Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Communication, Technology, and Society
Erin M. Ash
D. Travers Scott
The interest many women have in true crime has recently received widespread attention in popular media. For instance, a Saturday Night Live sketch that aired in late February of 2021 featured women singing about how their favorite way to unwind is to tune into the latest murder documentary or podcast. A leader in this true crime revolution, My Favorite Murder (MFM) is a true crime comedy podcast whose fan base—known as Murderinos—is massive in size and in passion. Despite the enormous popularity of true crime podcasts like MFM or Serial, research on true crime podcasts and their online fan communities is limited. This thesis seeks to add to the current popular dialogue on true crime podcasts and the many women who love them, as well as add to the growing body of literature dedicated to the exploration of true crime podcast fan communities.
This research uses focus groups to qualitatively explore how fans of MFM, who identify as women, connect to the genre of true crime, connect to the hosts of MFM Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, and how they connect to other Murderinos virtually or otherwise. The original direction of this research pointed towards possible findings that would align with previous fan studies work on participatory culture (Jenkins, 2013) and fan behaviors like gift economy (Hellekson, 2009). Instead, the findings tell a story fundamentally centered on journeying from feeling alone to no longer feeling alone. The eighteen women, in conversation with each other during small focus groups, tell how they felt alone in their life-long love of true crime, and how their identities as women play a role in their liking of the genre. The findings also show that these women fans have developed a strong parasocial bond (Horton & Wohl, 1956) with Karen and Georgia because of factors related to host responsiveness, the show’s tone and message, and the hosts’ openness and mental health advocacy. Finally, findings show that these women fans find support and an end to their feeling of being alone when they engage in a wide variety of MFM online fan communities.
Schulenberg, Kelsea Sierra, "“You're In a Cult, Call Your Dad.” An Investigation into the True Crime Podcast My Favorite Murder and Its Online Fan Communities" (2021). All Theses. 3561.