The cycle of true crime is moving from podcasts and documentaries to prime time re-enactments.
We've entered the next stage of the true crime phenomenon.
While podcasts like Serial fueled the first wave of investigative content and docuseries like Making a Murderer made true crime bingeable, true crime dramas like Dirty John re-enact criminal plots so bizarre they have to be seen to be believed. 2019 will be flush with new podcasts and docuseries, but Netflix, Hulu, and TNT will also take on the challenge of artfully dramatizing real-life crime stories without looking like Lifetime Movie Network rejects.
Here are 7 true crime series worth giving a chance:
1. Conversations with a Killer: Ted Bundy Tapes (Netflix, January 24)
Netflix's upcoming docuseries will feature previously unreleased interviews with Ted Bundy conducted during his time on death row. Mixed with archival footage that traces his criminal rise in the 70s, Conversations with a Killer will be released on the 30th anniversary of Bundy's execution.
2. I Am the Night (TNT, January 28)
Chris Pine and director Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) helm this period drama about the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, infamously remembered as the Black Dahlia. While the six-episode series takes plenty of creative liberties, Jenkins was close friends with the real-life figure the series is structured around, Fauna Hodel.
3. The Act (Hulu, March 20)
Oscar and Emmy Award winner Patricia Arquette will star in the debut season of Hulu's true crime anthology series, The Act. Each season is slated to explore one story that shocked the true crime circuit with its bizarre nature. Season 1 will feature the murder of Dee Dee Blanchard (played by Arquette) by her daughter Gypsy and the lifetime of abuse and manipulations that preceded it.
4. Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix, TBA)
The classic 1987 true crime and paranormal series is being revived by the executive producer of Stranger Things. The upcoming 12-part series will re-enact one real unsolved crime or phenomenon in each episode.
5. Interrogation (CBS All Access, TBA)
Peter Sarsgaard will star in this nonlinear true crime series that spans over 30 years. The 10 episodes are based on real police interrogations about a young man who was charged and convicted of brutally murdering his mother. The network is concealing the name of the real case the series is based on, but the goal of Interrogation is to turn the viewer into a detective as the crime unfolds.
6. Central Park Five (Netflix, TBA)
Netflix is taking on this infamous case of five black teenagers falsely accused and forced to confess to the rape and assault of a female jogger in 1989. The four-episode series will feature Vera Farmiga as the lead prosecutor and Michael K. Williams and John Leguizamo as two of the boys' fathers.
7. Uncertain Terms (TCPalm podcast, January 2019)
This new true crime podcast tackles the issue of children who are convicted of murder and the adults they become while incarcerated. Specifically, the podcast explores Florida convicts who have grown up in prison and are facing re-sentencing or release, depending on the details of their crimes, how the victims' families feel, and who they've become.
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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
Dreamy, dark synth-rock from one of L.A.'s premiere bands.
Los Angeles' dark synth-rock outfit The Ivy Walls recently dropped their fourth album, Pheromones.
The band described the album as a "sonic version of what it's like to live and love in this Lord of the Flies environment."
The first single/music video from the album is "White Ocean," featuring the voice of Chrissy Depauw. The video stars actor Chris Pine of Star Trek fame, who is a big fan of The Ivy Walls.
Popdust sat down with frontman Jeff Yanero to discover how The Ivy Walls achieved their unique dark vibe, and find out when new music will be coming our way.
The Ivy Walls - White Ocean youtu.be
What's the band's musical backstory? And how did you come to get together?
Ryan and I met on a music message board while attending Santa Monica College. We had instant chemistry and immediately started writing songs and performing at open mics. We thought we would put a band together with the same ease that we had been able to work together but it took years before we would actually be able to do that. We went through every musical phase that one must go through to find the foundation of our sound during what I think was a good time for music not only in LA but just sort of in general. There had been a lot of post '90s stuff happening in years prior. Things were just stale out there and then came bands like The Killers, The Strokes, Interpol, etc. All of sudden there was a new era, a fresh decade. Los Angeles had a great local scene happening as well with bands like Midnight Movies, Silversun Pickups, Coldwar Kids, and Neuromance just to name a few, and at the center of it all was this great, truly indie radio station that had popped up called Indie 103.1. It wasn't sophisticated or yuppie curated; it was truly on the beat and the energy it gave the live music scene in LA is undeniable.
So in that indie setting we were searching for the right players to not only complete our sound but to also help us get better as players. The Count and Adam were a perfect fit as they were both in fact better players than us, but they also believed in our creativity. Once we all came together it was a very natural progression to this sort of indie new wave style that had room for synth layers as well as washy and distorted guitars.
Who is in the band (names) and what instruments do they play?
Ryan Varon:Lead guitar, synth; The Count: bass, guitar; Adam Waldon: drums; Jeff Yanero: vocals, guitar, piano.
