WARNING: This review contains mild spoilers for the Netflix show “Mindhunter.”
Netflix has a lot of original movies and television series, especially ones that no one is seemingly interested in watching. They think that they’ll get you to try them if they just spam all the new ones on the front page. Most of the Netflix Studio originals feel like obstacles just to find the actual shows you want to watch. Still, you’ll find the odd gem tucked in there.
Instead of binge-watching “The Office” for likely the 100th time, try “Mindhunter” on for size. Holding its own with a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, “Mindhunter” is a rare, quality Netflix Original content. I now sift through all the other Netflix shows to find this show. Seemingly out of nowhere, “Mindhunter” has taken the psychological thriller genre by the throat, depicting historical serial killers and the men who learned to use them for the betterment of criminal investigation.
Horror movies may claim they’re based on a true story to make the movie seem scarier. In “Mindhunter” every episode was a real-life horror story, and in these stories hundreds of people died at the hands of psychopaths.
To Binge or Not To Binge?
Before I jump into a full analysis, I want to say one more time that this is one of my favorite shows and you need to binge it.
With a third season on the way, I’m excited to once again see 1970’s America as Agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) grapple with the most disturbing murderers in America. Their chemistry with the serial killers is unnerving and provides a never before seen glimpse into the minds of the most famous serial killers in America. Not only is it thought-provoking, but it is disturbing and complicated. The show follows the story of two historical FBI Agents with some of the most three-dimensional, raw chemistry on-screen characters have ever had. Their bond grows and develops with the show.
I found that I watched this show mostly for Groff and McCallany. Their love-hate bromance is a wonderful contrast with the disturbing serial killer interviews. Whether they’re yelling at each other, yelling at small-town cops, smoking cigarettes, conversing with the most famous serial killers or getting breakfast in a melancholy restaurant, these two are a dynamic duo that will single-handedly bring you back for more.
Holden and Tench are based on real people: John E. Douglas and Robert Ressler. They are considered some of the founders of the FBI’s system for understanding criminal psychology. They paved the way for studying criminal psyche and utilizing incarcerated serial killers as a basis for studying murder, and learning how to predict and prevent future serial killers.
There are currently two seasons out with about ten episodes each season, and each episode is roughly an hour and a half long. The series highlights many famous serial killers, like Ed Kemper and Charles Manson. The level of research that goes into each character — in order to provide an authentic story — is unparalleled. The actors playing the roles of serial killers are as authentic as possible to who they were in real life, even providing authentic mannerisms and the motives behind their killings. The real-life Ford and Tench provided enough of the interview documentation to create this show, which is cool because they basically wrote their own TV show with the amount of content and research they produced.
Aside from just a spectacular plot and well-written characters, there is beautiful cinematography within the show: the angles, the aesthetics of the gloomy lighting and such. The show is so well done it makes you consider trying some of the other Netflix Original Series. Maybe it is worth it to sift through and watch some of them — there’s bound to be a piece of hay in the needlestack.
Season 1 – Episode 3 shows the first time where the agents actually solved a case using their knowledge they’ve gained from interviews. It was great to see how Tench and Ford’s chemistry helps solve the crimes, and to see them finally win something rather than being yelled at.
“Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Ted Bundy Tapes” and “X Files”
There are many trigger warnings to go with this show: rape, harsh language, trauma, murder, desecration of bodies, drugs, sex, domestic violence, basically anything and everything criminal or profane.
4 out of 5 stars
Available to stream on Netflix
2 Seasons, 19 Episodes, Approx. 28.5 hours