The ‘My Favourite Murder’ Community Is Collapsing In On Itself
What happens when podcast fans turn against the hosts?
Forming communities around true crime podcasts is now so normal that we’ve even got a TV show about it. But what happens when fans turn against the show? For My Favourite Murder, that’s become a reality.
Hosted by American comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, My Favourite Murder has been captivating its listeners since 2016. But, after years of scandals and alleged toxic behaviour, the My Favourite Murder community are turning against their faves. So, what’s going here?
— Content warning: this article discusses conversations about alleged sexual assault. —
What Is The My Favourite Murder Podcast?
The huge success of the true crime podcast Serial in 2014 laid the groundwork for My Favourite Murder to thrive when it launched two years later.
Both Karen and Georgia have comedy backgrounds. Before starting the podcast, Karen was a writer and stand-up comedian and Georgia a host on the Cooking Channel and Drunk History contributor. When the pair launched their podcast — dubbed a “true crime comedy” — it was an instant hit.
By 2020, My Favourite Murder had amassed 55,000 person fan club where members, known as “murderinos”, would pay USD$40 a year to access exclusive episodes. According to Forbes, the podcast duo were raking in an estimated USD$15 million in 2019, making them the second highest-earning podcasters at the time. At the time of writing, the My Favourite Murder subreddit has 185k followers and their Instagram almost 935k, so support for the duo is still undeniably strong.
In 2018, Karen and Georgia created the podcast network Exactly Right Media, a podcast network that now boasts 17 shows. In 2019, the duo also published a book titled Stay Sexy Don’t Get Murdered, which became a New York Times best seller. The pair also regularly sell out international shows. So, you know, it’s safe to say that these two do pretty well for themselves.
The Issues With My Favourite Murder
Criticism of the podcast isn’t new. Back in 2019, Andrea DenHoed wrote a detailed analysis of the problems with My Favourite Murder and how true crime podcasts often prop up fantasies of law enforcement. Fast forward four years, and the call is now coming from inside the house as former fans are calling out the podcast on TikTok.
One former fan is TikToker called Lara, who did a five-part deep dive into the problem with My Favourite Murder. In her first video, Lara says that as she’s gotten older, she’s realised that “everything this sort of genre has become is really icky and gross and I think a lot of people feel this way.” She’s right. The first part has gained 1.2 million views and over 3000 comments from former fans who express similar concerns.
I won’t go through all of Lara’s videos (but if you want a deeper understanding of My Favourite Murder’s history and the many things they’ve been called out for, they’re a good shout!). But a few things about what she said stuck out to me.
The first is the title of the show, which was always a huge red flag. As Lara points out… favourite murders? People have favourite TV shows or sports teams, they shouldn’t have favourite violent acts. It’s obviously a bit on the nose — it’s a comedy podcast after all, but should we maybe not joke about people who have been killed?
Lara then says that Karen and Georgia would usually overly praise survivors who were able to fight off their attackers and not those who, for whatever reason, couldn’t. She says that looking back at it, that type of messaging comes across as textbook victim-blaming — as it implies that people are responsible for the violence inflicted against them — as does the name of their book.
But wait, there’s more! In 2018, the duo, who are both white women, released a line of merch that featured a tipi, a structure regarded by many Native American tribes as sacred. What’s more is that the hosts were radio silent about the blunder for a long time, before at one point claiming that it was a “tent”. (Readers, it wasn’t.)
It gets worse. As Lara points out, putting the acronym S.S.D.G.M. (“Stay Sexy Don’t Get Murdered”) under the image of the tipi when missing Indigenous women and girls continue to be taken or murdered at an alarming rate could not be more insensitive. The pair eventually apologised for the merch, donated to an Indigenous organisation, and vowed to scrap the design. According to Lara, though, the original merch stayed on site for several days.
Then, at a live show in 2019 Georgia was reportedly gifted a type of doll that is used to help child sexual assault victims. Lara says that Georgia was taking pictures with the doll and posted about how “gleeful” she was about getting one. Reportedly, the host later apologised and this time made a donation to a child abuse charity.
But the largest event that Lara points to as a catalyst for the podcast’s downfall is journalist and former host of The Murder Squad Billy Jensen who several women had accused of misconduct. When Billy was removed as host of the podcast, Georgia and Karen tweeted an “end of an era” tweet as a public statement.
Lara also isn’t the only former fan to break down the problematic aspects of My Favourite Murder. Jenn Jackson, who self-describes as “a ground floor fan” talks about the microaggressions that run through it.
For starters, I don’t think making a true crime comedy podcast was ever a great start. Making light out of dark situations is all well and good, but when it comes to dealing with real-life murder cases, then inevitable ethical questions are going to crop up.
That being said, TikToker Maddison Williams reckons that My Favourite Murder she was inspired her to start her channel focusing on BIPOC victims and marginalised communities. The reason for this was because of how little attention they gave victims who were not white women, even though there’s so much they could do to spotlight less publicised cases.
I pretty much feel the same way. Although I enjoy true crime documentaries, I don’t listen to true crime podcasts. So many of them tend to ignore minority communities who often never get their cases solved. A lot of the time, it does fall upon people within those communities to make their own.
These podcasts sometimes can be the only way for Indigenous; queer and trans; and Black and brown people to actually have their stories heard. In Australia, First Nations women are being murdered at a rate of up to twelve times the national average, and yet we barely hear anything about them.
So, there’s clearly a place for true crime podcasts, especially when it comes to elevating and platforming cases that otherwise would never have been told. And this isn’t to say that My Favourite Murder has only been harmful — in its early days, for example, some women reported it helped them confront their fear of violence.
But when it comes to true crime, we may be getting to the point where victims of violence aren’t being treated with even the slightest modicum of respect. That we’re starting to see backlash against this from fans of the shows themselves is hopefully a sign that a more ethical approach to the genre can begin to take shape.
Ky is a proud Kamilaroi and Dharug person and writer at Junkee. Follow them on Twitter.
Image credits: Exactly Right / TikTok