What are the dynamics of the band like? Does the band run like a democracy, everybody has a vote and majority rules? Or is it a benevolent dictatorship? Or something in between?
It's a creative family. In our younger years we may have fought for our ideas more feverishly, but I think being creative together for that long brings a level of intimacy that allows you to operate pretty honestly. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and sometimes roles reverse etc. I would say it's a thick-skinned democracy where we respect each other enough to either trust that it will be ok if you don't get your way, as well as that you will be heard if you need to fight for your idea, even if that idea is the minority vote.
What is the most trouble you've ever gotten into?
As a band? Well we do have a thing called "band secrets" where every member has one thing that only we know and can never tell anyone on the outside. I'm sure there is some incriminating footage out there somewhere, though.
What's your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?
"Alive and Kicking" by Simple Minds!
What musicians/vocalists influenced you the most?
I'd say a fusion of the standards, like Echo and the Bunnymen, Cocteau Twins, Ride, Slowdive, JMC, and The Psychedelic Furs, are one end of it, but then there are bands like Secret Machines, The Daysleepers, Elefant, Young Prisms, and the list goes on of more contemporary music that really had an effect on us. I think we'll always be that band adding new influences, though.
What is your musical background?
I didn't start playing music in a serious fashion until I was 25. Before that I had only known a few chords on the guitar. I also started learning piano chords that year and taking piano and voice lessons. While our friends from school were having families and building careers with 401k's we were working crap jobs and spending countless hours in warehouses in downtown LA rehearsing and writing. We would drive home in the middle of the night exhausted, but still listening to the bands that kept us coming back to the rehearsal space and breaking down every aspect of what they were doing. As I mentioned, bands like Secret Machines and The Smiths. Elefant, Echo and the Bunnymen, BRMC, BSS. The list could go on forever but those are just some of who we were into at the time. We just loved being in a band so much. We appreciated it and the sacrifice we were making to each other. But that's what we spent all of our time doing, really. Building a musical background. We never felt practiced enough. We never felt like we sounded enough like the bands we loved. So there was always this carrot dangling that kept us exploring and experimenting and most of all just playing.
What kind of guitar do you play? And why?
I play an MIJ Fender Jaguar for the same reasons they became popular again in the 90's. It was what I could afford and it still sounds great. Little by little I've fixed it up through the years. Before that I played an Epiphone Casino and a Jagstang that I traded on tour for an acoustic and a hollow body. Still regret that trade! So nothing super-fancy on my end. I'm just not a good enough player to justify going any higher end. A better question for me is what pedals do I use to get by. However RV plays an SG, and a beautiful Tele. The Count plays a Hagstrom.
In the various venues you've performed at so far, which was your favorite? Why?
I think our roots are at the old Silverlake Lounge. Packing in that little place and just feeling at home under the Salvation sign.
The band's name, The Ivy Walls, carries a multitude of connotations and implications. What's the story behind the name and why it was selected?
We had many names along the way. The Ivy Walls was one that just felt right for us at that particular time. Somehow the imagery it evoked for us went with the sound we were developing. It came right at a time when we were starting to understand who we were as a band. I think we needed to shed certain aspects of old names and projects, and The Ivy WalIs was our coming of age moment, as we were starting fresh and embracing more elegance in our sound.
Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
I keep saying this record in particular was meant to be a New York inspired cold wave group of songs spearheaded by our ode to the '90s, "We Were Beautiful." But somehow along the way it turned into a real-time account of what's it's like to live and love in LA. I think we find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes we find it sonically and other times we find it in life experience.
What is your songwriting process? Does the music come first and then the lyrics?
It comes every which way. I may have a lyric hidden away that works over a particular piece of music one day or RV or The Count may have a piece of music with a verse or chorus lyric idea. Other times it just all comes at the same time. There's no one way other than just when inspiration knocks you have to be sure to answer and be a polite host.
I'm a sucker for good drumming. Who plays the drums on "White Ocean?" And which drummers influenced his/her style of play?
The drum programming on "White Ocean" was done by Paul Blasi and Pablo Alejandro Carr. I'm not sure exactly who their influences are but they are both amazingly talented producers.
It's presumptuous to ask at this point, but when might listeners expect new music? Are you back in the studio now?
We've been back for about 2 months now as far as getting started with new material. On one hand, I wanted to get back to basics with classic song writing almost in the manner that we did Lovers in Hotels, as well as tackle some of our backlog of songs that are still waiting to be recorded. On the other hand, Erik and I put a little tease of a new track up on our Instagram last week so you never know how thinks will shake out.
I think more than anything we're just in that phase of wanting to enjoy playing together without thinking too hard of the outside world just yet, which is hard for us. We have a tendency to make bigger plans.
Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.
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