IMDB Summary: In the late 1970s two FBI agents expand criminal science by delving into the psychology of murder and getting uneasily close to all-too-real monsters.
Creator: Joe Penhall
Starring: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross
Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Content Warning: Suicide (Ep. 1 a few minutes in), murder, mentions of rape, depictions of violence, gore, alcohol, drugs
I recently began MINDHUNTER on a Friday and ended up watching the entire first season in two days because I was that obsessed with this dark and raw show. It follows two polar-opposite FBI agents, during the 70’s, as they travel the country teaching police officers about the psychology of criminals and how to profile them. In between their stops, Holden and his partner Bill visit prisons to interview a high profile serial killers, in hopes of gaining insight into their psychology and what drove them to kill so many people.
This is probably one of the darkest shows that I have ever seen, to the point that the I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve always been fascinated with criminal justice and mysteries, but this is on a whole other level because we get to see these two FBI agents interview killers in full detail without holding back.
This well-paced show also, occasionally, diverts the two agents to help local officers with puzzling murder cases as well. This leads to Bill and Holden staying in small towns to help the authorities solve various gruesome murders using the psychology that they are learning from the killers they interview.
I’ll be honest and say this show isn’t for everyone. It’s twisted, gruesome, haunting, and crude because it focuses on vicious killers and the tireless studies done on them in hopes of understanding their psychology. Because I have seen, read, and listened to so many crime stories, this show was right up my alley, but to others, it would make them run for the hills. Keep in mind of that fact, if you decide to watch the show. It holds nothing back and the murders that are discussed and being solved are portrayed in full detail in the most realistic way I’ve ever seen on a TV show.
Holden Ford : A rookie and hopeful FBI agent working for the Behavioral Science Unit
Bill Tench : A cynical and gruff partner to Holden Ford in the Behavioral Science Unit
Debbie Mitford : Holden’s love interest and sociology major
Wendy Carr : Psychologist and coworker in the Behavioral Science Unit
The acting in this show is phenomenal, specifically Jonathan Groff’s role as Holden Ford. M y G o d is Holden Ford’s character development is AMAZING, and Jonathan Groff playing him is fantastic. His character and its development was so subtle that I didn’t really notice the change until the very last episode of the season.
Holden transforms from his bland, rule-following agent into this gruff, unemotional man who will do anything to get away with breaking the rules. His once kind character becomes one that speaks crudely to the prisoners he interviews, doesn’t show emotions, and will lie to his bosses to get his way.
At the very last minute of the last episode, I finally realized that he was exhibiting similar behaviors to the serial killers he interviewed and grew a connection with. It was such a faint shift in character that grew more prominent as each episode passed, and just the writing and character development of Holden, alone, blew me away.
The entire cast of characters was amazing, like Bill Tench, Holden’s partner. Bill is a rough and unamused cop who just wants to get the job done, but his home life is what interested me the most about him. He has an adoptive son that acts strangely around him, whenever he’s home (e.g. not speaking to him, refusing to make eye contact, etc.) I’m interested to see how that strained relationship is explored further, in future seasons of the show.
Debbie Mitford, Holden’s love interest, felt like a manic pixie dream girl to me. She’s a sociology major, so Holden discusses his cases with her in order to ask for advice, but rarely does he ever ask her about her own life. He uses her as a means to go over his cases, so we never explore her full personality, but I’m hoping she has some epic character development in season two because she is a strong character that has a lot to offer.
Wendy Carr is a great female lead, as well. She keeps Bill and Holden in line, at the Behavioral Science Unit, by offering insights into the murders’ psychology to help classify how their motives and how they became a killer. She is also a lesbian, and I loved the rep. that was shown! I’m curious to see how she changes in the second season because we left off on a cliffhanger with her relationship with a stray cat at her apartment that she kept feeding each night. I wonder what that will lead to.
The strongest aspect of this show is its dialogue. This show is dialogue heavy, so it focuses more on conversations than actions. The conversations between Holden/Bill and the serial killers they interview is so haunting and descriptive that I was squirming in my seat hearing about these killings that were conducted. The interviews are intense and the men who played the killers really did an outstanding job at making me feel uncomfortable with their discussions because they intimidated and grossed me out so much.
I also loved the overlying grey hue of this show. Every scene felt desaturated and the choice to do that helped set the tone for the story by making it dark and eerie. It’s a subtle detail, but it was one that I appreciated, along with the vintage lettering used to display the settings’ location for each scene in the show.
Have you seen this show? Are you interested in it? Let me know if you know of a show similar to MINDHUNTER! I’d love to check it out. Xx Olivia