Katie McDowell, Life & Leisure

True crime as tranquilizer: My relaxing TV

In her Marquee column last week, my friend and coworker Lindsey lamented her inability to fall asleep without something playing in the background.
TV show, movie, YouTube videos — any will do, she said, so long as there is a screen nearby, emitting pictures and sound. The content itself isn’t particularly important, provided it be soothing enough to see her into dreamland.
However, she admitted, she does have an affinity for David Attenborough programs, and documentaries about Great Britain.
And while I occasionally also choose along those lines — I can dig some “Monarchy” with David Starkey from time to time — the things that relax me tend to take a decidedly different, some may say questionable, tack.
As I’ve mentioned before, for my money there’s simply no better soundtrack for sleep than “Unsolved Mysteries.” When I need to unwind, I just queue it up on my Prime, hit play and bam. By the time Robert Stack is done declaring that perhaps it’s me who can help solve a mystery, I’m out like a light.
Maybe it’s Stack’s mellifluous voice. Maybe it’s the synthesizer theme song. Maybe it’s that snazzy pink-and-purple font they use.
Maybe it’s a bit off all three.
But the main reason I love it are all the murders and missing people.
Because as weird as it may sound, true crime is my tranquilizer.
What can I say? It’s always been a release of mine. When I want to hunker down and loosen up, there’s just nothing better than serial killer shows and murder mysteries.
Luckily, the selection on my streaming services is pretty good — I mean, even a drug as effective as “Unsolved Mysteries” can lose its edge if you don’t switch it up once in a while — so I usually have no trouble finding something sufficiently horrific to calm me.
Here are a few of the ones I’ve been tuning into lately.
—“Murderers and their Mothers” (Amazon). Hosted by Donal McIntyre and Elizabeth Yardley, this show takes a look at some of the most infamous killers, and the relationships they had with their mothers. Relaxation gold. (Plus, he has an Irish accent and she has an English one, so you know it’s a direct pass to Pajamatown.)
—“Murder Maps” (Netflix). Another U.K. winner, this one examines the culture and surroundings associated with some of the history’s most well-known murders, including John Christie, John George Haigh and a few obligatory Jack the Ripper wanna-bes.
—“The Investigator: A British Crime Story” (Netflix). Investigative reporter and former constable Mark Williams-Thomas (another Brit — yay!) delves into high-profile, unsolved missing person cases, using his chutzpah and info-probing skills to turn up new evidence. While the first two shows I mentioned are single-episode oriented, “The Investigator” follows a single case throughout each season.
—“Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer” (Netflix). This show does — or at least attempts to do — exactly what its title suggests: Gets inside the heads of notorious multiple-murders. Think Slumdog Cannibal Surinder Koli, Mark Erin Rust, Cleveland Stranger Anthony Sowell, and homicidal husband-wife team Michel Fourniret and Monique Oliver.
So go grab your Snuggie and a cup of hot tea.
And sweet dreams, everyone.
Katie McDowell is a lifestyles writer/copy editor for The Dominion Post. Email her at kmcdowell@dominionpost.com.