Friday, March 31, 2017

Podcast Friday: My Favorite Murder

My Favorite Murder is an amazing true crime podcast hosted by comedians Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff. You might think "murder and comedy? That sounds awful!" but you would be wrong. Georgia and Karen are a hilarious duo that casually discuss a variety of murders, their own lives, mental illness, flaws of our legal system, and so much more. I've listened to every single episode and I want more. The humor isn't at the expense of murder victims or anything offensive like that. They find humor in dark situations to combat the horror and shock they feel.

The murders they discuss come from all time periods and places. Some are infamous like the unsolved JonBenet Ramsey case, the murders of serial killers such as John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy, and near murders plucked from the show I Survived. Some of the lesser known ones are the most shocking like the Lululemon murder where a woman murdered her coworker, then attacked and tied herself up to make it look like an intruder. It was all over the coworker witnessing her left of crazy expensive yoga pants. The hosts are quick to say they are not well researched. They get most of their information from Wikipedia, Murderpedia, TV shows, or documentaries on the events, but the conversations are what I value more than the events reported.

Karen and Georgia usually talk for at least twenty minutes before they get to murders. Often, they talk about their own journeys in therapy and struggles with anxiety, depression, and past abuse of drugs and alcohol. Their transparency about their struggles with and treatment of mental illness has been instrumental for numerous listeners to go out and get help for themselves. It's refreshing to hear people talk so frankly about this because there are still social stigmas despite so many people being affected. They are quick to admit any mistakes they made in their corrections corner and keep listeners informed about merch, live shows, and whatever else they want to talk about.

The murders bring about a lot of surprising discussions about a variety of different subjects. They criticize social pressures that condition women to be polite at the expense of their personal safety. Karen and Georgia coined the phrase "Fuck politeness" and "Stay sexy. Don't get murdered" to encourage more people to put their safety first, be a little rude, and apologize later if it turns out they were wrong. Blame for crimes is always firmly on the perpetrator and never on the victm, but they encourage people to look out for themselves and recognize danger. Both women have shared stories where they made poor decisions that put them in dangerous situations eerily similar to many of the murders they cover. They also discuss the sorry state of our justice system that often botches investigations, doles out way too short sentences for murderers, leaves thousands of rape kits unprocessed for years, doesn't take the murders of sex workers and people of color seriously, and doesn't seek to treat people with mental illnesses.

These ladies aren't perfect and they strive to better themselves and do something about these horrible attitudes. Some of the money from their merchandise is donated to End the Backlog to test those rape kits and advocate for comprehensive rape kit reform legislation and policies at all government levels. When they first talked bout sex workers, Karen and Georgia used the word "prostitute" and said some callous things about them. A listener called them out and it led to a good discussion on how sex workers' murders are often dismissed because they are not seen as people to not only law enforcement, but also to the general public. They realized their mistake, apologized, and changed their behavior. Now, they are quick to criticize reports that describe a woman as a sex worker before anything else and even changed the story to identify her as a mother first to show how just a little word change makes a huge difference.

Their podcast has led to a huge force of "murderinos" who total over 120,000 on Facebook. They share hometown murders (which Karen and Georgia do present during their Minisodes), organize meetups, discuss various murders or TV shows or documentaries, ask about finding a therapist, and so much more. Karen and Georgia encourage people to make their own My Favorite Murder merchandise, so many Etsy pages are shared with cool creations. Murderinos are mostly women and I have seen very little craziness or rudeness while on their page. (Except this one crazy lady who insisted atheists are evil and Muslims will enslave everyone. She's not the norm and exited the group quickly afterwards.)

Each episodes ends on a cheerful note as Georgia asks her cat (not goat or baby) Elvis if he wants a cookie. It's so charming to hear him meow down the hall and run over for his cookie. (Once her other cat Mimi meowed for it and I almost died it was so cute.) It serves to let the listener (and the hosts) recover from the often depressing subject of murder. Listening to these ladies every week is one of the things that makes my miserable hour long commute to and from work just a little brighter.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

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