Your weekly Netflix pick is Mindhunter. A thrilling crime drama based on real world events. The true crime drama is incredibly hot on Netflix but this isn’t like any of those docuseries. Mindhunter is scripted and acted. It’s a traditional type show but the truth shines through the skill of the cast.
In 1977 FBI Agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) begins teaching a base form of FBI profiling. Base in relation to today’s standards, of course. Running a traveling school with Agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) Ford gets the idea to stop into a maximum security prison for a conversation with Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton). Kemper is a serial killer who started with his immediate family before abducting and murdering numerous young women in the early 70’s.
Ford’s fascination with Kemper started him and Tench on a crusade of seeing what makes serial and spree killers tick. Their project is done unofficially at first before catching the eye of Wendy Carr (Anna Torv). Carr helps the men take their experiment to a legitimate place.
Let’s get the negativity out of the way first. The first episode of Mindhunter is something of a snooze fest. There is a relatively gory scene if that’s your thing. If it’s not, don’t worry. This series is about the mind, the academia of the studies, it isn’t a slasher or thrill kill every episode. The first episode is slow. It doesn’t feel at all like the show the series turns into. Jonathan Groff’s performance feels as exciting as a stale cracker. But stick with it!
The second episode is a total flip. By the third you’ll be addicted.
Jonathan Groff’s performance isn’t stale at all. He’s actually playing the character cool, collected, and a bit distant from the rest of the world. Ford’s level of detachment is apparent when he begins to interview the murderers. He doesn’t like them but there is a layer of respect and understanding. Ford is further humanized by his personal relationships.
Holt McCallany and Anna Torv do a good job rounding out the trio. These secondary characters are essential to Ford’s work. McCallany and Torv are more than just sounding boards but the characters they play have different backgrounds that round out the team in a way that can only be thought of as TV clean.
The subject matter of serial killers is something that American’s have been fascinated with for decades. The names are common knowledge even if the specific details aren’t. Morbid murders and the sick details behind them dominate our movies and undeniably dominate primetime TV. The world is an increasingly terrifying place with sprees, terrorism, hate crimes, and all around brutality seeming more prevalent than ever.
Mindhunter is a timely piece of work that delves deeper into what makes these people tick. The show never aims to excuse, merely educate. Having such timely content based in reality but set in the late 70’s give us enough separation from the stark reality of it while still being able to relate.