The Pod Nod: Real Crime Profile Talks True Crime in Pop Culture
Wondery’s Real Crime Profile podcast is more than your average true crime podcast. The show features experienced hosts who have worked many years in law enforcement and behavioral analysis; these hosts talk about everything from the recent hit podcast Dirty John (which we gave a pod nod to recently) to 13 Reasons Why to S-Town.
If it hasn’t been made obvious, true crime is here to stay. From the network giant cop-detective dramas like CSI and NCIS in the early 2000’s to NPR’s Serial in 2014, people are fascinated with crime. And while the ID channel certainly indulges in the pulpier side of serial killers and criminals, podcasts have been a great place for intelligent and informed discussions about crime. Real Crime Profile is one such show. Featuring different segments at different points of time, the show discusses contributions to pop culture and analyzes them through the lens of the real world.
Hosted by Jim Clemente (a former FBI profiler, former New York City prosecutor, and an advisor/writer/producer on Criminal Minds), Laura Richards (a criminal behavioral analyst, founder of Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service, and former New Scotland Yard), and Lisa Zambetti (the casting director of Criminal Minds) the show has covered shows like The People vs OJ Simpson, Making a Murderer, S-Town, The Keepers, 13 Reasons Why, and recently, Mindhunter. The dedicated discussion that takes place on the subject of programs in popular culture offers a font of knowledge for the casual viewer without the experience of Clemente and Richards.
With no narrative continuity to the podcast, it can be consumed in whatever fashion you prefer. There’s no need to start from the beginning or any certain point. I found the series after listening to Dirty John where the hosts interviewed Christopher Goffard, the reporter who wrote the story of Dirty John for the LA Times. The best part of the show is the years of knowledge and wisdom that comes from Clemente and Richards, who break down specific scenes and characters alongside Zambetti to analyze from a profiler’s point of view.
While not all episodes center around talking about specific television shows, the ones that do are segmented into a sort of miniseries. The team chronologically investigates their topic, picking through episode by episode offering insight and criticism as well as additional educational information. Without this podcast, I would have never known about the term coercive control, a form of emotional abuse typically found in relationships in which the offender systematically asserts their dominance and control over the victim.
Approaching the subject with the experience of years on the job, the hosts keep the topics fresh without getting mired in a topic their passionate about. This is mostly thanks to Zambetti, who certainly doesn’t have the same real-world experience as her two hosts, but offers insight, as the layman, and the one who keeps both Richards and Clemente on topic. Throughout the show’s progression, it’s fun learning alongside Zambetti, who often speaks as the voice of the audience when topics need further elaboration or makes connections that can sometimes be missed by the other two hosts.
As a real crime junkie and someone who has always been fascinated by criminal profiling, Real Crime Profile is basically the perfect podcast. It offers what many of the countless crime podcasts can’t offer, hosts who are doing more than their own research, it offers hosts with experience, who can speak to personal experiences and previous cases in the real world that mirror what we do or don’t see in pop culture.
I said it on Twitter, and I’ll say it again here. It was absolutely amazing listening to Jim Clemente verbally eviscerate and condemn the priests in The Keepers. That was one of the most satisfying shows to be analyzed. I should have discovered the podcast when I was watching the show to save my friends the amount of ranting that I sent them in messages.
While I love Jim Clemente as a host, I also really appreciate both Lisa Zambetti and Laura Richards. While female voices aren’t exactly uncommon in true crime, I always enjoy hearing a woman’s point of view given how often the victims are female. A special shout out to Richards and her work with the Paladin National Stalking Advocates Service in the UK.
I almost always find true crime podcasts to be a little too highly produced, too dramatized, and running into the risk of lionizing the criminals, even if it’s accidentally. Often they can be dry, despite their best efforts, and repetitive. Real Crime Profile is detailed and informative without giving into the drama that is so often married to the genre of podcasts.
The episodes about 13 Reasons Why actually made me rethink my position on the show. I definitely demonized it in its release but upon further inspection and retrospective, I think it was actually a good show. (Barring the very graphic scenes of suicide)
Seriously, people, coercive control. Do you know about it? Do you know anyone in your life suffering through it? It seems inconsequential to mention it in what is essentially a footnote, but if I didn’t get you to google it before, you should at least do that now.