Having just watched the new TV series True Detective, I was inspired to look around for other similar shows and found two: Hannibal and Bates Motel. Adding to this the once excellent Dexter, it struck me that the serial killer storyline is now truly established as its own genre. We need monsters it seems. The vampires, werewolves, witches and to a certain extent zombies have over the last hundred years been drained of their power, first by science (no one really believes that vampires actually exist although it was commonly thought so at one point) and finally by glamour.
Now our monsters are paedophiles, serial killers, neighbourhood kidnapper/slavers and psychotic meth-heads. As the Australian royal commission in institutional child abuse amongst too many other types of investigations is depressingly showing, our monsters have been proven to be very real but that doesn’t mean our portrayal of them in popular entertainment is any more real than the stories we once told each other of vampires and werewolves.
The group of killers in True Detective resembles a coven of witches, the suave and deadly Hannibal is a deadlier and more predatory Dracula, Dexter’s dual nature encapsulates the anxiety of our monstrous inner self that werewolves used to represent and while I haven’t watched Bates Motel yet, I am sure it will be familiar.