan club whose members call themselves the ‘murderinos.’ Since it is such a unique and controversial idea for a podcast, it sure has caught the attention of both its listeners and the media.
Despite “My Favorite Murder” having a dedicated and expanding fan base, it has received many criticisms about its approach to the topic of murder. A major criticism is that Kilgariff and Hardstark are not treating the act of murder as seriously as it should be treated. Though many find this comedy approach appealing, the show “oscillates between loquacious sympathy and blunt wisecracks.” They “ditched the genre’s dry investigative tone in favor of wry humor” in order to gain the attention of their listeners. To this critique, Hardstark says “the only way we know how to deal with the horrors of life is through humor.” I think that this is a very relatable statement whether people realize it or not. In regards to other upsetting events, such as a funeral for a loved one, many people engage in bits of humor to lighten up a possibly depressing atmosphere and help in the coping process. Based on my experience with “My Favorite Murder,” the hosts are not directly poking fun at the murders or the victims themselves, but at aspects of the story that they go off on tangents about in a comedic way. This makes listening to the horrific details of the murders more bearable.
Another critique of “My Favorite Murder” is Kilgariff and Hardstark’s ignorance of murder cases with people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community as victims. It is a fact that they have covered murder stories on events like “police brutality and systemic racism and expressed disappointment in the way victims of color and of the LGBTQ community often go unbelieved.” However, it is also known that a majority of their stories focus on straight, female victims of Caucasian descent, which is explained by critics as being a result of the hosts being two straight, white women. I do not think it is right to give this as an explanation for why they do not include a fair amount of people of color and LGBTQ+ community members in their podcast stories, but it is true that they do not include this diversity as much as they should.
Though Kilgariff and Hardstark do make errors in their show from time to time, they are dedicated to correcting those errors. One time “they received sharp feedback about how they wrongly (and flippantly) diagnosed murderers with mental illnesses and personality disorders — lumping psychopaths and sociopaths into the definitely-a-serial-killer pool even though that’s not always true —” When receiving these kinds of feedback, the hosts use a segment on their show called ‘Correction Corner’ where they correct themselves on mistakes made in the previous podcasts, which shows they care about giving correct and appropriate information to their listeners.
To quote the words of Hardstark herself, “In the same way people don’t talk about murders a whole lot, people don’t talk about how hard the struggle is to live a happy life.” What I think she means by this is that people have such great anxieties about things like murder happening to them, and it keeps them from living happy lives. Murder is a very terrifying and unnerving topic to discuss, yet people in society today do seem to be attracted to hearing about such things. What “My Favorite Murder” does is create an atmosphere where they can talk about this difficult topic, and by adding a bit of humor to it, give people an attitude where they can go on living happier lives without worrying as much about such horrific things. We absolutely should be aware of the dangers in the world, but we should not let them keep us from living happy lives. That is the message I get from this podcast. Just like Kilgariff and Hardstark sign off on their show, “Stay sexy. Don’t get murdered.”