Behind Mansion WallsHappily Never AfterNightmare Next Door. These are just some of the titles you can view round-the-clock on Investigation Discovery — the trashy, real-life crime drama offshoot of the Discovery Channel. I have recently developed a morbid fascination with Investigation Discovery or, ID, as it prefers to be called among friends.

What do I love about it? The escapism, the decadence, the satisfying resolutions (be they grim or vindicating), the “at least it’s not me” factor, letting it run all day while I engage in mundane tasks—gruesome, entertaining background noise.

But I’m slowly realizing ID may also have its drawbacks, and our friendship its perils. Aside from the fact that I have no one with whom to pore over these shows—half because no one else has discovered this channel, half because I’m, frankly, ashamed of my low culture obsession—and aside from feeling like a sociopathic voyeur, ID has slowly begun to color how I view the world.

When you spend your days with psychotic neighbors, evil twins and conscienceless spouses, it becomes increasingly hard to discern reality from the statistical improbabilities on television. Everyone on the daily train commute is hiding some volatile secret or deranged, violent urge. Every benevolent door-holder has an ulterior motive, wants to follow you to an alley and strangle you with a shoelace.

According to Psychology Today, “Our current media environment, with its endless repetition of scary news, has the effect of magnifying threats, which gives rise to paranoia in the susceptible. Now more than ever, the stage is set for suspicious thinking.”

In an already irrational course of thinking, it’s hard to separate “scary news” from sensationalist crime drama, particularly when these dramas pride themselves on being real life.

I know what ID is doing to me, but I can’t seem to turn off the television. It’s the most exhilarating downfall. I can’t be content with uplifting narratives either. A friend recently described a show, and I found myself asking: “but does someone die?”

Psychology Today reports “Suspicion is a useful, even necessary, trait — up to a point. Even though we live in times that breed distrust, there is a line, however fine, between the healthy and the clinical.”

I foresee an ongoing battle for me, but I secretly hope beyond the realm of paranoia is a world of blissful desensitization where I can watch all the ID I please and still manage to go outside.

Do you watch true crime shows? Do you think they make you paranoid? or mentally incapacitated?

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8 Comments

  1. The 6 o’clock news does it for me! Seeing black people doing hood rat shit has completely noided me. I’m black and still look at black people with suspicion unless they are smiling – by themselves.

  2. YES!! I am completely addicted to these shows. My husband makes fun of me because when I’m awake and available to watch TV, I’m watching these type shows. If I wake up during the night and can’t sleep, I watch these shows. Everyone gets the sideye action from me, EVERYONE. These shows, in my opinion, merely illustrate the depth of depravity of the human mind. There are no limits to the things that SOME people are capable of. Do you really really know a person?!

    I’ve been married for 20 years. If my husband and I ever divorced I can honestly say that I would be afraid…………not afaid………… leery………… no guarded, about going out on a date. It was the early 90’s when I last dated, times have changed. People are crazy (IER)!!! These shows keep my mind clear. Yeah, that’s the ticket. LOL!!!

  3. I am addicted also and I couldn’t agree with the author and Addicted 101 more.

  4. I can’t watch but so much of any one kind of show. If I’m having a marathon TV day, I can watch six hours of Criminal Minds, ID or To Catch a Predator but then I need to see some comedy to “cleanse my palette”. I guess I still see them as entertainment.

  5. wow whoever wrote this really seems to have some internal issues going on, how can love and hip be classified as trashy and Nightmare next Door is trashy too??? huh???? you also call it “low culture obsession” so what does that make you? not low culture?? i know i am going to be called a “hater” especially after this next statement but i dont care, personally I always watch ID and id like to know how any of this shows are different from watching a Dateline show on NBC about a murder or a 20/20 special??? What makes these shows trashy?? These are murder mysteries most of time from people who have been the victims of real crime. I find nothing “trashy or low culture” about crime shows. To me its nothing different from someone having a preference for murder mystery fiction over science fiction. furthermore as the above poster commented sooo is Law & Order trashy too?? I enjoy Law & Order but that seems like that would be more “trashy” as its fake as opposed to these …ok this is getting to long this post just really confused me as never in my life have I heard stories about crime being called trashy and low culture wow just wow

  6. I loveeee Law and Order! I don’t get particularly paranoid although I fool myself often thinking I can crack a case or two randomly in my neighboorhood .

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