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Binge Bytes: “My Favorite Murder”

Microphone and headphones for recording purposes

A title like “My Favorite Murder” would make any podcast instantly intriguing. Comediennes Karen Kilgariff, known for her work on “Ellen,” and Georgia Hardstark of “Drinks with Alie and Georgia” became friends in 2014 at a party where they got to talking about the worst thing Kilgariff had ever seen — a story explained in the first episode of the series. They recorded their first podcast for the “My Favorite Murder” series in January 2016 with Feral Audio, whom they recorded with for roughly a year — transferring to Midroll Media in September 2017. Currently, the podcast is produced through Stitcher and iTunes. “My Favorite Murder” is a comedy podcast about infamous murders throughout history featuring the minute details most wouldn’t know unless they were interested in the specifics.

Though classified as a comedic podcast, “My Favorite Murder” does not make light of any of the cases discussed. In the first episode, this concern is addressed, and Kilgariff and Hardstark explain throughout the series that they do not intend for any of their statements to be taken the wrong way nor are they condoning murder or violence of any kind. Humor is often used as a means to cope with and process the information shared. In the discussions of their favorite murder cases, Kilgariff and Hardstark share personal information that makes them relatable while advocating for reform in the justice system and the way we, as a society, talk about murder.

As humans, we’re somewhat fascinated by what goes on in other people’s lives and the darker side of humanity. For centuries, people have been intrigued by murder, and the sensationalization of early murders has led to the modern conception of murder in society today. Kilgariff and Hardstark are working to lessen the taboo surrounding the topic, reduce the chances of getting murdered by talking about murder and gaining a cult following in the process — illustrated by the number of 222,000 followers on their Facebook page today.  

Warning: there will be spoilers from this point on. However, most topics discussed in the podcast are public record and have been previously discussed in the media, so the spoilers won’t ruin much of the podcast.

“My Favorite Murder” is a continuous podcast of murder cases, asylums, cannibalism and more, so there aren’t any divisions to create seasons. All 124 episodes and 74 minisodes are a single giant stream of consciousness. Though some episodes reference previous conversations, the episodes don’t have to be watched in order nor are listeners required to start from the beginning of the podcast. I would recommend listening to the first episode, “My Firstest Murder,” because Kilgariff and Hardstark are genuine and interesting people. The first episode explains how they met. In the same way, the whole concept of murder and what leads people to kill others is intriguing to some — Kilgariff’s near death experience draws some people in.

To Binge or Not to Binge?

From the first episode, “My Favorite Murder” is fascinating. The worst thing Kilgariff has ever seen is almost too tragic to be true, but so are all of the cases they discuss over the course of the podcast. Beginning with the murder of Jon Benet Ramsey and Sacramento’s East Area rapist to Mr. Cruel and Girly Chew Hossencrofft’s murder with stops along the way for listeners to share murder cases from their own towns, “My Favorite Murder” is definitely binge-worthy for true crime enthusiasts or those fascinated by the worst of humanity.

With topics ranging from asylums to the Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer,” there are discussions touching on all true crime subgenres. The way the podcast works is Kilgariff or Hardstark will bring up a relevant — or not so relevant — topic, like the debunking of hair follicles as hard evidence in criminal cases, then springboard off of this topic into a conversation about their favorite murders for that week. They’ll outline the details of that case before sharing their thoughts on the case or turning the discussion to similar cases. I love that they do this because there were many cases discussed that I hadn’t heard about or that happened before I was born. It should be said, this podcast is not a complete relation of the facts to the audience, because Kilgariff and Hardstark are not forensic or criminal experts. This doesn’t take away from the podcast, as they look up facts about the case to keep their retellings and recollections as factual as possible without making the episode seem like criminal justice homework or a lecture. Every episode is also given a name, some of which are really great puns. As a lover of words, this also keeps the podcast from getting too sinister — it’s hard to scare yourself with an episode titled “Squad Gourds” or “Steven It Out.”

Due to the intensity of the topics discussed in the podcast and the language used by Kilgariff and Hardstark — brace yourself for regular use of the ‘F-bomb’ — this podcast isn’t recommended for people who are sensitive to this kind of material. However, as a person who isn’t really a fan of talk radio, “My Favorite Murder” is interesting, judgment-free and as light-hearted as it can be considering the subject matter. Kilgariff and Hardstark never make light of nor degrade the victims of the infamous cases they discuss, but their situational humor — Hardstark’s cat screaming in the background, their facial expressions or actions and the tangents they find themselves trailing into — create a serious but not sinister tone for the podcast, which is a good counterbalance to the weight of murder.

Best Episode: There are many good episodes because they all discuss the cases in-depth, but my favorite episode is, “Our Favorite Thirder.” This is the first episode where Kilgariff and Hardstark talk about relevant news to true crime and forensics — the debunking of using hair follicles as incriminating evidence is in this episode. This was fascinating to me because I am interested in the history and science of forensics.

Similar Shows: “Last Podcast on the Left,” “Up and Vanished,” “Someone Knows Something,” “Dirty John,” “Casefile True Crime” and “Atlanta Monster.” There are tons of true crime podcasts, some based on certain cases, like “Atlanta Monster,” while others are more generalized, like “My Favorite Murder” is.

Trigger Warnings: Descriptions of a murder of both adults and children and swearing.

Rating: 5 of 5 stars
“My Favorite Murder”
Available to stream on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play.
124 episodes, 198 (with Minisodes), Approximately 163 hours 25 minutes, 193 hours and 65 minutes (with Minisodes).

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